Classification of crime

The definition of crime is an offence punishable by law. Geography is important when studying crime because when a crime happens it always has a location, a time and a reason. Understanding the patterns behind this helps:

  • to see where crimes are most likely to be committed
  • to combat crime
  • to design areas to be more crime-proof

Crime can happen on an international scale as well as national or local. Heroin trafficking and piracy are two examples of international crime.

In order to understand the patterns of crime, the different types of crime need to be known.

Crime figures are collected from the number of crime incidents reported to the police and from the British Crime Survey results. These systems of recording crimes are not completely reliable, though. Firstly, not every crime is reported to the police, so the figures given do not always show the complete picture. Secondly, the British Crime Survey interviews 50,000 people every year but interviewees could be as young as ten, so their accounts may lack detail.

When a crime is recorded, it is classified as one of the following:

  • crime against the person (with or without injury)
  • sexual offence
  • robbery
  • burglary
  • offence against vehicles
  • other theft
  • fraud and forgery
  • criminal damage
  • drug offence
  • other

Recorded crime in UK from January to June 2011

Infographic of UK crime statistics