Shooting the messenger

Friday, 22 November 2013

PC James Patrick, who last week gave evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration Committee on the 'fiddling' of crime figures, faces a disciplinary hearing next week, The Times reports (subscription required).

PC Patrick reportedly faces gross misconduct charges for undermining public confidence in the police following the publication of his book, The Rest is Silence. The book is based on content first published on his now discontinued blog, The Police Debating Directive.

You can watch PC Patrick's evidence to the Public Administration Committee here.

Also today in The Times, Paul Connew writes in a letter that:

'For those who favour transparency over obfuscation or outright deception, the fact that... James Patrick... is facing disciplinary action over his whistleblowing activities, should be the subject of public and parliamentary concern.'

Another letter writer, Michael Ball, a solicitor, observes:

'Allegations of rigged statistics may be "deeply shocking" to MPs, but they come as no surprise to those of us who work in the criminal justice system. They are merely one facet of a determined attempt to manipulate the level of crime and its associated costs.'

Meanwhile, in The Guardian, Simon Jenkins claims that police crime figures are meaningless to understanding victimisation and safety levels. He writes:

'The police figures could easily be slashed. We need only reduce police numbers, decriminalise illicit drugs, tell insurers to do their own theft checks, lower the age of consent, and reinvent the concept of an accident. None of these things will happen, nor would they affect the true incidence of crime. But the figures would plummet.

'No one really knows if Britons nowadays are treating each other "better or worse". No one knows how many people are behaving beyond the norms of decent society. Our sense of personal and collective vulnerability is shifting. We react differently to those who frighten or hurt us. We expect ever more protection from harm.

'All we can know for sure is that police crime figures have nothing to do with the case. They spread confusion and fear, and should be banned. They are politicians' toys for boys. MPs who are shocked by their falsity are hypocritical.'

Related items

Are the police too concerned with performance targets? (November 20, 2013)
Making sense of crime trends (January 25, 2013)
Crime, persistent offenders and the justice gap (October 22, 2004)