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British Crime Survey: extention to 10 to 15 year olds

The British Crime Survey (BCS) is an important source of information about levels of crime and public attitudes to crime as well as other criminal justice issues.

The BCS is a face-to-face victimisation survey of the general population which has been carried out since 1982 (see British Crime Survey and other surveys). Adults aged 16 or over resident in households in England and Wales are asked about their experiences of crime in the 12 months prior to interview, as well as their attitudes towards different crime-related issues. In January 2009 the survey was extended to ask 10 to 15 year olds about their victimisation experiences and views on crime-related topics as well.

The survey extension was developed with a victimisation module similar to that used in the adult survey in order to measure experience of personal victimisation. Children responding to the survey are also asked questions on the following crime-related topics:

  • experience and contact with the police
  • feelings of safety and crime prevention awareness
  • anti-social behaviour
  • experiences of bullying
  • perception of, and involvement in, street gangs and
  • carrying knives

First experimental statistics on levels of victimisation among children were published in June 2010 using the first year's data (January to December 2009).

Figures produced from the extention to 10 to 15s remain experimental statistics and are not presently included in routine British Crime Survey publications. However, future plans do include the annual reporting year for the children's figures moving to a financial year basis; estimates from April-March 2010 and April-March 2011 will be published in summer 2011.

The driver behind moving to extend the BCS was a response to independent reviews of crime statistics (Crime Statistics: User Perspectives, September 2006; Crime Statistics: An independent review, November 2006) which recommended exploring the feasibility of extending the scope of the BCS to include groups not currently covered, such as children aged under 16.

Independent expert advice was sought on the feasibility of extending the scope of the BCS to children aged under 16 (see Home Office Research Report 6). One of the conclusions of this work was that the BCS could be extended in this way, and that this should be done by interviewing children aged 10 to 15 in households already selected to take part in the main survey.

Based on this advice, work was carried out to develop the BCS to cover children aged 10 to 15. Prior to implementation, a consultation was carried out in 2008 to invite users' views on the proposals.

A methodological report of the development of the BCS extention to children aged 10 to 15 is available (including qualitative research, questionnaire development and question testing, and field trials):

The experimental statistics publication in June 2010 included four different approaches to measuring levels of victimisation among children and sought users' views about these statistics in a 12-week consultation.

Views received from users during the 12-week consultation and the Home Office Statistics response are available:




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