Friday, December 08, 2006

Slippage Can Be Slippery

Crime slipping off target trajectory

The Home Office has just published its annual Performance Report, and quite rightly they've been blatted by all and sundry over their failure to meet their key targets for crime reduction and reducing reoffending among young criminals. They describe it as "slippage".

But when you actually read the Report, it isn't the slippage on those MEASURABLE items that springs off the page. No, it's the fact that virtually all the targets they claim to have met or exceeded- and which the appalling Tony McNulty has been wheeling out to counter hostile questions- comprise a whole range of mumble-waffle targets that are NOT MEASURABLE in any normal sense of the term.

Consider these reported "successes":

  • Public confidence in the Criminal Justice System: ahead
  • Fear of crime: on course
  • Concern that anti-social behaviour is a problem: on course
  • Victim and witness satisfaction: on course
  • Confidence in local police: ahead
  • The performance of all police forces: on course
  • Value for Money: ahead

All of this is so subjective as to be meaningless.

Yesterday I had lunch with my friend from the mean streets of Primrose Hill. He updated me on his rampant local crime scene, and burst another couple of blood vessels over the total lack of action by police. He's seriously considering emigration.

And today I was talking to a man who recently had his bike nicked. Again, there'd been absolutely no police action- or even interest- and he was wondering why we couldn't get the immediate and impressive response delivered by US police to a similar crime against a family member in Florida.

Rampant crime- particularly violent crime- is a staple of every conversation in every home and pub throughout Britain. Crime, and how hopeless our police are.

So how can our £15bn pa Home Office be scoring themselves as "succeeding" like this?

Yes, yes, we know that arithmetically they're simply relaying what the British Crime Survey says.

But that's just an opinion poll with all the usual bias and manipulation. What's really going on?

Presumably the Home Office can't think this actually convinces anybody. Can they?

You know, they might think exactly that: I can't shake off the awful thought that they've spun so many slippery stats over the years that now they really can't tell fact from fiction.

Which is why it's so ludicrous to let the "not fit for purpose" Home Office keep its own score. And why it is outrageous that Gordo won't apparently be including their stats in the remit of his revamped independent Statistics Commission.


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