Lies, damn lies and crime statistics

Another day, another government but still the same unhelpful use of crime statistics to prove an argument. Whether it is the failures of the previous government or the success of some current initiative, we can find a way to use crime statistics. But in all this it is the public that are left confused and unclear what the situation is.

In all this we can’t forget that the public are the ones that call for help from the police and will assess the success or not on the service they receive. It doesn’t matter if David Cameron has claimed a failure by the previous Labour government or if he claims, at some point in the future, that figures show there has been a reduction in gun/gang/knife crime. If you, or your family or friend, has been a victim of crime it is what you experience that will determine your views.

So why do we have an obsession with crime statistics? Every three months we get an update on crime areas, we have the annual release of statistics and the new Condem government has already stated a requirement to develop further the crime mapping on police force websites. A significant amount of time and money goes into this aspect of policing. Yet there is currently no easy way to assess the service that people receive and their views of it. One of the nearest online options is through http://www.mypolice.org/ that has been developed to provide online feedback and start conversations between the police and their public.

With the focus on the big society it seems very short-sighted for police forces to be put under the pressure of providing more statistics rather than putting their effort into working with http://www.mypolice.org/ and other such organisations. It is through such face-to-face discussions and online systems that people really will be able to change the policing service that they receive. And with the challenge of cuts in the police service and the mantra of doing ‘more for less’ it is obvious that the time spent on face-to-face conversations will be put under pressure. This makes the online option the way forward for the police service.

Mr Cameron it is time for you to avoid the pitfalls of the past and look to the work that will really make a difference to the future.

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