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


Rank and file officers were told in 2002 that informal police warnings could no longer be counted as a detection for common assaults. Within 12 months the number of recorded common assaults dropped from 22,000 to 3,000 while thousands more crimes switched to the category "other woundings".


"Such a rapid adjustment indicates the organisational nature of the phenomenon and suggests some form of co-ordination and direction by management," the research said. "The scale of the 'gaming' behaviours measured in this thesis ... suggested senior officers were either directly orchestrating the behaviour or turning a blind eye to it."


Dr Patrick believes other gaming techniques are still being used in forces across the country.


The report also warned that the use of "stitching" was "significant", while "cuffing" had continued after the introduction of Home Office rules which were supposed to guarantee and standardise the way crimes are recorded.


"Cuffing" can involve a situation where a victim of crime is accused of making a false crime report, and is therefore treated like a suspect rather than an injured party, Dr Patrick said.


"You cannot have members of the public who have been victims of crime coming to the police for help and being treated like suspects. That is not right and it will erode confidence in the police," he said.


Dr Patrick found that watchdogs such as Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and the Police Standards Unit had a "general tendency to underplay the scale and nature" of gaming.


He was scathing of HMIC's failure to tackle the problem, noting there were no examples of chief police officers being publicly criticised by inspectors for this type of crime figure manipulation. HMIC tended privately to refer examples of widespread gaming to the Home Secretary or the police authority rather than "hold the chief constable to account" because of the risk of political embarrassment, he said. Dr Patrick concluded that HMIC inspectors should be made accountable to Parliament rather than the Home Office, and suggested they should be drawn from other professions rather than solely from senior police ranks.


Patrick, R. (2004). The Lot of the Poor is Unlikely to Improve Until They Have a Greater Say in Their ‘lot’: Going Local and the Impact on the Distribution of Public Services. Vista Perspectives on Probation and Criminal Justice & Civil Renewal Vol. 9 No. 3 2004.


Patrick R. (2009) Performance Management, Gaming and Police Practice: A Study of Changing Police Behaviour in England and Wales During the Era of New Public Management. University of Birmingham. PhD Thesis.


Patrick, R. (2010). ‘Reading Tea Leaves’ an assessment of the reliability of police recorded crime statistics. (The Police Journal Accepted for publication 29.4.10)


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