Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Meaningless UK Crime Statistics

My previous post coincidentally sheds light on the BBC News article by Dominic Casciani (BBC News. Analysis: Is the thin blue line thinner?) published shortly thereafter, on 18th July. My primary point was that the rules governing crime-recording change frequently, depending on whichever particular crime about which the police senior management happens to be panicking. When the number of robberies, or burglaries, for example, becomes higher than the Commissioner wants them, an edict goes out to all of us to stop recording that type of crime.

Robberies are then recorded only as thefts. Or burglaries as criminal damage with theft. If frauds or rapes are too high, the burden of proof that must be satisfied before a crime can be recorded, increases.

The obvious consequence of this lack of consistency is that comparing this year’s crime figures with the year before is a meaningless exercise. And that of course undermines all the very serious debate going on over police effectiveness.

Dilbert says it best:

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- Justice and Chaos