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Friday, 18 December 2009

Trust in Crime Statistics

The Reassurance Gap (see last post) had repercussions not only for the police but crime statisticians which are still being addressed. The UK Statistics Authority published an interim report "Overcoming barriers to trust in crime statistics" yesterday. A copy can be found here. It is all pretty dry stuff but of great interest to us who are studying public perceptions of crime and the police - in a similar way I suppose a publication about a misunderstood pond weed would be to certain bio-geographers.

One of my favourite quotes is "The police are more trusted as a source of information than civil servants or politicians."

And without being too flippant that is the gist of the problem. Crime stats in England and Wales have become too politicised and that is the reason they are not trusted. That is the clear message within the report but not one that is properly addressed by the report. Could it be because it is written by civil servants for politicians? There is a high potential that meddling could make things worse. Paragraph 104 does recognise this;

"People’s perceptions about crime are influenced by the anti social behaviour they observe locally. If the notifiable list were to be reduced (paragraphs 75 to 83), then even less anti social behaviour would be reflected in the national crime statistics. Distrust of the national figures might therefore increase."

The obvious conclusion is to include more anti-social behaviour stats and exclude less relevant ones but that does not seem to be even considered.

I will no doubt write more about this report in later blogs I am in danger of going into a rant if I write more now.

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