Almost half of UK adults expect crime in the UK to go up over the next year

While police are trusted more than the Government to handle crime and justice, a majority do not have confidence in them to protect the public from crime

The author(s)

  • Hannah Shrimpton Public Affairs
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New research by Ipsos shows nearly half of UK adults believe crime levels in the UK will go up over the next 12 months (46%). This increases to 56% among those aged 55-75 compared to only 36% of 18-24-year olds and 35% of 25-35- year olds. Overall, only 5% expect to see crime go down while 3 in 10 (30%) believe it will stay the same. The fieldwork was conducted in the beginning of September, before the Sarah Everard sentencing.

Considering specific crimes, UK adults are most likely to expect anti-social behaviour (56%), fraud (52%), drug use (51%) and knife crime (50%) to increase over the next 12 months. Again, around half think robbery/theft (49%) and burglaries (46%) will rise, while similar proportions expect to see an increase in domestic abuse (46%) and sexual offences (42%). 

Four in 10 (39%) say the amount of murders and manslaughter will stay the same while 31% believe it will increase. People are split on whether gun crime will remain the same or go up (36% vs. 33% respectively.

How to reduce crime in the UK

When thinking about how to tackle crime in the UK, the public are most likely to see more police on the beat as the most effective measure (38%), followed by better parenting (26%). Around 2 in 10 say capital punishment (22%), more effective programmes to change behaviour/rehabilitation, more constructive activities for young people and less social inequality would do most to reduce crime (all 21%).

Handling of crime in the UK

Alongside fears that crime will go up over the next 12 months, only 3 in 10 are confident in the Government’s handling of crime and justice in the UK (29%). Younger people have slightly more faith; with 40% of 16-24s and 38% of 25-34s feeling confident in the Government’s handling of crime, falling to 22% of 55-75-year olds. Conservative voters are also more likely to be confident, 37% have faith in their Government compared to a quarter (26%) of Labour voters. 

White ethnic groups are also  less likely to be confident in the Government’s handling of crime and justice than ethnic minorities. Less than 3 in 10 (28%) say they are confident while two-thirds (65%) say they are not confident. Among ethnic minority groups, 43% have faith in the way crime has been handled by the Government, while 47% do not. 

The public  have slightly more confidence in the police to protect them from crime. Four in 10 (41%) say they have faith in the police to protect them from crime, but still just over half do not (52%). This again differs by age, with 44% of 16-24s and 48% of 25-34s saying they have confidence in the  police, while only 37% of 55-75s feel the same. White ethnic groups are more critical of the police compared to ethnic minority groups (53% lack confidence in the police vs. 43% among ethnic minority groups). 

Risk of fraud and cybercrime

Considering fraud and cyber-crime specifically, just under 4 in 10 (38%) are confident in the ability of the Government and its law enforcement agencies of protecting them, 52% are not. Yet the public feel at risk from a range of fraud and cybercrimes in the UK. 
Nearly 3 in 5 personally feel at risk of someone accessing their online accounts without permission (e.g. social media, bank accounts, etc.) (57%). A majority also feel at risk of their devices being infected with a computer virus or other malware (55%) and of someone accessing their personal devices without permission (51%). 

Just under half say they feel at risk of both money being stolen from their bank account and buying goods online that turn out to be fake or counterfeit (both 46%) while a third (35%) are worried about being tricked or deceived out of giving or donating money or goods to an organisation or person. 

Hannah Shrimpton, Associate Director at Ipsos, said: 

Although the overall rate of crime has been falling for over two decades, the COVID-19 pandemic had a massive impact on crime patterns in the UK. According to ONS statistics, there were drops in particular types of crime (such as theft and violent crime), yet leaps in fraud and cybercrime, as more people stayed home and turned online. Now, as we move to a new era of the pandemic, there is a risk that patterns will once again shift and we will see a rise in certain types of crime. This is reflected in concerns of nearly half of UK adults – with people most likely to expect anti-social behaviour, fraud, drug use and knife crime to increase. This raises questions for the Government on how best to reassure the public, as these fears are accompanied by a lack of faith in the Government’s handling of crime, as well as the police’s ability to protect them from some of these issues.

Technical note:

  • Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 2,006 UK adults aged 18-75. Interviews were conducted online from 3rd – 4th September 2021. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

The author(s)

  • Hannah Shrimpton Public Affairs

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