Tom Calver

Sunday Times

Tom Calver is the Data Editor of The Sunday Times. His unique blend of data journalism, which uses a combination of exclusive analysis with striking visuals and interviews to get to the heart of a story, has become essential reading each Sunday.

Balancing data with humanity is a core feature of Tom’s work. Why does this matter, and who is this affecting? Take policing, which – as Sir Mark Rowley has admitted – is going through a crisis in public trust. While high-profile scandals have rocked policing, Tom showed that the sense that if you report a crime, nothing will happen, has been just as damaging to public confidence. Tom’s analysis of Home Office data – which made the front page – showed that some low-level crimes had, in effect, been legalised in parts of the country. For months on end, many police forces were receiving hundreds of reports of arson, criminal damage and theft, but charging zero people. The idea that police have given up on low-level crime will take centre stage at the next election: Tom showed that key swing voters prioritise tougher justice above any other groups.

The "bank of mum and dad" has become Britain’s dirty secret. In a riveting and definitive cover feature in the Sunday Times News Review section, Tom showed how cash gifts from parents just at a time when their children are buying property can ensure rich families stay rich, and the poor stay poor. While every country has inheritance, Britain is unique in that so many of us receive a lump early in life – if, that is, your parents can afford it.

Data has a powerful way of cutting through spin. When Labour announced plans to slap VAT on private school fees, much of the backlash centred upon the idea that it would price out many hard-working middle earning families from private school. In fact, as Tom showed, less than 2 per cent of middle earners send their children to independent schools; instead, private schools are overwhelmingly still the preserve of the well-paid, as his striking “hockey stick” chart shows. This is not surprising. His data, obtained by combing through forty years’ worth of private school reports, showed not only that fees have soared well above inflation, but that bursaries make little meaningful difference: just 4 per cent of students have more than half of their fees paid for them. His Twitter thread on the topic was seen by half a million people, while the article – like many of his pieces – was among the top performers for engagement that week.