Monday, 26 April 2010
It is time someone put the public straight about crime in the UK.
As expected, on the run up to the election, Nu Labour continue to perpetuate their conspiracy of deceit, that crime is falling faster than a stone thanks to their strategies.
A few days ago, the Times Online ran a piece entitled “Police record lower number of crimes than when Labour came to power in 1997”
In fairness to the Times, the article was balanced enough to make reference to the public mistrust of national crime statistics.
That mistrust is well founded.
Let us dispel the myths and state the facts so that the public can make up their own mind.
“Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, said that if there was to be an honest debate on crime the Conservatives should accept what repeated surveys all confirm: that crime has fallen and is still falling”.
An honest debate Mr Johnson? . . . . Bring it on! Only, let us decide what will be on the agenda . . . .
Explain to us how you can rely so heavily on a two tiered crime measurement system that contains such disparities. BCS in 2009 suggested 10 million crimes were committed, yet only 4.7million were reported to the police. The British Crime Survey every year reports that actual crime is more than double that reported, and in fact less than 40% of crime is reported due to lack of confidence in your system. Could it be that your reliance on the two tier system has more to do with the fact that it is far easier to manipulate volume crime such as we have witnessed with vehicle and damage incidents ?
Explain to us how, whilst on your parties watch, you can justify the complexity of two major changes in the way crime is recorded that have subsequently enabled crime statistics to be so easily fiddled. The Home Office Counting Rules  expanded the number of crimes recorded by including a greater number of minor crimes. The National Crime Recording Standard  sought to make the process of crime recording more victim oriented. The introduction of these changes rendering figures before and after their introduction incomparable.
Outline for us, why continue to mislead the public about crime going down, when in fact you have overseen so many changes to the recording process that encourage the downward distortion of the enormity of crime. Shall we provide you examples? Ok… where a house is broken into, car keys taken and the vehicle driven away, only one offence of burglary [no vehicle related crime] is recorded. Worse, let us say for example, a communal housing block is entered via one door, twenty flats are entered, twenty sets of car keys taken and twenty vehicles stolen. Twenty victims, forty crimes. Under your changes, only one offence of burglary is recorded. Frontline police officers tell us of their frustration of how they are being forced to enact your deceitful conspiracy, with many, many more similar examples on record.
Explain to us why so many thousands of matters remain reported merely as incidents and not captured under the recording of crime. Perhaps you would care to divulge to us the numbers of incidents that should have been upgraded to a crime thereby revealing a more accurate reflection of the volume of crime. We’re assuming you will either not deliver that information or ensure it is suitably doctored so it continues to conceal the nefarious activities endorsed by your Government.
Admit the facts, that your party claims of a “significant fall in crime over the last decade” are in fact a fallacious headline masking a web of conspiracy and deceit about the recording and reporting of crime. Concede the truth, that in real terms, much of the fluctuation in crime rate had more to do with a number of major changes in the way crime was recorded than any direct influence of the Labour Party. Admit that the reported decline in crime has more to do with something criminologists call “attrition”, opposed to any specific Labour strategy. This is reflected by a massive reduction in the reporting of crime by the public (British Crime Survey suggests that less than 40% of real crime is reported for various reasons).
Tell us why violent crime carried out by children and teenagers, for example, has increased by one-third over three years. Frontline police are clear why this is happening. Rather than concentrating on persistent and violent youth offenders, they are busy creating crime to your government orders. Minor crime is going on all the time. Police merely “pluck something out of the air”, searching the pockets of a student for cannabis, for example, in order to detect a crime and so fulfill targets. Explain how you justify as one police officer put it : “bringing more and more people to justice - but they are the wrong people.”
Perhaps you would enlighten us as to why you measure Police performance in 'sanction detections'? [The term used for offences detected or cleared by charging someone, issuing a PND (penalty notice) or giving them a caution if they will admit the offence, have no previous record and have not recently received a PND. In order to meet your targets, police are now classifying incidents as crimes that would previously have been dealt with informally, classified differently or ignored. Section 5 of the Public Order Act allows police to arrest anyone for 'threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour within the sight of a
person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress'. Before the arrival of sanction detections, the police only used Section 5 for a public order offence, but now that police can now claim a sanction detection for an arrest under Section 5, minor crime and even innocuous activities appear in a different light. Could it be that your record of one new offence for each day in Government has enabled you to criminalise society just so that you can report increased detections and falling crime? Or are we being cynical?
Let us ask you to astound us with your honesty and ask you to comment on this. The rising numbers of sanction detections give the impression that the police are waging an effective war against crime, but, as one officer interviewed put it: 'We are bringing more and more people to justice but they are the wrong people.' Like other targets, they measure what was chosen to be measured, by Chief Officers in collaboration with the Home Office, not whether the public are getting a good service. 'Arresting someone for sending an offensive text on their mobile phone after a domestic dispute gets a sanction detection. The painstaking, time-consuming work of tracking down a missing child does not. A child stealing a Mars bar earns the same detection as a murder. Murders obviously require a lot more police time than a Mars bar. Officers are now forced by Senior Officer strategies to get involved in police work that does not earn a target. "We put less effort into areas we are not judged on."'
You’re not off the hook yet Mr Johnson . . . Plenty more for you to be honest about if you dare. Sixty five over-40s are now ‘made a criminal’ each day, which is confirmed by your very own Government figures. The number of people who are over 50 and enter the criminal justice system for the first time increased by 46.3 percent between 2000/01 and 2007/08, from 16,400 to 24,000. Meanwhile in the 40-49 age group, there was a 57.4 per cent rise to 32,900. How do you justify the targets imposed by your Government that have resulted in the mass criminalisation of a generation? Your party have introduced a range of offences aimed at householders which can be dealt with through on-the-spot fines. In doing so, you have criminalised a generation and treated tens of thousands of law-abiding middle-aged and elderly citizens like villains. Again, there are thousands of examples as evidence of your mismanagement.
Explain for us, how the prisons are bursting at the seams with offenders, with numbers increasing every month, insurers report daily about increasing property theft claim numbers, and yet crime is somehow decreasing. Where are the offences these increased numbers of prisoners have committed? At the same time detection rates are declining. How do you explain this with increased occupancy reaching the stage where you are committing millions to increasing the size of the prison estate? The public smell a rat Mr Johnson. The game is almost up.
Speaking of Gaming . . . . .
How can you permit, condone or encourage the practice of manipulating crime statistics, tacitly approved by senior officers, police watchdogs and your 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. These practices inflame the debate about crime statistics, anger the frontline officers ordered to implement them, and wipe out any remaining public confidence in crime statistics and your claims about reducing crime and increased detections.
The techniques which you are surely aware of 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.
The academics call this ‘gaming’ but front line police officers 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 hoped had stopped in the 1970s.
Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, which represents front line officers, said: “This 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 confirms the organisational nature of the practice and must contain co-ordination and direction by management.
The scale of the ‘gaming’ behaviours, is confirmed from disillusioned front line sources that senior officers are directly orchestrating the behaviour or turning a blind eye to it. You must be aware that other gaming techniques are still being used in forces across the country. The use of “stitching” is “significant”, while “cuffing” has 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. Mr Johnson…. 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 you are eroding confidence in the police by either condoning or supporting these practices. How can you continue to preach the gospel of increasing public confidence in the police whilst permitting these practices to continue?
And now we turn to what is perhaps the most serious crime of all . . . . . a crime that if ever revealed in its entirety, will surely eclipse the MP’s expenses scandal.
We have come to expect politicians to be economical with the truth, but when the integrity of our most senior police officers is called into question, with suspicions about conspiratorial and deceitful conduct, the time has come for a very public enquiry.
We have reported on this subject previously in our reports:-
FINALLY Mr Johnson, we would invite you to disclose the truth about the whole sordid affair of crime figure manipulation and the financial inducements paid to Senior Police Chiefs to perpetuate the conspiracy.
The orchestrators of this deceit are the Government and Home Office, aided and abetted by senior police officers, who are obscenely rewarded for their part in the plot.
Front line police officers are unable to untangle this web of deceit, despite protestations by many with an informed and accurate perspective at the public coal face. Distortion of the figures has led to misallocation of financial and human resources, resulting in the public being deprived of the policing it deserves. The gravy train of police funds has been milked and the “con” disguised through years of bureaucracy, performance targeting and distraction techniques, have made the task of basic policing more difficult to deliver.
There is plenty of evidence that there are senior officers who are paid grossly disproportionate salaries and bonuses for perpetuating the deceitful illusion of crime reduction.
The honour and distinction of achieving a high rank in public service has been replaced with greed, with a convenient blindness to the immorality of their actions.
A full, transparent 43 force public enquiry is needed to force the disclosure of these illicit payments and inducements to perpetuate the politicised myth of falling crime.
The consequences are dire and plain for all to see. The victims in all of this are the tax payer, who is deprived of the police service his contributions are intended to provide, and the front line police officer who is forced into silent acceptance and resignation of a job that has become enmeshed with bureaucracy, risk averse policing and fiddled crime figures. Who could blame officers that have no faith or respect for senior officers and politicians who orchestrate a criminal deception of the highest magnitude for personal gain, and then expect the staff on the ground to do their dirty work with no resistance?
The secrecy surrounding these payments serves only to feed suspicion of a boys’ club stitch-up. Chief constables need to be open on pay and perks if trust is to be restored, not only with the public, but also with the front line officers who also feel cheated. Respect for Chief Officers is at an all time low and we have to sympathise with the front line officers who feel they are doing the dirty work of the Chiefs, betraying the public trust and feeling pressured into compliance.
No one should be surprised to see the dramatic changes to the crime reporting processes that occurred during the Labour ministry. What a clever game of smoke and mirrors they have played. Obfuscate, disguise, confuse or even blatantly lie about the statistics to prevent the truth getting out to the public, that they have failed spectacularly to handle the problem honestly and effectively.
The wider public have been well and truly conned by Labour. The police rank and file have become embroiled in a tangled web of deceit. The challenge is a scary one, because it involves the unwinding of many years of conspiratorial, deceitful conduct. But change it must if we are to move forward.
Whoever assumes the mantle of Home Secretary will face many obstacles from the media and Labour, who will not want the truth revealed for fear of the damaging consequences. The fact is public confidence is shattered almost beyond recognition and it will take a supreme dose of courage and perseverance to take the necessary remedial action necessary to start healing the wounds that have been inflicted.
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