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


There was evidence provided in other groups to show that, as the pressures have increased to achieve ever harder targets, housekeeping has extended to activities that are more ethically dubious.


Say I have my bosses saying ‘look we have got too many robberies what can you do about it?’ So you start looking at these reports of robbery and suddenly they become a theft with an assault, not a robbery. There is pressure to reclassify crimes to fit statistics.


If you are a robbery squad DI and you have got everybody in the world coming down on your back, especially when it’s a reactive robbery squad because you don’t have the resources to go out and proactively target these people, what do you do? It’s tough in a performance culture when you are underperforming, what do you do: you can’t see any way out of it apart from housekeeping. So that’s what happens and that happens across the board, in every BCU in the force.


It’s the push isn’t it. You look at it from the boss’s position. You can change crime figures because you can reallocate crimes to something that’s not measured. If it’s not measured then fantastic, you can rub your hands. That’s great as long as you do it within the rules but how close do you sail to the wind?


Many of the longer serving detectives would be familiar with such tactics as ‘cuffing’ and reclassifying crime which were widely practised in the past (Burrows and Tarling, 1987. Maguire, 2003). The difference now is that a much greater emphasis is placed in the organisation and on training courses on police integrity.


The groups were concerned that despite the alleged concerns about ethics in policing, current pressure from the management system is inducing more competitiveness and compelling people to engage in even more dubious practices:


We can’t be truly ethical about this because the rest of the BCUs aren’t and we’re not going to be the worse performing BCU. So as soon as you get a good performing BCU people from other BCUs go there to find out what they are doing that is going to benefit victims of crime on their area [sarcastic]. And nine times out of ten it’s not to do with best practice, it’s to do with how their housekeeping is better than our housekeeping. That’s the way of life.


Concern was expressed about the way the organisation is pressurising the more junior, less experienced officers lower down the rank structure and over how they may react to the constant pressure to achieve results.


The point is the further you go down to the floor level where the officers aren’t quite as polished maybe or don’t have the fine judgement for when it’s going beyond integrity for recording or for detection purposes and that’s where I think the danger is because all this pressure is going all the way down you know.


45


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