Crime stats to be overhauled for 2014

THE way crime statistics are collected in England and Wales is to be overhauled in an attempt to allay fears many alleged offences are never properly investigated.

UK Government policing minister Damian Green said the system, which will start in the New Year, will be more transparent.

But Labour claimed the Tory/Lib Dem coalition was trying to disguise the impact of policing cuts on the crime figures.

Crime statistics have been a controversial topic in Gwent after the police and crime commissioner Ian Johnston told the Argus that police may not have recorded crimes properly in a bid to lower figures.

It caused a public row with the then chief constable Carmel Napier.

An internal Gwent Police review found that crime figures could be eight per cent higher than recorded with officers not recording all crimes in line with the rules.

Chief constable Jeff Farrar told MPs in December that officers had misrecorded crimes while official figures showed crime falling, but that figures weren’t manipulated.

Currently around 70 per cent of crimes are recorded as “undetected”, with no indication as to why they did not lead to criminal charges.

But under the new framework, there will be a series of category headings indicating why no action was taken.

They will include “prosecution prevented” on the grounds that a suspect has been identified but is below the age of criminality or is too ill to stand trial.

Other headings will include “evidential difficulties”, such as a key witness is unable or unwilling to give evidence, and “prosecution not in the public interest”.

Ministers believe the new system might be particularly useful in cases involving allegations of historic sex abuse where the alleged perpetrator has died or is too ill to stand trial, or a key witness does not want to give evidence.

Mr Green said: “Recording offences as ‘undetected’ leaves victims feeling neglected and police investigations misunderstood - it does not properly reflect police work and that is why we are scrapping it.”

Labour shadow crime and security minister Diana Johnson said that while greater transparency was welcome, it could not disguise the fact that fewer cases were being solved.

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