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Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)

Latest crime data and releases produced by the Office for National Statistics.

What is the Crime Survey for England and Wales?

The CSEW, formerly known as the British Crime Survey (BCS), is a face-to-face survey asking people who are resident in households in England and Wales about their experiences of a range of crimes in the past year. The survey interviews both adults and children. The survey started in 1982 (covering crime experienced in 1981) and is conducted on a continuous basis with around 35,000 adults and 3,000 children aged 10 to 15 years old interviewed each year.

The CSEW does not cover the population living in group residences (for example, care homes or halls of residence) or other institutions, nor does it cover crime against commercial or public sector bodies. Scotland and Northern Ireland carry out their own separate crime surveys. The content of the survey is reviewed each year and new questions are added as required. When new forms of criminal activity start to emerge, an assessment needs to be made as to whether the survey can measure these. For example, currently ONS are conducting a project to develop and test new questions to capture fraud and crime committed online.

What crimes are covered by the survey?

As a survey that asks people whether they have experienced victimisation, the following offences are covered: violence (though murder cannot be included), robbery, theft (personal, burglary, vehicle, bicycle, other household) and criminal damage. The survey doesn't cover so called “victimless” crime, such as possession of drugs or motoring offences.

The CSEW doesn't provide national estimates of the volume of crime for all offences, and fraud and sexual offences are omitted from its headline figures. However, bespoke questions on these topics have been included in recent years and provide a partial measure of these offences, which are reported separately from the headline estimates. Work is currently underway to incorporate measures of fraud and cyber crime into CSEW headline estimates.

Why is the survey valuable?

The main aim of the CSEW is to provide robust trends on a consistent basis for the crime types and population it covers. The CSEW provides a better reflection of the extent of crime than police recorded figures, as the survey asks about crimes that are not reported to or recorded by the police. The survey is also unaffected by changes in police recording practices or levels of public reporting to the police, so it provides a more consistent measure over time. The survey offers provides a useful benchmark for police recorded crime.

The survey also seeks the opinions of the public on a range of crime-related issues, such as public confidence in police and the wider criminal justice system. It also provides crucial information on the nature of crime, such as a demographic profile of victims, location and time of day of the incident. The findings from the survey help inform the policy and operational response to crime.

Where can I find more?

The latest publication was released on 15 October 2015; this guide explains the other data sources used to measure crime and the user guide provides further details.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.