Up and down crime

In a recent post I looked at how unemployment statistics are written up in the news. In this post we look at statistics related to crime (BBC source).


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The number of violent crimes and sex offences recorded by police in England and Wales has risen sharply over the past year, figures show. Knife crime and robbery have also increased in the 12 months to September 2017 compared with the previous year.

Overall, recorded crimes are up 14%. However, the separate Crime Survey, based on people’s experiences, suggests crime continues to fall. This survey, based on interviews with 35,000 households in England and Wales, includes crimes that people do not report to police. The latest police figures from 44 forces show that robbery is up 29%, sex offences are up 23%, knife crime is up 21%, and violent crime is up 20%. There were 37,443 knife crimes and 6,694 gun crime offences recorded in the year to September.

The number of offences involving a knife or a sharp instrument had been falling since 2011 but started rising again over the past three years. These crimes tended to be concentrated in cities, in particular London which saw the largest increase (38%) in knife crime.



  • The number of violent crimes - ‘crimes’ countable, so “number of..crimes”
  • offences - ‘offences’ – synonym for ‘crimes’ (countable only)
  • Knife crime and robbery - ‘crime’ and ‘robbery’ both used as uncountable nouns
  • are up 14% - ‘are up 14%’ = ‘have increased by 14%’
  • crime - When speaking generally, use ‘crime’ (uncountable)
  • crimes - When being specific, use ‘crimes’ (countable)
  • is up 29% - ‘is up 20%’ = ‘has increased by 29%’
  • gun crime offences - ‘gun crime offences’ – sophisticated 3-word noun phrase (countable)
  • offences - ‘offences’ – countable synonym for ‘crimes’
  • knife crime - ‘knife crime’ (uncountable)


  • has risen - Verb phrase ‘has risen’ agrees with the noun ‘number’
  • crimes - When ‘crime’ corresponds to a number (37,443) it needs to be plural countable

Crime and you

Practice the language from this post by telling us about crime in your area (comments box below)!

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