Experience of Crime: Findings from the 2017/18 Northern Ireland Crime Survey published today

Date published: 13 December 2018

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 37/2018 ‘Experience of Crime: Findings from the 2017/18 Northern Ireland Crime Survey’ (NICS).

A National Statistics publication, the bulletin focuses on crime victimisation rates in Northern Ireland for the following broad crime types:

  • crimes affecting the whole household (mainly property offences), including vandalism, domestic burglary, vehicle-related theft, bicycle theft and other household theft; and
  • personal crimes against respondents only (mainly violent offences), including common assault, wounding, mugging (robbery and snatch theft from the person), stealth theft from the person and other theft of personal property.

Key Findings

  • Results from the 2017/18 Northern Ireland Crime Survey (NICS) estimate that 7.9% of all households and their adult occupants were victims of ‘Any NI Crime Survey crime’ during the 12 months prior to interview.  The 2017/18 rate showed no change (p<0.05) from the previous year (2016/17, 8.7%) or when compared with 2014/15 (8.8%), the baseline year for this indicator under the Northern Ireland Civil Service Outcomes Delivery Plan.
  • Findings from NICS 2017/18 and the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) 2017/18 show that the risk of becoming a victim of crime remains lower in Northern Ireland (7.9%) than in England and Wales (14.4%).  These figures compare with 8.7% and 13.9% (respectively) in 2016/17.
  • The 2017/18 surveys suggest that incidence rates for household crime (per 10,000 households) were generally higher in England and Wales than in Northern Ireland.  The largest numerical differences related to the following main crime categories: all household crime (1,449 in England and Wales v 746 in Northern Ireland); vehicle-related theft (373 v 88 respectively); and all vandalism (438 v 247). Rates for personal crime were more closely aligned.
  • An estimated 119,000 incidents of crime occurred during the 12-month recall periods for NICS 2017/18.  This compares with the 2016/17 estimate of 126,000.  The 2017/18 figure of 119,000 is three-fifths (60%) lower than the peak in 2003/04 (295,000), equating to 176,000 fewer crimes.
  • A subset of NICS crimes is broadly comparable with a subset of PSNI recorded crimes. The NICS 2017/18 estimates that 45% of these crimes identified in the survey were reported to the police. Burglary (60%) and vehicle-related theft (50%) displayed the highest reporting rates in Northern Ireland. 
  • The most common reason cited by both NICS and CSEW 2017/18 respondents for not reporting a crime to the police was ‘too trivial / no loss / police would not/could not do anything’ (51% and 67% respectively). In Northern Ireland, this was followed by ‘private matter / dealt with the matter ourselves’ (30%). 

Notes to editors: 

This is the first publication to be drawn from NICS 2017/18, a representative, continuous personal interview survey of the experiences and perceptions of crime of adults living in private households throughout Northern Ireland.  Previously conducted in 1994/95, 1998, 2001 and 2003/04, the NICS began operating on a continuous basis in January 2005.  It generally mirrors the format and core questions of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).

An alternative, but complementary, measure of crime to offences recorded by the police, the main aims of NICS are to:

  • measure crime victimisation rates experienced by people living in private households regardless of whether or not these crimes were reported to, or recorded by, the police;
  • monitor trends in the level of crime, independent of changes in reporting levels or police recording practices;
  • measure people’s perceptions of and reactions to crime (for example, the level and causes of crime, the extent to which they are concerned about crime and the effect of crime on their quality of life);
  • measure public confidence in policing and the wider criminal justice system; and
  • collect sensitive information, using self-completion modules, on people’s experiences regarding crime-related issues, such as domestic violence.

The bulletin refers to fieldwork undertaken during the financial year 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018, which involved 1,582 people aged 16 years and over giving complete interviews.  This represents an eligible response rate of 52%.

National statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.  They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs.  They are produced free from any political interference.  They are also subject to restrictions in terms of pre-release access. 

The bulletin will be available in PDF format only from either the Statistics and Research section of this website  or via Analytical Services Group, Block B, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast BT4 3SG (Telephone: 028 9052 0185; Email: statistics.research@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk).

Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DoJ Press Office on telephone number 028 9052 6444.

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