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
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'
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
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
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
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.