Many more people in England and Wales worry about being a victim of crime than will actually experience it.

The gap between the perception of crime and the risk of becoming a victim is particularly noticeable around robbery figures.

ONS figures showed that 0.3% of adults were victims of robbery in the year ending March 2016, but 9% of those surveyed were very worried they would experience it in the forthcoming year – 30 times higher than the rate of victimisation.

Trends in prevalence and worry about robbery, Crime Survey for England and Wales, years ending March 2009 to March 2016

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The figures also showed that across all types of crime, women worried more about being a victim of crime than men.

Do you know your own risk of crime?

We’ve devised a crime calculator1 using three years’ worth of CSEW data, to give you an indication of how your own personal characteristics are related to the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime.

Using this tool, you can use your characteristics and those of your local area to see average victimisation rates for different types of crime, and see how these compare with national rates and your own perceptions of crime risk.

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Identity theft worries almost a quarter of people

When thinking about some crimes, people’s perceptions and risk of being a victim are more closely aligned. The crime that people were most worried about was identity theft (23.8%), followed by online crime (10%).

The CSEW showed that around one in 10 adults were victims of fraud and computer misuse offences in the year ending March 2016 and the majority of these incidents (67%), included an online element.

Proportion of adults very worried about online crime and identity theft by age, year ending March 2016 CSEW

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Age changes what crime you worry about

People in younger age groups tended to worry the least about some types of victimisation, with 16 to 34-year-olds the least worried about burglary, robbery and online crime.

Older age groups tended to worry more about possible victimisation, with 35 to 44-year-olds most concerned about burglary. The older age groups, spanning 55-64 year-olds and 65-74-year-olds were also most concerned about online crime and identity theft.

The figures on actual victimisation show a different pattern. The age group to suffer the highest rate of crime were 16 to 24 year olds; 19.6% within this group had been a victim of a crime and with 8.1% being a victim of personal crime1.

This compares with the oldest age group, 75 and over, who suffered the lowest proportions of crime overall and personal crime; 4.9% and 1.1% respectively.

A majority still believe national crime rates are increasing

Despite crime dropping by 6% in the year ending March 2016 compared to the previous year (from 6.8 million incidents to 6.3 million), a majority of people still believed it had increased; 60% of adults believed crime had increased across the country.

This compares with 57% of adults in the previous year, and 84.1% in the year ending March 2009. In contrast, adults were more accurate in assessing trends in crime for their local area.

Adults who think crime has increased, 2009 to 2016, CSEW

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Risk of victimisation by crime type

The risk of victimisation for different groups also varies by crime type. The CSEW showed that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault were more likely to be women, while men and women had a similar likelihood of becoming a victim of theft from the person.

More generally, the rate of victimisation of crime varied across different groups in society, lifestyle factors like employment status and housing status can also be relevant.

  • Age: Younger adults were most likely to be victims of crime, whereas older people were least likely.
  • Sex: Men were more likely to have been a victim of violence, robbery and vehicle-related theft, than women. Women were twice as likely as men to be a victim of domestic violence and over five times as likely as men to have been sexually assaulted.
  • Employment status: Unemployed people were more likely to be victims of crime, compared with those in employment. Retired adults have a lower risk of burglary and vehicle-related theft than those in work. Students were almost twice as likely as to be victims of theft from the person than the average adult in England and Wales.
  • Housing tenure: Renters were more likely to be a victim of a violent crime, burglary or vehicle related theft than home owners.
  • Geographical area: Areas with higher rates of unemployment2 also had higher levels of burglary, criminal damage, other household theft and vehicle-related theft.

Other characteristics

Many other characteristics also show relationships with victimisation3; these relationships tend to vary by crime type.

For example, while age and sex have a strong association with experiencing violent crime, figures show that these same characteristics display less association with fraud victimisation.


  1. The calculations for this calculator are based on data from the CSEW victimisation survey, for the years ending March 2015 to March 2017, from the resident household population are asked about their experiences of crime over the preceding 12-month period.

  2. The crime calculator generates a figure based on the proportion of adults aged 16 and over (with characteristics similar to those you select) who said they had been a victim of crime.

  3. Fraud has not been included in the crime calculator because the most recent estimates, (published since June 2016), are experimental and subject to further development. Initial findings indicate that there was typically less variation in the types of victim, than in other types of crime: Overview of fraud statistics. The first full year-on-year comparisons of fraud crime statistics will be available in January 2018, following which trends in the data will begin to emerge.

  4. The Crime Domain of the English Indices of Deprivation (2010) and the Community Safety Domain of the Welsh Indices of Deprivation (2014) have been combined to provide a proxy of crime levels in various LSOAs. Local area definitions for the English and Welsh Indices of deprivation are based on Super Output Areas (SOAs). These are a set of geographical areas developed following the census to produce a set of areas of consistent size. LSOAs typically have a population of around 1,500.


  1. Personal crime includes violence, robbery, theft from the person and other theft of personal property
  2. Unemployment levels have been measured for each Lower Super Output Area (LSOA) by means of the comparative level of employment deprivation (or involuntary unemployment) in the area based on the English Indices of Deprivation, 2015 and the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation, 2014.
  3. The relationship between characteristics and becoming a victim of crime is complex since many characteristics are interrelated and it is difficult to unpick these relationships. For example, students and young people were more likely to be victims of some types of crime, but since students are typically young people, it is difficult to know which characteristics are important when viewing them in isolation. Similarly those who are unemployed are more likely to be victims of some crimes but this could equally relate to the fact that they are also more likely to live in local areas with high unemployment (where relationships with victimisation have also been observed).