Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

pp 194-203

British Crime Survey

  • John FlatleyAffiliated withCrime Statistics and Analysis Division, Office for National Statistics Email author 


British Crime Survey; BCS


The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), until 1 April 2012 known as the British Crime Survey (BCS), is a victimization survey of the population resident in households in England and Wales. The primary motive for launching the survey, over 30 years ago, was to assess how much crime went unreported in official police records. Today the survey has a high profile and has become a key social indicator charting trends in crime experienced by the general population. Its quarterly results receive considerable media attention, and politicians debate the implications of its findings.

However, from its inception, the survey was not designed to be merely a social indicator. One of its strengths has been that it has provided a rich source for criminological research and for informing policy development. Analysis of the survey has been instrumental in shedding more light on the nature and circumstances of victimization. The survey has no ...

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