A STATISTICS watchdog has stripped an official quality-assurance mark from crime figures amid concerns they may not be reliable.

Gwent Police chief constable Jeff Farrar expressed disappointment after the UK Statistics Authority pulled the National Statistics designation from crime figures.

The move effectively warns the figures should now be approached with caution. Accuracy of crime statistics has been controversial in Gwent, with an internal force review finding 25 out of 50 incidents from last summer were not recorded in line with official rules.

According to the authority the National Statistics designation shows figures meet users’ needs, are produced, managed and disseminated to high standards and are explained well. But the authority, which oversees the work of the Newport-based Office of National Statistics, said the ONS does not have sufficient information about the quality of recorded crime data to make users aware of the statistics’ limitations. A report from the authority said there is “accumulating evidence that suggests the underlying data on crimes recorded by the police may not be reliable”.

Mr Farrar, national policing lead on crime statistics, said work to improve statistics would continue, adding: “It comes at a time when the service is seeking to make crime stats more transparent, more accountable and assure the public of both the figures’ accuracy and their integrity.” Our work on improving the production of stats will go on regardless of today’s decision, and we hope to see the National Statistics designation restored very shortly.”

ONS director general Glen Watson said he was pleased the office’s concerns about the quality of crime recording had been recognised by the authority.

Mr Farrar previously told MPs police officers had “misrecorded” incidents when official figures showed crime falling, but didn’t think wholesale manipulation was taking place.

In 2013 police and crime commissioner Ian Johnston said Gwent Police may not be recording crimes properly to lower crime stats, leading to a public row with former chief constable Carmel Napier.

Yesterday he said it is “vital the people of Gwent can have full confidence in the way that data is recorded.”It’s my opinion the public of Gwent are more interested in the quality of service they receive and not about how crime is recorded.Information about crime is important in order for the police to deal with it effectively, and its .”