By Alan Chwick & Joanne Eisen
New York --(Ammoland.com)- We know that the crime statistics coming out of Great Britain are fudged. Virtually all police departments everywhere have done it at one time or another, so it’s no surprise that Brits do it.
Sometimes it’s to increase the stats in order to get more funding, but it’s mostly because politicians and police want show a decrease in crime in order to please their constituents and show that their crime fighting policies are working.
But our friends across the pond have raised the fudge factor by several degrees of magnitude above reasonable.
Their citizens know it. We know it. And it’s so creative and complex that we cannot tell you exactly how it’s done, or how much crime is hidden. The entire criminal justice system , and everyone associated with it , is involved in the scam. If anyone could understand the entire complex nature of the lie, and could enumerate the parts and pieces of the problem, we would all be shocked at the total.
Sometimes retired bobbies let bits of information escape, and sometimes the British media investigates and reports a rumor , and sometimes public officials write justifications of policies that are more damming than innocent.
Here’s a summary of what we found .
As early as 1967, British policy encouraged the massaging down of homicide statistics by about 12-25%. Richard Munday and Jan Stevenson, in their 1996 book Guns and Violence ( http://tiny.cc/3009ax ) , explain that if a criminal was convicted of a lesser charge, for example, “causing grievous bodily harm with intent” instead of homicide, that homicide statistic would be eliminated and the case would be re-categorized.
However, this process in the court system is not just limited to homicide. It pervades the entire justice system at all levels, for all other categories of crime. Cases are not only squeezed out of homicide statistics to lower categories of violence by the court system, but also from crimes not as serious as homicide to even lesser crimes. Crimes may even be massaged down to non-notifiable offenses and disappear forever.
No one knows how many crimes are lost this way. The politicians know that people are curious and suspicious about exactly how much data is unreported. In June, 2011, the National Statistician’s Review of Crime Statistics reported :
”there is a significant demand for full data on flows through the criminal justice system”, and that,”the data need to recognize the impact of downgrading as cases progress through the system.”
The Review also suggests that statistics need to be kept and published for non-notifiable offenses – that is, lesser offenses which are tried in magistrates courts but are not sent to the Home Office for inclusion in crime the statistics. And it also suggests publishing statistics for antisocial behavior – the ASB category which is so useful, in addition to the “no-crime ” category, for hiding the true picture.
This behavior of squeezing down categories of more serious crime into categories where the significance of crime can be hidden also exists in police stations. In view of the fact that there are substantial bonuses for reducing crime rates, and statistical targets which police aspire to reach, the question arises of how must each incident be reported . Into which category should the incident be placed, and how can that category be changed to better reflect lower crime rates?
These become serious questions which poison the present policing atmosphere in Great Britain.
A report by Alistair Fildes and Andy Myhill, Understanding Crime Recording, published in 2011 studied the ways in which crime is categorized and the , “disproportionate activity in relation to crime recording.” They report that in one force, a crime could be “ classified, checked and reclassified by up to five individuals” , consisting of the officer, crime screener, crime manager, auditor and supervisor. They explained that , “the crime manager [a Sergeant] had four staff who acted as ‘screeners’ to identify crimes that required reclassification.”
One explanation of why category placement is important to the stats can be seen from a report published in 2008 in The Telegraph which charged that knife crime would rise in one year from 22,000 incidents to probably over 38,000 incidents. This came about because of a change in recording that would add categories of actual bodily harm, rape, sexual assault or threats to kill to the figure. “Mere illegal possession of a knife is not counted in the totals.”, the author, Ben Leach, writes. The Telegraph also reported in 2008 that the total of recorded firearms offenses is misleading because illegal possession and smuggling are not included. If they were included, the figure would reach 15,400 instead of the 5,600 that was reported.
British subjects have become accustomed to bobbies whose goal is to fine tune the stats instead of recovering their stolen goods or protecting their own disarmed selves. But we American firearms owners should never accept false statistics from the Brits or anyone else. There are many bits and pieces to this puzzle. If you know something pass it on so that we can all see the whole picture.
Mr. Alan J. Chwick has been involved with firearms much of his life, and is currently the Managing Coach of the Freeport Junior Club (FJC), at the Freeport NY Revolver & Rifle Association, Freeport, NY.
Dr. Joanne D. Eisen practices dentistry on Long Island, NY. She has collaborated and written on firearm politics for the past 20 years, and is a Senior Fellows at the Independence Institute in Denver, CO.