How much crime do we actually know about?

A good piece in the BBC here recently – Crime figures: Do the police know how much there really is?

I’m always at pains to stress the limitations of crime data when people phone/email me – as they frequently do. I even republished a chapter by Nick Ross, formerly of Crimewatch from his excellent book, Crime: How to solve it – and why so much of we’re told is wrong. By it’s nature crime is secretive and there will always be a gap between actual crime, reported crime and recorded crime.

I have long argued that it is wrong for the Police Forces to be in charge of the collection and collation of crime data and statistics because that is how they are held to account and there is a clear conflict of interest.

A bit like students marking their own exam papers.

There has to be a better way.

For all that, crime data in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – is for researchers, the number one crime dataset in the world. Monthly data from 2011, divided into crime types and fairly closely geospatially located. I would never argue that it’s perfect, but I’m confident that it is the most transparent crime dataset in the world – both in scale and detail.

And something, in this case, a substantial something, is far better than nothing.