UK Statistics Authority withdraws gold-standard status from police figures, pointing to â€˜accumulating evidenceâ€™ of unreliability.
The gold-standard â€œnational statisticsâ€ status has been withdrawn from police recorded crime figures following repeated allegations that some of the quarterly published figures have been subject to â€œa degree of fiddlingâ€.
The UK Statistics Authority said it had taken the decision as a result of â€œaccumulating evidenceâ€ that the underlying data on crimes recorded by the police may be unreliable.
It follows high-profile concerns over the integrity of the police crime figures raised by the Commons home affairs and public administration select committees. Her Majestyâ€™s chief inspector of constabulary, Tom Winsor, who is to report later this year on the issue, has said he expects to find â€œa degree of fiddling, some of it owing to dishonestyâ€ among the 43 police forces in England and Wales. Winsor, however, has ruled out â€œinstitutional corruptionâ€ behind the inaccurate recording of crime by the police.
The police recorded crime figures, which date back to the 19th century, are one of the two major measures of crime in England and Wales. The second yardstick, the crime survey for England and Wales, which dates back to 1981, is unaffected by the allegations and has consistently showed a fall in crime since 1995.
The Statistics Authority said the removal of the designation of national statistics would remain until the Office for National Statistics (ONS), working with the Home Office, Her Majestyâ€™s Inspectorate of Constabulary and others, was able to demonstrate that the quality of the underlying crime data was sufficient to meet the needs of users.
The allegations have included claims that the Metropolitan police have understated sexual offences by as much as 25%. MPs have heard allegations that fiddling techniques have included downgrading offences to less serious crimes or persuading victims not to make a complaint, while in some cases crimes were only recorded if they were solved. Other incidents were kept completely off the books if an offender could not be traced, they have been told.
Glen Watson, the ONS director general, said: â€œONS welcomes this very important UK Statistics Authority report. We look forward to working closely with the Home Office and Her Majestyâ€™s Inspectorate of Constabulary to respond to all of its recommendations.
â€œWe have already highlighted our concerns about the quality of crime recording by the police, and the variations in trends between recorded crime and our own crime survey for England and Wales. I am pleased this has been recognised by the authority.â€
Police crime figures lose official status over claims of fiddling