Thursday, 19 July 2012

Police, crime and public honesty - a statistical lesson


It is pretty clear that rates of crime don’t correspond to any of things we’re always calling for – more coppers (on the beat of course), tougher sentencing, bigger prisons, capital punishment or flogging in the public square.

Recorded crime...fell by 4%, continuing the long downward trend in crime since 1995, and dropping below 4m offences for the first time in 23 years.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said violent crime had fallen by 7%, including a 2% fall in robberies.

We’d also been told – mostly by chief constables protecting their empires – that reductions in police spending during a recession would result in a surge of crime:

Acting Chief Constable Chris Weigh of the Lancashire force said the loss of front line officers had resulted in an “inevitable” increase in the number of offences being committed.

Seems this top copper was wrong! The real problem is that – because we’ve focused on police, punishment, prisons and probation – we don’t really understand why crime has fallen so rapidly over the past 20 years. Or indeed whether it will continue to fall. What we will be able to say is that the overall funding of policing and economic recession does not lead to more crime.

So what are those factors? Well it seems that simple economics is a factor – stealing stuff is harder and selling it on is more difficult (as well as less lucrative). So professional thieves have shifted to other crimes:

...with significant rises recorded in the last two years in metal thefts triggered by soaring commodity prices

While the opportunist has taken to nicking bikes and lawnmowers from sheds.

However, the truth may be that we’re really a lot more honest than the authorities give us credit:

Mobile phones deliberately left in pubs and clubs by Sussex Police to catch thieves were all returned.
Officers planted phones fitted with tracking devices in nine clubs and pubs in Hastings and St Leonards as part of Operation Mobli on Saturday night.
However the phones were handed in at the bar or security staff and not one was stolen.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If someone scams your credit or debit card, try reporting it to Plod.

Plod will say, "Talk to your bank".
Your bank refunds the money, you go away happy. The bank takes the hit as part of its business model.

Yet a clear crime of fraud/theft has happened, one of many tens of thousands a year, but none are recorded as crimes. And you wonder there's an apparent reduction in 'reported' crime ?

No reduction in crime, just in 'reported' crime.

It is also reported that murders are at the lowest level for 30 years. But that's only because huge numbers are now classified as manslaughter, unlawful killing or any other definition. Try getting them to admit to the total number of 'homicides', the catch-all term for one person killed by another, surprisingly that's not gone down at all. Fun what you can do with definitions, innit ?