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Office for National Statistics

About the Crime Survey for England and Wales

The Crime Survey for England and Wales is a hugely important means for the Government to understand the true level of crime. The crucial value of the survey is its ability to find out about crimes which do not get reported to, or recorded by, the police. The survey has previously shown that only 4 in 10 crimes are actually reported to the police, so conducting the survey is incredibly valuable in understanding all of the other crimes which go unreported. Without the Crime Survey, the government would have no information on these unreported crimes. Typically the Crime Survey records a higher number of crimes than police figures because it includes these unreported crimes.

The Crime Survey also covers new and emerging crimes, fraud and online crime.

As well as measuring crime, the Crime Survey for England and Wales looks at:

  • Identifying those most at risk of crime, which is used in designing crime prevention programmes.
  • People’s attitudes to crime and the Criminal Justice System, including the police and the courts.
  • People’s experiences of anti-social behaviour and how this has affected their quality of life.

The survey also provides other valuable information about the nature of crimes, such as the location and timing of crimes, the characteristics of offenders and the relationship between victims and offenders. By understanding the nature of crime better, policy makers are able to make sure crime reduction policies are focused where they can make most impact.

From 2009 the survey has included a separate survey to record the experiences of young people aged 10-15. This interview is shorter than the adult interview. Young people are selected to take part from the same households selected for the adult survey. Permission from a parent or guardian is always obtained before an interview is conducted with anyone aged 10-15.

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