New police recorded crime figures show that violent crime has risen in England and Wales by 24 percent. So, what’s going on? And has it really?
For years now, crime rates have been steadily falling in the UK – with many in the media reporting that crime in England and Wales had reached an all-time low just one year ago. But last month, thanks to a new report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), this optimistic picture was turned on its head.
According to the new ONS figures, violent crime in England and Wales has risen by 24 percent this year. This includes a nine percent rise in knife crime, a seven percent increase in gun crime, a 14 percent increase in the number of reported rapes and other sexual offences and a 20 percent increase in the number of murders (though it’s important to bear in mind that this figure includes the 96 killed at Hillsborough in 1989 following the conclusion of official inquests).
No doubt about it, the stats make for a depressing picture. But is it an accurate one?
Perhaps not. The ONS claim that a large part of the increase can be accounted for by new, improved police recording practices and other factors that are not necessarily indicative of a real increase in crime. These include the expansion of the police series to cover new harassment offences, a greater number of incidents being recorded as crimes and a larger number of victims reporting violent crime to the police.
Still, that’s not to say that the trend can be explained away entirely. Speaking to the Guardian, John Flatley of the ONS said, “The latest figures present a complex picture, with the crime survey for England and Wales estimating similar levels of violent crime to that seen in recent years, but the number of offences recorded by the police increasing”HHw. However, Flatley continued by stating that the figures do include “a small but genuine increase in some categories of violent crime”.
So, whilst we can relax in the knowledge that we’re not living through a large-scale surge in violent criminal activity, we do need to be aware that some types of violent crime are on the rise. Unfortunately, it is some of the more serious crimes, such as knife crime and gun crime, that have in fact become more commonplace – with the police reporting significant increases in both (29,306 and 5,244 incidents respectively). And this means that, sad as it is to say, the UK is a more dangerous place than it was a year ago.
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