UPDATE ON LOCAL AND NATIONAL CRIME TRENDS
Marris is an Emeritus Professor of Economics, London University
who lives in Chiswick and currently advises the Home Office on the
study of crime trends
six months ago I published on ChiswickW4.com
a mini essay on crime trends, based
on my experience of working with the Home Office.
Jan 9 last the HO published a Statistical Bulletin making it possible to estimate
fairly accurately the final national crime figures for 2002 and
also an important research study on mugging (which they call personal
after, a valuable report was made to the Council's Chiswick Area
Committee which has already been commented
on on this site. Here I add my own comments, followed by my
interpretation of the national picture
Crime comparison, 2 Quarter to Third Quarter 2002
We have the
twin problems, described in my original
note, of possible statistical blips and of the effect of the
fact that the new nationwide statistical recording rules have been
adopted at different rates in different police areas.
Notified Crime fell by about 3000 on about 300,000 between the two
quarters in London as a whole while in Hounslow the figure was a
rise of about 150 on about 9000. Does this mean something or nothing?
I don't know.
same applies to the reported fall in Chiswick burglaries from 174
to 144 and to the rise in Chiswick Homefields Burglaries from 55
was also a special spate of vehicle break-ins in Chiswick in late
September targeting VWs in residential areas.
report however notes correctly that the burglary rate in Chiswick
Homefields is high by national standards. This is true and I have
commented on it before: this ward chronically has maybe 75 more
burglaries a year than would be the case if the rate conformed to
the national average. Previous research has confirmed that burglary
is more likely from properties with non-overlooked potential access
(e.g. large back gardens) and, of course, the likelihood of good
yields. I think the Ward conforms to this pattern and my personal
recommendation is to put yourself in the position of a thief who
has got into your back garden and is scanning for ways to get in.
Where would you try and how can you improve the corresponding security?
Of course there
are also a number of front-door entries. This is only possible if
the locks are insecure. In my experience, by and large, security
works. There have been three burglaries in the past 3 months in
the Chiswick Mall Neighbourhood Watch area: one was a classic rear-entry
when owners were away, one was through a front door left open and
one was through a front door using an instrument or rod to turn
it is nevertheless altogether wrong that whenever a front door is
accidentally left open for a short time, someone pops through. Although,
see below, national crime is still falling I think there is still
far far too much of it.
National Crime Outcome for 2002.
By means of a fairly concrete statistical procedure the Department
estimates that the total effect of the change in reporting procedures
that I described in my previous note
will inflate Police-Recorded crime overall by about 10%. When that
is allowed for there seemed to be no important changes in recorded
crime, upwards or downward between 2001 and 2002.
exception is mugging which may eventually show a fall of ten per
cent or more.
Crime: good news
Domestic Burglary down about 7%.
Thefts of or from vehicles owned by households, down about 15%.
Violence about constant.
All British Crime Survey categories of crime down about 7%.
figures are based on a sample survey there is a one in ten chance
that the true decline for burglary was as small as zero, but in
practice I would be very surprised if it was actually less than
reported that the Survey showed that most people thought that crime
in general had gone up, but not in their own district. This is hardly
surprising as the Press paid almost no attention to the new figures,
except in a few cases where as usual they concentrated on the worst
apparent aspect, namely the unadjusted Recorded figures. I have
said all I have to say on that topic. The fault, dear Reader, lies
in you. If the papers print good news about crime you refuse to
Whether or not
this fell in 2002 it remains a very bad business, is much too high
and is an affront to public order. It is still running at twice
the level of ten years ago. If it is true that Blair has been personally
conducting frequent meetings about the problem I think he is quite
Mugging report is very useful and, despite Politically Cautious
wording gives all you need to assess the veracity of the general
impression that it is mainly a crime committed by young black males
against white people, especially against young white people. Black
males are no more than about 15% of the population but no less than
three quarters of muggers are young blacks. This finding should
be read against the background of what I originally wrote on the
topic of the ethnic element in crime, namely,
frankly be accepted that young men of colour whose ancestors were
transported from Africa 250 years ago, then spent five generations
in slavery and then another five in near-slavery, and whose families
have since come to the UK, are over-represented in all crime and
prison statistics. My belief that one of the causes is a long hangover
of the disrupting effect of slavery and near-slavery on family life
and the male role is somewhat supported by some data suggesting
that people who have come to this country directly from West Africa
The effect on
total crime must not be over-estimated. I calculate that if West
Indian males had average, rather than elevated, crime rates, the
national crime rate would be reduced by about five per cent. But
in some locations (of which Hounslow is not one), of course, the
effect would be considerably stronger.
The conclusion does not apply to Mugging. On the figures, if young
black men had no greater tendency to commit this crime than young
white men, the national mugging rate would be reduced massively.
my previous suggestion that aberrant crime behaviour has something
to do with the long arm of slavery, white people can perceive that
they are certainly being punished for it. In the meantime, apart
from general fear and insecurity for the whole public the situation
surely cannot do the Black community any good and surely encourages
racism. I feel that black political leadership is needed.
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Marris on local crime
- previous report
and Crime in Chiswick
Phone Crime in Chiswick
West Pledge CCTV installation on the High Road
in Chiswick - ward by ward