Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
Police forces in England and Wales are routinely manipulating crime statistics, the Commons Public Administration Committee heard. A culture of under-reporting was nurtured in order to meet targets. Bernard Jenkin, the Committee’s Chair, said he was “shocked that apparently such manipulation of police statistics could possibly happen on such a wide scale and become so institutionally prevalent”. Metropolitan Police constable James Patrick – who is awaiting disciplinary proceedings – found robberies were logged as “theft snatch” to get them “off the books”. After analysing 12 months of data, PC Patrick found that “the Met had effectively been under-recording rape and serious sexual offences by between 22% and 25%”.
In pursuit of slimming figures, multiple crimes have been recorded as a single incident, crimes were downgraded, victims were phoned in an attempt to persuade and pressure them into withdrawing allegations, and there was collusion between offenders and police officers. Peter Barron, a former Detective Chief Superintendent at the Met, said victims were “harassed” into scaling down serious offences. Mr Barron added:
Victims were putting the phone down in disgust, harassed by another call from someone trying to persuade them that they were mistaken about the level of force used.
Dr Rodger Patrick, a former West Midlands Chief Inspector, said criminals were persuaded to admit to crimes they did not commit in exchange for lower charges, or even “sometimes sex, alcohol or access to meals” are offered. Dr Patrick also said that the senior police would “marginalise” junior officers who accurately recording crime. Policing Minister Damian Green said a “robust” inquiry by the Inspectorate of Constabulary into practices of reporting crime would report late next year.
This should be one of the biggest new stories of the year. The Inspectorate of Constabulary’s inquiry may reveal a hideous side to our supposedly honourable police officers. It is morally outrageous for police officers to “harass” victims into downgrading their claims. Javed Khan, the Chief Executive of the charity Victim Support said:
Victims must be confident that they will be taken seriously if they report a crime, so justice can be done. It is the service that is provided to victims, rather than meeting targets, that should be the clear focus for all police forces.
Victims rely on accurate and trustworthy responses to their allegations. The police are meant to uphold the law, but many officers – with full support of superior ranks – have engaged in mass fraud, harassment and bribery. The first principle, defined by Sir Robert Peel, which describes an ethical police force, is:
The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
Police forces do not exist to prevent the recording of crime and disorder. These shocking revelations will degrade our political discourse. When the official statistics attain an unacceptable uncertainty, they cannot be employed to dissuade fears of rising crime or other maladies. When we are unable to be empirical about the state of our nation, we cede ground to polemicists and commentators who crutch upon anecdotes and insinuation.