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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Lies, damned lies and mobile phones

Like most things in this country, the debate about crime is generally expressed in terms of left and right. It goes like this:
The Daily Mail: We're going to hell in a handcart.
The Guardian: Oh, it's not as bad as all that. In fact, if you look at the statistics....
Into this dialogue of the deaf, just occasionally, a fact intrudes and makes you stop and think.
The British Crime Survey is the gold standard of crime stats. It's what governments quote from, at least when it suits them.
Rewind. When I was a teenager, hardly any of my peers had been the victim of any kind of crime.
Come back to date. I know lots of teenagers today and I don't know one male teenager who hasn't at one time or another been the victim of some kind of crime, generally involving having their phone "jacked". It happens so often they don't bother to mention it. I am horrified by how everyday it is.
Which makes it all the more remarkable that the British Crime Survey only records crimes involving sixteens and over. It can't be right.