Thursday, 16 July 2009

A 'crimewave' is when there is less crime?

A few weeks ago the Mail twisted a report about violent crime to make Britain seem like Escape from New York.

Now it's at it again with Recession crimewave: Theft, burglaries and fraud rise on the back of record unemployment. Now while it is true that some crimes have gone up, others have gone down. This is always the way with crime stats and papers such as the Mail, who want to attack the government, will always focus on the increases, no matter in what area they are.

But is it a crimewave at all? One of the crimes it picks out - burglary - rose by a massive 1%. And it is only in the sixth paragraph that the Mail mentions rates of murder are down 17% - their lowest rate for twenty years - and attempted murder down 7%. It is this stat that is leading the BBC, Guardian and the Sun versions of the story.

Even later in the story, the Mail says: 'The Survey, which included crimes not reported to police, claims overall crime levels are stable'. Notice the word 'claims' as if the Mail knows better and doesn't quite believe it.

And what is perhaps the one crucial fact about these crime stats that the Mail somehow forgets to include?

Overall recorded crime is down 5%.

Here's what the actual British Crime Survey report says:
The BCS [British Crime Survey] and police recorded crime differ in their coverage of crime. Overall, crime as measured by the BCS shows no change compared with the 2007/08 BCS with no change in most crime types. Crimes recorded by the police show a five per cent decrease compared with 2007/08, with decreases in most crime types.
That is the Mail's 'crimewave'.

1 comment:

  1. Every time this happens I come closer to wanting to pass a law forcing newspapers to print a little graph of the relevant crime stats over the last, say, 10 years, alongside the story.


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