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Crime Of The Century - A Chilling Look At Crime Statistics In The UK


especially given the many types of criminal offence. Moreover, changes in police recording practice or BCS methodology, designed to improve accuracy, can in the short term introduce discontinuities and make it harder to explain trends. 5. Research shows that people tend to have a more informed view of local than national trends and are more confident about the way crime is being dealt with locally than nationally. Distrust often arises from the way that the statistics are used and quoted after they have been released, although research on public confidence in official statistics carried out between 2004 and 2009 also suggests that many people think that there is political interference in the production of statistics. 6. We believe that trust can be improved, at least in the longer term, by the following: a) new arrangements for overseeing the production and publication of crime statistics, in order to provide independent and public assurance of the impartiality and integrity of these statistics (recommendations 1 and 2) b) improvements in the way that the national (England and Wales) statistics are reported, by making them as relevant as possible to the needs of users and making it easier to understand the flow of offences and offenders through the criminal justice system (recommendations 3 and 4(i)) c) improvements in the way that crime statistics are used and quoted both inside and outside government (recommendation 4(ii) and 4 (iii)) d) more cooperation between all relevant agencies to ensure that local statistics on crime, and on the performance of the criminal justice system, are produced, analysed and presented to a high standard (recommendations 4(iv), 5 and 6).


2. Conclusions


Enhancing independence 7. Trust in the national crime statistics has been undermined by confusion and misuse (paragraphs 52-53, 102-3) and perhaps also by association with other types of information (paragraph 106). This makes it all the more important that they are not only independent from political interference, but seen to be independent. 8. There have been calls for the responsibility for crime statistics to be moved from the Home Office and given to another body such as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) (paragraph 152). The argument in favour is that the statistics would be distanced from the policy agenda of government. One argument against is that distrust of official statistics is rooted not so much in production arrangements as in the way that the statistics are published and then used. Transferring responsibility for the production of the statistics would not necessarily prevent misuse. 9. As far as police recorded crime statistics are concerned, there are some practical considerations that militate against transferring responsibility for their compilation from the Home Office to another agency. These figures come from administrative systems run by the police in support of their work. An awareness of what happens on the ground, in the police forces where records are created, is beneficial both in terms of understanding the data and in setting statistical requirements. This is challenging enough for statisticians in the Home Office, but could be still harder for a more remote organisation with no powers or


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