Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Thursday, 21 November 2013

COOKING THE BOOKS - CHIEF POLICE OFFICERS UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT


In the week that the PACT meeting opened the police recorded crime can of worms, exposing the scandal that the numbers have been fiddled, fudged, cooked and manipulated for financial and political gain for years, the first chief constable has admitted police are "manipulating" official crime figures because they are put under pressure to show crime is falling.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10462602/Chief-Constable-police-manipulate-crime-figures-because-of-pressure-from-senior-figures.html

This follows on from Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis, President of the Superintendents Association, showing integrity and courage lacking in her colleagues when she admitted that the service was ridden with the Gaming or Statistical fiddling culture. See the link below that refers.

http://thinbluelineuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/scrap-targets-restore-common-sense.html

How many more Chief Officers will put their heads above the parapet? Not those who received 000's in bonus payments for fiddling the figures we'll wager!

Chairman of the PACT committee Bernard Jenkin should perhaps call all the ACPO officers to future inquiry meetings and answer the following questions under oath:-

1. Did you at any time over the last 20 years accept bonus payments for showing a reduction in crime on your area?
2. How much did those bonuses amount to?
3. Exactly what strategies did you employ to guarantee crime went down?
4. Presumably, you have worked for more than one force. Did you take your crime reduction strategies with you, thereby spreading the corruptive disease?
5. How many officers who set out to blow the whistle and expose your tactics, had their careers obstructed or even terminated to defend your activities?
6. How does it sit with you, that your combined efforts to falsify the reduction in crime resulted in your rank and file officers having their professional integrity impugned?
7. Furthermore, how is your conscience now that your remaining officers have no confidence in your command because of your fiddling and those that remain are stressed beyond belief dealing with the level of crime that would have coped better had you not caused the loss of thousands of officer numbers?
8. Have you forgotten you are a police officer, sworn to protect the public and remain steadfastly loyal to your troops, showing them the best level of conduct?
9. How safe do you think your job and pension is right now?
10. How the heck do you sleep at night?

Well, we can dream can't we?

How many Chiefs will admit fiddling? Do Turkeys Vote For Christmas?

How many whistle blowers will it take?
Expecting Chief Officers to actually admit they have orchestrated or even condoned statistical malpractice is perhaps a little hopeful. The activity is after all, as the committee identified administrative corruption, so we should expect a raft of denials, obfuscation, and muddying of waters. As police officers reading this will know, we can expect to see the practised art of "deflection" from ACPO ranks, with even a degree or ordered document shredding and file deleting. 

How many officers would show the same degree of courage as James Patrick, revealing the crooked activity of their seniors? A root and branch exposure of those activities and those responsible might bring forth a few volunteers. Once again we say... we can but dream...

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

POLICE RECORDED CRIME - THE CAN OF WORMS IS FINALLY PRIZED OPEN!

Finally... the police recorded crime can o' worms is open

Finally, after years of campaigning by this site and others concerned with the lack of probity of police statistics, the truth is revealed today by the Public Administration Select Committee meeting to inquire into the police recording of crime.
Confirming what we have espoused from these pages for many a year, the committee heard evidence from former, retired and serving police officers, detailing the extent of the manipulation of police recorded crime.
I have also received confirmation today that my submission on the subject has also been accepted into evidence. Click this link to read it: -http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/WrittenEvidence.svc/EvidenceHtml/3522
To see all of the written evidence the committee has published click this link:-

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-administration-select-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/crime-statistics/?type=Written#pnlPublicationFilter

Better still, to see the compelling video footage of the officers giving their evidence to the committee click this link:-

The revelations will shock the policing world, and certainly scare some of the Chief Officers who have created, endorsed of simply condoned the scurrilous fudging of crime statistics. The media have already picked up on the scandal which looks set to expose the pernicious fiddling that has taken place.

Police officers routinely fiddle crime figures, MPs are told http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/10460158/Police-officers-routinely-fiddle-crime-figures-MPs-are-told.html

We can only hope that finally, the truth will come out and the full extent of crime in the UK will eventually receive the police attention the tax paying public deserve and the rank and file officers joined the service to give. 
 
 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

POLICE RECORDED CRIME – CONSEQUENCES OF COOKING THE BOOKS

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Politicians of all persuasions, Chief and senior police officers and more recently, Police Crime Commissioners have all thrown their hats and helmets in the air to celebrate a steady fall in crime. The Home Office said it was all down to its crime prevention work. The police said it was their new intelligence-led approach. The academics said it was rising consumption, falling inequality, more alarms, fewer adolescent males or a fall in unemployment.

But what if it never happened? What if all that research (and all of the political point-scoring which it inspired) is one big misleading lie? What if the truth is that crime didn’t fall at all – that it was fiddled statistics presenting the deceitful illusion that crime had fallen?

This week The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) begins an inquiry into crime statistics. The Committee will be examining whether appropriate checks are in place to ensure crimes are recorded properly and therefore whether policy makers in government, as well as the public, can have confidence in crime statistics.


At 9.30am, Tuesday 19 November 2013, evidence will be heard from the following witnesses:-

·         James Patrick, Metropolitan Police

·         Peter Barron, former Detective Chief Superintendent, Metropolitan Police

·         Dr Rodger Patrick, former Chief Inspector, West Midlands Police

·         Paul Ford, Police Federation

·         Ann Barnes, Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent

·         Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex

·         Paddy Tipping, Police and Crime Commisioner for Nottinghamshire

·         Alan Pughsley, Deputy Chief Constable, Kent Police

Particular issues to be explored may include:

·         the extent to which the recorded crime data serves as a reliable indicator of national and local crime trends;

·         the extent to which adequate procedures are in place to promote a culture of data integrity within the police; and

·         the importance of accurate crime data to Police and Crime Commissioners for the purposes of local performance monitoring and accountability.

THE THIN BLUE LINE BLOWS THE WHISTLE
 
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Regular readers of these pages will know that we have espoused the view that crime statistics, both police recorded crime and detections perniciously and deceitfully fiddled to the extent that they have long since lost all probity and data integrity. They cannot be trusted for the vital strategic policing decisions and have undoubtedly played a major contributory factor in the malaise that currently faces policing in the UK.

Our written submission to the PASC was received and acknowledged, however the powers that be have chosen not to publish the contribution or invite our verbal witness evidence. Having digested the accepted written evidence which presents excellent quality and a diversity of views, we can only surmise that our views were considered a little TOO up-front and conclusive for the committee.
The excellent views of the other contributors can be seen by clicking this link. In particular, we recommend the submission of Dr Rodger Patrick, former Chief Inspector, West Midlands Police, who has conducted some of the most honest and detailed investigative work into the subject.       


Once submitted, our submission became the property of the Committee and no public use can be made of it unless we have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee. The embargo relates to the submitted piece, so there is no issue with content that is not lifted from our submission.

CONSEQUENCES OF COOKING THE BOOKS OF CRIME

If manipulating recorded crime is the cause what are its effects?
“So they cook the books a bit … what possible harm could it do?”
The actual harm it has done and continues to do is CATASTROPHIC.

·         Imagine you are the Chief Executive of UK Police plc, a fictitious business with 44 UK branches. It would be totally reasonable to expect a variance in performance among the branches. There will be star players, average players and those who need to pull their performance socks up.

·         20 or so years ago, this was the case with the police service. Some forces were genuinely effective at reducing crime, primarily by persistently locking up the volume crime offenders. At the other end of the scale were forces whose performance needed to improve. This was closer to the reality of life and the statistics that recorded it.   

·         Successive Governments looked at targeting as a means of improving performance across the public sector, including the police service. However it was new labour with their centrally planned economy who were responsible for introducing Performance Management and Targets. Linking performance to significant financial and career incentives gave birth to a dysfunctional “Gaming” culture that Peter Neyroud, then Chief Constable of Thames Valley referred to as “administrative corruption” when he gave evidence to the PASC in 2003.

·         The corruptive seed was planted. Over the years that followed, Chief and senior officer bonuses soared as the under recording of crimes escalated and the numbers plummeted to levels that have become a work of absolute fiction. If this were a fairy tale, Hans Christian Anderson would have been proud to have created it.

·         We have published a wealth of detailed evidence explaining how it was and is done to this day. The compelling conclusion is there for all to see in the decline of recorded crime since 2003. Even more damning, is the extent of the problem. In 2003, only 17 of the 44 forces achieved a reduction in crime. This number rose year by year along with financially incentivised performance management until we reach the total unbelievable situation in 2013, where 44 out of now 45 recording sources show a reduction in crime.

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So, what are the consequences of this fallacious deception?

·         At the very least, the Con/Dem Coalition must have suspected that recorded crime had been fiddled mercilessly in the years prior to their coming to power. Despite this, they chose to use the “Alleged” fall in crime as a key motivator for including policing in the comprehensive spending review that led to the massive cuts in police resources and frontline officer numbers.

·         Protect life and property, prevent and detect crime. That is the police function, to protect us from the recidivist criminal fraternity. This is what most police officers want and join the job to do. Slashing head counts based on fiddled crime statistics ignores this issue completely and endangers the lives and threatens the safety of us all.

·         Working under intense pressure to deliver figures which their senior officers demand, Police officers cuff with diligence and imagination. Setting up “alternative recording systems” which on the surface appear quite innocent, mis-recording more serious matters as minor damage, vehicle interference and domestic violence.

·         A member of the public contacts police to report someone has tried to break into his home. Jemmy marks around his back door are evidence of an attempt burglary which according to the Home Office counting rules, is a crime which needs to be recorded. Corruptive influence results in the circumstances being classified as mere minor damage costing less than £20 to repair, not a crime at all for the purpose of official statistics. The MOP faithfully believes that the forces of law and order are now on his side. Duped! The police cuff him and forget him.

·         A motorist finds someone has tried to break into his car and his report is fudged out of the records as a case of “vehicle interference” – a lesser offence that is overlooked when looking at vehicle theft related matters. Those victims who tell police that they have suffered theft of a mobile phone, handbag, wallets or giro cheque might be surprised to learn that no crime is recorded unless there is clear evidence to corroborate the theft, the incident is recorded as lost property.

·         The author is the creator of a product provides replacement vehicles to many hundreds of victims of car theft. Daily experience has shown that crime numbers are rarely provided. Incident numbers are issued that are supposed to convert to crime numbers when the offence of Theft is complete – i.e. not recovered. Subsequent enquiries reveal that the vast majority do NOT covert to crime numbers and therefore reflect a greater than actual reduction on vehicle theft.

·         Politicians believe what is in their interests to believe and disregard anything that may be prejudicial to their ongoing tenure. Declining crime wins votes, regardless of the lack of probity in the numbers. They have no desire to prize open the can of worms and reveal that the numbers have been fiddled ruthlessly for years. Worse still, they fear the revelation that the financial cost of Chief Officer bonuses paid on this basis makes the MP expenses scandal appear paltry by comparison.

·         The Chief Officers who have either constructed the corrupt and fraudulent recording systems, or at the very least condoned or adopted a conveniently blinkered attitude to their use, display a lack of concern for the public whose votes and taxes put them in office. They are only interested in spinning the numbers out to represent what they want the public, the politicians and their police crime commissioner to believe.

·         The honour and distinction of achieving a high rank in what was a total respected police service has been replaced with corruption, voracious greed and a convenient blindness to the immorality and corrupt nature of their actions.

·         The corrupt system is protected by a lack of any real support system for officers daring to whistle-blow on the subject. This perpetuates the problem. In fact, Officers that have done so have been castigated, with careers blocked or even ended as a result.

·         Recent courageous public disclosures, by Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis (Chair of the Superintendents Association) and Steve Williams of the Police Federation confirm the substantial evidence we have collated from rank and file officers that recorded crime is suppressed to convey an impression of reducing crime.



·         Chief Officers must be held to account for their actions in this perverse and grossly corrupt activity. It is THEY who have benefitted from this dishonesty and manipulation. It is THEY who received exorbitant bonus payments to reflect crime reductions and detection increases. It is THEY who advanced their careers and political ambitions on the back of this disgraceful deception. It is the public who are being conned, the rank and file who have lost faith in their superiors.

·         This scandal will raise further concerns over the quality of leadership and integrity of many of the past and present Chief Officers. We should expect that a considerable degree of document shredding and concealment and we hope Mr Winsor and his HMIC team, when they go to inspect the forces in 2014 are prepared for the extent to which some will go to protect their positions. Mr Winsor will have to display a ruthless determination to uncover the truth if the public and rank and file officers are to be convinced of his independence and intentions to root out any improper practices.

·         The police will never regain our trust until they get decent leadership and smash the so-called ‘canteen culture’ that pervades the service. The decent officers, the majority, deserve much better than they have got, and so does the British public.

Res ipsa loquitor - Let the facts speak for themselves 

"Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power." - George Bernard Shaw
"All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing."
Edmund Burke (British Statesman and Philosopher 1729-1797

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Only Uniform Tom Winsor Should Be Allowed To Wear

 
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE!

PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO POLICE RECORDED CRIME STATISTICS


 
The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) is finally conducting an inquiry into crime statistics. Responding to pressure from ministers, the Committee will be examining whether appropriate checks are in place to ensure crimes are recorded properly and therefore whether policy makers in government, as well as the public, can have confidence in crime statistics.
The inquiry poses the questions:-

1. Are crimes being recorded by the police when they should be? Are crimes being categorised correctly?

2. What are the factors which can influence police mis-recording of crime?

3. Are the right checks in place to ensure that the systems for recording crime function effectively and accurately?

4. Has enough been done to ensure the integrity of crime data? What more should be done?

5. To what extent can policy-makers have confidence in the statistics which result from the recording of crime by police forces?

6. Should recorded crime statistics be classified as National Statistics?

A review of crime recording in Kent by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that appreciably more needs to be done before the people of Kent can be confident that the crime and resolution figures published by the force are as accurate as they should be.

Sooner or later, the lid will be prized off this statistical can of worms and the public will learn, once and for all that the figures have been fiddled mercilessly for years.
Ironic that in the same week that astounding revelations about falling crime, that ONE senior police officer has raised her head above the parapet and admitted that it’s all one big sham.
In an article in Police Oracle Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis, Chair of the Superintendents Association, showed courage and integrity lacking in many of her ACPO colleagues, by admitting that league tables and performance targets had created a culture of “Gaming” – cooking the books or just plain fiddling to you and me.
To quote Chief Superintendent Curtis :
“For many years forces have been compared with others at a national level and this has resulted in league tables being promulgated throughout the service down to individual level.  I know this because I was part of it. As both an Operations Superintendent and a BCU Commander I spent much of my time focused on the reds and greens. I recall conversations with colleagues about them holding back detections for the current month as they had reached their target and therefore could keep some in the bank for next month. Discussions about whether we should be encouraging staff to charge offenders with public order offences or drunk and disorderly, depending on whether our focus was on detection rates or crime reduction. I’ve also sat through many performance meetings trying to explain why my BCU’s crime figures had gone up or down by X per cent and what I was going to do about it.
I look back now with some sadness that I was part of a culture that appeared to treat numbers as being more important than doing the right thing and yet for a long time I didn’t do anything to challenge it.
I've spoken to a number of colleagues about this recently, including some chief officers, and I often hear responses such as, 'that doesn't happen in my force' or, 'targets are necessary otherwise staff won’t do what's required.'
Well that doesn’t fit with what I’m hearing. I'm picking up a growing sense of frustration from colleagues in the federated ranks who feel under immense pressure to deliver targets and feel that gaming is often the only way they can deliver this. There’s no doubt about it, the use of numerical targets in performance management is embedded in the police psyche”.
Regular visitors to the Thin Blue Line blog know that they have not only been protesting about the scandal of  police cooking the books of crime for many years, but have also provided detailed reports of precisely how this is being done.
There is more than anecdotal evidence, there is rank and file officer comments and detailed hard facts to prove how the statistics are regularly fudged and manipulated. Chief Officers must be held to account for this. Whether they have constructed the systems that fiddle, condoned the actions or merely turned a blind eye to the practices, it is ONLY THEY who have benefitted from this distortion and manipulation. It is ONLY THEY who received exorbitant bonus payments down the years (payments that make the MP Expenses Scandal appear paltry by comparison), to reflect crime reductions and detection increases. It is ONLY THEY who advanced their careers and political ambitions on the back of this disgraceful deception. It is the general public who are being conned, the rank and file who have lost faith in their superiors.
Steve Williams, the head of the Police Federation when interviewed by the Telegraph, confirmed that a "fear factor" is preventing officers from blowing the whistle on how crime statistics are being manipulated and that crime figures are being kept artificially low because of pressure from chief constables.

At last there seems to be some traction building behind the need to investigate the way police record crime. Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said he wanted to
review how all the country's police forces record crimes amid concerns officers are deliberately changing statistics.
 
Cooking the books on crime –
Is it just a game to Chief Officers?
Just as turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, Home Office civil servants, ministers and Chief Police Officers are hardly likely to concede that the crime figures are as badly flawed as is suspected. Supported by front line police corroboration, the Home Office process of collating and presenting crime statistics can no longer be trusted as a measure of crime in the UK.
The rot in recorded crime and detections goes back many years. The senior management have long since relied upon their store of tricks for “cooking the books”, or “Gaming” as it has become known. It was interesting to see the retired West Midlands Detective Chief Inspector, Dr Rodger Patrick confirming these practices are still prevalent in this telegraph article.
"Cuffing” “Stiching” “Skewing” and “Nodding” are all familiar terms to both the front line and Chief Officers, as methods of manipulating the numbers to perpetuate the illusion of falling crime. Rank and file officers confirm the practices remain endemic across the forces. 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 or have been rewarded with performance-related bonuses.
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.”
Denis O'Connor, the former Chief Inspector of Constabulary, published an official report into the way police record violent crime and admitted the figures may be skewed by "perverse incentives" around government performance targets.  As Dr Patrick discovered though, the HMIC and Police Standards Unit have displayed a general tendency to underplay the scale and nature of the practices. It certainly begs the question as to why there are no examples of Chief Officers being brought to book, or even publicly criticised for this type of crime figure manipulation. Apparently, the HMIC refer examples of widespread gaming to the Home Secretary or police authority, rather than "hold the chief constable to account" because of the risk of political embarrassment.
John Flatley and Jenny Bradley at the Crime, Regional and Data Access Division of the ONS produced a paper analysing the methods of gathering crime statistics:-
In this report the ONS concedes that a growing number of crimes reported to the police are not being captured in crime recording systems. There are a range of possible drivers for this including:
• performance pressures associated with targets (e.g. to reduce crime or increase detection rates) acting as perverse incentives for some crimes to be downgraded from notifiable into non-notifiable categories or as ASB or as crime-related incidents (which are not captured in data returned to the Home Office);
• though forces have continued with their own internal audits, the cessation of independent audits from 2006/07 onwards may have reduced the focus on addressing non-compliance;
• the move to Neighbourhood Policing in recent years may also have led to more low level crimes being dealt with informally and outside the formal crime recording system; and,
• in the context of pressure on police budgets and a general policy shift to promote greater officer discretion, a return to a more evidential recording model.
So, in addition to detailed reports containing evidence from front line officers, Home Office and force statistics down the years on this subject:-
•The Office for National Statistics concedes that accuracy of the numbers is potentially affected by perverse incentives to downgrade, mis-report or ignore crimes.
•A high ranking Officer, Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis concedes that the service has fallen victim to the "Gaming Culture."
•The Chairman of the Police Federation confirms that rank and file officers are ordered to manipulate the numbers.
•Tom Winsor, the HMIC announces there will be a review to examine the probity of the numbers in all 43 forces.
•Behind the scenes, a number of debates in the House of Commons and the House of Lords are accelerating pressure in the right direction.
It is unfortunate that Mr Winsor has, by virtue of his police pay review recommendations in Winsor I and II become unpopular with the rank and file. It is these very front line officers whose support he will require when investigating the corrupt and disgraceful practices that have become the norm within the higher ranks of the service. We can only hope that he will apply a ruthless honest approach to the numbers and be prepared to expose the truth, whatever that may reveal. Only when the books have been completely opened and cleansed will the glimmer of faith and confidence appear. We hope Mr Winsor will see beyond the initial co-operative promises of Chief Officers, and dig as deep as is necessary to expose the deceitful pernicious practices.
This scandal will raise further concerns over the leadership and integrity of many of the past and present Chief Officers. We should expect that a considerable degree of document shredding and concealment and we hope Mr Winsor is prepared for the extent to which some will go to protect their positions. Mr Winsor will have to display a ruthless determination to uncover the truth if the public and rank and file officers are to be convinced of his independence and intentions to root out any improper practices.
The Truth and Consequences of Manipulating Crime Statistics
Imagine for a moment, you are the CEO of a 45 branch national plc. It is reasonable to expect a degree of performance variance due to the differing conditions each area faces. In policing, this was certainly the case prior to performance targeting. Chief Officer 15% bonus payments & the allure of the career advancement rewards magically turned also ran forces into super cops almost overnight. Are we expected to swallow this? Knowing what we know of course not, but even the man in the street wouldn’t require a degree is statistics to spot that some book cooking was going on here.
 
Year       Rec Crime           +/-          A*          B*
2003       5,974,960                                            
2004       6,013,759             0.65%    17/44     39%
2005       5,637,511             -6.26%  37/44     84%
2006       5,555,172             -1.46%  30/44     68%
2007       5,427,558             -2.30%  32/44     73%
2008       4,952,277             -8.76%  43/44     98%
2009       4,702,697             -5.04%  42/44     95%
2010       4,338,295             -7.75%  43/44     98%
2011       4,150,916             -4.32%  39/44     89%
2012       4,023,253             -3.08%  38/45     84%
2013       3,731,338             -7.26%  44/45     98%
A*= Number of forces showing a decrease in crime on previous year
B* = % of forces overall showing decrease in crime
Although the use of performance measures was to have been initiated by earlier Conservative Governments in the 1980s and 1990s it was the comprehensive application of such measures and targets to all public services including policing by New Labour during its second term of office,  that really saw the recorded crime manipulation escalate. Are we realistically expected to believe that such a disparate organisation as the 44 force police service could so unanimously (98% of the service in 2013) and consistently, reduce crime year after year, without there being some form of gaming activity?
The consequences are clear for all to see.
As a result of the gaming practices, politicians use crime statistics as a political football. Prior to their succession to office, the Coalition conducted a Comprehensive Spending Review. The Chief Officer strategy of artificially slashing crime was soon to have its consequences. The CSR included policing within its remit and officer numbers have been slashed, with massive further budget and resource cuts as politicians, choosing to believe the pr value of even fallacious numbers, proudly boast that forces can achieve “more with less”.  The rank and file officers at the sharp end know this is impossible. Overstretched as a result of depleted numbers, their professional integrity threatened by the practices they are forced to implement, little wonder morale is at its lowest ebb.
The real victim of crime statistic manipulation is the general public. They deserve a police service that will protect their lives and property, prevent and detect crime. Whilst Chief Officers and politicians continue to perpetuate the myth of falling crime and increased detections, the public and honest hard working coppers will be cheated out of the police service they want and deserve. 
Let us hope that this inquiry will finally prize open the statistical can of worms, whatever the consequences, so that the real needs of the service and the public may be met. Only then might we see public confidence start to return and officer morale return. I’ll say it before you do … yeah really!
Well, a guy can dream can’t he?
Steve
Steve Bennett
Retired West Midlands Police Officer
 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

ALL ABOARD THE POLICE COMMISSIONER GRAVY TRAIN!

More than a third of police and crime commissioners are already costing the public more than the police authorities they were elected to replace last November, according to parliamentary research.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/may/22/police-crime-commissioners-cost

14 of the forces overspent the Police Authority previous year budget. The remainder either matched or reduced it. However, the 14 that overspent did so to such an extent that all of the forces combined have overspent to the tune of 2.81%, equating to £1.3million.

The Home Affairs Committee produced a report that shows who spent what. To see the full report click the link below.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/69/69.pdf

What they omitted to publish was the total expenditure and excess spend of the PCC's. We have taken the data and created a table to show the totals. Click the link below to see this.

http://bit.ly/11d0orF

To quote the 2010 Conservative Manifesto on Crime, Police & Justice:

  • We will introduce measures to make the police more accountable through oversight by a directly elected individual, who will be subject to strict checks and balances by locally elected representatives.
Nick Herbert MP, the former Policing Minister, appears to be the instigator of the Police & Ctime Commissioner concept, having first detailed the proposals in a Conservative Party briefing paper "Policing For The People".

The document makes interesting reading and Police Officers will find many of the issues they justifiably complain about having their roots in this document, in proposals made by Nick Herbert & Blair Gibbs (his former business partner at Policy Xchange).

The estimated first year costs for PCC's was in the region of £40million, a wishful saving of some £6million versus the prior year Police Authority spend. However, the PCC's have cost £48million. We will leave it for the reader to decide and for performance to reflect (if we can expect to see statistical probity!) if the money is well spent. 

Friday, 17 May 2013

POLICE CRIME STATISTICS - ARE WE CLOSE TO EXPOSING THE TRUTH?

Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said he wanted to review how police forces record crimes amid concerns officers are deliberately changing statistics
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10057427/Police-could-be-fiddling-crime-figures-watchdog-warns.html

At last there seems to be some traction building behind the need to investigate the way police record crime.

Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said he wanted to review how all the country's police forces record crimes amid concerns officers are deliberately changing statistics.

The review will examine claims that police officers recorded fewer serious offences than the crimes that had actually been alleged.

Examples included theft being recorded as lost property, violence with injury being recorded as common assault and burglary being classified as theft in a dwelling.

The inspectorate would also look into suggestions that some officers would get prisoners to confess to crimes they had not committed in order to boost clear-up rates.

Mr Winsor addressing the Home Affairs select committee said: "The figures are critical to a whole range of decisions which elected officials, chief constables and others must make. Information is the oxygen of accountability and the information must be sound.”

Mr Winsor added: “There have been anxieties expressed in relation to the quality of crime data statistics. We will be doing an all-force inspection of the integrity of crime recording by the police and we will report on it when we have done it.”

He said the review would look at “circumstances where crimes are incorrectly recorded or not recorded as crimes but are recorded as incidents”.  (THIN BLUE LINE have been exposing this for a number of years).

He added: “It is alleged that from time to time police officers who are eager to improve their clear-up rates will all go to a prison and get some people who are already in prison to confess to crimes they did not commit, the ‘taken into considerations’.

Regular visitors to these pages know that we have not only been protesting about the scandal of  police cooking the books of crime for many years, but we have also provided detailed reports of precisely how this is being done.

There is more than anecdotal evidence, there is officer evidence and detailed hard evidence to prove how the statistics are regulalrly fudged and manipulated. Chief Officers must be held to account for this. Whether they have constructed the systems that fiddle the numbers, condoned the actions or merely turned a blind eye to the practices, it is ONLY THEY who have benefitted from this distortion and manipulation. It is ONLY THEY who received exhorbitant bonus payments down the years (payments that make the MP Expenses Scandal appear small stuff by comparison), to reflect crime reductions and detection increases. It is ONLY THEY who have advanced their careers and political ambitions on the back of this disgraceful deception. It is the general public who are being conned, the rank and file who have lost faith in their superiors.
 
Most recently, in the same week the recent crime statistics were released, Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis, President of the Superintendents Association, showed integrity and courage lacking in her colleagues when she admitted that the service was ridden with the Gaming or Statistical fiddling culture. See the links below that refer.
 
 
Confidence in the police has fallen to an all time low, along with officer morale. It is the senior officers who must shoulder the responsibility for this, stand up and be counted, restore honesty and probity to the numbers. Start again if you must, but this CANNOT be allowed to continue. 

Home Secretary, Theresa May should display the same concern and awareness that this subject needs by instigating a root and branch exposure of what is going on. Probity must be restored to the numbers so rank and file officers no longer fear the damage to their integrity as officers and the true picture of crime in the UK can be exposed.

As recently as Monday of this week, the Police Federation Chairman stepped out of the shadows to add his voice to the debate:-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/10052668/Police-ordered-to-slant-crime-data.html
Latest statistics reveal an eight per cent drop in police recorded crime in England and Wales for the year to September 2012, but for the first time the Office for National Statistics has raised doubts about the accuracy of police figures.
 
Officials suggested that police could have left up to 400,000 offences off the books in recent years because of the ‘pressures’ to meet targets.
 
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: ‘Fewer crimes are being solved, fewer criminals caught and fewer victims are getting justice.’
 
Yet the Home Office still stick by the figures with a Home Office spokesman stating: ‘Many police forces are achieving significant reductions in crime with reduced budgets, and crime is at its lowest level since the survey began in 1981.’

John Flatley and Jenny Bradley at the Crime, Regional and Data Access Division of the ONS produced a paper analysing the methods of gathering crime statistics:-

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guide-method/method-quality/specific/crime-statistics-methodology/methodological-note--analysis-of-variation-in-crime-trends.pdf

In this report the ONS also concedes that a growing number of crimes reported to the police are not being captured in crime recording systems. There are a range of possible drivers for this including:

• performance pressures associated with targets (e.g. to reduce crime or increase detection rates) acting as perverse incentives for some crimes to be downgraded from notifiable into non-notifiable categories or as ASB or as crime-related incidents (which are not captured in data returned to the Home Office);

• though forces have continued with their own internal audits, the cessation of independent audits from 2006/07 onwards may have reduced the focus on addressing non-compliance;

• the move to Neighbourhood Policing in recent years may also have led to more low level crimes being dealt with informally and outside the formal crime recording system; and,

• in the context of pressure on police budgets and a general policy shift to promote greater officer discretion, a return to a more evidential recording model.

  • So, in addition to the detailed reports we have amassed, containing evidence from front line officers, Home Office and force statistics down the years on this subject,
  • The Office for National Statistics concedes that accuracy of the numbers is potentially affected by perverse incentives to downgrade, mis-report or ignore crimes.
  • A high ranking Officer, Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis concedes that the service has fallen victim to the "Gaming Culture."
  • The Chairman of the Police Federation confirms that rank and file officers are ordered to manipulate the numbers.
  • Tom Winsor, the HMIC announces there will be a review to examine the probity of the numbers in all 43 forces.
  • Behind the scenes, a number of debates in the House of Commons and the House of Lords are accelerating pressure in the right direction.

It is unfortunate that Mr Winsor has, by his police pay review recommendations in Winsor I and II become unpopular with the rank and file. It is these very front line officers whose support he will require when investigating the corrupt and digraceful practices that have become the norm within the higher ranks of the service. We can only hope that he will apply a ruthless honest approach to the numbers and be prepared to expose the truth, whatever that may reveal. Only when the books have been completely opened and cleansed will the glimmer of faith and confidence appear. We hope Mr Winsor will see beyond the initial co-operative promises of Chief Officers, and dig as deep as is necessary to expose the deceitful pernicious practices.

This scandal will raise further concerns over the leadership and integrity of many of the past and present Chief Officers. We should expect that a considerable degree of document shredding and concealment and we hope Mr Winsor is prepared for the extent to which some will go to protect their positions. Mr Winsor will have to display a ruthless determination to uncover the truth if the public and rank and file officers are to be convinced of his independence and intentions to root out any improper practices. His speech to the Police Federation this week announced:-

"I also wanted to mention our work on crime data integrity, which I know has been a topic much debated during this Federation conference. Accurate figures are critical to the decisions that need to be made - information is the oxygen of intelligence. Because of what has been said here at the conference, because of media stories on this subject and the damaging effect on public confidence, because of concerns raised with HMIC by the public and the service, HMIC will conduct an all-force inspection of crime data integrity over the coming months".

Mr Winsor, whatever may have been said about your proposals for police pay and conditions, we wish you well in your endeavours in this critically important area.

Steve

Retired Police Officer
Thin Blue Line UK

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