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Is Violent Crime Increasing
or Decreasing?
Dr Jude Towers, GradStat
Department of Sociology, Lancaster University
Violence & Society UNESCO
Centre
Core research agenda: understanding violence to be central to the analysis
of social rela...
Focus Today: IsViolent Crime Increasing
orDecreasing?
• Conceived of as a relatively straight-forward analysis of data
on ...
Is the rate of domestic violence
decreasing or increasing?
ESRC-funded Secondary Data
Analysis Project phase I
Prof Sylvia...
Issues
• Consistent definitions and measurements are necessary to
identify and follow the effect of actions
• Absence of s...
What statistics?
• Police recorded crime
• ‘Flagged’ domestic violence in the criminal justice system (CJS)
• Police; Crow...
Police Recorded Crime
Issues in measuring domestic violence using police recorded
crime data:
• Violence disaggregated by ...
‘Flagged’ Domestic Abuse
• Police and CPS ‘flag’ domestic abuse
• Essential data for police assessment of ‘what works’
• E...
HMIC 2015 Report
In December 2015 the HMIC published its follow up report:
Increasingly Everyone's Business: A Progress Re...
Crime Survey for England and Wales
Records data about domestic violence in two ways:
• Intimate Violence module
• Self-com...
Domestic abuse and violent crime
Most, but not all, ‘domestic abuse’ has a ‘violent crime’ component
(physical or sexual v...
Digging into the data
A close comparison of raw data with published findings found a
difference in the number of incidents...
The effect of capping
We agree that volatility between years which risks introducing
‘noise’ instead of identifying ‘signa...
Counting all reported incidents
versus capping
Removing the cap to count all incidents reported:
• Increases the estimated...
Cap or count all reported?
Counting all reported incidents:
• reveals alternative patterns in violent crime
• demonstrates...
Trends in violent crime
New methodology for assessing trends in violent crime in
England and Wales using CSEW data:
• Coun...
Findings in violent crime trends
• The rate of domestic violent crime has been increasing since 2009
• Domestic violent cr...
Trends in violent crime
All reported
violent crime
per 1000 adults
All reported
violent crime
against women
per 1000 adult...
High-frequency victims
The trends in different forms of violent crime consistently differ
when the unit of measurement is ...
Contact details
Dr Jude Towers, GradStat
Department of Sociology, Lancaster University
Lancaster
LA1 4YT
Email: j.towers1@...
EstimatednumberofViolentCrimes(inthousands)
fromCrimeSurveyforEnglandandWales
YEAR END
93 95 97 99 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09...
Crime Survey for England and Wales
CSEW 2011/12 FEMALES MALES ALL
VICTIMS: DV
Violence against
the person
Face-to-Face Mod...
Source:PublishedDatafromOfficeforNationalStatistics(ONS2013)Appendixtables:CrimeSurveyforEnglandandWalesYearendingSeptembe...
The effect of capping: Data
Estimated No.
offences – CAP
Estimated No.
offences – ALL
REPORTED
Ratio
Domestic violence 315...
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Is Violent Crime Increasing or Decreasing?

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Presentation by Jude Towers at the 1st Lancaster Data Conversations 30 January 2017. http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/sociology/about-us/people/jude-towers

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Is Violent Crime Increasing or Decreasing?

  1. 1. Is Violent Crime Increasing or Decreasing? Dr Jude Towers, GradStat Department of Sociology, Lancaster University
  2. 2. Violence & Society UNESCO Centre Core research agenda: understanding violence to be central to the analysis of social relations and not reducible to other social processes, the primary work of the Centre is to identify variations in different forms of violence and to develop theories of their causal pathways: to what extent these are shared or differentiated and specific. Integral to this is the second core component of the Centre’s work – measuring violence Core research team: • Professor Sylvia Walby • Professor Brian Francis • Dr Jude Towers Plus academic experts, policy and practice networks in violence from across Europe Research projects: • Is Domestic Violence Decreasing or Increasing? • Costing Gender-based Violence • Measuring Violence to Stop Violence • Gendered Dimensions of Trafficking in Human Beings • Review of EU Anti-trafficking Projects to inform strategic and legal development • Worldwide Best Practices in Rape Prevention and Supporting Victims of Rape
  3. 3. Focus Today: IsViolent Crime Increasing orDecreasing? • Conceived of as a relatively straight-forward analysis of data on domestic violence from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW)  Development of a new methodology for measuring violent crime using CSEW data and a new measurement framework for violence against women and men (Walby and Towers et al (2017) The Concept and Measurement of Violence against Women and Men. Policy Press). • Proposals for changes to the collection of data using surveys • Proposals for changes to the official estimation methodology for violent crime • Substantive findings which challenge the official picture of violent crime in England and Wales
  4. 4. Is the rate of domestic violence decreasing or increasing? ESRC-funded Secondary Data Analysis Project phase I Prof Sylvia Walby (PI); Prof Brian Francis (CI); Dr Jude Towers (SRA) Overall, published rate of violent crime is falling; but fall in rate of domestic violence (DV) appears to have stopped Walby, S., J. Towers and B. Francis (2014) ‘Mainstreaming domestic and gender-based violence into sociology and the criminology of violence’, Sociological Review, 62(S2); Walby, S., J. Towers and B. Francis (2015) ‘Is violent crime increasing or decreasing? A new methodology to measure repeat attacks making visible the significance of gender and domestic relations’ BJC http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/01/31/bjc.azv131.full.pdf+html
  5. 5. Issues • Consistent definitions and measurements are necessary to identify and follow the effect of actions • Absence of specific domestic violence ‘crime code’ • Definition of domestic violence requires information on ‘relationship between perpetrator and victim’ - not usually part of crime code definitions • More than one definition in use in policy and measurement • Crime codes (several) plus relationship? • Variations in ‘flagging’ between police force areas • Surveys often use ‘conflict tactics scale’ not crime codes • Lack of stability in ‘official’ definition • Varied measurement unit: event/crime or victim or perpetrator • Tension between ‘specialised’ and ‘mainstream’ definitions
  6. 6. What statistics? • Police recorded crime • ‘Flagged’ domestic violence in the criminal justice system (CJS) • Police; Crown Prosecution Service • Crime Survey for England and Wales • Special module ‘intimate violence, self-completed (SC) • Main questionnaire, answered face to face (F2F)
  7. 7. Police Recorded Crime Issues in measuring domestic violence using police recorded crime data: • Violence disaggregated by sex of victim is visible in homicide, rape and a subset of sexual offences: but the relationship between victim and perpetrator is not visible • Domestic violence is not a specific category in police recorded crime data. Neither the sex of the victim nor the relationship between victim and offender are embedded in VAP offences (except homicide) – but it is not an insignificant crime: ‘In the 12 months to March 2015, the police in England and Wales… …one in three of all recorded assaults with injury crimes.’ HMIC, 2015 p.5
  8. 8. ‘Flagged’ Domestic Abuse • Police and CPS ‘flag’ domestic abuse • Essential data for police assessment of ‘what works’ • Evaluating best practice to reduce ‘attrition’ • Statistics on police force flagged domestic abuse • Not on a statutory footing • Not routinely released to the public at a national level • Significant variation “In view of the extreme variation in the information provided it is unlikely that some forces’ data accurately reflects the number of repeat victims” HMIC (2014: 42)
  9. 9. HMIC 2015 Report In December 2015 the HMIC published its follow up report: Increasingly Everyone's Business: A Progress Report on the Police Response to Domestic Abuse ‘Overall, HMIC is encouraged… that police leaders, officers, PCSOs… now see tackling domestic abuse as an important priority for them – domestic abuse is increasingly becoming ‘everyone’s business’. …However, there is still much more to be done… Every force… needs to do more work to understand the nature and scale of domestic abuse in their area, through comprehensive analysis of their own and partner organisations data...’ (HMIC, 2015 p.7)
  10. 10. Crime Survey for England and Wales Records data about domestic violence in two ways: • Intimate Violence module • Self-complete methodology (CASI) -> 4 times higher disclosure rate than face-to-face module • Conflict Tactic Scale -> does not coordinate act, injury and motivation thus criminal and non-criminal events cannot be distinguished • Only records prevalence (number of victims) • Restricted to respondents aged 16-59 years and those able to use CASI • Victim Form module • Face-to-face methodology -> impacts on disclosure rate • Series of open and closed questions -> expert coder determines if event crosses the criminal threshold and what type of crime • Records prevalence (number of victims) and frequency (number of incidents) • Screener questions direct respondents, but no age or sex restrictions
  11. 11. Domestic abuse and violent crime Most, but not all, ‘domestic abuse’ has a ‘violent crime’ component (physical or sexual violence or threats of violence): • ‘Violence against the person’ (VAP) • Homicide • Wounding • Serious wounding • Other wounding • Common assault and attempted assault (no injury) • Threats to kill • Sexual offences • Rape (including attempted rape) • Sexual assault • Non-crime domestic incidents/domestic abuse • Includes emotional and financial abuse CSEW is a victimisation survey and therefore does not include homicide. Snatch theft and robbery are not included in the published VAP figures from the CSEW.
  12. 12. Digging into the data A close comparison of raw data with published findings found a difference in the number of incidents (crimes): not all incidents reported to the survey are included in published statistics • This is due to the treatment of respondents who report a high number of incidents (greater than five) in a ‘series’ offence • Respondents can report between 2 and 96 incidents in a series; official estimates only count the first five (known as capping): why? ‘The restriction to the first five incidents in a series has been applied since the CSEW began in order to ensure that the estimates are not affected by a very small number of respondents who report an extremely high number of incidents and which are highly variable between survey years’ ONS (2013)
  13. 13. The effect of capping We agree that volatility between years which risks introducing ‘noise’ instead of identifying ‘signal’ change should be avoided – especially in trend analysis However, is the appropriate solution to cap at 5 incidents? Effect of capping: • Under estimation of violent crime • Skew the patterning of violent crime by rendering invisible high frequency victims • Hypothesis: capping will especially impact on victims of domestic violence. The majority of victims of domestic violence are female thus capping could also especially impact on violence against women
  14. 14. Counting all reported incidents versus capping Removing the cap to count all incidents reported: • Increases the estimated number of violent crimes by 60% This increase is not evenly distributed: it is lowest among violent crime committed by strangers and higher among violent crimes committed by someone known to the victim: • Stranger violence increases by 20% • Domestic violence increases by 70% • Acquaintance violence doubles (increases by 100%) The increase is not evenly distributed by sex of victim: • Violence against women increases by 70% • Violence against men increases by 50% CSEW 2011/12
  15. 15. Cap or count all reported? Counting all reported incidents: • reveals alternative patterns in violent crime • demonstrates that high frequency violence is unevenly distributed towards women • demonstrates that high frequency violence is unevenly distributed to those victimised by domestic relations and acquaintances rather than by strangers Year-to-year volatility is not problematic in cross-sectional analysis; all reported crimes can be analysed Counting all reported incidents increases volatility to an unacceptable level in trend analysis: does this justify excluding high frequency victims? • If number of incidents falling / rising is evenly distributed across the population may not be problematic • If changes in trends of violence are driven by changes in specific groups of victims e.g. high frequency victims, then it is problematic
  16. 16. Trends in violent crime New methodology for assessing trends in violent crime in England and Wales using CSEW data: • Counting all incidents reported to the CSEW victim form module • Using three year rolling averages to bring volatility into line with the official method • Using the Davies test and segmented regression modelling for trends rather than comparing two (random) points in time Hypothesis: capping will especially impact on victims of domestic violence. The majority of victims of domestic violence are female thus capping could also especially impact on violence against women
  17. 17. Findings in violent crime trends • The rate of domestic violent crime has been increasing since 2009 • Domestic violent crime against women increasing • Domestic violent crime against men has stopped falling • The rate of violent crime against women has been increasing since 2009 • Rate of domestic violent crime against women increasing • Rate of violent crime against women by acquaintances increasing • Rate of violent crime against women by strangers unchanged since 1994 • The rate of violent crime against men continues to fall • Rate of violent crime against men by acquaintances falling • Rate of violent crime against men by strangers falling • Rate of domestic violent crime against men has stopped falling The overall rate of violent crime has been increasing since 2009
  18. 18. Trends in violent crime All reported violent crime per 1000 adults All reported violent crime against women per 1000 adult females All reported domestic violence per 1000 adults
  19. 19. High-frequency victims The trends in different forms of violent crime consistently differ when the unit of measurement is all reported crime, capped crimes or victims in ways which suggest that the increases in domestic violent crime and violent crime against women are driven by changes in the experiences of high frequency victims…
  20. 20. Contact details Dr Jude Towers, GradStat Department of Sociology, Lancaster University Lancaster LA1 4YT Email: j.towers1@lancaster.ac.uk Web: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/sociology/about-us/people/jude-towers Walby, S., J. Towers and B. Francis (2014) ‘Mainstreaming domestic and gender- based violence into sociology and the criminology of violence’, Sociological Review, 62(S2) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-954X.12198/pdf Walby, S., J. Towers and B. Francis (2015) ‘Is violent crime increasing or decreasing? A new methodology to measure repeat attacks making visible the significance of gender and domestic relations’ BJC http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/01/31/bjc.azv131.full.pdf+html
  21. 21. EstimatednumberofViolentCrimes(inthousands) fromCrimeSurveyforEnglandandWales YEAR END 93 95 97 99 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 Domestic Violence 1,166 989 814 775 626 506 447 402 358 407 343 293 289 391 308 398 Stranger & acquaintance violence 2,111 2,820 2,426 2,181 1,745 1,905 1,866 1,666 1,682 1,739 1,542 1,543 1,460 1,567 1,477 1,301 All violent crime 3,515 4,176 3,593 3,382 2,728 2,714 2,596 2,322 2,350 2,473 2,201 2,113 2,082 2,206 2,041 1,915 CSEW Trend Data to 2012/13: Table A1. Estimated number of offences peaks. Lowest recorded estimate of offences. Table reproduces ONS published data for the estimated number of offences per year at the level of the adult population of England and Wales (‘000). Data taken from the face-to-face Victim Form module • Domestic Violence: violence against the person by a partner/ex-partner/other family or household member • Stranger & Acquaintance Violence: violence against the person by an unknown perpetrator or a perpetrator known by sight but not a partner/ex-partner/other family or household member (ONS (2013: 34) User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales)
  22. 22. Crime Survey for England and Wales CSEW 2011/12 FEMALES MALES ALL VICTIMS: DV Violence against the person Face-to-Face Module 133,000 52,000 185,000 Self-complete Module 458,000 244,000 702,000 Ratio: F2F to SC 3.4 4.7 3.8 Currently best data on domestic violence comes from CSEW CSEW asks questions about domestic violence in two ways: • victim form module where questions asked face-to-face • Intimate Violence self-completion module We use F2F data since it provides greater detail about incidents and repeat victimisation. Only incidents crossing the criminal threshold are included
  23. 23. Source:PublishedDatafromOfficeforNationalStatistics(ONS2013)Appendixtables:CrimeSurveyforEnglandandWalesYearendingSeptember2013. 1CSEWisavictimisationsurveyandthereforedoesnotincludehomicide 2SnatchtheftandrobberyarenotincludedintheVAPfigures Perpetrator Number of offences % of violent crime % of all crime Domestic 308,000 17.0 3.0 Acquaintance 731,000 41.0 8.0 Stranger 753,000 42.0 8.0 All VAP 1,792,000 100.0 19.0 All offences 9,500,000 - 100.0 Violence against the Person (men and women) by domestic relations, acquaintances or strangers Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2011/12
  24. 24. The effect of capping: Data Estimated No. offences – CAP Estimated No. offences – ALL REPORTED Ratio Domestic violence 315,000 526,000 1.7 Acquaintance Violence 777,000 1,529,000 2.0 Stranger violence 797,000 996,000 1.2 All VAP offences 1,966,000 3,051,000 1.6 All sexual offences 77,000 120,000 1.6 All VAP & sexual offences 1,966,000 3,171,000 1.6 Violence against women 839,000 1,417,000 1.7 Violence against men 1,144,000 1,753,000 1.5

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