NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Robbery Rising in England

February 7, 2003

Against a backdrop of overall reductions in recorded crimes in recent years in England and Wales, increases in robberies this past year stand out as a disturbing counter trend. And although robberies against persons, and street crime generally constitute a very small proportion of overall crime, their numbers are increasing.

A survey by the British Home Office examined over 2,000 crime reports and witness statements across seven police force areas. The report focuses specifically on personal robbery, which accounts for the bulk of recorded robbery and almost all of the increase in recent years. Some of the report's findings include:

  • Robberies reported to the police in England rose by 28 percent last year.
  • There were 362,000 robberies in England last year, having more than doubled in a decade.
  • Robbery in England is concentrated in urban areas -- 44 percent occurring in London and another 25 percent in the West midlands, Manchester and West Yorkshire.

The report says 94 percent of suspects and 76 percent of victims are males; seven in 10 offenders are under 20; and one in four victims is under 20 -- compared to one in 8 in 1993.

Comparing robbery statistics in England to France, the report shows:

  • France has a slightly higher rate of robbery than England and has a similar rising trend -- the rate is lower and more stable in Germany, Canada and Australia.
  • France and England now have higher robbery rates than the United States, where rates have fallen by over a quarter in five years.

Source: Jonathan Smith, "The nature of personal robbery," Home Office, January 2003, British Crime Survey.

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