The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has today published a report on the quality of the police recorded crime statistics for England and Wales, which are produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The report looks in depth at the quality of the underlying data used to produce the statistics.

Our report recognises the significant progress that police forces have made in improving crime recording, but also calls for further action from the Home Office and ONS to address the remaining challenges and gaps in oversight and communication of data quality. Our recommendations will support further improvements to data quality.

We have also published a blog post alongside this report, exploring the difficulties in understanding and interpreting crime statistics, and what OSR is doing to support producers in improving the quality of crime statistics.

This report is part of a wider programme of regulatory work for OSR on crime statistics for England and Wales. We are carrying out two further reviews of the quality of crime statistics, covering ONS’s statistics from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), a household survey of individuals’ experience of crime, and fraud and computer misuse statistics. We hope that this work will continue to drive improvements to the CSEW and police recorded crime statistics.

Ed Humpherson, Director General for OSR, said:

“Police recorded crime statistics are an important measure of police activity and trends in certain crime types. They inform public debate and policy making. We welcome improvements to crime recording by police forces in recent years, which has given greater confidence in the quality of the police recorded crime data. Further improvements to data quality will support public confidence in the statistics.”

Notes to Editors

  • The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) provides independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK, and aim to enhance public confidence in the trustworthiness, quality and value of statistics produced by government. OSR regulate statistics by setting the standards official statistics must meet in the Code of Practice for Statistics. We ensure that producers of official statistics uphold these standards by conducting assessments against the Code. Those which meet the standards are given National Statistics status, indicating that they meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and value. We also report publicly on systemwide issues and on the way that statistics are being used, celebrating when the standards are upheld and challenging publicly when they are not.
  • OSR is independent from government Ministers, and separate from producers of statistics, including the Office for National Statistics (ONS). OSR’s Director General, Ed Humpherson, reports directly to the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority Board, Sir Robert Chote. The Director General, and OSR, have wide discretion in highlighting good practice and reporting concerns with the production and use of statistics publicly.
  • OSR’s work is overseen by the Board’s regulation committee (made up of non-executive directors, and with no statistical producer in attendance). OSR’s budget is proposed by the Board’s regulation committee and endorsed by the Board.
  • OSR removed the National Statistics accreditation for the police recorded crime statistics in England and Wales in 2014 following an assessment which found that the quality and consistency of the underlying data may not be reliable. National Statistics are now called .
  • Currently, the CSEW statistics are published as official statistics, not accredited official statistics, due to quality concerns. We will be reviewing the accreditation status of the CSEW statistics in summer 2024.
  • This review did not examine the quality of police recorded fraud and computer misuse data, as the process for recording these crime types is different from other crime types. We will review this subset of police recorded crime statistics separately as part of a wider review of the quality and value of fraud and computer misuse statistics in England and Wales later in 2024.
  • We will shortly be publishing a statement on crime trends that explains the two data sources for England and Wales – the CSEW and police recorded crime statistics. It will provide some tips and advice and set out some of the common mistakes in public statements that we have seen about crime.