Row Over Reporting of Crime

PUBLISHED: 12:31 27 January 2009 | UPDATED: 10:43 04 May 2010

A ROW has broken out between police forces and the Home Office over the accuracy of crime statistics. On Thursday, the Home Office asked Cambridgeshire police and 17 other forces to review its serious violent crime figures, but a spokesperson for the pol

A ROW has broken out between police forces and the Home Office over the accuracy of crime statistics.

On Thursday, the Home Office asked Cambridgeshire police and 17 other forces to review its serious violent crime figures, but a spokesperson for the police claimed they had "been hung out to dry by the Home Office" and only one crime was put in the wrong box on reporting forms.

"The Home Office guidelines were unclear," the spokesperson added.

Both national and county statistics suggest a fall in crime overall, but the accuracy of crime figures was brought into question last October when the head of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Michael Scholar, confirmed knife crime figures were released by the Home Office before they had been verified by his agency.

Figures released last week suggest crime is down three per cent nationally, while in Cambridgeshire crime was down by 5.6 per cent.

Cambridgeshire police released the following statement:

"Violent crime, it was claimed, also dropped, by two per cent on the previous year

Widespread media reports have suggested that violent crime is being under-recorded in Cambridgeshire and elsewhere - the suggestion being that crime figures have deliberately been manipulated to show a decline in violent crime.

This is not the case.

"All violent crime has been recorded in Cambridgeshire, but revised guidelines clarifying how the figures are recorded, issued by the Home Office in April this year, have led to issues in relation to the interpretation of the violent crime categories.

"The way that crimes are categorised can depend, for example, on the type of injury resulting from an assault, and whether the attacker intended to seriously harm the victim. For instance, an attack in a bar with a bottle or glass may not be regarded as being "with intent" unless the bottle or glass is first deliberately broken.

It is the need to include this kind of detail - information about which is not always available - which can lead to certain crimes being recorded under the wrong category even though they are included in overall figures for crimes of violence."

Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Essex police forces confirmed they will also re-examine their violent crime statistics.

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