Crime stats for England and Wales have shown a huge year-on-year increase. Don't panic, though: it's due to the inclusion of fraud and computer misuse offences for the first time.
In a report published this week, the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) reckoned there were 6.2 million reported incidents of crime in the 12 months to September 2016 in England and Wales, and that this figure is virtually unchanged from the previous year.
Crucially, the beancounters have now thrown fraud and hacking crimes into the mix. When the criteria for what's included in the stats were drawn up decades ago, "fraud was not considered a significant threat and the internet had yet to be invented," said the ONS's John Flatley.
Obviously, that's no longer the case. When you include 3.6 million cases of fraud and 2 million computer misuse offences, that 6.2 million figure jumps to 11.8 million. That's a 90 per cent surge in illegal activity.
Of course, adding a positive integer to another positive integer results in a bigger positive integer (barring an arithmetic overflow). No surprise there. However, the fact that computer crime and fraud are now being included may make people and organisations more aware of the threat, according to Huntsman Security.
Piers Wilson, head of product management at Huntsman, told us: “Including cybercrime in regular crime figures might lead to a dramatic increase this year, but over time it can only be a good thing. We will get a much more realistic picture of the extent of such crimes, leading to a greater understanding of how to identify, prioritise and address them.”
ONS crime reports have been produced every year for the past 35 years. The stats covers England and Wales – and not Scotland and Northern Ireland because the latter two maintain separate judicial and policing regimes. ®