Saturday, July 19, 2008

Those Dodgy Crime Stats

Wat Tyler of Burning our Money has a must read post on the British Crime Survey, and why crime really is going up.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

To those dwindling minority of indoctrinated morons who swallow what the McLabour regime are saying, and who say "oh of course these figures are true and crime IS down because the figures are coming from the Police and not the government".

Yeah, just WHO is instructing the Police what to say!, oh thats right, its McLabour!!!!!!.

Newmania said...

Thanks Iain that has been bothering me for literally years.

Anonymous said...

Is there no way of blaming the police. After all Iain according to you they are incompetent in an institutional way.

Chris Paul said...

Tripe Iain, this is tripe. Link to Liam's post on the matter instead. Why do you prefer twisted minor bloggers to the erudite Liam?

There need to be all sorts of caveats on recorded crime stats. For example did you know that the advent of CCTV sees all kinds of scuffles and minor ructions recorded as crime?

Or have you considered that having more officers and PCSOs on the streets can also have an upward effect on recorded crime?

If you were personally engaged with the police in LAPs (Local Action Partnerships) or other Crime and Disorder panels or even attended the odd meeting with other citizens and the police you'd have a better idea of what is really happening.

The BCS with 50,000 interviews is very respectable research and should be respected by yourself.

Right now it is Dale and the Mail spreading disinformation.

Crime is generally down. Even the current post-Boris glut of London knife crime is paired with less gun crime nationally.

The serious wounders and killers have switched implements. And of course serious knifes are available at Woolworths and ASDA.

Jail for everyone carrying a knife is a bloody silly proposal from the boy Cameron.

Anonymous said...

.....Even the current post-Boris glut of London knife crime.....

That has to be a new low

Diablo said...

"Why do you prefer twisted minor bloggers...?"

But we don't, Chris. That's why we read Iain's blog and not yours.

Anonymous said...

What Tyler's post is rubbish.

He has not actually properly read the report from which he is drawing his information. He has looked at the numbers in the tables but not the footnotes associated with them.

For example, the bar chart apparently showing a substantial increase in violent crime between 1997/98 and 2007/8 is nonsense because it does not take into account the changes in definitions of these crimes in the intervening period.

In 1988 the rules for counting violent crime changed. Under the new rules there was an apparent DOUBLING of recorded violent crime compared with the previous year; whereas, in reality (using the same coulnting rules as in previous years) it was LOWER.

Either Wat Tyler is deliberately producing misleading information or he is a statistical idiot.

The sad thing is that a lot of people will believe him.

Chris K said...

There are various words one can use for believing "what everyone knows" in spite of quite clear evidence to the contrary.

Stupidity is one of the more polite ones.

Anon 12.05 said...

Anonymous 12.05 PM said...

"In 1988 the rules for counting violent crime changed."

Correction. That should be 1998 not 1988.

Anonymous said...

Very funny report on our local TV news. Went to sxxx area of sxxx town and said "Burglary down 40%" I had to point out to my wife that they had demolished 50% of the houses. Still a good laugh.
freedom to prosper
PS Thefts of mangles are down by 99%

Cassilis said...

Seriously Iain?

If that's the most devastating rebuttal there is on these crime stats then Labour will be pretty happy...?

Anonymous said...

From Anon 12.05 PM

"In 1988 the rules for counting violent crime changed."

Typo correction. Should be 1998 not 1988.

Tom Harris said...

Yes, Iain, a "must-read post" in which the author says: "during the last ten years, the Home Office changed its counting rules for recorded crime not once, but twice. Twice... Well, you know what? We're making the comparison anyway."

Hmm. Dodgy stuff. Crime is reported by the media in an increasingly sensationalist fashion and increasingly - full stop, thanks to the increasing media competition. Fear of crime is a major cause of concern, but it doesn't necessarily mean crime is going up - it can mean that people's awareness of crime is going up. This debate, like the economic debate, smacks of crossed fingers from Tories hoping against hope that things are going down the toilet, and even if they're not, that you can persuade them they are.

Wat Tyler said...

OK. The key point underlying my post is that the official stats don't tell us anything very useful, because we simply can't trust them.

For one thing, the British Crime Survey is no more than an opinion poll (albeit with a large sample), never intended to bear the weight now placed on it by ministers. It was originally a secondary source to give a broader perspective on the recorded crime stats; it was never meant to be used as the primary source, which is the way the Home Office now presents it.

As for the recorded crime stats, not only has the HO changed its counting rules twice in a decade, but there's plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest they don't tell the whole picture. For one thing many people have given up reporting crime because the police often do so little about it. Plus, as we see throughout Labour's targeting regime, the police may well be gaming their own reports/scores (see some of the comments under my blog).

And remember also that this is yet another government department keeping its own scorecard (cf the fiscal rules). A few years back, when the government really began to struggle with the public credibility of its stats, it suggested it was going to have the somewhat more independent ONS take them all over. But crime is one area where it has notably and steadfastly failed to do so. Which stinks.

Meanwhile, despite living in one of the supposedly safest areas of Britain, my personal experience tells me crime is certainly not going away (one spectacular attempted burglary while I was actually in the house last summer, a son beaten up just down the road a couple of years ago, etc etc)

So what do you believe? Dubious numbers from self-serving discredited politicos, or the evidence of your own eyes?

PS Contrary to what Anon says, I am fully aware that the HO recording definitions have changed - indeed, I point it out in the blog. Does that mean I trust the latest version? Er, no.

Cassilis said...

I think that's cleared that up then - the 'must read post' explaining that 'crime is really up' is, in the words of the author, just a post telling us that official figures don't tell the whole story and that some peoples experience might give rise to a different view.

Why the MSM and all the paper missed this shattering insight of national significance is beyond me....

To be serious for a moment the problem here Iain and Wat is a disjoin between the Tory themes and the picture they try to paint of the country and the evidence we have, however flawed that evidence may be. Even allowing for all the admitted flaws in the BCS or recorded crime figures, if the country was in the mess some people would claim these measures would still make that clear. The government aren't claiming microscopic successes here, figures that just err on their side. They're not even claiming (the sensible ones at least) full credit for this situation.

They're simply saying things, in the main, have got better with regard to crime and the figures bear that out. Now, of the Tories want to advance a picture of a uncivil, hostile society where kids are rude and abusive and people often feel threatened then I'm with them 100% - and if you want to you can call it a 'broken society'.

But just disregarding the figures out of hand, figures you threw your full weight behind when in office, smacks of desperation and to be honest, with the polls where they are a desparation that seems misplaced.

Let's make a decent measured case about how uncivil society has become and point out some of the local areas blighted by far worse crime and social conditions than they had 10 years ago. But don't dismiss the figures just becuase they mean we have to take more care in making that case....

T

Anonymous said...

Wat Tyler said...
"So what do you believe? Dubious numbers from self-serving discredited politicos, or the evidence of your own eyes?"

So you believe that one person's experience of crime outweighs the total collective experience of 50,000 people? If you believe that then you have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the debate.

Anonymous said...

Wat Tyler said...
- "The key point underlying my post is that the official stats don't tell us anything very useful, because we simply can't trust them."

We can trust the British Crime Survey figures more than we can trust most official stats. The people who conduct (and report) the surveys have no political axe to grind.


- "For one thing, the British Crime Survey is no more than an opinion poll (albeit with a large sample), never intended to bear the weight now placed on it by ministers. It was originally a secondary source to give a broader perspective on the recorded crime stats; it was never meant to be used as the primary source, which is the way the Home Office now presents it."

It has gained more prominence because of the acknowledged limitations of the police crime records.

- "As for the recorded crime stats, not only has the HO changed its counting rules twice in a decade ..."

- "... Contrary to what Anon says, I am fully aware that the HO recording definitions have changed - indeed, I point it out in the blog."

The changes and their effects on the statistics have been fully documented.

Yes, you point out that there have been changes in the recording rules but you then produce an illustration which totally ignores the effects of those changes. That makes your illustration worthless.


- "... but there's plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest they don't tell the whole picture."

Anectdotal evidence is no use whatsoever in quantifying national crime trends.

Anonymous said...

Great to see nulabers ever more hopelessly lost in their own delusional propaganda.

Paul said...

For the information of posters accusing the BCS of being NuLab propaganda, the BCS was commissioned by the Thatcher Government in the early 80s.

The Conservative Party should stand for a sensible, not sensationalist stance on crime. The BCS was good enough for us when we commissioned it, it's still fit for purpose today. It's frankly embarrassing to see modern Conservatives taking such a juvenile stance. Political gain should not be made at a cost to public confidence. With the Labour government as it is, legitimate points of attack are not in short supply for us!

Anonymous said...

Paul said...

"For the information of posters accusing the BCS of being NuLab propaganda, the BCS was commissioned by the Thatcher Government in the early 80s."

Indeed it was, which just proves what rubbish it is.

Don't concern yourself unduly. Nobody believes Nulab. Nobody believes the tories.

stephen rouse said...

More people are in prison under Labour. More people are serving longer sentences under Labour. The police have greater powers of arrest under Labour.
The stats apparently show that "tough on crime" isn't working. So the Tory solution? Even more of the same.
The British criminal justice debate is a bawling contest between two idiots.

Allan Scullion said...

@Stephen Rouse

More people are in prison under Labour. More people are serving longer sentences under Labour.

Really?

Almost 30000 prisoners have been let out of prison early thanks to New Labour's Early Release Scheme.

If you plead guilty you can get your sentence reduced by one third.

Custodial sentences are dictated by prison capacity rather than the merit of the crime.

Tough on crime isn't working? That's because New Labour are anything but tough on crime.

stephen rouse said...

March '99 . Prison population of England and Wales 64,200. May '08. Prison population 82,822. That would be more.

Anonymous said...

stephen rouse said...
"March '99 . Prison population of England and Wales 64,200. May '08. Prison population 82,822. That would be more."

Also, average length of time served hasn't changed significantly. Therefore, since the prison population has increased, more people are serving longer sentences.