Page last updated at 02:56 GMT, Friday, 21 October 2005 03:56 UK

Push to standardise crime figures

Police tape
The study will consider if the public gets the right crime information

Criminologists are trying to find a way to measure overall UK crime to tackle confusion over two sets of figures.

Recorded crime figures and the alternative British Crime Survey (BCS), which polls people's experience of crime, can give different results.

In the latest crime figures, released on Thursday, police figures showed an increase in violent crime while the BCS indicated that violence was stable.

The Statistics Commission's findings will be passed on to the Home Office.

'Elusive concept'

The review, conducted by a consultancy firm and supported by a panel of criminologists, will consider whether there should be an officially recognised indicator of "total crime".

The commission concedes that such a concept has so far proved elusive.

The indicator could be calculated by adding together every recorded crime and giving weight to certain offences.

According to quarterly Home Office figures, violent crime in the three months to the end of June increased by 6% on the same period last year.

But crime overall fell by 2%, the figures for England and Wales showed.

The Home Office said the figures for violent offences - up from 301,100 to 318,200 - reflected improved crime recording and more proactive policing.

Annual crime figures published in July indicated one million violent offences in 2004-5 - up 7% on the previous year.

Alternative survey

The 318,200 violent offences, including murder, serious wounding and other life-threatening crimes, in the second quarter of 2005, also represented a rise of more than 30,000 from the 284,900 recorded in the first quarter.

Under the National Crime Recording Standard established in 2002, low-level anti-social behaviour not previously included started being recorded as violent crime.

While recorded crime fell 2% in the quarterly figures, the alternative British Crime Survey (BCS), which polls people's experience of crime, found overall offences in England and Wales fell 5% in the 12 months to June 2005.

During the same period, 24% of people were the victims of at least one crime, the BCS indicates - the lowest percentage since the survey began in 1981.

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