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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 results play an important role in informing Government policy.
The BCS is a face-to-face victimisation survey in which people resident in households in England and Wales are asked about their experiences of crime in the 12 months prior to interview. Respondents to the survey are also asked about their attitudes to crime-related issues such as the police, and criminal justice system, and about their perceptions of crime and anti-social behaviour. Until recently the BCS did not cover crimes against those aged under 16, but since January 2009 interviews have been carried out with children aged 10 to 15. However, these remain experimental statistics and are not presently included in routine British Crime Survey publications.
For the crime types and population it covers, the BCS provides a better reflection of the extent of household and personal crime than police recorded statistics because the survey includes crimes that are not reported to or recorded by the police. The BCS is also a better indicator of long-term trends because it is unaffected by changes in levels of reporting to the police or police recording practices. However, the survey does not aim to provide an absolute count of crime and has notable exclusions.
you been asked to take part in the British Crime Survey?
you have been approached to take part in the survey you may
want to view our BCS
Frequently Asked Questions page which
gives further information for anyone who is wondering what
in the survey involves.
25 years of the BCS
In 2006 the British Crime Survey celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The survey was first carried out in 1982, collecting information
about people’s experiences of crime in 1981. The BCS
was then carried out in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998,
2000 and 2001. Since 2001/02 the survey has run continuously.
Two independent reviews of the national crime statistics carried
out by the Statistics Commission and Professor Adrian Smith
reported during 2006. Recommendations from the reviews can
be found on the Reviews of crime statistics page.
In response to one of the recommendations, the BCS was extended to cover children aged 10 to 15 from January 2009. You can find more information on the BCS: extension to 10 to 15 year olds page.
are planning to commission further work to examine surveying
victimisation of homeless people and those living in institutions. The Commercial Victimisation Survey scope and method
will also be reviewed, with a view to re-running a survey in
Commercial Victimisation Survey
The Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS) is a survey of crime
against small and medium-sized retail and manufacturing premises
in England and Wales. Read more on the Business
Offending, Crime and Justice Survey
The Offending, Crime and Justice Survey (OCJS) is the national
longitudinal, self-report offending survey for England and
Wales. Find out more on the Offending,
Crime and Justice survey page.
If you have any questions about the BCS or about any publications
relating to the BCS please email them to: