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


this guidance include more advice on the analysis of results and their presentation to the public (recommendation 5(ii)).


Performance related data 34. The previous government introduced a single national performance target for the police (public confidence in the police and local council – paragraph 166). This is being measured by the BCS. Data on a much wider range of performance measures continue to be collected and some of these are used to set targets at a local level. The Department for Communities and Local Government’s Place Survey is used to measure some targets for Local Area Agreements, while locally conducted surveys may be used to measure performance against targets that are set locally for individual police forces or crime and disorder reduction partnerships. 35. Improved confidence in the police or criminal justice system, as measured in surveys, is a good outcome in its own right. It may indicate that the police and other local agencies are dealing with the anti social behaviour and crime issues that matter in the local area. In the long run, however, these are unlikely to be seen by the public as a substitute for other performance measures, such as reducing crime or ensuring that offenders are brought to justice. It is therefore important that the public has full access to other measures of performance, both locally and nationally, and to advice about the factors that may need to be taken into account in order to reach a rounded judgement. The HMIC MyPolice website is a major step in this direction, and the Ministry of Justice has said that it will provide more information on local outcomes in the criminal justice system and on the performance of criminal justice agencies. 36. Independent and expert commentary on the statistics is especially important in relation to performance measures. This applies at both a national and local level. In addition to full and detailed ‘metadata’, we think that the public should be provided with independent advice about the validity of each indicator as a measure of performance (paragraph 184 and recommendation 4(iv)).


Quality of recorded crime data 37. At the national level, police records have an important role to play in monitoring some of the more serious (and infrequent) forms of crime. At a local level they are used by the police themselves and by partner agencies to determine priorities and to allocate resources. The national crime mapping website encourages the public to use the figures as a basis for dialogue with the police about priorities and performance, and there are other potential uses for the public, such as assessing risk. 38. Although much of the evidence is anecdotal, a number of interviewees told us that crime recording can be distorted by the existence of performance targets. There seems to be broad agreement that inspections by the Audit Commission over several years contributed to improvements in police crime recording, but these inspections have now ceased. The quality and consistency of the data derived from police records is even more important now that crime maps and local statistics are becoming widely available. We think that the current arrangements to ensure consistent application of the counting rules and


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