Friday, 17 May 2013


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

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:-
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:-

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.


Retired Police Officer
Thin Blue Line UK


David said...

A recent opinion poll included questions on policing, with a specific question on trust in the crime figures produced by the police?

Trust a lot 4
Trust a fair amount 36

Do not trust a lot 34
Do not trust at all 13

Don't know 13

See pg.10 on:

This level of a lack of trust is higher than other police questions.

Crime Analyst said...

Organisation learning and memory are very poor in service, we have had this all before many times and the repetitions are depressing as are the lack of ethics and professional standards in service that they reveal. Until there is a fundamental rethink around stats they will continue to be manipulated. Only when we genuinely don't value them as PIs and maybe treat them/publish them in a different way will we get away from this. The public are very used to stats in percentage terms as they relate to exams - 40% means borderline fail to them, even if to us it is a very good detection rate for burglary. I have always wondered why the stats were never delivered as deviations from average performance - less negatively perceived by the public and less for the media to get worked up about AND more realistic.
By Brian Mitchell

Crime Analyst said...

Posted from Linked In Police Groups:-
This is not Steve's question per se. It is the title of a headline from last Friday, see

and those in The Job, ex Job, will know it has been forever thus...

"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."

Perhaps the most shocking thing is that this is actually news to some people !
By Jim Devery

Anonymous said...

Posted from Linked In Police Groups:-
Why not ask the HMIC who are, I am told, currently investigating a force
By Des Thomas

Anonymous said...

Posted from Linked In Police Groups:-
By Christopher Jensen

Anonymous said...

Posted from Linked In Police Groups:-
Dnt get it right..Needs brief explanation..
By philips ebo

Anonymous said...

Posted from Linked In Police Groups:-
Steve, can you please expand on the initial question which I have no doubt will kick tart this discussion.
By Martin Palmer

Anonymous said...

Posted from Linked In Police Groups:-
Patricia Wiltshire • I forgot to say that one doesn't get the "truth" with statistics. One achieves an estimate of probability, or likelihood, or an estimate of the degree of similarity between various sets of figures etc. If you were lucky enough to be able to get absolute data, you wouldn't need statistics. But, in life, one usually has to take a sub-sample of a true, or actual, population. This is why one should be cynical when only few data are collected. The larger the sample, the closer is the approximation to the true situation.

Anonymous said...

Posted from Linked In Police Groups:-
Tod O'Brien FInstLM,FCMI • I know this may seem somewhat of a diversion from the subject matter but please bear with me.

Sir Robert Peel laid out nine fundamental principles on which our police service was founded and are still relevant today. They are summarised as:-

Prevent Crime and Disorder with the consent and co-operation of the public which may diminish when excessive force is used.

The police act impartially and physical force is only used when persuasion, advice and warning is insufficient.

The police remain citizens and are paid to pay full time attention to duties which are incumbent on all citizens to maintain community welfare and existence.

The police must never usurp the judiciary in their actions and the test of effectiveness and efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder not police action.

These things are enshrined in Case Law.

" I hold it to be the duty of the Commissioner of Police, as it is to every Chief Constable to enforce the law of the land.He must take steps to post his men that crimes may be detected and that honest citizens may go about their affairs in peace.He must decide whether or not suspected persons are to be prosecuted and if need be bring the prosecution or see that it is brought but in all these things he is the servant of no-one save the law itself. No minister of the crown can tell him that he must or must not keep observation on this place or that or that he must or must not prosecute this man or that one. Nor can any Police Authority tell him so. The responsibility for law enforcement lies on him. He is answerable to the law and the law alone.
(R v Metropolitan Police Commissioner at 769 )
(apologies for the gender specific language but that's how it was then)

Perhaps we often forget this maxim when discussing Police Crime Statistics.
It is clear though that Strategic Police leaders enter into the whole statistics thing willingly and choose to exercise control and micro-management as opposed to trust and devolvement to tactical and operational leaders.
This seems to be a Theory X style as opposed to a Theory Y style of leadership. Why? I guess that's the question and it is always difficult to second guess peoples motives but clearly self interest v ethics may play a part.

The current police business model of core local policing is a combination of NIM and NPT. I often see in my work in both the public and private sectors tactical assessments being driven top down by Strategic Assessment Groups where the model clearly calls for a degree of autonomy at tactical level.
A recent example of this may have been the grooming of young girls in Oxford. There apppeared to be a wealth of information available which was not converted to intelligence through analysis. The question is why? Why did we fail those young people and why did those crimes go unpunished for such a long time? The answers are complex and many and there is no easy answer but I suggest a starting point may have been a culture which did not allow people on the ground to bring these things to Strategists and Tacticians attention through subject and problem profiling. This is very difficult to do when the whole ethos is driving people to concentrate on burglary, assault and other volume crimes and the new information maybe problematic to investigate.

Trust the people who work for you, they want to do a good job and they will if we let them.Take responsibility and leadership at a strategic level as a relationship paradigm and not a task model and we will succeed in improving service delivery are my thoughts. I am not saying that I am right it's just a different view.

Anonymous said...

Posted from Linked In Police Groups:-
Martin Palmer • Some excellent points raised by Tod, thanks. People will choose to believe or not believe stats but until someone comes up with a more thorough accountable system or is brave enough to do away with stats then I think that is how things will remain.

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