The rise in hate crime in 2017-18: A genuine increase or just poor data?

by Matthew Williams

In 2017 I was approached to take part in a BBC One Panorama documentary on the rise of hate crime following the Brexit vote.  The BBC wanted an expert on the topic to provide the ‘hard science’ on hate crime figures.  Ahead of the crew travelling to Cardiff for filming, I spent two weeks delving into the most recent police and Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) figures (PDF). What I found was a complex picture that wasn’t going to be easy to explain in a sound-bite. Continue reading

New academic year, new policy engaged you!

by Sarah Foxen

As the new academic year kicks off, I wonder if you’ve planned any ‘new year’s resolutions’. Perhaps you’re going to try a different approach to doing your teaching prep or find a new way of conducting data collection? Or perhaps you’re considering taking steps to have more impact with your work?

If it’s the latter of these, then you should know that engaging with the UK Parliament can be a great way to achieve policy impact. I’d like to share some of the benefits of engaging with Parliament through research – and share some practical ideas on how to do so. Continue reading

Explaining the facts

by Tom Chivers

Recently, I was lucky enough to win the ‘Explaining the facts’ category in the Royal Statistical Society’s Statistical Excellence in Journalism awards. In my brief acceptance speech, I used a quote I half-remembered. I don’t know who said it, but it goes something like this: if you want to fool people, the easiest way to do it is to never teach them what a denominator is. As a journalist, one who’s interested in science and facts and numbers, I think it is something to remember at all times. Continue reading

‘Better informed?’ the impact of the Brexit debate on voters’ attitudes towards the EU

by John Curtice and Sarah Tipping

Do voters know what they are doing? This is a question that is often asked about referendums, not least by those who doubt voters’ ability to grapple with major issues of policy.

Since the EU referendum it has, perhaps, been regarded as a particularly pressing question by some on the Remain side. For example, the charge that many Leave voters were ill-versed in the economic consequences of leaving the EU not be explicit in analysis that has suggested that Leave voting areas were more likely to suffer economically from Brexit, but it is certainly implied. Continue reading

Power over social media platforms

by Martin Moore

We are at a peculiar moment when governments – democratic and authoritarian alike –  are itching to regulate and legislate the major tech platforms. In the UK in April, Jeremy Hunt gave an ultimatum to social media to better protect children or face new laws.

His threat followed similar ones by Matt Hancock, Theresa May, and before her  David Cameron. And, in the same month as Hunt’s ultimatum, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was hauled in front of Congress for two days of questioning. “Congress is good at two things” Republican Senator Billy Long said then, “doing nothing, and overreacting. So far, we’ve done nothing on Facebook… [now] We’re getting ready to overreact.” Continue reading