Crime falls, but confusion over how much

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The overall level of crime in England and Wales showed a “significant decrease” in official figures published yesterday – but an additional study found the drop in offences recorded by police might have been overstated.

Overall crime fell by 8 per cent, or around 800,000, to 8.9 million incidents in the year to the end of September, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. This was the lowest level since the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) began in 1981.

But a review of the differences between the CSEW and crimes recorded by police showed that while both report a fall in offences, police records appear to “overstate the true rate in which crime has been falling”.

The level of police-recorded crime in the most recent survey showed a 7 per cent decrease to 3.8 million offences in the year ending last September. But in fact police-recorded crime has fallen by 41 per cent since 2002-03, compared to a 26 per cent fall in crimes in the CSEW.