Wednesday, 9 April 2014

CAUGHT RED HANDED! PASC COMMITTEE CONCLUDES POLICE RECORDED CRIME CANNOT BE TRUSTED

“Poor data integrity reflects the poor quality of leadership"

The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) have today published their report into allegations of police mis-recording of crime statistics. (The report - Caught Red-Handed: Why We Can’t Count on Police Recorded Crime Statistics - can be viewed here
Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) says: “Poor data integrity reflects the poor quality of leadership within the police.  Their compliance with the core values of policing, including accountability, honesty and integrity, will determine whether the proper quality of Police Recorded Crime data can be restored.”

The PASC report, Caught Redhanded: Why we can’t rely on Police Recorded Crime, published today, Wednesday 9th April 2014, says:

  • There is strong evidence that the police under-record crime, particularly sexual crimes such as rape in many police areas.
  • This is due to “lax compliance with the agreed national standard of victim-focussed crime recording.”
  • As a result of PASC’s inquiry, the UK Statistics Authority has already stripped Police Recorded Crime data of the quality kite mark, “National Statistics”.
  • The Home Office, the Office of National Statistics and the UK Statistics Authority have all been “far too passive”.
  • Numerical targets drive perverse incentives to mis-record crime.
  • Associated “attitudes and behaviour... have become ingrained, including within senior police leadership” raising “broader concerns about policing values”.
  • This presents officers with “a conflict between achievement of targets and core policing values.”
  • PASC “deprecate the use of targets in the strongest possible terms” and accuses the police of adopting a “flawed leadership model, contrary to the policing Code of Ethics.”

The PASC report recommends:

  • The Home Office should do more to discourage use of targets.
  • The Home Office must take responsibility and accept accountability for the quality of Police Recorded Crime Statistics.
  • Senior police leaders must emphasise data integrity and accuracy, not targets.
  • They should place new emphasis on values and ethics, especially in the Metropolitan Police.
  • The Home Office should “clarify the route open to police whistleblowers” and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of the Constabulary (HMIC) should investigate the treatment of key PASC witness police whistleblower PC James Patrick.
  • PASC recommends that “the Committee on Standards in Public Life conducts a wide-ranging inquiry into the police’s compliance with the new Code of Ethics; in particular the role of leadership in promoting and sustaining these values".

 
 
Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“The most depressing part of this inquiry is the way that the Metropolitan Police appear to have treated my constituent, PC James Patrick. He says he has been forced to resign from the Metropolitan.  Acting as a whistleblower, he tried to highlight serious concerns about the validity of crime statistics, and the target culture.  Most police forces are still in denial about the damage targets cause, both to data integrity and to standards of behaviour. 
"We are indebted to PC Patrick for his courage in speaking out, in fulfilment of his duty to the highest standards of public service, despite intense pressures to the contrary. The new police code of ethics places a duty on officers to report misconduct among their peers:  the systems enabling police officers to do this must be made much clearer and more accessible, and the Home Office must clarify the route open to police whistleblowers who have exhausted internal channels within their police forces.
“We asked the Home Office for this clarification before we finalised our report, but they replied too late.  We have published their response on our website now. We are calling for HMIC to investigate the Metropolitan Police Service in respect of the treatment of PC Patrick. We have grave doubts that the Metropolitan Police Service has treated PC Patrick fairly or with respect and care.
“Crime statistics are central to our understanding of the nature and prevalence of crime in England and Wales. They provide crucial information for the police which helps them to decide how to deploy their manpower resources. Lax supervision of recorded crime data risks reducing the police’s effectiveness in their core role of protecting the public and preventing crime.”
Caught red-handed: Why we can't count on Police Recorded Crime statistics
Summary
Crime statistics published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are central to our understanding of the nature and prevalence of crime in England and Wales. They providecrucial information for the police which helps them to decide how to deploy their manpower resources. Lax supervision of recorded crime data risks reducing the police's effectiveness in their core role of protecting the public and preventing crime.
Measurement of crime is based on two main statistical sources: (i) the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW, formerly the British Crime Survey) and (ii) Police Recorded Crime (PRC). The CSEW and PRC provide strong evidence that the overall volume of crime has been falling. However, there is an accumulation of substantial and credible evidence indicating that the PRC data do not represent a full and accurate account of crime in England and Wales. Of most importance, we have strong evidence that PRC under-records crime, and therefore the rate of decrease in crime may be exaggerated, and this is due to lax police compliance with the agreed national standard of victim-focussed crime recording.
As a result of PASC's inquiry and the evidence we have exposed, the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) decided in January 2014 to strip PRC data of its designation as National Statistics. We conclude that the Home Office, ONS and UKSA have been far too passive in the face of concerns raised about PRC; they have repeatedly missed opportunities to ensure the integrity and quality of PRC data.
The cessation of regular external audit of police force crime recording in 2007 was a mistake. We recommend the re-instatement of annual audits of crime recording practices.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary's inspection in 2013 into the Kent Police found clear evidence that targets are detrimental to the integrity of crime data. Numerical targets for individual police officers and police forces as a whole, based on PRC data, and set by senior police officers or Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), drive perverse incentives to misrecord crime, tend to affect attitudes and erode data quality. Some PCCs consider the perverse incentives created by targets to be so serious that they have dropped all targets. We applaud them. The attitudes and behaviour which lead to the misrecording of crime have become ingrained, including within senior leadership. This leads to the subordination of data integrity to target-chasing. This can present officers with a conflict between achievement of targets and core policing values.
We deprecate the use of targets in the strongest possible terms. The Home Office, which claims credit for abolishing national numerical targets, should also be discouraging the use of such targets. The Home Office must also take responsibility and accept accountability for the quality of PRC statistics. Senior police leaders must ensure that emphasis is placed on data integrity and accuracy, not on the achievement of targets. We regard such practice as a flawed leadership model, contrary to the policing Code of Ethics. The quality of leadership within the police, and its compliance with the core values of policing, including accountability, honesty and integrity, will determine whether the proper quality of PRC data can be restored. We are convinced that this requires leadership in many police forces to place new emphasis on values and ethics, especially in the Metropolitan Police Service. We recommend that the Committee on Standards in Public Life conducts a wide-ranging inquiry into the police's compliance with the new Code of Ethics; in particular the role of leadership in promoting and sustaining these values in the face of all the other pressures on the force.
Our written evidence to the committee can be seen here.

OUR COMMENT

This report from the respected cross party committee is most welcome. It strongly supports the main thrust of what we have said from these pages for a number of years, supported by a wealth of evidence and detailed reports.
The service has faced considerable criticism over recent years, much of it justified, some of it not. Policing is vital to our community and so is the trust we place in our forces to tell us the truth. We hope that this sends out the positive signal to the Leadership of the service that they cannot continue to be a law unto themselves, behaving in an immoral, crooked and yes, even corrupt manner, deceiving the public to the extent that crime is declining and detections are being maintained.
What is truly disappointing is that so many Chief and Senior Officers have lied, obfuscated and cheated regarding the probity of recorded crime, many of them benefitting financially through target bonus payments, with career promotions and political advancement on the back of the web of deceit and lies that has been spun. It seems that none of these officers will ever be brought to account for their corrupt and scurrilous pernicious deceptions they have perpetrated or at the very least, turned a blind eye to.
The next challenge the service must face head on is the equally corrupt detections data. Again from these pages and in concert with others who share our views, we have espoused that detection performance has been massively inflated, deceiving the public into believing that the service is more effective at clearing crime than it actually is. This fools and serves no one, least of all the service itself. Whilst the politicians choose to believe the spin, the service will never receive the support and fiscal backing it needs to improve the true effectiveness of crime detection.
Steve
 
Steve Bennett
Retired West Midlands Police Officer

ACPO Response : Chief Constables need and want accurate crime data

The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) review of recorded crime finds the vast majority of police officers joined the police in order to serve as dedicated and courageous professionals, motivated by their vocation to protect the public. However, the service has not always met the data quality the public expects

Speaking on behalf of the National Policing Performance Management Business Area, Deputy Chief Constable Francis Habgood said:
“Chief constables need and want accurate crime data so that they can understand the threats to our communities and direct our resources effectively to cut crime and protect those we serve. It is also vital that the public trust that if they are victim of crime it will be recorded accurately, investigated fully and that police will take appropriate action. Public confidence, after increasing in recent years, remains stable but we must always to strive to meet the highest standards to ensure that trust is deserved.
“Nobody joins the police service with the intention of recording crime inaccurately. As the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) finds, the vast majority of police officers joined the police in order to serve as dedicated and courageous professionals, motivated by their vocation to protect the public. However, the service has not always met the data quality the public expects.
“The report raises concerns about the use of numerical targets relating to crime reduction but recognises that there has been a gradual shift towards a range of measures to monitor performance against priorities. Performance management has an important part to play in achieving local priorities and the intelligent use of targets can support police activity, if focused correctly on victim outcomes.
“Working with Police and Crime Commissioners, chief constables have an important role to play in building a culture of ethical crime reporting that complements the service’s wider values, laid out in the draft Code of Ethics developed by the College of Policing. We will continue to work hard to achieve greater consistency. and accuracy across the country.”
 




1 comments:

allcoppedout said...

Some progress I suppose. I believe the problems deeper. No statistics seem to be collected and used to prevent dire policing on catastrophic neighbours, sexual abuse and areas like politicians expenses, high finance and others that clearly demonstrate 'one law for them, another law for us'.
Good to see a few good men making a difference.

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