What is really going on with the UK crime figures?

On the one hand we see from official statistics that crimes rates are apparently dropping fast. On the other the UK media is reporting more crime than ever before, tapping into a crime-fear Zeitgeist in the country.

“[T]he British government is strikingly at odds with both the
press and popular opinion. Supported by Britain’s most prominent
criminologists, the government insists that the country has, in fact,
been experiencing the longest period of falling crime since
record-keeping began. Indeed, it says, the rapid and sustained rise in
crime that began in Britain in the late 1950s has been entirely
reversed: crime reached a peak in 1995 but has since dropped by 48
percent. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has declared herself “extremely
pleased” by the dramatic improvement in public safety.

Someone
in this story is wrong. But who? Have the British people succumbed to
mass hysteria? Or is the government’s methodology flawed?”

In a brilliant article in City Journal, Claire Berlinski tackles the issue. It would appear that the crime statistics are indeed wrong, and that far from the media being responsible for “fear-mongering”, they are merely expressing the widespread fear and anger ordinary Britons feel about the rapidly worsening crime situation in Britain.

Read on:  The Dark Figure of British Crime by Claire Berlinski, City Journal Spring 2009

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