ARGUS COMMENT: Can we trust crime stats?
10:01am Thursday 12th December 2013 in News
THE evidence given to MPs yesterday by Gwent's chief constable brings into question the reliability of crime statistics nationwide.
As we reported yesterday, an internal review of the way Gwent Police record crime showed half of incident logs in a 10-day period in July were not recorded in line with Home Office rules.
There is, of course, a world of difference between misrecording crimes because of a lack of knowledge and deliberately fiddling the figures, and there is no suggestion the latter has taken place anywhere.
But if Mr Farrar's evidence to MPs were to be repeated by the rest of the chief constables in England and Wales - and we should assume that would be the case as Mr Farrar takes the national lead of crime statistics - then where does that leave public confidence in crime figures?
If Gwent Police's July snapshot is indicative of general practice then half of all incidents reported to the police could be being misrecorded.
If that is the case, then crime statistics at both a local and national level simply cannot be trusted.
It is clear there needs to be a wholesale evaluation of how crimes are recorded, and more prescriptive guidelines on what constitutes a crime.
We want to see our police solving crimes and catching criminals rather than meeting targets and crunching numbers.
But there is now real concern over crime statistics and it needs to be addressed at a national level.
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