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The British Crime Survey (BCS) provides an important source of information about levels of crime, public attitudes to crime and other related issues. The results play an important role in informing Home Office policy. The BCS measures the amount of crime in England and Wales by asking people about crimes they have experienced in the last year. This includes crimes not reported to the police, so it is an important alternative to police records. Victims do not report crime for various reasons, and without the BCS there would be no official source of information on these unreported crimes. Because members of the public are asked directly about their experiences, the survey also provides a consistent measure of crime that is unaffected by the extent to which crimes are reported to the police, or by changes in the criteria used by the police when recording crime. The survey also helps to identify those most at risk of different types of crime, and this helps in the planning of crime prevention programmes. The BCS also examines people's attitudes to crime, such as how much they fear crime and what measures they take to avoid it. The survey also covers attitudes to the Criminal Justice System (CJS), including the police and the courts, and has also been successful at developing special measures to estimate the extent of domestic violence, stalking and sexual victimisation, which are probably the least reported to the police, but among the most serious of crimes in their impact on victims.

Main Topics/Subject Category
Fear of crime, perception of local area, local crime rates, victimisation screener questions, mobile phone theft, experiences of the police, attitudes to the CJS, crime prevention and security, witnessing crime, technology crime
England and Wales, administration of justice, adolescents, advice, advocacy (legal), age, aggressiveness, airports, alcohol consumption, alcoholism, amphetamines, anabolic steroids, anger, assault, attitudes, bicycles, binge drinking, burglary, cameras, cannabis, car parking areas, children, chronic illness, clubs, cocaine, colour television receivers, combative sports, communities, community action, community behaviour, community service (punishment), computers, costs, counselling, court cases, credit card use, crime, crime prevention, crime victims, criminal courts, criminal damage
Identifier Variables
GOR, police force areas
Economic/Subject Categories
Area of Health System
Data Available
Socio-economic, Demographic
Data collecting organization (s)
Home Office. Research, Development and Statistics Directorate
Data Type
Survey (cross-sectional)
Coverage (date of field work)
1982, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
Unit of Analysis

Sample size varies each year. Adults aged 16 and over in private households in England and Wales. Sample size for 2007/8: 46,983 cases (non-victim form), 16,189 cases (victim form)

ESDS Government, UK Data Archive
Conditions of Access
Free registration access