Click any image to see it larger - esc to return
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
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.
Click any image to see it larger - esc to return
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