A new study in the UK has discovered a link between crime and gambling. Researchers found out that people with gambling problems were much more likely to be convicted of a crime or face prosecution within five years than those without addiction. The study seems to indicate a correlation between increased gambling and increased crime rates, but the results may be inaccurate or selectively chosen. Data reporter, Will Grimond, published articles using information from a UK charity (Howard League), which promotes penal reform in the UK across different newspapers.
Grimond is quoted in the article saying, “problem gambling has been associated with a range of crimes including theft, assault, and criminal damage,” citing data from the Howard League. Not only has the number of gamblers in the UK rising to 13.4 million, but it’s also on the decline. The UK Gambling Commission acknowledges that there are 1.3 million more gamblers than last year and problem gambling is decreasing as well.
In the articles, Grimond talks about crime rates in cities across the UK over the past two years. He shares data from an organization called the Howard League. Data for this report was gathered by asking police forces about their total crimes that were tagged with “gambling.” Liverpool had 52 gambling crimes in 2019 and 2020. Among these, 24 were related to violence against a person, according to Grimond’s reports in the Liverpool World. In Manchester World, Grimond reports 100 gambling-related crimes.
The Bristol World newspaper says that Avon and Somerset Constabulary saw 65 gambling-related crimes in one year. This is according to a report by Dominique Webb, the head of programs for Gamcare Charity. Dominique claims that the increase in crime is related to gambling harms. According to the Howard League, 40% of forces are not able to identify and dissuade problem gamblers. Part of the crime increase is a result of this issue. Two out of every 10 people routinely screen those in custody on gambling habits. Public Health England estimated 2.2 million people could be classed as problem gamblers or at risk of addiction last September.
Past Survey Findings
Several studies that have been carried out as of late allege that Grimmond’s reporting is incorrect. UK’s Office for National Statistics data shows crime has increased 14% year-on-year, with the biggest increase being in cybercrime and fraud, not violent crimes. The study shows that incidents of violent crime decreased by 27%. A 2019 study, “Crime and Gambling Disorders: A Systematic Review,” explored the factors that lead to crimes committed by compulsive gamblers. We found that determining the connection between gambling and violent crime is difficult.
Patterns on the larger scale don’t provide enough details. Instead, you need to look at each crime on a case-by-case basis. Gambling is a very popular activity in the UK and as it turns out, problem gamblers numbers have dropped to reach 0.2% in 2021 according to the UKGC’s report.