:-$Government figures 'missing' two million violent crimes
By David Barrett, PA Home Affairs Correspondent
Published: 26 June 2007
An extra two million violent crimes a year are committed in Britain than previously thought because of a bizarre distortion in the Government's flagship crime figures, it was claimed yesterday.
A former Home Office research expert said that across all types of crime, three million offences a year are excluded from the British Crime Survey (BCS).
The poll caps the number of times a victim can be targeted by an offender at five incidents a year.
If anyone interviewed for the survey says they have been targeted more than five times a year, the sixth incident and beyond are not included in the BCS.
The authors of a report by think-tank Civitas said the five-crimes limit is " truly bizarre" and "misleading".
Professor Graham Farrell of Loughborough University and the former acting head of the Home Office's Police Research Group, Professor Ken Pease, calculated that if the cap is ignored, the overall number of BCS crimes is more than 14 million rather than the current 11 million a year estimate.
Violent crime is 82 per cent higher at 4.4 million offences compared with 2.4 million in the BCS, the survey claims, including a 156 per cent rise in " acquaintance violence" from 817,000 incidents to 2.1 million.
Domestic violence is 140 per cent higher, up from 357,000 incidents a year to 857,000, the authors said, while there are nearly three million common assaults a year rather than the 1.5 million estimated by the BCS, a rise of 98 per cent.
Burglary is 20 per cent higher than currently estimated, at 877,000 a year, and vandalism is 24 per cent higher, the report calculated.
Robbery is 7 per cent up on the official estimates, or an extra 22,000 crimes bringing the yearly total to 333,000.
"If the people who say they suffered 10 incidents really did, it is capping the series at five that distorts the rate," the authors said.
"It is truly bizarre that the victimisation survey, based as it is on the assumption that people will by and large tell the truth about what happened to them, ... suddenly withdraws its trust in their honesty when what they are told does not chime with their own experience.
"Yet the reality is that some people are very frequently victimised, and that frequent victimisation is what they suffer rather than being an invention or exaggeration."
The cap of five crimes for repeat victims has operated ever since the inception of the BCS in 1981.
Ministers claim the survey - which now polls 40,000 people a year about their experiences of crime, is the most reliable indicator of crime levels,
The authors said: "The unwillingness to believe the facts of chronic victimisation means that crime control, police training and criminal justice action are now substantially misdirected."
In particular, the system means that the most vulnerable people in society may not be getting the police protection they require from repeat offenders, the report said.