British Crime Survey, 1982-

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1956 BCS
  • Dates of Creation
      1982- [ongoing]
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      Electronic data in the range of approximately 50-150 MBs for each year of the survey.
      Most years are available in a number of formats including SPSS, STATA and ASCII tab-delimited. The data can be converted to other formats such as SAS. Documentation is primarily supplied in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.Documentation is primarily supplied in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Scope and Content

The BCS 2000 included over 19000 respondents and the 2001 survey includes around 40,000 respondents.

Respondents are asked a series of screening questions to establish whether or not they had been the victims of crime during the reference period, and a series of very detailed questions about the incidents they reported. Basic descriptive background information on the respondents and their households was also collected to allow analysis of the sorts of people who do and do not become victims. Other information collected was on fear of crime, contact with the police, lifestyle, self-reported offending and attitudes to the Criminal Justice System, including the police and the courts.

Some years contain self-completion drugs, domestic violence, sexual victimisation or stalking files. Due to their sensitive nature, data on sexual victimisation (1994, 1998 and 2000) are currently unavailable, though it is hoped they may be deposited at UK Data Archive in the future.

Most years include an ethnic booster sample of black and Asian adults.

Administrative / Biographical History

The British Crime Survey (BCS) is one of the largest social surveys conducted in Britain. It is primarily a 'victimisation' survey, in which respondents are asked about the experiences of property crimes of the household (e.g. burglary) and personal crimes (e.g. theft from the person) which they themselves have experienced. The reference period to which these questions relate is from the first of January in the calendar year preceding the BCS, up to the date of interview.

The BCS includes crimes that are not reported to the police, so it is an important alternative to police records. The scope of the BCS goes well beyond the counting of criminal incidents, although it is for this estimate that it has become established as a definitive source of information. The BCS helps to identify those most at risk of different types of crime, and this helps in the planning of crime prevention programmes.

It has also been successful at developing special measures to estimate the extent of domestic violence, stalking and sexual victimisation, which are probably the least-reported to the police.

The BCS has been carried out in England and Wales in 1982, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000. It is conducted annually from 2001 onwards. The data is collected for the Home Office by the National Centre for Social Research. The UK Data Archive also holds data from Scotland for 1982, 1993, 1996 and 1998.

A parallel survey in Northern Ireland in 1994 is not currently held at the UK Data Archive.


Component studies of data series are held and supplied separately, usually as annual datasets.

Access Information

Available to UK Data Archive registered users.

Acquisition Information

Home office


Sources for the information in this record include the UK Data Archive catalogue records.

Record created by Karen Dennison, UK Data Archive.

Other Finding Aids

UK Data Archive web pages:

Conditions Governing Use

Users are required to agree to certain conditions of use, including those governing reproduction and those relating to citation, acknowledgement and disclaimer for publications. For all BCS orders, the UK Data Archive contacts the Home Office to acquire written permission for the data to be released.

Appraisal Information

All datasets available from the UK Data Archive have been reviewed by an Acquisitions Review Committee.


Data will continue to be received on an annual basis for the foreseeable future.

Related Material

Related datasets held at the UK Data Archive are listed in the appropriate UK Data Archive online catalogue records and include:

  • Scottish Crime Survey
  • Young People and Crime Survey
  • Youth Lifestyles Survey


References and publications by principal investigators and resulting from secondary analysis are listed in the UK Data Archive online catalogue records.

Geographical Names