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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 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.

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 children aged 10 to 15 from January 2009. You can find more information on the BCS: extension to 10 to 15 year olds page.

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

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