by Joanne Eisen, Paul Gallant, Alan J. Chwick & Sherry Gallant
Is this really so?
It has become evident from an examination of official documents that a massive deception has evolved around their reporting of crime statistics. British subjects, themselves, do not trust the sudden turnaround in the figures. Nor do we.
We think that something stinks in the UK, and it appears to be the cultivation of rotten statistics and its cover-up.
Here is what we found.
Professor Adrian Smith, in a report commissioned by the Secretary of State for the Home Office said;
“The Home Secretary is concerned that public trust in the crime statistics produced by the Home Office has declined to such an extent that it is no longer possible to have a debate about alternative criminal justice policies on the basis of agreed facts about the trends in crime.”
Professor Smith was on the mark, as British subjects do, in fact, believe that they are the targets of crime. According to Louise Casey in her 2008 survey “one in three (33%) had been a victim of crime, or knew someone well who had been, within the last year”, and “nearly half (45%) knew of someone in their community who had been a victim in the last year.” Casey further reported that “a very significant number [of British subjects] expressed concerns about coming forward more generally to intervene, report crime or give evidence.”
So, what is the truth about crime in the UK?
We cannot fully know, as we do not have hidden microphones on the walls of police buildings and in the Home Office.
Up front, let's recognize that the Brits do freely admit to massaging crime figures and, to be fair, we know that many police departments, in many nations, massage their crime figures, as well.
But the Brits are vigorously and openly beating their statistics to a bloody pulp, as they have created a stunningly large bureaucracy to deal with crime figures.
The created bureaucracy helps make decisions about how a crime will ultimately be reported—or not reported. The Home Office acknowledged the situation and the existence of crime reduction targets;
“The police do an excellent job but the rise in bureaucracy, targets and paperwork under the last Government turned the police into form-writers instead of crime-fighters…Increasing government interference in recent years has changed the focus of the police. They have become responsive to targets and bureaucracy rather than to people.”
Note here that the Home Office is admitting to the existence of “targets.” These targets are guides used to reduce the number of crimes reported, and the severity of those crimes. It is openly acknowledged that police are under pressure to reduce the crime statistics, and that they have goals that they must meet. One can notice that the Constable who described exactly how these “targets” work did not face the camera.
David Barrett, the Home Affairs Correspondent for the UK Telegraph, wrote in an article entitled “Police ‘ordered to slant crime data’,” that “Officers now fear that speaking out about scandals, mistakes and other serious issues – including pressure from senior officers to massage crime figures – will lead to disciplinary measures or the sack….” Barrett cited Steve Williams, head of the 130,000 strong Police Federation, as saying that “bobbies find themselves under huge pressure about how to record crime.”
We expect that, as Constables retire, they will be more comfortable about coming forward with the truth, and there will be an increase in accurate information. But we would like the truth about the outcome of the British philosophy that disarms victims and enables criminals now, not 20 years later.
In the British category known as “no crime,” which is similar to our deemed “unfounded” category, in which a reported crime can be removed from the statistics under certain circumstances, a complex social dance occurs. The North Yorkshire Police, following the National Crime Recording Standard, report that in many “no crime” cases, a Crime Recording and Occurrence Management (CROM) unit, or a Force Crime and Incident Registrar (FCIR), or a Dedicated Decision Maker (DDM) is required to correct the record and change the crime to a “no crime” category.
These alphabet-agency people have a role in other statistical activities. Their function, as described in the document ACPO Reducing Bureaucracy Programme: Understanding Crime Recording (2011), by Alistair Fildes and Andy Myhill, which consists of a report of police interviews and focus groups, was eye-opening because of the amount of bureaucratic steps that are necessary between the initial reporting of a crime and the eventual recording of it. The report described a situation in which up to five individuals are involved in the recording and reclassification process: an officer, a crime screener, a crime manager, an auditor, and a supervisor.
We believe that if so many groups have been created to change an incident from one category to another, then the process is probably being used to reduce the severity of crime via fudged statistics. Why else would all that funding be wasted on bureaucrats? But so much has been obscured that it is impossible to know the truth.
According to the Fildes/Myhill report, there is a high level of supervision and auditing that accompanies the original recording, the reclassifications, and the possible entry into the “no crime” category. Many survey respondents felt that their organizations had become “risk averse,” that is, “The culture of ‘covering your back’ seemed to have permeated to frontline officers involved in the crime recording process.” There are audits—internal and external—striking fear into stout police hearts, “intended to ensure that data recorded by the police on crime has integrity.”
But doesn’t the pressure placed on police to control statistics remove the integrity of the reported data?
The report noted, “Targets for reducing crime were perceived to lead to pressure to down-grade priority crimes to non-performance managed crime types.…” Examples are “Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) to common assault, robbery to theft, or burglary to criminal damage.”
The report further continues, “Though central performance targets relating to reducing specific crime types have been discontinued…it appeared that many officers still worked to targets….” Many respondents to the survey indicated “scepticism that national targets had been removed….”
What about the real figures? Was the promise of reduced crime achieved? Or is the notoriously anti-gun British politician mentality busy cleaning up the embarrassment of skyrocketing crime and failed public policy?
We know that the handgun ban in 1997 was ineffective as far as reducing the availability of illegal firearms because banned handguns are easily available on the streets, thanks to a healthy black market.
So, could it be that crime is not as well-controlled as stated?
We can only guess how far from the truth the published figures really are.
About the authors:
Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne D. Eisen practice optometry and dentistry, respectively, on Long Island, NY. They have collaborated on firearm politics for the past 20 years, and are Senior Fellows at the Independence Institute in Denver, CO. Alan J. Chwick is currently the Managing Coach of the Freeport Junior Club (FJC), at the Freeport NY Revolver & Rifle Association, Freeport, NY. Sherry Gallant has collaborated in their writing for the past few years and has participated in the writing activities of Drs. Gallant and Eisen over the years.
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