As usual, the latest crime figures (September to November 2009), are pure fantasy, but at least the Chief Officers will get their 15-20% bonuses (except Gwent, who are the only force to report an increase in crime).
It’s hardly surprising that no one gives them any credibility. In the real world, we would expect to see monthly or geographical variances. You would have thought that they would have employed someone with half a brain to spot that not every force will achieve a crime reduction every month, month in month out.
Greed has taken over in the upper echelons of the police now, and we have reported on this in some detail in previous articles.
Unfortunately, it's the guys at the sharp end who face the real consequences of it all. Forces showing consistent decreases will be seen to have crime under control and will be those who face the cutbacks. (Probably the basis for Alan Johnsons overtime cuts - he has heard the positive message for so long, he believes his own p.r.)
Ah well, at least the Chiefs will get a nice fat pay packet this month, even if they didn't turn up in the snow!
We should not be surprised to see the continued illusion of reduced crime when so much of the Chief Officer bonus is paid out to create the illusory effect of crime reduction. Chief Officers can receive as much as 15% on top of their six figure basic pay to report reductions in crime and increased detections. Little wonder with such an inducement that month after month we see a reduction in crime posted. To see the previous post about the top cops pay and crime scandal click here. To see our detailed report click here.
Very timely this article, a few weeks after Rodger Patrick, a retired Detective Chief Inspector from the West Midlands Police, claimed in the Telegraph that manipulative methods are tacitly approved of by senior officers, police watchdogs and the Home Office.
The techniques – dubbed “gaming” – are used to create the illusion that fewer crimes are being committed and that a bigger proportion are being solved.
The claims will inflame the debate about crime statistics after recent figures suggested that crime fell four per cent in the second quarter of last year.
The techniques identified by Dr Patrick include:
“Cuffing” – in which officers make crimes disappear from official figures by either recording them as a “false report” or downgrading their seriousness. For example, a robbery in which a mobile phone is stolen with violence or threats of violence is recorded as “theft from the person”, which is not classed as a violent crime.
“Stitching” – from “stitching up”, whereby offenders are charged with a crime when there is insufficient evidence. Police know that prosecutors will never proceed with the case but the crime appears in police records to have been “solved”.
“Skewing” – when police activity is directed at easier-to-solve crimes to boost detection rates, at the expense of more serious offences such as sex crimes or child abuse.
“Nodding” – where clear-up rates are boosted by persuading convicted offenders to admit to crimes they have not committed, in exchange for inducements such as a lower sentence.
Dr Patrick, who researched the subject for a PhD, said: “The academics call this ‘gaming’ but front line police officers would call it fiddling the figures, massaging the books or, the current favourite term, ‘good housekeeping’. It is a bit like the police activities that we all thought stopped in the 1970s.”
The article cited lots of real life examples and one detective, who declined to be named, said: “Name any crime and I’ll tell you how it can be fiddled.”
Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, which represents front line officers, said: “This research demonstrates that senior officers are directing and controlling widespread manipulation of crime figures.
“The public are misled, politicians can claim crime is falling and chief officers are rewarded with performance-related bonuses.”
Rank and file officers were told in 2002 that informal police warnings could no longer be counted as a detection for common assaults. Within 12 months the number of recorded common assaults dropped from 22,000 to 3,000 while thousands more crimes switched to the category “other woundings”.
“Such a rapid adjustment indicates the organisational nature of the phenomenon and suggests some form of co-ordination and direction by management,” the research said.
“The scale of the ‘gaming’ behaviours measured in this thesis … suggested senior officers were either directly orchestrating the behaviour or turning a blind eye to it.”
Dr Patrick believes other gaming techniques are still being used in forces across the country.
The report also warned that the use of “stitching” was “significant”, while “cuffing” had continued after the introduction of Home Office rules which were supposed to guarantee and standardise the way crimes are recorded.
“Cuffing” can involve a situation where a victim of crime is accused of making a false crime report, and is therefore treated like a suspect rather than an injured party, Dr Patrick said. “You cannot have members of the public who have been victims of crime coming to the police for help and being treated like suspects. That is not right and it will erode confidence in the police,” he said.
He was scathing of HMIC’s failure to tackle the problem, noting there were no examples of chief police officers being publicly criticised by inspectors for this type of crime figure manipulation.
To see the Telegraph article by Dr Patrick click here.
Crime Analysis Team
Nice 1 Limited