Statistics on crime and criminal justice are indispensable for developing evidence-based policy at EU level. While this has long been recognised by EU States and the Commission, there still is a lack of reliable and comparable statistical information. This is not only because national statistics on crime are often based on different definitions, but also because the recording and reporting procedures differ significantly between EU States.
The Commission's objective is to apply harmonised data collection methodologies to produce EU-level statistics, which will enable comparisons between EU States on the structures and trends of crime.
In January 2012 the Commission put forward a Communication on European Crime Statistics, including a new Action Plan for the period 2011-15 (to replace the 2006-10 Action Plan). The Action Plan focuses on the exchange of information and the collection of statistics in particular areas, such as trafficking in human beings, money laundering, cybercrime and corruption (mid-term review published in April 2014).
Between 2006 and 2010, progress has been made in the collection of police statistics across the EU and in the development of a common European Safety Survey (victimisation survey), which will be implemented in 2013.
Since 2007, Eurostat has annually published data on crime and criminal justice. The figures are primarily based on the number of crimes reported by the police, which makes comparisons between countries difficult or even misleading as the definitions and methods used in EU States vary. Hence, the need to develop a more comparable system of crime and criminal justice statistics remains acute. In this regard, the launch of the new Action Plan in 2011 is crucial.
Another type of data collection is used in relation to money laundering. It resulted in the publication of a working paper on money laundering at EU level in 2010, which included a first set of European statistics in this field.
Subsequent priorities include the development of indicators for and collection of data on trafficking in human beings, cybercrime and corruption.
The Commission has also funded a number of research projects and studies to increase knowledge in the area of justice, freedom and security. For example, a pilot survey to assess the level and impact of crimes against businesses in all EU States has been launched. The duration of the study is 18 months, starting end of 2011.