The costs of crime
Crime poses a significant cost to individuals, businesses and society in general. Through research and analysis, the costs of crime programme tries to identify and, where possible, give a value to the full range of impacts relating to crime.
We published our first estimates of the economic and social costs of crime in 2000. This was the first serious and comprehensive attempt to place a monetary value on the costs incurred as a result of crime. We present the costs under three broad categories:
- costs incurred in anticipation of crime, such as defensive expenditure
- costs as a consequence of crime – these include the physical and emotional impact on the victim and the value of any property stolen
- costs incurred in response to crime, including the costs to the criminal justice system
Average costs of crime vary between offence categories. Personal crimes with a large estimated emotional and physical impact, such as wounding, are far more costly on average than property crime.
Read more in Home Office Research Study 217.
Why do we need costs of crime figures?
The costs of crime figures help policy-makers to answer questions such as:
- How can we use our existing resources in the most effective way?
- How can we reduce the total cost of crime to society?
- What is the correct level of resourcing for crime reduction activity?
- Should the focus be on preventing crime or mitigating its consequences?
Estimates of the costs of individual crimes enable us to make better-informed decisions about which policy measures are the most effective, by allowing meaningful comparisons to be made of the costs and benefits offered by alternative crime reduction measures. They can help us to prioritise, by focusing scarce resources on policies that have the biggest impact on harm caused by crime, rather than just the number of crimes.
Updating the estimates
Since producing the initial estimates, we have commissioned further research, collected data and conducted analysis to address the weaknesses of the initial study and to ensure continual development and improvement of the estimates. The first update, published in June 2005, focused on crime against individuals and households because this is the largest victim category and the one for which there are most statistics.
The costs of crime programme is an ongoing stream of work and further research and periodic updates are planned for the future.