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Crime Stats Review

by msecadm4921

Significant groups of victims – including businesses – are not covered by current surveys, according to a review of crime statistics for the Home Office.

As for police recorded crime, about 60pc of crime is not reported to police; and the British Crime Survey of 40,000 people does not cover corporate and some other victims. In other words, fraud goes unreported: according to the reviewers: ‘some forms of fraud against financial institutions are not reported beyond the institution because the information is regarded as commercially sensitive’; and ‘Credit card fraud, for example, is often not reported to the police because victims know that credit card companies will usually deal directly with any loss.’ The report suggests regular surveys of commercial and industrial victimisation. It recommends also ‘an annual report on the state of crime in England and Wales, drawing not only on police recorded crime statistics and the BCS but also on whatever other appropriate sources of information were available’. Why does such a review matter to security and fraud managers? Maybe not at once, but because if crimes do not appear on the police or other offical radar, they are less of a priority. Or, as the review puts it, accurate data will inform debate about the state of crime, and how resources get allocated.

Problems are, according to the review group, that statistics have become political since the 1960s when reducing rising crime became government policy; and almost exclusive focus of attention by both the Home Office and its critics on national crime data is itself part of the problem of restoring public trust and confidence in crime statistics. The reviewers recommend a major shift of emphasis to local crime information.

Doubts about statistics are not new – as the reviwers point out, the integrity of police recorded crime statistics have been regularly raised since they were introduced in 1857. The review calls for more relevant statistics: “Not only are current national crime statistics publications difficult to understand, they do not immediately answer the questions we believe most people want to ask about crime: in particular, how much crime is there in my neighbourhood, how well are the local police tackling crime and what are the risks to me?” As for how to give stats to the public, the review suggests colour-coded maps: “Police forces should encourage other local service providers who also have some responsibility for crime, anti-social behaviour and lifestyle events to join them in providing information in mapped form on the same website.” And as for how often, the review suggests monthly – as a start: “ …if a serial criminal is active in an area – real time information might even be considered appropriate”. Review group members include Chief Constable British Transport Police Ian Johnston, ACPO lead on crime; and academic sociologist Prof Tim Newburn, whose published work has included a study of CCTV in police cells; and who edited The Handbook of Policing, published in 2003 by Willan.

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