Counting Crime – When the Figures don’t add up

Simon Reevell MP

Friday 10th January 2014: This week Sir Bernard Hogan Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner acknowledged that the crime statistics returned by his force may have been manipulated. Here, Simon Reevell MP, who is also a lawyer, warns of the consequences of a practice which may be endemic.

The recent acceptance by the head of the Metropolitan police that his force has compromised its integrity to meet crime reduction targets is the most senior acknowledgement so far of a practice that is endemic in police forces throughout England. Of course it was not an admission made in those terms. The Commissioner acknowledged the manipulation of crime figures and the downgrading of some offences by police, but that amounts to exactly the same thing.

If someone’s home is burgled they are the victims of a burglary and if that crime is ‘downgraded’ then integrity is compromised. Worse still if the crime involves violence or sexual violence. The victim of a rape is the victim of a rape and for the police to pretend otherwise for statistical reasons is outrageous. The police have a duty to investigate crime in a manner that instills confidence in victims as well as the wider public and in a way that deters those contemplating offending. Downgrading offences cheats the victim and the public and encourages the criminal.

The Metropolitan Police Officer who should be thanked for ‘blowing the whistle’ on this practice is facing disciplinary proceedings.

I wonder if anyone is looking at the impact of this policy on the performance related pay of senior officers. If anyone who knew of the practice benefited from its implementation then refunds are due.

*Simon Reevell, is Member of Parliament for Dewsbury and a barrister who specialised in military tribunals before entering parliament. His ‘Courts not Cautions’ can be read in Politeia’s Freedom, Responsibility and the State.