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


budgetary control over the police. The Home Office has both the powers and ultimately the motivation to ensure that the recording of crime is as consistent as it can be made to be. 10. Transfer of responsibility for the British Crime Survey, on the other hand, would be feasible on a practical level. The fieldwork is currently undertaken by a commercial survey organisation and funding and responsibility for this contract could be transferred from the Home Office to ONS (as both are government departments) with minimal disruption. However, it is not clear how much this would achieve in terms of enhancing trust. In addition, the presence within the Home Office of statisticians with knowledge of and responsibility for recorded crime and BCS helps to ensure that the statistics are used effectively and with integrity within the department. 11. Moving the collection of either type of crime statistic from the Home Office to the ONS would be an expensive step to take, as the Home Office would need to retain statistical capability for its own purposes (for example, undertaking in-house analysis to inform policy development). This would result in duplication of effort. The statutory basis on which policing statistics are collected rests on the powers of the Home Secretary under the Police Act 1996, so the implications of this would also need to be considered. 12. We conclude that crime statistics should continue to be compiled and managed by the Home Office, but that there should be further enhancements to demonstrate independence. We have not seen any evidence that the current arrangements are subject to political interference, but perceptions are important. We therefore think that there is a case for oversight of the production of crime statistics to be given to a non-executive board, chaired by a trusted public figure (recommendation 1). 13. The proposed board would keep methods, contents of data collection instruments and arrangements for quality assurance under review, and provide independent assurance about the impartiality and integrity of the data. Its work would be transparent and public facing. Papers, correspondence and minutes would be placed promptly on its website, and the board would comment publicly on the issues within its remit. The methodological issues to be reviewed would include whether to develop alternative measures of crime (paragraphs 131–134) and the future development of the BCS. 14. We note that the majority of the Crime and Justice Statistics User Network favours keeping oversight of the BCS with the Home Office (annex J) but that there are dissenting voices who would welcome a detailed analysis of the case (including financial costs and benefits) for moving it elsewhere. This is also something that the new non-executive board might wish to consider.


Reviewing the statistical outputs (i) Focusing on uses 15. The current annual bulletin is based on a range of the best available sources of crime data. This is a step forward from the presentation of each source separately. However, the media and public do not always recognise the rationale for the choices that the authors have to make between sources (police data or BCS for example) when describing particular types of crime. The bulletin is also a ‘one size fits all’ publication that has to meet a range of possible uses, for example: • understanding the risks of victimisation and what is driving trends


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