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Friday, 22 January 2010

10 year low, give credit where credit is due

Just a quick post today that nicely follows on from my post about the dark figure which also discussed the subset of actual crime that is recorded crime.

The MPS announced yesterday that crime is at its lowest level for 10 years. The details can be found here. They omit to include "recorded" in front of crime; an error in my view.

I have a couple of brief comments to make.

(1) Despite the overarching performance indicator being confidence in the police recorded crime statistics are still very important to the police. Probably more internally than externally. It is a performance indicator that makes or breaks promotion ambitions (in theory but probably not in practice). I am not totally against this but it does mean that good "housekeeping" can reduce recorded crime by ensuring only those allegations that have to be recorded are. This is like trying to ring a flannel dry. A portion of recorded crime reduction is due to evermore innovative ringing techniques.

(2) The MPS seem happy to take credit for the lowest level of crime for 10 years. I think this is the wrong approach. The influence police have on crime figures is an area of ongoing research, my own included, with no definitive conclusions. What is known is that crime has many causes a lot of which are out of the direct control of police therefore in my opinion, and consistent with Neighbourhood Policing, a more partnership approach thanking the efforts of the communities in London would strike a better tone.

Credit is what other people give you, not what you try to grab yourself.

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