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British Crime Survey and other surveys

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 measures the amount of crime in England and Wales (the first survey covered Scotland as well, but now Scotland and Northern Ireland carry out their own crime surveys) by asking people about crimes they have experienced in the last year. The BCS includes crimes which are not reported to the police, so it is an important alternative to police records. The survey collects information about:

  • the victims of crime
  • the circumstances in which incidents occur
  • the behaviour of offenders in committing crimes

In this way, the survey provides information to inform crime reduction measures and to gauge their effectiveness.

The BCS is also an important source of information about other topics, such as people’s perceptions of anti-social behaviour and attitudes towards the criminal justice system, including the police and the courts. The survey also looks at people’s attitudes to crime, such as how much they fear crime and what measures they take to avoid it.

Have you been asked to take part in the British Crime Survey?

If 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 participation 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.

Find out how the British Crime Survey has changed and what has happened to crime over the last 25 years.

Reviewing crime statistics

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 under 16s in January 2009.
Consultation on the British Crime Survey extension to cover under 16s - Response from the Home Office – December 2008

We 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 the future.

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 crime page.

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:

See also

Related links

Key publications

© Crown Copyright 2009


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