How accurate is the British Crime Survey?

Posted: May 31st, 2011  Author:   3 Comments »

A number of times now, a few people have remarked to me that the British Crime Survey (BCS) is a much more accurate guage of crime than police recorded crime which is what we use.  They’re free to think that of course, but I’m always a bit surprised and disappointed to find out that they have no idea how the BCS is calculated. What is it about people who more fervently believe something they don’t actually understand?

Anyway, here is a brief explanation of the BCS compared to what we do;

All crime statistics have 3 components; the i) victim i) the crime and iii) the criminal.

What the BCS does is focus a select group of victims (i) and asks around 50,000 victims living in private households about the crimes they have experienced in the last year.
What we do is take the recorded crimes (ii) by the 43 Police Forces in England and Wales, their category, their location and feed all 500,000 into a database once a month.
So the BCS is about the perception of crime from a victims point of view – useful of course but a much smaller and less factual sample. What our data does is strictly evidential, unless you think the Police are making up the crimes, their location and category !

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3 Comments on “How accurate is the British Crime Survey?”

  1. 1 UK Crime Stats Blog » Blog Archive » What’s missing from crime statistics data? Competition and innovation, not the ONS said at 22:28 on June 7th, 2011:

    […] National Statistician of the Office of National Statistics, both the British Crime Survey (who’s shortcomings I have explained here) and the Police figures (which we use) were not properly covering crimes against children, […]

  2. 2 UK Crime Stats Blog » Blog Archive » 30 years of Recorded Crime versus the British Crime Survey said at 16:55 on July 29th, 2011:

    […] […]

  3. 3 UK Crime Stats Blog » Blog Archive » The last 3 years of national crime totals said at 16:15 on March 23rd, 2012:

    […] course that recorded crime is quite different to the results from the British Crime Survey – we have covered this here. I also appreciate that the difference is large, as this chart […]

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