Thursday, May 01, 2014

Plus Ça Change (no. 17 in a never-ending series)

Nine years ago I posted this about crime figures. Not much has changed, except that it has now become apparent that many police forces have shamelessly fiddled their figures, while the CPS persists in allowing under-charging that affects the figures too.


  1. I saw an adult offender last week who had three police cautions for theft and all within a few weeks of each other. So I guess that's a 100% clean up rate for those offences then and all is well.


  3. Whatever the figures say having lived in a household for over 20 years that was subject to repeated crime up until about four years ago I don't really care since at last we can be reasonably confident that our car will be untouched, our property unvandalised and no burglaries etc. In a weird way I suspect more cautions and out of court disposals have actually worked!

  4. I was at a meeting earlier this week where a police inspector told us the reason anti-social behaviour reports on his patch had gone up was because some horses had got out of their field and been reported as antisocial - he is apparently obliged to account as ASB anything which a complainant reports as antisocial regardless of his own opinion. He told us that despite the numbers going up "real" crime had gone down, and frankly we believed him.

    1. The National Crime Recording Standards are incredibly perverse and inflexible. They give the police such little discretion that you end up with failed audit percentages like those uncovered by the HMIC this week when officers try and find the common sense solution rather than maybe the 'by the book' one. Often these solutions are agreed with the victim and involve low-level incidents. I've often sat in front of victims and watched them sit mouth agape while I explain that the little chat they just wanted me to have with someone will necessitate me taking a statement from them, recording a crime and then interviewing said person under caution even though there is literally no prospect of proving it ever happened to the necessary standard of proof. And then, when they say, "in that case officer please forget about it, I don't wish to give a statement or go to that hassle" a crime still has to be recorded because the police have been told about it. Now if it was just a simple case of recording it and filing it there wouldn't be a problem but because of the relentless drive to detect crimes there there begins a chain of events totally out of the control or express wishes of the victim whereby the suspect is still interviewed. All that for maybe the theft of a Mars bar or a 11 year old pushing over a child the same age in the street.

  5. It appears that the methodology used by the HMIC may itself be flawed. According to the BBC report quoted they have listened to the original call and based their decision about what should have been recorded based on that. In my experience the actual facts of any given case are rarely consistent with what us in the original call.

    Two points however 1) I've maintained for years that the police's job is not to record crime it is to prevent and solve it. Stop asking them to count crime this is just a distraction from the real job. The national office of statistics are the right people to be counting crime.

    2) I object to the wording above. The CPS don't "allow" under charging. The instruct and command it. Often with good cause but not always but almost always to the annoyance of the officer.


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