Crime futures and foresight
There is an illusion of constancy about crime, fostered by the annual publication of the Criminal Statistics, the levels of crime known to the British police. The numbers of thefts, assaults and the like move (mostly) upwards or (more recently) downwards in apparently lawful progression. The same is true of successive British Crime Surveys, where the same closed-ended questions and analysis yield trend lines but miss out on the more subtle shifts in the events covered. Both Criminal Statistics and British Crime Surveys give the impression that some “thing” is being measured, of which we get more or less as time passes. In a crude sense this is true, if the measured thing is taken to be the product of crime opportunities and criminal inclination. In another sense it is not, in that the means whereby people gain advantage over others by force or fraud themselves change dramatically.