BBC BLOGS - Mark Easton's UK
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
« Previous | Main | Next »

Serious violence - maybe falling

Post categories:

Mark Easton | 11:35 UK time, Thursday, 23 October 2008

It is an almighty embarrassment and will give ammunition to those who argue that the crime figures have been fiddled. But today's statistical fiasco does not demonstrate that serious crime is soaring whatever you may read in the papers. If anything, serious violence in England and Wales is probably stable or even falling.

What has happened is that crimes recorded in a box marked "other violence against the person" should have been put in a box marked "most serious violence against the person". By correcting the situation we see a year-on-year rise in most serious violence from 4,500 crimes to 5,500 crimes.

Yes, this whole row is over the labelling of 1,000 crimes out of total of 237,000 violent offences and over 5 million recorded crimes in England and Wales.

One would expect, therefore, to see a fall in the number of crimes in the "other" box. And indeed we do. There were 116,000 crimes recorded in that category in April to June last year and there were 105,000 during the same period this year - a fall of more than 11,000.

For me, the real question is what this means in terms of the risk from violent crime. Does the re-labelling mean attacks are really going up? Well, almost certainly no.

The British Crime Survey, which asks people about their experience of crime, has consistently been documenting falls in violent crime since the mid-nineties and the latest round of interviews shows levels of violent crime to be stable compared with the year to June 2007.

Crime.jpgToday's quarterly stats show overall violence recorded DOWN 7%. Recorded firearm offences DOWN 22%. Recorded robbery DOWN a whopping 16%.

Further evidence on trends in serious violent crime is provided by the Violence and Society Research Group at Cardiff University. They looked at what was happening in 29 Accident and Emergency departments in England and Wales.

They found an overall fall of 12 per cent in serious violence in 2007 compared with2006, continuing an overall downward trend observed between 2000 and 2006.

The real disaster with this is that it will increase people's distrust of the data and millions will go on believing they are at increased risk of violence.

Their lives will be blighted - not by real guns and knives - but by fear of them.

Our society can be a dangerous place. But statistics don't beat people up.

PS. It is worth adding that the categorisation problems do not mean that violent criminals are getting away with it. The Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales will look at the facts of each incident in deciding for what someone should be prosecuted.

Even if police described an incident as ABH, if there was clear intent to cause injury, the crime should come to court as "wounding/causing grievous bodily harm with intent, contrary to section 18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861".

What it apparently comes down to is this: if a drunk attacks someone with a bottle and misses, that crime should be categorised as GBH with intent - even though no injury resulted. Police forces have, in some cases, described that kind of incident as ABH or another lesser crime not included in the "most serious violence" category.

However, if the system works properly, our drunk would still get prosecuted for the more serious crime.

Update: 16:22

A further update following the post from wallacehorse. Thank you for that - you highlight another bizarre feature of this whole affair.

The way the police record a particular incident is different from the way the prosecutors are instructed to deal with it.

The police recording rules say that if someone intends to commit GBH but doesn't cause any or only minor injury it should be categorised as 'GBH with intent' - a 'most serious' violent crime. However, the Crown Prosecution Service requires that for someone to be prosecuted for 'GBH with intent', the crime must actually cause wounding or grievous bodily harm.

The definitions can be found here

What this means is that while police move such incidents from one box to another, making it appear that serious violence is soaring, the courts have largely been treating such crimes as ABH or minor assault.

I am told that further confusion arises because different local CPS prosecutors have their own views on this point. What a mess!

Comments

or register to comment.

  • 1. At 12:15pm on 23 Oct 2008, Lazarus wrote:

    Am I allowed to quote Robert Peel?

    "The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peelian_Principles

    Ask the police and they'll tell you crime is getting worse because they spend most of their time auditing crime reports and following Home Office processes that eradicate any use of common sense, because the senior management are chasing targets instead of criminals.

    Ask the government and they'll tell you that crime is falling because the figures said so.

    Personally, I'm more inclined to believe the police.

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 12:29pm on 23 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    I would say that this is mostly right and violent attacks have fallen but the nature of the crimes seems to have worsened, in for a penny in for a pound so to speak. The type of attack has also changed we had a 2 year period were some elements of the crug culture around here ran around cutting each other up with swords..

    I will say though that a hell of a lot of the crime in our area goes unreported due to the fact that its kept within the gangs and the people that run the different areas. If these people reported the crimes then im sure they would rise quickly.

    As i keep trying to reitterate to the people we live amoungst its no good telling me about the crime you just saw as there is nothing i can do about it. If i call the police on thier behalf then its a hear say call and wont be acted upon. Its almost like people fear reporting crime or dont understand how to report it properly. So i tell them call the police report it and then call crimestoppers and report it...... easy hay.. NO its not 'shakes head' they still come to me still ask me should we report it....

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 12:37pm on 23 Oct 2008, Brushcutter wrote:

    Unfortunately this error only goes to show how statistics may not be all they seem, and should be treated with a degree of distrust.

    It is depressing but not surprising, that many reporters choose to enthusiastically parrot government statistics rather than investigate where these statistics may be misleading. For example, my urban friends tell me that there has been a big rise in the casual use of guns, leading to the deaths of bystanders reported recently.

    I won't believe that crime rates are truly going down until the prison population starts to fall (although even that can be affected by increasing non-custodial sentences and rates of parole).

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 12:54pm on 23 Oct 2008, GlobalTemplar wrote:

    The crime figures are a joke under the present Labour government, most middle class people gave up calling the police age ago unless they really had to.
    If Labour had been tough on crime and the causes of crime we would all feel a lot safer, instead we have huge sections of society blighted by crime and indeed areas of crime where the police rarely go these days, regardless of the PR/comments from senior police officers.
    Some communities, estates and cities need serious increases in police numbers on their streets and action against both the career criminals and also the yobs, hoodies and low level crimes that often develop into more serious violence later on if left unchecked.
    Too many people have never been dealt with at an early age, so having got away with it all their lives it's no wonder many kids have little fear of the Police or Labour's (in)justice system.
    Labour's Britian is one where the political elite feel very safe and are well guarded, the middle and working classes classes are of fixed address with the ability to pay fines for having their dust bin too full or doing 35mph past a speed camera and if they fail to pay these people are hounded by every aspect of the criminal justice system to ensure compliance and payment.
    However, the hoodies, yobs and career criminals know that in the unlikely event they do get caught by the police these soft headed socialists in government will soon have them back on our streets to carry on where they left off, while sneering at their victims and causing misery and expense to the communities that have to suffer them. Any Labour spin doctor that wants to disagree with this post/comment, then take the challenge...we will drop you off dressed smartly in your suit on one side of East London at 6pm on a busy Friday night and ask you to walk to the other side of London on your own, we can then record your experience on our streets after 11yrs of Labour government, Labour useless on crime, soft headed on the causes of crime!

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 1:01pm on 23 Oct 2008, hypersallyb wrote:

    My son was assaulted by three boys several weeks ago and the crime was not recorded, we went through hell and had to go to extreme lengths to see justice be done. In the end these boys were given cautions. Then two days ago a friend of ours was assaulted in an unprovoked attack. Once again despite the offender having a criminal record he was given a lift home within hours and merely received a caution for the attack.
    I believe statistics are falling because crimes are not being recorded by the police. Had we not looked into this our sons assault would never have been recorded as a crime as it was "too much work". Our country is in the grip of violent crime and the agencies we once relied upon for law and order is a thing of the past. I suppose the message is go out and punch somebody on the nose if you wish as you`ll only get a caution to serve as punishment !

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 1:10pm on 23 Oct 2008, RolryRoly wrote:

    The reduction in violent crime may have more to do with the measures people take to protect themselves than a reduction in criminals seeking to commit crime. Self-imposed curfews make sure "vulnerable" people are in before the feral kids are out in their hunting packs.

    "Vulnerable" being anyone not armed with a weapon capable of detering attack.

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 1:32pm on 23 Oct 2008, bigger_picture wrote:

    The BCS is useful but blighted by two things:
    1. Under-reporting of crime. Most of the worst violent crime occurs in the very communities who have the least trust in the police, and the most fear of retribution attacks. And in turn, these are the crimes that dominate the papers, and scare most of the country the most. See P25 of the 'MPA Youth [Unsuitable URL - PDF link removed by Moderator]


    2. The exclusion of input from under-16 year olds. This time last year, the media lambasted BCS for not covering this group, when we all know full well this is where the most abject violence is concentrating in the UK. Until BCS cover the full spectrum, it will be toothless.

    So - people can trust these figures, but
    MUST be aware of what they exclude by method or data incompleteness.

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 1:36pm on 23 Oct 2008, FrankFisher wrote:

    "But today's statistical fiasco does not demonstrate that serious crime is soaring whatever you may read in the papers. If anything, serious violence in England and Wales is probably stable or even falling."

    Just stop it. People's experience is that crime is rising, today's story demonstrates just ONE example of the figures being fiddled, we *know* the one crime that cannot be miscounted or redefined has tripled, per capita, in the past 60 years - why would this crime, murder, have risen so disproportionately? Mark Easton, you are, like your fellow BBC hacks, being far too kind to the government, far too quick to accept their pleas of "honest mistakes". YOU need to improve your game, provide impartial and skeptical enquiry, or YOU will be ridiculed just as much as this government's faked up figures.

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 1:48pm on 23 Oct 2008, Ramilas1 wrote:

    Further proof to the saying, "Lies, DAMN Lies, and Government Statistics"

    Not sure if I believe that this 'mistake' has only just come to light...... more likely it was just about to be uncovered by somebody wording correctly the right question under the Freedom of Information Act.

    My guess is that the ongoing 'error' was well known in government circles several months ago.....

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7324123.stm

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 2:08pm on 23 Oct 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    This is one bright spot for the department of labor. It means the criminals are fully employed. They are working at capacity. Too bad the rest of the economy isn't in such good shape. Evidently in Britain...crime pays.

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 2:15pm on 23 Oct 2008, NH wrote:

    It's all a game! Anyone who has lived in GB for the last ten years KNOWS that crime is going up!! Social breakdown and anti-social behaviour is rife!

    However, crime figures 'going down' is an example of the Police doing their job well AND being heavily tied into the government encouraging 'sustainable crime reduction'.

    This doesn't mean they are catching more crims or that there are less of them on the street!! It means the Police are making the best of a bad job, with crime rife and woefull numbers of fully trained officers.

    If a cop is doing his/her job well they will be dealing with 101 things at any one time and will be seriously stretched in terms of attending calls, paperwork and arrests. However, because Police (on the street) in real terms are lower than ever and population and crime is higher than ever, some prioritising is essential! He will therefore concentrate on crimes that have solid leads/evidence - normally more serious that leave forensic evidence (like violent crime!) And he will be gainfully employed for a considerably longer time than his 40hrs per week just following up these crimes.
    However, as well as detecting crime their role covers 'reducing crime'.

    Any lesser crimes/calls that have (in terms of realistic expectation and limited finance/ resources) been reported and cannot be solved or are minor in nature, will be allocated/logged in a slightly different manner according to government/force guidelines, thus keeping crime figures 'realistic.'

    HOWEVER, this leads to a vicious circle - for Police forces to maintain/increase their budgets from central govt. they have to reduce levels of crime and show higher detection rates, follow central govt policy (regardless of wether it fits local community needs) - this should guarantee them a bigger (or similar) budget to previous years.

    To show rising crime would be counter productive - reflect poorly on the CCs and not show the forces in a good light!

    So falling crime figures are only a result of manipulation by the government and the forces who can NOT report ALL crime for fear of losing what little budget they all ready have! It is a catch 22 that will not be resolved until funding is vastly increased and numbers of real officers are drastically increased. If you doubled uniformed officers it might be a start!



    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 2:17pm on 23 Oct 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    example of a crime that was miss reported.
    our road suffers a lot of damage to cars mostly wing mirrors. Just a little thing you say but when the same mirror has been replaced 13 times it gets both tedious and costly. Anyway one evening 7 households had 15 cars damaged, the police turned up the same day and gave everyone the same crime number... So we complained, we then got a crime number for each house. getting better but that still left all the people who were visiting the houses where was the crime number for the other 6 car owners ?. We never did get them. however one of the households picked up a fixed pen notice and 3 points on her driving licence for driving without a wing mirror (she was on her way to get a new on fitted).. justice hay...

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 2:38pm on 23 Oct 2008, wallacehorse wrote:

    You have repeated here the nonsense you came out with on BBC News at One.

    Please check again the definition of GBH with intent under the Offences against the Person Act. Serious physical harm is required; it is a very difficult offence for which to get a conviction since not only has that level of harm to be proved, so also is the intention to cause that level of harm. Therefore it tends only to happen if a weapon was used.


    The BBC has trivialised this offence and misled the public in an unforgivable way

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 2:51pm on 23 Oct 2008, OurNeutralFriend wrote:

    What is it with the BBC at the moment ? Bad news for the Government gets swiftly burried or one of the BBC reporters leaps to their defence. What is going on ?

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 3:20pm on 23 Oct 2008, tug wrote:

    Thank you, Mark, for reporting the numbers as well as the percentages. I've been searching the BBC reports for this information.

    Percentages tell us precisely nothing about the miscounting unless you know what the underlying numbers are.

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 4:24pm on 23 Oct 2008, delminister wrote:

    serious violence may be down but alcohol related problems are on the increase, but becouse of the governments revinue off alcohol its a lesser problem, well when you have gangs of teenagers hanging out drunk stealing cars etc, it shows the system is poorly geared.
    and with the ecconomic problems you can only assume further increases in criminal activities with no change in government polocy.

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 4:28pm on 23 Oct 2008, stufoxy wrote:

    Is it not incumbent on Reporters to be totally accurate with their facts before expressing their opions to the Nation?
    Perhaps Mr Easton would be kind enought to inform us, where the offence of 'attempted Grevious Bodily Harm' comes from?
    Not I think from The Offences against the Person of 1861.
    The scenario given, to me, can only be construed to be assault.
    However, as far as the reporting and classification of crime, it is my experience that it is now the 'norm' for Operations Centre Officers, many civillian employees,totally untrained in the law to receive and classify offences from their limited knowledge.
    People perhaps don't realise that due to the standard Police computer programmes it is impossible to obtain a 'Crime Number' - essential to complete the recording of the offence, without making a Classification there and then.
    Please, before entering 'uninformed and innacurate views'
    Do your research!!
    Stuart Fox

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 4:58pm on 23 Oct 2008, Lazarus wrote:

    Mark, from your update it strikes me that you seem somewhat oblivious to the ways in which these crime figures can be manipulated, and how they are preventing the police from actually doing their jobs, which strikes me as very odd for a journalist!

    Might I point you in the direction of the following to get you started (or you could buy his book if you wanted to be really thorough):

    http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/2008/01/07/no-news-is-bad-news/
    http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/2008/08/16/nothing-but-greenlights/
    http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/2008/07/03/violent-crime-alert-inspector-who/
    http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/its-official-we-have-gone-insane/

    Let's not forget that the police probably have a better idea about the state of crime than a team of statisticians looking at graphs?

    To reiterate my point back in post #1 - the government's failure on the issue of law and order is solely down to their rather smug idea that they could improve on the original Peelian principles on which the police force was founded.

    Since now it's apparent that roughly 90% of the newly branded "police service" spend their time in offices doing paperwork, whilst anarchy descends across the country, would you be willing to do away with crime statistics altogether in exchange for actually feeling safe on the streets?

    Perhaps you'd like to try GlobalTemplar's experiment that he raises in post #4 before answering ;)

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 5:37pm on 23 Oct 2008, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    The idea that this Government has been 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime' has just been rumbled...

    The spinning of crime stats is ridiculous.

    When violent crime is going up, the 'spin' is that 'overall crime is down'.

    Often we have been told, 'overall crime is up, but this is because 'petty crime' like mobile phone theft and shoplifting is included'.

    We are assured that 'serious violent crime is going down'. [I had always though violent crime was always 'serious' and that this was a tautology- now it seems there is more spin to this than meets the eye.]

    Well done to the BBC for calling the Home Office on this asinine semantic argument which has routinely misled the public for many, many years. It is about time we were told the truth. But from a Government whose response to rising inflation is to alter the way the index is calculated, I for one am not holding my breath.

    Complain about this comment

  • 20. At 6:42pm on 23 Oct 2008, supermk wrote:

    Its certainly a mess, but I find your analysis down plays the situation.

    Over 5000 very serious offences is a disgrace given the police resources and cost of the police force (sorry service).

    The popular view is that the police are now hopelessly politicised and incapable of performing effectively and often appear to be on the criminal's side (e.g. the Martin self defence case)

    I never see policemen on the beat - they react to crime after it has happened rather than providing a visable deterence and senior police officers only seem to talk passionately about improving diversity awareness rather than dealing rigouressly with really horrible people (i.e. the criminals).

    The popular view needs to be taken seriously, as taxpayers and voters we are fed up with politically correct policing and do not see any improvements in the real world as claimed by your analysis of these statistics.

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 7:01pm on 23 Oct 2008, tykejim wrote:

    It's hardly surprising that the public perception of crime is so divorced from reality when the BBC headlines its evening news with the 'misrecording' of crime story, rather than the overall dramatic reduction in crime reported by both the police and the BCS. You simply foster public misconception by looking for the sensational rather than the real news.

    Complain about this comment

  • 22. At 7:24pm on 23 Oct 2008, mysteriousSgtWilko wrote:

    Crime and Punishment in this country is flying off the scale. I know this from experience. This year my brother was accused and found not guilty of ABH, assault and affray and the police made "errors" on their account of the facts. My sister rented her house to a family who turned out to be illegal immigrants and turned her house into a cannabis growing factory, and was raided by the police - the house was a wreck. And my Mum, a pensioner, has been mugged for her mobile phone and verbally assaulted in the street.

    I'm fed up when politicians say that crime has gone down. 2008 was a terrible year for my family. This didn't happen in 2007 or ever before. It's getting very much worse. The problem with stats is that the less populated and less crime areas are counted in the same figures as high crime areas. Sure, knife crime hasn't gone up in the outer hebrides, but it never had it. Show me the figures for London, Manchester etc. Stats only show what you want them to show.

    I'll be honest, I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that the Government have as little idea as me. When things like the above happen to your family, you really really start to consider things that you never thought you would ever contemplate - am I safe? do I want to live here anymore? If only I could afford to get my Mum moved to a safer area? Am I proud of being British!?

    I'm really upset that I have to even think these thoughts. It's a disgrace.

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 10:02pm on 23 Oct 2008, richard_london wrote:

    Different police forces seem to treat crime in a different manner; I have experienced two different police forces approach to crime at first hand within the London area. One force being based in the central business district of London I found was both efficient and helpful. Another force based in North London, display a don’t care less and would rather crime would go away attitude.
    A couple of experiences with the central London force, my office was reported broken into and within 7 minutes we had two vanloads of police on the premises seizing the intruders. Likewise up the road from the office faced down a mugger who attempted to mug me, called the police and within 8 minutes a patrol car was present who then took me home.

    With the North London police force you are lucky if they turn up to calls, I lost about £4000 property from a car. The police asked me to leave everything as it was; the detectives managed to turn up too late waiting 2-3 days to collect evidence. Then complaining that the fingerprints were of no use due to extended weather/environmental damage.
    Another call was due to a drunken man vandalising/scratching cars and neighbours houses walls in the street, by knocking walls down. Called the police waited 30 minutes, nothing happened called the police again as the vandal was had now nearly knocked a wall down as was moving on to the next house? Told on the phone not to intervene and to wait as the police were on the way waited 10 more minutes was about to call again. Then noticed two uniform police watching the vandal destroy what was left of the wall from a distance, watched the policemen watch the vandal damaging the wall for a further 5? Minutes. And when the vandal moved on leaving the decimated wall they the approached the vandal had a word, and simply walked off. Fortunately the vandal also decided to walk off, so no apparent action was taken.
    Since that time my car was broken into or vandalised a further 3? Times, none of these were reported to the police, as nothing would happen bar increase my yearly insurance.
    I have been attacked by a Asian gang, and have had another attempted mugging by dark skinned persons. The latter was reported to the crimestoppers (who put up a poster asking for witness of such crime in the area to talk to them) then the police, who both did nothing at all. Though the police did promise to get a officer who is responsible for my area to call me back, this did not happen.
    Cheerfully I do have the neighbourhood watch signs in North London telling me to watch out as it’s a high crime area, perhaps it would not be such a high crime area if the police did their job.

    Complain about this comment

  • 24. At 10:23pm on 23 Oct 2008, nawbaker wrote:

    At risk of being a pedantic Law teacher (I am) surely if someone intends to inflict GBH on a person but fails and only inflicts ABH the correct charge is attempting to commit GBH contrary to S18 of the OAPA?

    Complain about this comment

  • 25. At 10:27pm on 23 Oct 2008, angry_of_garston wrote:

    I do not trust crime statistics and have not for a long time. Statistics are open to manipulation.

    It is my belief that the police have been downgrading crime for a long time and, as a result of this, the level of crime people are willing to accept before involving the police has risen. The statistics look good but they do not count what people no longer bother to report.

    Years ago i would have reported damage to a vehicle in the Street to the police. I now accept that vehicles left in the Street are fair gaem to vandals and the cost of repairs is just another motoring cost. it is not worth the price of a phone call to the police when there is nothing they can do about it. Thus the police are now out of the loop for those crimes.

    Last month someone tried, unsuccessfiully, to steal my daughters handbag ina local shop. I told her to contact the police. She relied that there was no poijnt as they wouldn't turn up and even if they did the culprit would be miles away. Her level of tolerence to crime is higher than my own.

    And the statistics keep on falling.

    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 11:44pm on 23 Oct 2008, mysteriousSgtWilko wrote:

    Really sorry to hear comment 23 Richard_London's comments (hope you're ok), but this is reality, but it's never portrayed by the government.

    The incidents I referred to in no.22 happened in Yorkshire. It's the most populous county outside London. There are enough people paying council tax to cater for an amazing police force. But what happens? - in an area where there is trouble, they replace an old and small police station with a £1million new station - it's huge.

    Good idea you think, but go to it on a fri/sat night and there are no manned police so you have to press an intercom to connect to a larger city saying we maybe there soon.

    There is money available from us to pay for effective counter crime measures, but it's misused.

    No point in a brand new £1million police station if it has no policemen/women. Let's say a policeman gets £50,000 a year (I know that's way over the top, but take into account pensions etc.) then why not spend the £1m on 20 extra officers.

    Am I being stupid or is it just commen sense?

    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 11:51pm on 23 Oct 2008, mysteriousSgtWilko wrote:

    By the way, I do not buy any arguments stating that alcohol is the cause of the rise in crime. Britain has always had a drinking culture. I'm pretty sure that when you see a policeman you sober up quickly!

    When the working mens clubs were in their hey-day, many people were drinking heavily, and I reckon it's no larger (if not less) a percentage than in the 70's. There were less violent crimes then.

    To blame crime on alcohol, drugs etc. (although it is a factor) is a get out clause.

    No matter how many drinks I've had, I'm not about to knife someone or mug someone.

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 04:00am on 24 Oct 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mark:
    Thanks for the numbers and graphs...

    Complain about this comment

  • 29. At 3:22pm on 24 Oct 2008, MonkeyBot 5000 wrote:

    I trust police statistics about as much as I trust the police.

    I have been stopped & seached by the police who claimed that I "matched a description" given after a crime. The next day, a friend of mine was stopped for also matching this description. I am white with long hair and my friend is black with a shaved head!

    When I was younger I used to be searched by the police about once a week despite never committing, being a victim of or witnessing a crime. Now, I take pains to avoid the police whenever possible and would never voluntarily assist them. Not from fear of being labelled a "grass", but because I simply cannot trust them with any information I might give them.

    Complain about this comment

  • 30. At 4:38pm on 24 Oct 2008, J_O_E_L_-_C wrote:

    It's strange how reasonable blog-postings like Mark's always bring out the more rabidly right-wing "A cabbie writes..." elements of the readership.

    The (deluded) perception that crime and disorder is increasing is just a symptom of a wider cultural (and generational) gap, whereby the older generations feel that things were somehow better in the mythical "good old days". The fact is, some things were better and some where much worse - overall, its much the same.

    The reason you might feel more vunerable these days is perhaps because you are older and frailer than you were in your youth. That doesn't automatically mean that society has gone to the dogs and that the young are evil.

    Complain about this comment

  • 31. At 5:38pm on 24 Oct 2008, mysteriousSgtWilko wrote:

    Joel (comment 30) - I'm not a cabbie, I'm a young professional with a degree. I'm not old or frail, I'm 31 and I grew up in a lower class background and lived in Nottingham (not the safest part of the world) for 4 years when I was at Uni. I think this means that I'm certainly not deluded. My feet are firmly planted on the ground. Also, where did anyone mention that the young were evil? Don't read into things, read into facts. And facts are what I have given.

    I'd love to know which safe and secure ivory tower you live in Come down to Brixton with me one night and tell me that I'm deluded and that crime is under control and I'm perfectly safe.

    Complain about this comment

  • 32. At 10:22pm on 24 Oct 2008, U4860383 wrote:

    UK Murder statistics:

    March 1999 - March 2000 = 760
    March 2000 - March 2001 = 792
    March 2001 - March 2002 = 891
    March 2002 - March 2003 = 1,048 - (876)
    This includes 172 attributed to Harold Shipman
    March 2003 - March 2004 = 853
    March 2004 - March 2005 = 868
    2005 - 2006 = 765
    includes 54 victims of the July bombings in London
    March 2006 - March 2007 = 759
    March 2007 - March 2008 784

    I'd say not much change......but hyping up fear and loathing makes a good story.....

    nic


    Complain about this comment

  • 33. At 7:23pm on 26 Oct 2008, Rustigjongens wrote:

    U4860383,

    Your stats relate only to Murder figures, even this single set of figures is incorrect, you have failed to highlight the change in how these figures have been classified. These changes as you must be aware change your stats totally.

    Unlike some posters here, I have only had good experiences with the Police, perhaps treating police officers as humans would enhance your respect for these under appreciated people.

    Complain about this comment

  • 34. At 12:11pm on 27 Oct 2008, J_O_E_L_-_C wrote:

    #31

    Thats a bit of a straw man argument you are posting there. I did not say that you are prefectly safe - granted the world isn't a particularly secure place. The point making is merely that, measure for measure, crime and disorder isn't markedly worse than it was in the past and we should recognise that.

    Joel (of Glasgow)

    Complain about this comment

  • 35. At 12:31pm on 27 Oct 2008, -RobW- wrote:

    #31:

    Brixton has had a bad rep for years and years. No-one is saying that there is no crime anywhere anymore.

    I was mugged in 1997 and haven't experienced any crime since. Therefore crime must have gone down 100% since 1997, yes?

    Anecdotal evidence is useless. WHY should "the police" have some amazing insight into the nationwide problem? Which police? Police in Wythenshawe? Royal Tunbridge Wells?

    The only way of actually getting an overview is with statistics. So the models are flawed. Big surprise. They are still better than claiming that crime has gone up massively because you and a couple of people you know were mugged this year.

    Complain about this comment

  • 36. At 12:05pm on 29 Oct 2008, Chris Arnfield wrote:

    I have read with interest the above comments, and would add the following.
    Statistics mean nothing unless you happen to be one! Then they are important. Statistics used for politically motivated, or simply job-justifying reasons, are simply a means to an end.
    They will not necessarily influence or change anything from the causes to the solutions.
    To relate to a section of earlier comments, there are indeed different perceptions dependent upon the age of the perceiver. e.g. older i.e. pensioners age, people always see `modern` times as being inferior to their own memories of their time in a relative period of their lives. This is normal. Listen in to any family conversation which includes up to three generations.
    However, the perception of helplessness, fear, and vulnerability today are very real to them.
    We know that younger people are more likely to be involved in some way in a violent situation simply due to their exposure to those situations. However, ask them whether they feel fearful etc, when they are going out for a night out, and they will likely tell you no.
    People in small rural communities will have less perceived fear of violence than those living in an inner city.
    Statistics about crime mean nothing to any of them, until they become one.
    What HAS changed however, is the way crimes are reported.
    Newspapers particularly, will sensationalize particular types of crime according to their particular political alliance.
    Not too long ago it was dog attacks! We were given the stereotypical description of macho late teens, dwellers from council estates, accompanied by their Pitbull or Staffordshire terrier. Both to be seen snarling and spitting threats and abuse at everyone. There was an inferred corollary with Labour type voters by papers like `The Sun`.
    Once that died down, it was ferral youths. Before then, nobody had ever heard of the word ferral!
    Currently, the newspapers would have you believe that around every corner are a gang of drunken, drugged-up teenagers, just waiting to kick you around the street for your `McDonalds` burger, or mobile `phone.
    To finalize, we are all today, conditioned by the media into accepting the current `snapshot` of our civilization. It is only when we stop accepting what we are told by journalists and media producers that we make realistic judgments about the state of our country.
    By all means read the figures and statistics, but make real judgments of your own, from your own experiences and those around you, not those force fed by the media.
    As a footnote, and to provoke further `rabid` discussion, I would like to leave you with an observation made by me over nearly 60 years of existence.
    As a society, we now, more than ever, despise violence against individuals, especially gang violence. Whether it be for robbery or just malice. However, our judges and the intelligentsia of our country see it differently. Crimes against money or property seem more heinous to them. Hence, you are more likely to get 40 years for robbing Brinksmat, than you are murdering somebody for no apparent reason. This is perception today.
    This week, the young thugs that murdered a young girl, a so-called `goth` had their sentences reviewed and in one case reduced because of their age?
    If ever there was a case for execution that was it. A young girl kicked beyond recognition by a gang of young men until she expired. Her crime. Trying to protect her boyfriend!
    Albert Peirrepoint says that executions were nothing more than revenge.
    Correct, they were. Revenge well deserved, and applied by `society`.
    Only when we are strong enough to destroy those that seek to destroy others will there be a seed change in our society.
    As MacMillan said just before he died, "never appease aggressors", "it will only spur them on to destroy you, because they perceive you to be weak".
    Violent crime is an expression of aggression against everybody. All of us. It must be met with equal resolve to destroy it whenever it strikes.

    Complain about this comment

  • 37. At 4:49pm on 06 Nov 2008, stewing wrote:

    reading your article is like listening to a labour politician after they ,ve been found lying to get a loan or a passport or a ticket etc. Couldn,t one reason for the figures being cockeyed be , it is the english police who are counting . the same mob who will willingly wait outside a house for hours while some woman gets knifed or shot. but who are on the job when theres a whiff of political incorrectness. How you can pretend that crime is going down baffles me. Come to wakefeild any weekend night and then tell me that.

    Complain about this comment

  • 38. At 6:36pm on 07 Nov 2008, John Ellis wrote:

    Well would you consider this serious violance, mischief, or would you class it as other.

    A pensioner is stood just outside her house talking to a guy from the local garage that has just returned her car.
    They see a young male poking his head around the corner of the street over the road he has in his hand a stick on the end a damn big rocket. It missed her head by inches and blew up inside her house!
    It took 4 calls to get the police out to a case of well what would you call it?.
    the youth was chased the night before by the same woman my wife and a neighbour for setting alight old furniture on our community garden, the fire was out before any damage was done so we know it was a targeted attack.
    Nothing can be done however.
    wonder what they classed it as?

    Complain about this comment

  • 39. At 6:27pm on 16 Nov 2008, stewing wrote:

    But you must be able to grasp why no one believes the bbc anymore, to day(sunday) the gov has just admitted that violent crime is going up. If you just repeat everything that new labour feeds you, we are all paying a licence fee for a propoganda department for this govt. Surely there are some people in the bbc who looked at the original govt figures and thought" thats bull, i,ll check "

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.