The social and economic cost of crime

Sam Brand and Richard Price: The Economic and Social Costs of Crime; Home Office Research Study 217, December 2000

The cost of crime measures the impact of criminal activity on victims and society.  Understanding it helps the criminal justice system to focus resources and activities where it will have the biggest positive effect on people’s lives.

This work established for the first time estimates for the full impact of crime on society, setting out methodology for valuing each of the main categories of crime. It has become a standard text for researchers and criminal justice agencies around the world.

 It estimated that in 1999-2000 the cost of all crime in England and Wales was around £60bn.   On average, a serious violent crime is estimated to cost society £19,000, compared to £4,800 for a vehicle theft or a robbery, and £510 for criminal damage. The average impact of a homicide is estimated at £1.1 million.  Violent crimes represent around 40% of the overall cost of crime, compared with only 3% of the number of crimes.

The estimates were prepared to provide an indicator to show how well the criminal justice system is performing in tackling the wider impacts of crime on society – such as victim trauma, damage to and loss of property, and time spent responding to crime and dealing with its consequences.   They can help us prioritise, focusing resources on policies that have the biggest impact on the harm and victim trauma caused by crime, rather than simply the number of crimes.

Click here to download this paper from the UK National Archive

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