Silence greets questions over police figures

Peter Bowden, owner of Club Sanuk
Peter Bowden, owner of Club Sanuk
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Lancashire Police today said it felt it was not “appropriate” to comment on allegations that crime statistics were unreliable.

As reported in The Gazette yesterday, The UK Statistics Authority (UK SA) has re-moved the National Statistics designation from all crime data recorded by the police, meaning it no longer complies with the watchdog’s official code of practice.

The move comes amid serious concerns over the integrity of crime figures, which were sparked by claims made by serving Metropolitan Police officer PC James Patrick last month.

Lancashire Police said because it was a “national” issue it didn’t “feel it would be appropriate to comment at a local level.”

The silence comes despite assurances the force will pro-vide up to date and accurate statistics ahead of next month hearing which controversially could see booze banned in Blackpool’s bars and clubs after 3am.

Peter Bowden, owner of the resort’s Sanuk nightclub, has previously alleged the police have been unwilling to provide statistics ahead of next month’s re-arranged Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) hearing.

The hearing will decide whether venues in Blackpool town centre can continue to serve alcohol after 3am.

Speaking about the downgrading of police data, Mr Bowden said: “We believe the figures that the police presented to the council last year were misleading and therefore we’ve come to this EMRO, and all the costs incurred, on what was very dubious grounds.

“When you can’t trust the police where do you go in society? That’s what frightens me.”

Working with the Home Office and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) must now work to prove the quality of the underlying data is good enough to ensure police-re-corded crime figures can be trusted to see the official designation mark restored.

Mr Patrick told MPs on the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) that massaging crime figures to hit performance targets had become “an ingrained part of policing culture”.

National policing lead on crime statistics, Chief Constable Jeff Farrar, said: “We are very disappointed in the move made by the UK Statistics Authority to remove the National Statistics designation on statistics arising out of recorded crime data.

“It comes at a time when the service is seeking to make crime stats more transparent, more accountable and assure the public of both the figures’ accuracy and their integrity.

“Statistics play a vital role in holding the police accountable for the work they do, assuring the public of the service’s ongoing fight against crime and reassuring them with regard to the safety of their communities.

“Our work on improving the production of stats will go on regardless of today’s decision, and we hope to see the National Statistics designation restored very shortly.”