Experience of Crime: Findings from the 2019/20 Northern Ireland Safe Community Survey published today

Date published: 26 February 2021

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin ‘Experience of Crime: Findings from the 2019/20 Northern Ireland Safe Community Survey’ (NISCS; formerly known as the Northern Ireland Crime Survey (NICS)).

Statistics graphic

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 2019/20 NISCS indicate that most adults did not experience a crime asked about in the survey.  Latest findings estimate that 6.9% of adults were victims of at least one crime measured through the survey during the 12 months prior to interview.  This showed no change since 2018/19 (7.5%).  The 2019/20 rate of 6.9% is one of the lowest victimisation (prevalence) rates estimated since the measure was first reported in 1998 (23.0%).
  • Findings from NISCS 2019/20 and the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW; formerly the British Crime Survey) 2019/20 show that the risk of becoming a victim of crime remains lower in Northern Ireland (6.9%) than in England and Wales (13.3%).  These figures compare with 7.5% and 14.9% (respectively) in 2018/19.
  • An estimated 96,000 incidents of crime occurred during the 12-month recall periods for NISCS 2019/20.  This compares with the 2018/19 estimate of 122,000.  The 2019/20 figure is two-thirds (67%) lower than the peak in 2003/04 (295,000).
  • Latest findings estimate that 45% of all NISCS crime was reported to the police.  A subset of NISCS crimes is broadly comparable with a subset of PSNI recorded crimes. Results from 2019/20 estimate that 46% of these crimes identified in the survey were reported to the police. Burglary (69%) displayed the highest reporting rate in Northern Ireland. 
  • The most common reason cited by both NISCS and CSEW 2019/20 respondents for not reporting a crime to the police was ‘too trivial / no loss / police would not / could not do anything’ (57% and 70% respectively). This was followed by ‘private matter / dealt with the matter ourselves’ (29% and 17% respectively).

Notes to editors: 

1.  This is the first publication to be drawn from NISCS 2019/20, a representative, continuous personal interview survey of the experiences and perceptions of crime of adults living in private households throughout Northern Ireland.  The survey was previously known as the Northern Ireland Crime Survey but has been renamed from 2018/19 onwards following a review in 2017/18. Previously conducted in 1994/95, 1998, 2001 and 2003/04, the then 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).

2.  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.

3.  The bulletin refers to fieldwork undertaken during the financial year 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020, which involved 3,710 people aged 16 years and over giving complete interviews.  This represents an eligible response rate of 56%.

4.  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. 

5.  The bulletin will be available in PDF format only from the statistics and research publication 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.gov.uk).

6.  Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DoJ Press Office via email to press.office@justice-ni.gov.uk.

7.  The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110

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