Come On Cruella – Explain It To Us

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  1. If only the blame could be laid solely at the door of the politicians. It is a sad fact that a proportion of responsibility must also lie with the ACPO and senior command ranks serving during the Blair years.

    I’ve been penning blog articles about the manipulation and distortion of crime figures for a number of years, starting well before the coalition came into power.

    In the earliest days of hitting the blogsphere, my phone rang one day and the caller said “Hello, is that Steve, this is Chris Grayling here, Shadow Home Secretary”. Well, after I picked myself up off the floor, he went on to praise the police bloggers, many of whom were risking their careers writing about all that was wrong with the service under Blair and crew. He commented that we were revealing stuff the politicians and media couldn’t (or chose not to) talk about. Way back then, he confided in that and subsequent calls and e mails, that the Tories were furiously opposed to ACPO, who had become disconnected from the rank and file and selfishly self serving.

    In particular, the conversations were scathing of the many ACPO officers who had accepted the divisive, corrupt bribes aka the performance target payments in return for reporting reductions in crime and increases in detections. Chris Grayling knew full well, (I ensured he was kept informed) that the crime stats were being fiddled. My raison d’etre was to expose the scandal. 43 forces had previously reported varying degrees of success controlling crime, from good to poor as you would expect with such a disparate organisation. In came, Chief Officer bonus bribes, and within two years, all but one of the 43 reported massive decreases in crime, magically achieved!

    I wrote back then that continuing along this path would render the service vulnerable to attack from any incumbent Government. Common sense dictated that falling crime would invite cuts from a Government demanding “more for less”. Had the true level of crime been reported, no Government would have had the stupidity to implement cuts. At a Conservative Party conference in 2009, I asked the then police minister Nick Herbert, what influence falling crime played in including policing in the comprehensive spending review. His answer was that it was a pivotal.

    Knowing the books of crime were being cooked mercilessly, along with others, I blogged repeatedly, producing evidence of the extent and nature of the manipulation. The PASC meetings subsequently took note of the evidence and more importantly, that of James Patrick, Peter Barron and my friend Dr Rodger Patrick. They interviewed countless witnesses, including Sir BHH and the milky bar kid, all of whom conceded that fiddling the figures had become a regular practice within the service. Winsor later found further evidence of this on inspection of forces. The ONS, on the back of this mountain of evidence, removed their badge of approval to police recorded crime, publicly announcing it was no longer a reliable source of measurement of crime in the UK.

    So, police cuts were implemented heavily reliant on the reliability of reductions in crime. This having been exposed as a sham set of figures, you would have thought this would have silenced the politicians rhetoric on the subject. It did not. Whosoever said crime was falling from then on remained unchallenged, despite the wealth of evidence.

    In my humble opinion, the years of fallacious falling crime was instrumental in politicians being able to include policing in the cuts. Knowing that the numbers were fiddled didn’t seem to matter to them. In fact, exposing it was dragged out so that they could continue with their strategy. That is what is really crooked about all of this. Knowing that crime was fudged, they now rely upon the successor to the British Crime Survey. Equally unreliable and dependent upon a small representation of the public to respond to survey questions. After the election, surveys and polls should be treated with mistrust.

    The fact remains then, that it is likely that if crime fell at all throughout the Blair years, it was dramatically exaggerated for the financial, career and political gain of those at the top of the service. The service became the author of its own misfortune largely as a result of lack of courage, decency, honesty, vision and integrity of the ACPO and senior command officers who accepted the payments and fiddled the numbers instead of rejecting them and performance targets. Had they done so, the truth of crime levels may have dictated a wholly different landscape.

    If ACPO were the mechanics, the politicians were the drivers. They knew and know full well that the cuts were based on falsified data. Knowing that now, and that it has been supported by PASC and ONS, you would think they would look again at policing with a fresh and honest set of eyes. However, expecting honesty from politicians is entering the Hans Christian Anderson world of fairy tales.

    Steve
    Thin Blue Line UK Blog

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