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Crime Statistics: An independent review

Early in 2006, the then Home Secretary Charles Clarke invited Professor Adrian Smith (a former president of the Royal Statistical Society) to chair a review of crime statistics. The Review’s purpose was to advise what changes could be made to the production and release of crime statistics to increase public trust in the figures. The Review Group has brought together distinguished individuals differing widely in their ranges of expertise and interests relating to crime statistics and their personal positioning on the political spectrum. After considerable debate, they have published a series of practical recommendations. The recommendations form a basis for immediate and significant changes to the current production, communication and use of crime statistics that will do much to restore public trust and confidence.

Title: Crime Statistics: An independent review
Authors: Professor Adrian Smith et al
Number of pages: 38
Date published: November 2006
Availability: Download full report PDF 474Kb

The Review Group has addressed the Home Secretary’s request to make recommendations on changes that should be made to the production and release of crime statistics in order to restore public trust.

The Review Group has taken into account that public trust in crime statistics can be undermined by any or all of the following:

  • statistics that are perceived to be in conflict with – or of no relevance to – the direct individual experiences of members of the public
  • statistics using categories or definitions that do not accord with public commonsense interpretations
  • conflicting statistics apparently open to widely differing interpretations
  • lack of coverage of significant areas of criminal activity and victims
  • perceived potential for police or ministerial interference in the production and presentation of the statistics.

In the report, the Review Group present detailed analyses of these issues and a series of detailed recommendations aimed at addressing them. They believe all the recommendations will contribute positively to restoring public trust in crime statistics. However, they place considerable emphasis on the following recommendations:

  • The Home Office should make the provision of local crime information a central part of its crime communication strategy and not just rely on publishing national crime statistics
  • The Home Office should ensure that investment in strategies and technology for the provision of appropriate local crime information be an integral part of the development of neighbourhood policing teams and a key means by which they are held accountable to their neighbourhoods
  • The Home Office needs to develop a strategy for providing useful local crime information that makes use of modern communications
  • Local crime information should be made available on the same geographic basis as the neighbourhood policing teams
  • Crime information made available locally should include all crime data (not just notifiable offences) and all incident data in all areas within 3 years
  • Police forces should have geo-coded crime and incident data as part of the rollout of neighbourhood policing teams. They should put in place the requirements to use this mapped data as a key means of sharing information with the public, including on a force website, within three years
  • Police forces should work with their local partner service providers to produce relevant information in mapped form on the same websites
  • The police should have a duty to provide local crime information as soon as possible or as necessary to respond to events

The reports main conclusions are:

  • A shift in emphasis is required in the production and communication of crime information. The focus must shift from the publication, by the Home Office, of the aggregate national picture to a system of communication which encompasses local data at local level between police and their neighbourhood communities.
  • Both the scope and definitions of the national statistics that are produced need a radical overhaul. Significant groups of victims are not covered by current surveys and certain major current crime category definitions are confusing and misleading.
  • Governance, management and organisation of the police and Home Office environments in which crime statistics are produced and reported must be revised to provide the public with complete assurance of actual and perceived independence and integrity of the statistics.

Review Group membership

Chair

Professor Adrian Smith – Principal, Queen Mary, University of London

Members

Ian Beesley – Statistics Commissioner
Dame Helen Reeves – formerly Chief Executive,Victim Support
Ian Johnston – Chief Constable British Transport Police and ACPO lead on crime
Kate Flannery – Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
Paul Evans – Head of Police Standards Unit, Home Office
Sir Robert Phillis – Chief Executive, Guardian Media Group
Professor Tim Newburn – President, British Society of Criminology
David Green – Director of Civitas, nominated by the Conservative Party
Stephen Boley – Price Waterhouse Cooper, nominated by the Liberal Democrats

Secretariat

Paul Wiles – Chief Scientific Advisor and Director Research & Statistics, Home Office
Jonathan Allen – Crime Surveys Section, Home Office

Getting a copy

Download Crime Statistics: An independent review PDF 474Kb

Last update: Friday, November 17, 2006

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