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


would no doubt deny their existence) employ to satisfy their police authorities and political masters. Make no mistake, this is not a few officers or even forces engaging in some kind of occasional sport. The alarming reality is that “Gaming” (as confirmed by front line officers) is endemic and widespread throughout the police forces of England and Wales.


In July 2000, HM Inspector of Constabulary reported that in eleven forces which his staff had inspected, 24%) reported crimes had been mis-recorded, either through genuine confusion or deliberate concealment. At the end of that year, the Labour politicians celebrated a fall in the crime recorded by police nationally of 122,344 offences. Taking it further, if HMI’s snapshot were repeated across the country, then in that same year, police forces concealed or mis-recorded 1,635,424 offences – more than 13 times the number of “alleged” fewer offences recorded. In other words, for years, the fudged police statistics have been not just slightly misleading but wholly worthless as a statement of what is really happening.


In April 2002, the Home Office introduced NCRS, the National Crime Recording Standard, supposedly to tighten up the process. They rejected HMI’s strong advice to make the rules legally binding and to order ‘robust and independent audits’ of police practice. Instead, they relied on dip-sampling by the Audit Commission and internal checks, enforced by chief officers – even though past scandals indicated the collusion of chief officers in delivering false figures. In the foggy aftermath of the NCRS and other statistically challenged changes prior to that, it is not clear whether the NCRS rules are killing off or even reducing the cuffing, but the Home Office discounted 5% of the reported crime in years that followed it on the basis that police were indeed obeying them.


The second source of crime statistics is the British Crime Survey. This is fundamentally flawed because it cannot record crime unless a victim tells one of their interviewers about it, so the survey misses all crimes where the victim decides not to disclose details. Until recently crimes against children (estimated by the Home Office at 600,000), all crimes against commercial victims (all bank robbery; and all shoplifting, which is estimated at anywhere between 7.7 million and 30 million offences a year), were omitted from the survey. Perhaps the biggest criticism of the BCS is that it is based on estimates drawn from the survey of 45,000 citizens. Crimes against public sector property (arson, criminal damage, theft) and all murder offences have been or remain omitted from the survey.


So, the survey fails to record at least 11.3 million crimes and possibly as many as 33.6 million crimes, in addition to the 13 million which it does pick up. And that is without taking account of commercial fraud, which the Association of British Insurers blames for a third of the £35 billion annual cost of all crime.


Let us take a step back and examine the fall in crime figures. Two important clues jump out at us to support the belief that the books have been well and truly “cooked”. First, it has happened all across the developed world. Jock Young, formerly professor of criminology at Middlesex University, likes to tell the story of the American crime conference which he attended a few years ago where the opening speakers armed themselves with a stage full of multi-coloured graphs and flow charts and announced that they had explained the dramatic


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