With crime statistics you need to be careful when reporting trends. First of all the overall number of crimes is a near meaningless figure as it treats every crime the same – a homicide and possession of cannabis. So I have always focused on the crimes that have the biggest impact on victims – violent and sexual offences.
Sexual offences data is challenging as we know not all sexual assaults are reported and hence an increase or decrease in that data may be about changes in reporting not a change in offending. So I find the data that best represents whether there is an actual uptick in victims is violent crime. Most people will tell the Police if they have been assaulted.
Now certain types of violent crimes may be affected by if they are or are not reported – domestic violence.
So within violent crimes, the best sub-category is serious assaults that cause injury. These are the the GBHs and the like. These are the least likely (after homicides) to be affected by reporting bias.
So I had a look at the Police data for the last six years for serious assaults causing injury. I was expecting it to have decreased in 2020 due to the lockdowns. But here’s what has happened:
Yes, since 2017 we have seen a doubling in the worst types of assaults. A doubling!! How many media stories have we seen on this?
The data is:
- 2015: 8,845
- 2016: 9,409
- 2017: 10,681
- 2018: 13,317
- 2019: 18,543
- 2020: 21,252
The massive increase was in 2019 which saw these serious assaults jump 39% from the year before.