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Crime Of The Century - A Chilling Look At Crime Statistics In The UK


Statistics Directorate with police service representatives from each of the 10 regions, HMIC, and the Home Office Police Standards Unit.


The methodology involved comparing trends in the number of crime-related incidents reported by the public to the police (in several main offence categories); and the number of crimes recorded by police.


To monitor the extent to which crime has risen before and after the introduction of the NCRS, the ratio of police recorded crimes to crime-related incidents (i.e. crime calls for service) was compared by force and by crime type. Provided a force’s incident recording system remained reasonably consistent over the year (and this was not always the case), the incident count could be used as an indication of trends in the demand for service on the police, to compare with the trends in those crimes being recorded. In other words, the incident counts were taken as the best guide to ‘real’ changes in crime on the assumption that the propensity of the public to report crimes should remain reasonably constant over this period.


It has been assumed that any changes in the ratio between crimes and incidents are explained by the impact of the introduction of the NCRS. In particular, ‘step changes’ (i.e. significant and sustained increases in the ratio between crimes and incidents) after the adoption of the NCRS compared to the year before are considered to indicate a probable NCRS impact.


An estimate of the NCRS impact on police crime recording was calculated, for both individual forces (this is discussed in Part Two of the report) and to generate a national estimate. The national picture of the impact of the NCRS on the offence types of violence against the person, robbery, all theft and total crime (total crime constitutes all recorded crimes, including for example sexual offences and the ‘other offences’ group) was constructed using a sample of 25 out of the 43 police forces in England and Wales (22 for domestic burglary). The remaining forces were excluded from the calculation of the national estimates of the NCRS impact, primarily because the incident data provided to the Home Office by these forces did not provide a sufficiently stable baseline with which to compare the ratio of crimes recorded.


THE NCRS IMPACT ON TOTAL CRIME AND MAIN OFFENCE CATEGORIES


Estimates of the percentage impact of the NCRS on recorded crime vary considerably between offence types. A similar degree of variation is likely to exist between the different crimes that make up each of these groups, although it has not been possible to estimate the effect of the recording changes on the individual crimes that make up the full list of notifiable offences. There is also considerable variation between police forces in the impact of these changes, due to the fact that each force was starting from a different position in terms of its recording practice and has had to move towards a point of greater consistency with other forces.


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