Sky in ‘still not falling’ shock

The latest crime figures are out [PDF]: they show a fall in recorded crime, and flat crime according to the British Crime Survey [*].

This isn’t surprising – it just highlights that the rest of the country is actually doing the same ‘crime probably down a bit and certainly not up‘ thing as London, and that crime is far lower than it was at the beginning of the decade (there’s a handy historical comparison on page 6 for the BCS figures).

Interestingly, recorded “serious violence against the person” fell by 9%. Now, while I’m aware that people only bother reporting nicked wallets and broken car windows if they need the insurance money, I’m sceptical that GBH and attempted murder are similarly hushed up – they’re the kind of Serious Crimes that the police are targeted on actually solving, rather than ignoring. So unless there’s a major reporting change I’ve missed, this sounds like potentially excellent news.

Also, ‘gun crime’ is up, but gun murder is down. As with drug possession, it seems likely that the higher incidence of ‘gun crime’ is due to a greater police effort at clamping down on people with illicit guns [and yes, I accept it’s possible that gun crime has really risen, but that our feral teens are so dim and crack-addled that they can’t shoot straight enough to kill anyone].

And finally, something which proves my blethering about crime figures and irrational fears is unequivocally right (hurrah!)

As has been the case since 2003/04, most people believe that crime in their local area is flat or falling: this year, 59% of people thought this was the case. But most people simultaneously believe that crime nationwide is rising: only 35% think it is flat or falling.

Regular readers will not be surprised to hear the explanation: the diet of nonsensical, hysterical lies about rocketing crime and lawless yoof that the media and politicians (and bloggers even more so, but luckily nobody listens to us) serves up is so prevalent that people ignore their own experience.

Instead of thinking “hmm, nobody shot, stabbed, robbed and crucified me or anyone I know last year – hooray for low crime”, they think “Look at all this awful stuff reported in the paper [**], and at what those nice chaps Mr Paddick and Mr Johnson are saying – I’m lucky to live in one of the few areas that isn’t riddled with low-lifes and ne’er-do-wells, but everywhere else must be totally going to hell”.

Conclusion: just think how much happier we’d all be if the doomsayers were to, broadly speaking, shut the hell up…

[*] despite its name, the British Crime Survey only covers England and Wales. If you’re Scottish, the sky may well be falling in and you may well be about to be chopped up and made into haggis, for all I know or care. I don’t know why they haven’t renamed the BCS to the English Crime Survey, which would have the double advantage of being more accurate and annoying the Welsh.

[**] as part of a new “no cheap points” initiative, I haven’t mentioned the Daily Mail here.

  1. Phil E said:

    There was some tightening of the recording rules – which were getting a bit on the credulous side post-Blunkett – in 2003, but from what I’ve read the change only affected public order offences & allegations with no supporting evidence. If you squint you can just about see how the second change might have brought down the serious violence numbers, but only on the condition that they were far too high beforehand.

  2. John B said:

    Cheers Phil. Should have made clear – unless there’s a major reporting change *between 2005/06 and 2006/07* that I’ve missed, the 9% fall in y-o-y serious violent crime numbers is significant.