Tuesday, 7 June 2011


Home Office will consider report into restoring trust in crime figures.

Following a request by the Home Secretary to help promote greater public trust in crime statistics, the National Statistician has published her report.

Recommendations from Jil Matheson's independent review include:
  • the Office for National Statistics should take responsibility for the independent reporting and publication of crime statistics
  • presentation of crime statistics should be improved to provide clarity about the coverage of the two different sources: the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime
  • there should be transparent decision-making on changes that affect the published crime statistics
Bold action

Policing and criminal justice minister Nick Herbert said: 'We have always said bold action needs to be taken to restore trust in crime statistics and that is why we asked the National Statistician to conduct this comprehensive review.

'She has produced a number of recommendations — we will now be considering these and will respond in due course.'

To download or read a copy of the report click here.

What a dispappointing report.

Having downloaded a copy, it is clear that the ONS are not of a mind to open the can of worms that really undermines the integrity of police statistics, the various forms of "gaming" (deceitful manipulation) that remain prevalent in forces.


With Crime Statistics 80% is hidden below the surface

I deliberately held back publishing the latest in my series “Crime Of The Century – The Scandal of Police Detections” until Ms Mattheson published her report. Whilst pleased to be included in the appendices of contributors (under our company name Nice 1 Ltd), I am extremely disappointed that she did not show the courage to face this problem head on.

Until they address this issue, the statistics will remain nothing more than a Chief Constables tool for suggesting performance is improving (which it categorically is not).

Having analysed numerous comments from the rank and file referring to the various forms of gaming in play today it was not difficult to spot patterns of deceitful practices that produce the illusory effect of crime decreasing and detections improving. The report will show evidence of how forces persist in manipulating the numbers. The 28% detection rate banded about by the Home Office is complete and utter tripe. Things like Cannabis possession make up about 7% of total detections. Then there is the scam on volume crime under reporting which reflects a dramatic decline in this area. Our forthcoming report will expose crime and detection statistics for the seriously flawed process that it truly has become.

This is indeed the crime of the century, perpetrated or at the very least condoned by many (but not all) Chief Officers and their management teams and endorsed by politicians and alleged regulatory bodies for their own perverse reasons.

Here are just a few of the topics we will cover in our report in greater detail.

• "False Reporting Policies" introduced by police forces set out to reduce the snowballing number of mobile telephones reported as stolen, when in fact many were lost or merely damaged, enabling owners to claim replacements. This well-intended policy was massively abused by forces that subsequently extended the practice to all acquisitive or volume crime, resulting in a massive suppression of recorded crime.

• Simple cannabis possession dealt with by way of fixed penalty notices is being used by forces to massively inflate detection rates, (in some forces by as much as 8%), to the detriment of investigation of more serious matters.

• "Easy Win" detections are being chased by forces to the detriment of more serious crime. Such matters might include playground squabbles and domestic arguments where previously, the police would not have become involved. Many thousands of such offences are being investigated at the expense of serious matters more deserving of police investigation. All in pursuit of the Chief Officers aims to increase detections whatever the cost.

• The easy win detections have seen changes in deployment strategies in forces, where teams of officers are assigned to middle class areas, away from the true crime inner cities where more serious, more difficult to resolve crimes are being committed. Otherwise law abiding folk are being criminalised at the expense of the senior management detection rush.

• Crime reduction and detection increases have been linked to Chief Officer bonuses. (Up to 15% on top of £140k per year packages). This cannot be ethical, linking performance to financial incentives in policing.

• Offences that cause most public concern are frequently reclassified as lesser offences to dilute the serious nature of the reality in the communities, fraudulently attempting to allay public concern.

• Various "fiddle" strategies are employed to suppress the recording of crime, recording as an incident that should ultimately be crimed, but does not happen. Recording incidents in unofficial registers to keep crimes off the books is another discovered practice.

• Batching multiple offences with multiple victims as one crime with others associated to it. However, if a detection is likely, all offences are crimed separately so that the requisite number of detections can be claimed.

• Despite protestations to the contrary, offenders are still visited in prison and encouraged to admit offences under the auspices of being "taken into consideration", when in fact the matters subject of these admissions are rarely put anywhere near a court. These "TIC's" can be converted into "detections" to further inflate the force detection percentage. We will show you the forces most active in this area, the offences most commonly marked up as detected, the many thousands of incidents that totally undermine the primary detections achieved by rank and file officers.

• There are various methods of detection or disposal avalable to the police. Juggling lesser offences in between cautions, PND's (fixed penalties), TIC's and a spurious category called "Other" enables forces to conjure up whatever detection rate they wish to present to the world.

• Officers have reported that in many cases where the evidence is insufficient to gain a successful outcome at court, offenders will accept a caution, PND or TIC so as not to run the risk of attending court and being convicted.
 • Officers report that processes permitted writing off detections to offenders without either their knowledge or that of the victim. This breach of data protection was subsequently discovered and concealed from the public by ACPO the IPCC, HMIC and the Information Commissioner, for fear of the harm it might do to public confidence in policing.
 • Officers were highly critical of the perceived duplicity of higher police management who were accused of issuing grand statements about the importance of police integrity but of ignoring the threats to integrity presented by the pressure they put on officers to achieve sanction detection targets. This corroborates the suspicion that the corruption involved in the activities is more on an institutional level than individual.
 • The general perception from officers is that they work for an organisation that:

• Is concentrating on easily-detected offences in order to achieve sanction detection targets;

• Is losing its integrity because of the tactics it encourages police officers to use to achieve these detections;
 • Is headed by SMTs, most members of which no longer care about the victims of serious crime.
 • Whilst they make public statements about being victim-centred and caring for communities, they are accused of colluding with the Government and playing performance games to mislead the public into thinking that the crime problem is being addressed successfully; and
 • No longer wants, values and resources good-quality criminal investigations which lead to convictions unless the crimes in question are high profile, critical incidents.

You will find no reference to "statistical gaming", "cooking the books" or "fudging the figures" in the National Statisticians review. This suggests that the integrity of the existing systems have not been questioned. If any credence is to be given to future effort in this area, this must be faced square on and the procedures of every force rigorously scrutinised. 

Previous HMIC inspections revealed doubtful practices, but this was the tip of the iceberg. Whilst acknowledging the sterling efforts of the HMIC, the organisation will be seen as non independent and the suspicion will always pervade that dubious activites will not be exposed, nor those responsible brought to account.

Unless Jil Mattheson has consulted privately with Theresa May and Nick Herbert over the need to "Clean up the act" of gaming within the service, any future effort in this direction will be undermined and wasted. It's all very well presenting statistics independently, but if the source data is suspect or of doubtful integrity, then the end result will be subject to yet further criticism.


Until this is sorted, any Government will be able to manipulate the media to print nonsense about the numbers to their own ends. The service will suffer as a result. If continued improvement is continually reported, what incentive is there to allocate more funds to needy parts of the service?

Then there is the confidence issue. Without a root and branch clear out of the deceptive practices our report outlines, the public confidence will slide further downhill and rank and file morale will dip still further as it witnesses official bodies doing diddly squat to put things right.

Policing and criminal justice minister Nick Herbert said: 'We have always said bold action needs to be taken to restore trust in crime statistics and that is why we asked the National Statistician to conduct this comprehensive review. She has produced a number of recommendations — we will now be considering these and will respond in due course.'

Indeed Nick, bold and even courageous action is needed now. If any semblance of credibility and faith is to be restored to crime statistics, this pernicious and corrupt activity must be rooted out. The rank and file officers and tax paying public expect no less. Whatever dispute they may have over pay and conditions, if officers are to serve with confidence  they must feel that something is being done to wipe out the immorality within this part of the job they love. Restore the integrity both to them and the process they are forced to administer. Don't expect transparency and honesty from ACPO and the senior ranks. They will deny any mens rea "guilty knowledge" and undoubtedly shift the blame downhill. However, it is clear, that the Chief Officers concerned will have in some way, been complicit or at the very least, will have turned a blind eye to how the richly rewarded performance has been achieved. 

Prove to the rank and file that your word is good. Prove to us all that you truly want a transparent and honest crime recording system. Show us that you are not afraid to discover corrupt activities that conceal corrupted crime figures for heaven knows how many years. It will undoubtedly involve revelations and contraversy, but most of this emanated from the performance targeting of the previous administration, so why fear the outcome? A clean slate is needed now. To do otherwise will undermine the future efforts of Jil Mattheson, her department, and indeed the team led by Theresa May and yourself. 

Look out for the report out on these pages soon.

Best regards

Thin Blue Line UK

Other Thin Blue Line articles about crime statistics:-



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