Now we’re ‘creating’ crime?

YOUR report in the Gazette (June 23) on the significant increase in anti-social behaviour crime in Alnwick and Amble from 76 in Feburary to 114 in march and 140 in April makes for interesting reading, but even more interesting is the response from Alnwick police inspector Sue Peart.

Apparently, reported anti-social behaviour events only become a crime statistic if the police decide to send out a letter, for example, to a parent informing them that their child has been involved in anti-social behaviour, because in order to produce a letter, officers have to create an ASB report.

According to Inspector Peart, therefore, had it not been for the police ‘creating’ 28 crimes between March and April by sending out letters, the number of ASBs would have gone down by two!

I wonder how many of the 38 increase between February and March were also ‘created’, or was the decision made not to send letters to keep the figures down?

This is yet another example of the way in which crime figures can be massaged. A senior police inspector in the south east of England had claimed on his blog that crime managers whose job it is to give the Home Office figures for detection rates routinely change offences into non-crimes to make the force look better.

Stolen handbags are listed as accidently lost, vandalised windows blamed on frost and smashed car wing mirrors blamed on stones being thrown up by passing cars rather than vandals.

Some three months ago, you printed a letter from me in which I challenged the claim by Northumbria Police that the reduction in crime in our Command Area between 2008/09 and 2009/10 was due to improved police performance and not, for example, improved house and car security.

The only response in the Gazette, which was presumably a press release from Northumbria Police, again sought to claim credit for a further reduction in 2010/11.

What the article did not say was that for the second year running, detections in our Command Area covering Alnwick were down, the opposite of what should be expected given fewer crimes to investigate.

I wonder whether we can place any trust in the information given to us by the police. As the saying goes, there are lies, damned lies and (police) statistics.

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