January 24, 2013 7:45 pm

Police crime data called into question

Police forces in England and Wales may not be recording up to a third of crimes reported to them, according to the Office for National Statistics.

This compares with about 10 per cent five years ago.

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“This . . . raises questions about whether there has been a degree of degradation of quality [of the figures],” the ONS said.

The ONS based its estimate on data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which is based on interviews with householders.

It looked at crimes, documented by the CSEW, which respondents said they had reported to the police. Police forces recorded 3.8m crimes in England and Wales in 2011. The CSEW figures suggest that victims reported an additional 1.6m.

The discrepancy is thought to have grown after independent audits of police crime-recording processes by the Audit Commission were stopped in 2007.

The commission has since been abolished by the coalition government and police forces are responsible for verifying their own figures.

The documentation of crime by the police was standardised nationally in 2002 with the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard.

The ONS estimates that, at that time, only 50 to 60 per cent of reported crimes were recorded. By the time the independent audit system was abolished in 2007 this had risen to 90 per cent.

Unless independent audits were reintroduced it would not be possible to check whether police forces were following the standards, the ONS said.

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