Reporter 461, 12 February 2001

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The Crime List

Dr. Graham Clarke and Dr. Linda See of the School of Geography, University of Leeds, were commissioned by Channel 4 to develop a league table of police performance ranking Crime Reduction and Disorder Partnerships, created as a result of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act. These partnerships, which are coterminous with local authorities, were designed to integrate the efforts of the police, the local authority, the health authority and the probation service to reduce crime in their area.

Many researchers have found clear evidence of patterns in crime. These patterns share a number of common features such as where and when crimes occur. There are also tendencies for incidents to affect particular types of property or to be perpetrated against victims with similar demographic and social characteristics. Various theories have been put forth to try and explain these patterns that consider both the social background of the offenders and the characteristics of the areas and the target victims. By collecting a series of different socio-economic and demographic variables that are thought to affect crime such as deprivation, unemployment and housing tenure, a multiple regression model was built to predict crime rates for each CDRP. Using this model, it was possible to compare the difference between actual crime rates, as published by the Home Office in July 2000 (covering the period Apr 1999 to Mar 2000), with expected crime rates, as predicted by the model. These differences were first standardised by the absolute crime rates for each CDRP and then ranked in ascending order to produce the final crime list. By taking into account the factors that affect crime and therefore the social make-up of each area, it is possible to compare deprived inner city areas with more rural sparsely populated CDRPs.

The CDRPs at the top of the list had a much lower crime rate than was predicted by the model while those at the bottom had a much higher crime rate than expected, given the social characteristics of the area.

The results of the crime list appeared in a Channel 4 documentary entitled, ‘The Crime List’, narrated by Jon Snow which aired 13 January 2001.

The league table produced some interesting results. One of the main surprises was the top and bottom entry on the list. Knowsley in Merseyside, which is a deprived inner city area should have had a much higher crime rate given the characteristics of the area but effective neighbourhood policing has been shown to reduce youth disorder by 71% over the last two years. South Bucks in Thames Valley had a surprisingly high crime rate despite it being a wealthy area with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Theft from vehicles and domestic burglary were high, which reflects the opportunities of wealth as perceived by offenders, potentially travelling in from more deprived surrounding areas.

There were other examples of more deprived inner city areas falling within the top half of the list. Of the 33 London boroughs within the Metropolitan police force, 22 were in the top half. Within these 22, there were deprived inner city areas such as Hackney, Newham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets. Hackney, for example, placed in the top 10% of the list. Its place might be attributed to its successful fight against repeat offenders of drug-related crimes, which has been shown to effectively combine the efforts of the police, the local authority and the probation service within the partnership.

Of the 30 CDRPs classified by the Office of National Statistics as rural amenities, only 66% appear in the top half of the list.

These overall results are only surprising because of the general perception that wealthier areas are policed better than deprived inner city areas. The list draws attention to the fact that this is not necessarily the case. The CDRPs that are successful will be those that have an effective partnership tuned to the needs of the community regardless of the social make-up of the area.

In terms of the local area, West Yorkshire did not fare well on the list. All 5 CDRPs in the surrounding area were located in the bottom half of the list. Leeds, which currently has the highest burglary rate in the country, fell within the worst 15% of the table.

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