In Jonathan Pierce’s recent article about the British Crime Survey, many were questioning the validity of the data but the BCS has always struck me as one of the more reasonable surveys of this kind. I think one has to be very careful about drawing too many ‘obvious’ conclusions from the data (such as one commenter’s bizarre remark that declines are down to CCTV), but the data itself seems as good as one can reasonably expect.
For what it is worth, some years ago a fairly senior policeman with whom I was acquainted put it to me that the significant decline in burglary had nothing to do with CCTV or detection rates (which were actually declining) or convictions per crime (ditto) but rather that as items like computers, DVD players, CD players, CDs, microwaves, wristwatches and the like had now become so inexpensive compared to steadily rising national incomes that even in quite ‘deprived’ areas, the ‘economics of crime’ simply made that sort of offence hardly worth the effort and risk. Why buy a stolen DVD player from some thief when you can get a new one that is more likely to actually work for the relatively trivial sum of £100?
Make of that what you will.