Friday, 10 January 2014



Lord Stevens admits police have been 'fiddling' crime figures for years

One of Britain's most prominent policing figures, Lord Stevens, tells MPs there must be an urgent inquiry into the way police massage crime data

A former Scotland Yard commissioner has admitted the police regularly fiddle crime figures.

Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, who ran the Metropolitan Police for six years, said officers on the ground had warned him that massaging of crime statistics is the “biggest scandal coming our way”.

He called for an urgent investigation into the way every force in Britain records crime figures.

Giving evidence to the Commons' home affairs select committee, Lord Stevens said: “Ever since I’ve been in police service there has been a fiddling of figures. I remember being a detective constable where we used to write off crimes.”

Asked by Keith Vaz MP, the committee chairman, if it was still going on, Lord Stevens replied: “Of course it is. In certain forces.

 “I was in a session with police sergeants nine months to a year ago in Cheshire talking about what their feelings were about the police service.

“All of them said the biggest scandal that is coming our way is recording of crime.”

Lord Stevens added: “I think every single force should be subject to an independent investigation - a focused, lasered investigation into crime figures - both detection and recording of crime.

“That should happen as a matter of urgency.”

Lord Stevens’ comments set the scene for a potentially bruising encounter between the current Met Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, and another committee of MPs on Wednesday morning.

Sir Bernard will appear before the Public Administration select committee which has previously heard evidence from the Commissioner’s own officers that crime figures are regularly massaged and crimes incorrectly recorded in order to meet performance targets.

Last November the same committee was told by serving and retired officers that official crime figures are skewed by the police - often at the instruction of senior officers - to make their performance appear far better than it is in reality.

Techniques included downgrading offences to less serious crimes or persuading victims not to make a complaint, while in some cases crimes were only recorded if they were solved. Other incidents were kept completely off the books if an offender could not be traced, the committee heard.

Scotland Yard chief admits claims of crime figure manipulation contain some truth

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the head of the Metropolitan Police, tells MPs he is concerned by warnings of widespread manipulation of crime figures

Britain’s most senior policeman has performed a U-turn over the reliability of Scotland Yard’s crime figures.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe admitted allegations by one of his own police constables that statistics are routinely fiddled contained a “truth we need to hear”.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s comments to a committee of MPs came just over a month after he insisted his force's crime figures were "competent and reliable". 

The senior officer also appeared to acknowledge that Pc James Patrick - who first made the allegations of widespread manipulation - could be described as a “whistleblower”, even though the constable is currently facing disciplinary proceedings for speaking out.

Appearing at Commons’ public administration select committee inquiry into crime figures, Sir Bernard was asked how accurate he thought Mr Patrick’s claims had been.

 “On the whole there is a truth there that we need to hear,” he said.

“Some of them are worthy of further investigation. Some of them are incomplete, and occasionally there may be some inaccuracy.

“I don’t want to give any impression that I’m not concerned about this.”

Sir Bernard also confirmed he had mistakely quoted from a summary of a report by the inspector of constabulary which described the Met’s systems as “competent and reliable” when, in fact, the full report said there was cause for concern.

Bernard Jenkin MP, the chairman of the committee, asked the commissioner if he was alarmed that Mr Patrick had been raising his concerns about mis-recording of crime for “many, many years”.

“If somebody has been making these claims for a long time it would be better if it had been resolved by now,” said Sir Bernard.

“We are looking at what we do with whistleblowers.”

Mr Jenkin accused the commissioner of being “defensive” about his force’s record on crime figures.

Last November Mr Patrick told MPs he became concerned after joining the force in 2009 and finding robberies being logged as “snatch theft”, a less serious crime, in order to massage the figures.

Massaging statistics to hit performance targets had become “an engrained part of policing culture”, he said.

After analysing the recording of serious sexual offences he concluded that in 80 per cent of cases recorded as “no crime”, the designation was “incorrect”.

His evidence to the committee was quickly followed by an admission from Mick Creedon, the chief constable of Derbyshire force, that "inadvertent" pressure from senior officers meant statistics did not depict the true level of crime in Britain.

Tom Winsor, the chief inspector of constabulary, told MPs he had launched an inquiry into the way all 43 forces in England and Wales record crime.

He said: "I am not anticipating we will find institutional corruption. I will be extremely surprised if we do."

But he added that he did expect there will be isolated examples of "dishonesty".

Earlier this week a former Met commissioner admitted the police regularly fiddle crime figures.

Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, who ran the Metropolitan Police for six years, said officers on the ground had warned him that massaging of crime statistics is the “biggest scandal coming our way”.

Inquiry into police crime figures 'expected to find degree of fiddling'

Watchdog tells MPs he does not expect investigation will find inaccurate recording of crime is owing to institutional corruption.

An official investigation into the integrity of police recorded crime figures in all 43 forces in England and Wales is expected to find "a degree of fiddling", some of it owing to dishonesty, the police watchdog, Tom Winsor, has told MPs.

But Winsor, who is Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC), said he had no expectations that the inquiry, which is to issue an interim report in the spring, would conclude that the inaccurate recording of crime by police was owing to "institutional corruption".

He told the Commons public administration select committee on Wednesday that the HMIC investigation, which is already under way, would establish the extent to which police recorded crime figures are being fiddled and help answer the "real question" of whether crime was truly falling or the statistics were being fiddled.

"I have no doubt we will find a degree of fiddling of the figures. The question is to establish the extent to which they are fiddled," said Winsor. He said he thought a lot of it was due to poor supervision, poor leadership and poor training but added that "some of it is about dishonesty".

At the same hearing, the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, acknowledged that PC James Patrick, who has raised concerns over the integrity of the police crime statistics, was a whistleblower. He said that while there were some inaccuracies in the allegations made by Patrick, "on the whole there's a truth we need to hear".

The Met commissioner said an internal inquiry had been launched into 20 claims made by Patrick, which would report in three to six months' time. The police officer who went to the MPs with his claims is also facing disciplinary proceedings for alleged gross misconduct, but Hogan-Howe said he would not be suspended while the investigations were carried out.

Patrick has claimed the Met manipulated crime figures to meet its performance targets and crimes such as sexual offences were understated in official figures by up to 25%.

Hogan-Howe said ensuring recorded crime figures were accurate was a constant challenge and some of Patrick's claims were worthy of further investigation.

"Some of them are incomplete. I think he gives one side of the account and you would want to hear a bigger account before you accepted his judgment. On occasion there might be some inaccuracy but I think on the whole there's a truth that we need to hear."

He said the "no-criming" of rape and other serious sexual offences had gone down from 20% of cases to 9% but was still a cause of concern. The Met is to review cases involving allegations of serious sexual offences that were "no-crimed" in the past two years in an attempt to establish why that happened.

Hogan-Howe said the complexity of the crime-recording rules – they run to more than 600 pages – and problems with technology may be partly to blame for the flaws in the recorded crime figures but he was determined to ensure their integrity.



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