I do apologise to you, my reader, but I couldn’t let this go unchallenged any longer.
I very nearly said “Damn” when I saw this.
Mr Tom Winsor, Head Fred at HMIC, said in May 2013, “Police could be fiddling crime figures, watchdog warns” Tom Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said he wanted to review how all the country’s police forces record crimes amid concerns officers are deliberately changing statistics.
In November last year our own Constable James Patrick, and Dr Roger Patrick (no relation) appeared before Bernard Jenkin MP’s Public Administration Select Committee and told the Committee of their concerns that Police Crime Stats were being ‘fudged’. James was brave indeed and informed the Committee EXACTLY how it was being done, Dr Roger Patrick, broadly speaking, backed up James’ allegations adding his own two pennyworth with definitions and examples of Cuffing, Stitching, Skewing and Nodding.
The other invited witnesses giving evidence that day did nothing to contradict what Messrs Patrick were stating and Committee Members were left suitably aghast that this was going on.
One very high-ranking officer, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM later told the PASC that some of the claims were “worthy of further investigation” but that he needed “to hear more detail”……. “On occasion there might be some inaccuracy but I think on the whole there’s a truth there we need to hear.”
The commissioner said he had not spoken to PC Patrick about his claims but that the Met would in due course. An internal inquiry, led by deputy commissioner Craig Mackey, has been launched into around 20 claims made by the officer. “If he has been making these claims for a long time it would have been best they were resolved before now,” Sir Bernard added.
Tom Winsor, who as Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales, is leading an inquiry into crime statistics, told the committee he was in no doubt it would uncover “some fiddling of the figures“.
So far, so good, this much we know.
Then I was browsing t’interweb and I came across an old article in The Torygraph dated 5th December 2009. Much of the article consisted of allegations about crime stat fudging from the very same Dr Roger Patrick, with his Cuffing, Skewing, Nodding and Stitching.
But it also contained some very damning specifics;
In one case, an offender shot at another man at close range but missed and broke a window behind his target. The offence was recorded as criminal damage rather than attempted murder.
One detective, who declined to be named, said: “Name any crime and I’ll tell you how it can be fiddled.”
Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation, which represents front line officers, said: “This research demonstrates that senior officers are directing and controlling widespread manipulation of crime figures. “The public are misled, politicians can claim crime is falling and chief officers are rewarded with performance-related bonuses.”
Denis O’Connor, the [then] Chief Inspector of Constabulary, published an official report into the way police record violent crime and admitted the figures may be skewed by “perverse incentives” around government performance targets.
Dr Patrick found that watchdogs such as Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and the Police Standards Unit had a “general tendency to underplay the scale and nature” of gaming.
He was scathing of HMIC’s failure to tackle the problem, noting there were no examples of chief police officers being publicly criticised by inspectors for this type of crime figure manipulation.
HMIC tended privately to refer examples of widespread gaming to the Home Secretary or the police authority rather than “hold the chief constable to account” because of the risk of political embarrassment, he said.
Dr Patrick concluded that HMIC inspectors should be made accountable to Parliament rather than the Home Office, and suggested they should be drawn from other professions rather than solely from senior police ranks. [well that bit happened]
So there we are, all of this was known and brought to the attention of HMIC in 2009, and only now is their Head Fred pontificating on it and thinking that it might well happen. Professional #epicfail by HMIC? Own Goal?
Call it what you want, I call it disgraceful. I would respectfully suggest that this totally vindicates PC James Patrick and how the hell can senior officers like BHH claim that they were unaware of the scale of the problem? Founder members of the Ostrich Club? How dare any one of them criticise James Patrick and any other officers facing a similar dilemma when this has been know for YEARS.
It didn’t start in 2009, it’s been going on for decades. It isn’t helped by successive Home Secretaries introducing different Counting Rules, political interference at its worst and most irresponsible.
Even former Commissioner Lord Stevens has now weighed in to the debate.
Giving evidence to the Commons’ home affairs select committee, Lord Stevens said: “Ever since I’ve been in police service there has been a fiddling of figures. I remember being a detective constable where we used to write off crimes.”
Asked by Keith Vaz MP, the committee chairman, if it was still going on, Lord Stevens replied: “Of course it is. In certain forces.”
There’s the evidence, been going on for years, and it’s an absolute bloody disgrace that HMIC sit in judgement but appear at face value to have completely ignored Dr Patrick’s 2009 findings. Surely an enquiry into figures can’t take 5 years can it?
I read this yesterday, and it absolutely brings us up to date with where James Patrick is now.
It is written by Occupy Police and I have the author’s permission to reproduce it.
I have not edited or ‘spun’ it any way, so sit back and take it in; (it is, however, a bit lengthy)
London police whistleblower calls for outside monitor to take over internal affairs, citing widespread internal corruption
Rape and Robbery Taking a Backseat To Internal Promotions in UK Police Forces
In a firsthand account report, recently released as evidence of crime stat manipulation (via parliament.uk), London Metropolitan Police Constable James J. Patrick highlights the need for an independent police monitor to replace current internal ‘Professional Standards’ departments after revealing widespread crime stat manipulation within UK police forces.
“Police crime statistics are being manipulated to the detriment of victims of crime”, says Patrick, “the general public at large and Parliament are not being presented with the truth.”
Patrick says serious crimes such as rape and robbery are being swept under the rug to give the appearance that crime was down:
“In worst case scenarios the Met had under-recorded Rape by over twenty-four percent and almost nine hundred offences were brought into the undetected figures. Total sexual offences were under-recorded by almost twenty-two percent and over two thousand offences had been brought into the undetected figures.”
Patrick says the reasons behind these stat manipulations are simple, less crime = a promotion:
“The police promotion system has, for a number of years, operated by seeking examples of “improvements” or “reductions”, such as those represented statistically which relate to crimes or resource. This method, known at the lower end of the promotion process in the “Met” by the acronym “TOWBA”, is set to become the preferred method of promotion nationally.”
“With the specialist knowledge all officers have, not least including the Fraud Act or Misconduct in a Public Office and Corruption offences at Common Law, there certainly does not exist any ignorance as to the implication of making personal gains in this way. To say it bluntly, no single officer from the rank of Sergeant to Chief Constable or Commissioner can be exempted from suspicion of not only police misconduct, but of serious criminal offences. It is of little surprise that the discussion of these topics is so uncomfortable that it is often muted or mooted, in particular by those more senior where the personal gains have been more prolonged and substantial. Knowing this can do nothing but further darken the meaning behind the attitude to, and statements about, police whistleblowers.”
For the better part of 3 years PC Patrick has worked internally to hold his department accountable. He’s raised issues countless times with his professional standards department and gotten nowhere. He recently took the issue as far as Scotland Yard and instead of them taking the hushing of rape cases and thousands more sexual assault cases seriously, they had this to say to Patrick: Scotland Yard to PC Patrick:
“why don’t you want people to like you?” He was also told: “people were pissed off”, and that “noses were out of joint”
He was later asked why he had bothered to present these allegations to the UK’s version of Internal Affairs; the Directorate of Professional Standards. Scotland Yard asked Patrick:
“what he hoped to achieve as they [Dept. Prof. Standards] were a bit aloof as to what they were supposed to do with it”
With neither the department of professional standards nor Scotland Yard taking these allegations seriously, Patrick has taken his case to the Public Administration Select Committee. The PASC recently completed an open inquiry, collecting crime stat manipulation evidence evidence from officers around the UK. One constable, who wishes to remain anonymous had this to say:
“Rape is a big deal, it should not be ignored by officers who simply wish to fast track their careers”
In 2 recommendations to Parliament, PC Patrick asks for the removal of Section 29 of the Police Reform Act 2002 which, if removed would give constables access to their local IPCC, Britains only outside police monitor which takes complaints about police misconduct directly from citizens. Patrick is also asking MP’s to allow the IPCC to take over departments of professional standards:
“Firstly, if given the opportunity, I would plead with the Government to remove Section 29 of the Police Reform Act 2002 and at the same time bolster the IPCC for the increased level of incoming reports that would inevitably follow. Simultaneously I would recommend that “Professional Standards” departments be dissolved with a complete budgetary and functionary transfer to the IPCC -most importantly without any of the existing staff contingent. While there may be loud resistance to -or quiet words against -this, I would urge that it is the only way to ever effectively watch the watchmen -though immediately the Government must establish a method by which the new IPCC is monitored. Nothing involving both power and humans is or ever has been immune to corruption and perversion, without exception.
The second recommendation is that a full, public inquiry into policing is held, bringing together all currently outstanding matters, and that the areas including crime recording are investigated, with a singular intention of making sure that this never happens, not to anyone, ever again. Misconduct investigations that invariably will arise must be doggedly pursued by the IPCC and not by any police force under their supervision, no matter how against the grain that may at first appear to rub.”
In an era of increasing accountability and transparency, this would seem like a step in the right direction.
Do not underestimate the troubled waters that lie ahead of James in the days and weeks to come. Whatever you may think of James and his stance, words and actions, I think we can all agree that he did/said/wrote things for the noblest of reasons.
In the latest chapter of James’ crusade he chose to submit evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee on the thorny subject of Crime Statistics.
It’s a bit lengthy but if you can stay with it here’s James’ evidence, also unedited and unspun by me;
Evidence Submitted by PC Patrick to the HOSC
Written evidence from PC James Patrick
Written evidence submitted to the Public Administration Select Committee by James John Patrick. This evidence is submitted in my capacity as holder of the independent office of
Constable, warrant number P231501, but not on behalf of my current force the Metropolitan Police Service.
This evidence contains 5,877 words (excluding struck corrections) and spreads over 9 pages. The forgiveness of the Committee for extending beyond the recommended word count of three thousand, across eight sides of A4 paper, is respectfully requested. The content is true to the best of my knowledge and honest belief.
Summary of Evidence:
1. Police crime statistics are being manipulated to the detriment of victims of crime, and that the general public at large and Parliament are not being presented with the truth.
2. The London Riots and associated significant costs were in part a result of statistical manipulation in resourcing, and that no one has ever been held to account for this. Subsequently this practice continues to create risks to the general public and to the public purse.
3. There is clear deficiency in the police “whistleblowing” systems, perpetuated by the stance of senior officers, and this allows serious matters such as those raised to be covered up.
4. A public inquiry, intense external scrutiny and legislative change is required, not only to establish the full extent of fundamentally corrupt behaviour, but to stop the public being put at risk.
5. I am a husband and father to two young children (aged four and two). Originally from Hampshire but raised in Derbyshire, I left school at seventeen years old to work at Thorntons then moved to Paris at eighteen, where I met my wife when we were both working at “Euro-Disney”. Between 1999 and 2004 I shifted jobs as necessary to pay the bills, from mortgage brokering, to IT, to grounds maintenance and back to IT. I was working as a Training Services Manager for an IT company and was offered a director’s position before joining the police in May 2004.
6. On the 10th of May 2004 I became a c Constable with Derbyshire Constabulary where I successfully passed my probation in 2006 and went on to pass my Sergeant’s exams in 2007. In 2006 I was successfully put forward to the national assessment stage for the Higher Potential Development Scheme. I failed at interview in the Race and Diversity scoring area having said that equality meant treating everybody the same in the eyes of the law, which was not compatible with the doctrine at the time. I worked in Derbyshire as a Response Officer with a full investigative workload including serious crime, as an Acting Sergeant on a reactive policing team, as a Temporary Sergeant on the county’s most demanding Safer Neighbourhood Team -where I received standing ovations at ward panels, and also as a Local intelligence Officer. In the latter role I became an expert in C complex Crime Pattern Analysis, “Crack House Closures”, Vietnamese Cannabis Farms and Social Media investigations of gang members. I was commended for my work on “Crack House Closures” and featured in a Radio 4 documentary on cannabis farming.
7. On the 9th of October 2009 I transferred to the Metropolitan Police Service seeking greater career opportunities and within three months was put in place, on merit, as an Acting Sergeant on a Response Team in a busy Central London borough. In September 2010 I received three further commendations for my work in the first eleven months (for bravery, leadership and fortitude). In 2012 I was personally selected by an Assistant Commissioner for attachment to the new Capability and Support unit at Territorial Policing HQ (TPHQ). This arose because of a predictive policing model I wrote and led me to design a Continuous Improvement framework and new performance risk analysis and performance diagnostic methods for the Metropolitan Police Service. I am currently analysing performance data for Specialist Crime and Operations, as part of the monthly, senior level boards dubbed as “Crime Fighters Meetings”. I remain at the rank of Constable.
8. For a number of years I have been rated as an exceptional constable in performance reviews and appear well regarded by those under whom I have worked. I am described as follows: “extremely hard working, professional, competent and motivated”, “amongst the most capable, analytical and knowledgeable officers I have had the pleasure to supervise”, “he continually impressed with his commitment to promote intelligence and demonstrated a drive to deliver improvements in performance”, “He outperformed a number of substantive sergeants”, “I have absolutely no hesitation in saying that James quickly became one of the most effective supervisors on my team. His decision making was first class and he was always willing to have “difficult” conversations with other officers when the need arose” and “In conclusion, I found James to be one of the best officers I have worked with, dynamic,
enthusiastic, and industrious, the list is endless but suffice to say that I would have him on my team again in a heartbeat”. I also seem to be well thought of by a number of members of the public, by virtue of my own Social Media profile. I am happy to provide the Committee with full statements or further evidence of my character should it be required.
9. In 2012 I very publicly raised a number of concerns and topics for debate around policing, using Social Media, blogs and open letters -for example to the Crime and Justice Minister and the Home Affairs Select Committee. The concerns raised included, but were not limited to, the manipulation of police statistics, the structure of ACPO and the actions of police leaders, the dangers of the implementation of PCCs, the general politicisation of policing and the impact of lobbying on police reforms. In October 2012 the blogs were compiled into a book, the proceeds of which are donated to the charity Care of Police Survivors. As a direct result of raising the concerns I am currently subject to ongoing gross misconduct proceedings, restrictions, public defamation which reached the national mainstream media and documented detriment in the workplace. I have also been expressly declined permission to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee (on the very same topics), or to have my case referred to the IPCC (due to the necessity for independent oversight in the full circumstances). The impact on my family and I is significant and continues.
10. Even before my situation developed to its present state I was trying to raise the concerns in a frustrating and increasingly flawed system. In spite of everything, I still refuse to accept that it should be any other way. In short, I stand firmly by my oath which is clear: “no favour or affection, malice or ill-will”. This extends to the police service itself. My reason for giving evidence to the Committee is simple: the public deserves better of the police and Parliament is the only mechanism by which this can be achieved.
11. In the report into the investigation of sexual offences by the Metropolitan Police’s Sapphire unit released earlier this year, Deborah Glass of the IPCC draws clear conclusions that police manipulation of crime figures has occurred, is grossly inappropriate and that victims were being persuaded to withdraw allegations. The HMIC drew a similar conclusion at in Kent, where they found crime being under-recorded by approximately ten percent and serious crime (most commonly robbery and sexual offences) being inappropriately classified as “No Crime” in an abuse of the national rules and standards on crime recording. A national review of all forces has now started but in larger forces the sampling conducted may not be statistically significant and the results are not due until 2014. The Home Affairs Select Committee rightly made clear, in their recent report into ethics and police leadership, that any attempt to deceive the public or Parliament over police crime figures would be utterly unacceptable and an abuse of trust.
12. Police recorded crime, that is the number of reports the police officially “log”, has reduced every year since the National Crime Recording Standards were introduced in 2002/2003. It is equally important to note that academic understanding of the perverse behaviours driven by performance targets has expanded rapidly and clearly demonstrates the impact in policing (see De Bruijn or Patrick -unrelated). Understanding the latter research gives rise to a clear explanation of the former reductions. The Home Secretary herself has now abolished all central targets, apparently recognising that they were damaging, but it must be noted that senior police officers have attracted her recent attention for the preservation (or reintroduction) of such targets, which are described as a “comfort blanket”. In part the current crime reduction targets have been set locally by PCCs and some of those, such as the twenty percent reduction in London, may even have arisen by error. In the “Met” and at MOPAC it is well known to be near impossible to achieve this reduction, yet the targets have now been set and are being actively pursued.
13. My personal experience with process manipulation began in 2010, when pan London changes to the shift patterns of response officers (away from the simplistic twelve hours structure) were set to be changed completed by the incumbent Assistant Commissioner -who had previously done the same at a rural constabulary. Throughout the process a mask of “consultation” was presented, but slipped early when it became clear that a shift pattern had already been selected. At a senior level the shift patterns presented were referred to as “fillet steak, burger and spam” and at a team level “fillet steak” was driven into being by virtue of a threat over leave restrictions for hundreds of officers if they resisted the preferred option. A number of concerns had been raised that, due to a staggering split of officers into fifteen teams -with varying start times, chaos would ensue: hard resources (even radio batteries) would be insufficient and major incidents (such as bombings or riots) would not be able to dealt with. This was concerning enough itself, however I was further disturbed by the release of the demand profiles justifying these changes. The profiles incorporated out of date -by some years -”activity analysis” data at their core. This two week “dip sample” was abolished by the previous Home Secretary in 2009 and is widely known to have been a time consuming paper exercise that produced inaccurate and unreliable representations of what police officers do. To see it used, even in part, as the basis for justifying an ill conceived shift pattern was quite shockingly irresponsible. To see the manipulation of the process on top of the manipulation of the data was horrifying. I personally challenged this, highlighting the clear and serious implications. I highlighted this internally, to the Directorate of Professional Standards, to the then Metropolitan Police Authority, even to the Police Federation at Leatherhead. I warned them, as loudly as I could in April 2011, that no bombings or riots would be capable of being met with the appropriate response. Nobody listened.
14. On the 6th of August 2011 the London Riots began and spread quickly. There was no police officer resilience. Due to the “fillet steak” shift pattern it was impossible to quickly coordinate the numbers of officers needed to regain any semblance of control. Emergency twelve hour shift patterns had to be installed to reverse the recently enforced mess. It was chaos and it cost London days more rioting than was necessary; cost hundreds of millions in damage, human injury, human life. To add insult to that awful injury it also cost £100 million in overtime to rectify the shift pattern. At the first chance I got I wrote to the Home Secretary by email then watched in disgust as the senior officer responsible retired suddenly, to work for KPMG where he had been “stake holding” for some time. Nobody was ever held to account for what happened and the resource levels -just over 3,000 officers out of 32,000 on that first Saturday night -were effectively buried in bullet points, in page one hundred or so of the final report “Four Days in August”. The worst of all was realising how normal it would have all looked to all with some pieces of the puzzle missing.
15. This exact kind of behaviour continued during the Olympics and continues in other areas of response policing, nationally. In the case of the former it was known well in advance that a twelve hour shift pattern was needed, to facilitate briefings and travel across London from briefing centres to deployments; in reality an eight hour pattern was installed and resulted in daily overtime to Lord knows what final cost. I experienced this first hand, being taken from Central London, to Battersea for feeding, only to return to the same station I’d left hours earlier to be briefed and deployed just around the corner. This is sheer milking of public funds. In the case of the latter, response policing, I wrote to the Crime and Justice Minister in 2012 raising a concern that response times were being lengthened to avoid statistical targets being missed by ever reducing resource. In some cases immediate response times have gone from ten to twenty minutes, or priority calls from thirty minutes to an hour. Yet, each force proudly claims to have improved their response. This is not improvement, this is clear cut fiddling of the figures. It’s repugnant and, in the cases of policing, incredibly dangerous. This was reported again only recently, and by the mainstream media this time, with some forces not being able to respond properly even under the extended times. The behaviour even extends, as I have witnessed, to reports as to the actual number of police officers on duty at any given time being amended. My team would parade between eighteen and twenty-one officers across three sites, well below the established minimum staffing level in the mid twenties. It wasn’t the only team. The Chief Inspector in charge of operations would amend the daily Duty Officer’s reports to show a higher “strength” before forwarding them upwards. It wasn’t until the Borough Commander had told an Assistant Commissioner he had a “cop on every corner”, and the Assistant Commissioner himself checked in person, that the truth came out. The result was a two pronged attack. Firstly, the minimum staffing level was lowered to reflect the already tiny number of officers on duty and secondly, an ever growing brigade of Special Constables was mustered on any given day that there was even a possibility the Assistant Commissioner was returning.
16. After the Riots, when things returned to “normal”, the issues of crime manipulation began to surface in earnest once more. In my own borough this manifested with the reclassification of reported robberies to a spurious invention called “Theft Snatch” (not even recognised in the Home Office Counting rules). I saw clear cases of robbery, including those with CCTV evidence, being “downgraded” to keep them off the “scorecard”. At that time statistical reports were showing Robbery increases of between two and four hundred percent, which is when the behaviour became even worse, and re-classes either occurred faster or the squads were literally racing the response teams to the victims “to get it right first time”. I challenged this with the Robbery Squad itself, the Borough Intelligence Unit -who were subsequently missing obvious offender mapping from their analysis, the Detective Superintendent and even the Borough Commander. Offenders were left to carry on robbing from unsuspecting members of the public for months. The only real upshot was the Detective Chief Inspector in charge of the Robbery Squad being quoted in the London Evening Standard, asking the Home Office to make the rules fairer to his “figures”. Thankfully the Home Office took the line that the rules were fair enough and this eventually resulted in the Met ceasing to use “Theft Snatch” and reclassifying robbery offences as “Theft from Person” instead. For me this resulted in my highlighting the problem as a case study and sending it direct to the new Assistant Commissioner, then building a predictive policing model around it -to fix it. This resulted in my move from response policing to the new Capability and Support unit, but not before where I then I had my model verified externally by the a former head of SOCA, an ex senior Met figure and a future PCC. They fed the model back in to the Met at a senior level. Predictive Policing is now being successfully trialled across London, even though you would have no idea I was ever involved. I accept this because my only objective was to try and make positive change happen, properly. I would later find that the further issue which left offenders to offend was well known about at a senior level. Boroughs had developed the technique of not recording suspect details in the correct section of crime reports, to avoid them being scrutinised for the volume of outstanding suspects in standardised computer reports. Obviously this is incredibly dangerous and the fact it was known about and considered “amusing” is utterly abhorrent.
17. Even though, by December 2012, the gross misconduct investigation for raising the issues publicly had started, I continued to work in the department charged with improving performance across the Metropolitan Police Service and was allocated to a project designed to process map and improve the reporting and investigation of burglary. In the course of the preanalysis, referred to as the “baseline”, I found that the statistics varied significantly depending upon which of the two force systems the same data was taken from. Verifying this with analysts I was given specific examples of the “disappearance” of crime reports from the statistics in groups of hundreds of burglaries, depending upon when the same report was run and re-run. The phenomenon was clearly not restricted to robbery versus theft. I documented this in the baseline report, much to the chagrin of the others on the project team, who preferred to think of manipulating the figures as “harmless loop holing” in order to avoid openly stating that some senior officers were acting corruptly. I was later to find that my job was no longer there, despite the department being under strength by thirty-five percent and all staff moves being prohibited. I was moved to an analytical team in Specialist Crime and Operations as of May 2013.
18. In June 2013, I was asked to offer some advice to a civilian analyst on the recording of sexual offences, after they had discovered one crime report covering over twenty victims and clearly separate offences. The classification system had been abused to halve the number of offences showing on the department statistics. In the course of clarifying this I came across the national “No Crime” statistics, and subsequently an analytical tool in the Met, known as a “Rape Logic Tree”. This shows the percentage of attrition at different stages of investigation. On a simple first glance I saw that around twenty-five percent of reported Rapes were being classified as “No Crime” or “Crime Related Incident”, known as CRI (the latter being an unconfirmed, or third party report). Having checked the national statistics I was keenly aware that for all offences the No Crime rate was around two and a half percent, but for sexual offences was twelve percent. The logic tree was astonishing in that it showed a No Crime rate of nine percent and a CRI rate of fifteen percent. It was apparent that something was drastically wrong. As the topic was to be discussed in depth at the monthly Crime Fighters meeting, I took a random sample of seventy crimes, fifty-five of which were “No Crimed” on the grounds of “additional verifiable information” (AVI). Transfer Crimes and Duplicates were deleted from the random sample. Five of the AVI No Crimes were selected at random for dip sampling, which gave a sample size of nine percent. Four out of five (eighty percent) were objectively highlighted as of concern, forming a pattern of No Criming where victims eventually retracted allegations, in particular where alcohol or other issues were present factors. This was presented as a single slide in the presentation, highlighting in the notes the need for an adult conversation about the problem. I did not anticipate that the reaction by Superintendents and Chief Superintendents would be to try and have the content removed from the monthly presentation, however when that did happen it drove me to look at the matter more deeply.
19. Researching the issue I carefully noted that the last findings of the IPCC appeared still relevant, and I already knew that I had raised the robbery versus theft issue, and highlighted the burglary issue in the baseline report. I broadened my searches and found that the last notable MPS report on Strategic Crime Recording was completed by TPHQ in April 2011 and is clear that the Met, as an organisation, were fully aware of “perverse performance” in crime recording then. Further I requested twelve months basic data (April 2012-March 2013) on total offences, in order that some basic, current, analysis could be carried out. This data was then analysed to identify patterns of any statistical deviance. In the case of rape and sexual offences, the deviation from the statistical norm is significant and clearly visible (the norm is just over five percent and the level in those crimes between seventeen and nineteen percent). The conclusion of the data analysis was that where offence groups are subject to closer performance measurement, there is more deviation from statistical norms. Also that, where there is an alternative recording option, CRI / No Crime is low but “other” comparable offences increase. And finally that, where there is no alternative offence group, CRI and No Crime is greater. Using the dip sample data to reverse the use of CRI, No Crime and Alternative Recording -in order to project a ‘worst case scenario -the examined offences returned to statistical norms and the result was of significant concern. In this worst case scenario the Met had under-recorded Rape by over twenty-four percent and almost nine hundred offences were brought into the undetected figures. Total sexual offences were under-recorded by almost twenty-two percent and over two thousand offences had been brought into the undetected figures.
20. The June 2013 Performance Board report was reviewed for any signs supporting further areas of performance concern. Robbery showed a reduction of almost twelve percent but an increase in Theft Person of around fourteen and half percent. There was also a reduction of almost twelve percent in Mobile Phone Robbery but an increase in Mobile Phone Theft of around twenty-five percent. In this worst case scenario the Met had under-recorded robbery by almost eleven percent and over three thousand offences would be brought into the undetected figures. The broader impact of all of this could be in the areas of: Crime Pattern Analysis, Tactical Planning, Change Models, Offender Management, Public Confidence and, clearly, Corruption and Misconduct
21. To confirm the current view of the “SC&O” Crime Management Unit one of the Detective Inspectors was spoken to at length. The notes from the conversation are summarised as follows:
Across all OCUs that record crime, officers chance it asking for no crimes, but it remains most prevalent in respect of sexual offences.
CMU are ” the ethical conscience of the command” and are actively raising this issue and doing their best with limited resource to ensure it is ‘kept to a minimum’.
CRIs are known to be a problem and subsequently are now reviewed as a matter of course.
Normally a CRI is recorded properly because the initial report is third party, but they are finding after four weeks or so of investigation (20-50 pages of dets) that these CRIs are crimes and should have reclassified to reflect this much earlier. This should be picked up during reviews too.
It is known that officers are keeping CRI cases as such until they achieve disposal, to keep them off the figures (until it is a positive).
In part the problem is ignorance of the counting rules and record standards.
Within SCD5 the bulk of the issue relating to No Crime is officers not understanding the counting rules, though “it appears to be the perception that serious sexual offences being undetected is a dirty word, so the preference has developed to try and justify no crime on the basis of MH -or similar -issues, or no disclosure (or confirmation) by
Within SCD2 the No Crime issue appears to be “strategic investigation to justify the no crime”. This was expressed as officers visiting victims with the result of “Oh I see what you mean, perhaps I haven’t been raped”
Alarmingly the conversation concluded as follows: “What happened in Southwark is still happening”
I was horrified because this meant that the extent of the problem was not only well known, but accepted as the norm.
22. I continued with the research, expanding it to a random sample of eighty-six sexual offence CRIs from May 2013, to ensure that it was current behaviour that was subject to scrutiny. The total list was sifted to focus on Rape offences only. This produced a random list eighteen Rape offences, a sample size of just under twenty-one percent. Twelve out of eighteen (almost seventy percent) were identified as crimes and should not have been recorded as CRI. At this point I had already made a recommendation to refer the matters raised to the HMIC for external scrutiny, as I saw this as the only safe way forward; the only way to ensure the matter was explored relentlessly. At the Crime Fighters meeting itself I attended to take notes of the response to the single, “No Crime slide”. A significant topic was raised at the outset, by the OCU Commander, regarding staff resourcing. He stated that there are currently seventy-eight unfilled vacancies in the Command and also over one hundred absences, including one third of the officers trained to deal with sexual offence victims. These resourcing issues are a significant concern in such a high risk business area. The Chief Superintendent and his predecessor then went on to deny that there was any abuse of No Crime or CRI, that the internal audit system confirmed this, and pointed to historic references to the same behaviour outside of London. Knowing that the statistical data showed a distinct and current problem, and being aware of the national issues, I consulted the Force Crime Registrar and disturbingly found that Rape was prioritised well under petty theft and subsequently was not regularly audited at all due to the volume of work. It also came to light that Boroughs had been running “poster campaigns” forbidding the logging of robbery crimes, unless victims could provide serial numbers. This is a horrendous practice and the full extent of it was not explored further in the course of my enquiries purely on the basis of time constraints. It was later found that the Met had been aware of this situation for up to eight years and that recent, internal academic research had also concluded that victims were in essence disbelieved and in particular where they were vulnerable. The attitude of the police officers themselves was highlighted as part of the problem.
23. Points 18-22 are a regrettably short explanation of what was discovered but it is important to relay what happened when the resultant report was compiled and submitted. I worked through this issue in matter of two weeks in July 2013 and submitted it through my own line management. They barely flinched and this prompted me to deliver it in person to an ACPO ranking Commander at Scotland Yard. Due to the serious potential for mass misconduct to be uncovered I forwarded the information to the Directorate of Professional Standards, receiving an eventual reply that they would “look into it” (but only after I chased them up around a fortnight later). I could not have expected what happened next on my best of days. I was called to an office at Scotland Yard, asked why I didn’t want people to like me, told that people were “pissed off”, that “noses were out of joint”, practically called a “madman” and asked why I had referred the matter to the Directorate of Professional Standards; asked what I hoped to achieve as “they [Standards] were a bit aloof as to what they were supposed to do with it”. I was told that the report would not go further unless it was edited. To say that I remain mortified is an understatement; to say that I had the capacity to be more so than I already was, remains a complete surprise.
24. By this point I have developed, what is potentially, a unique understanding of the defects in the police “whistleblowing” mechanism. The most simplistic is effectively a double bind in the regulations themselves. The Schedule of Standards of Professional Behaviour make sensible provisions for Honesty and Integrity, and Challenging Improper Behaviour. Problematic is the further provision relating to Discreditable Conduct. In circumstances such as my own, for example, it is possible to preserve honesty and to challenge, but not without potentially causing discredit to the service. The further failure in the mechanism lies within Section 29 of
the Police Reform Act 2002 which prevents police officers from making complaints to the IPCC about any officers within their own force. Effectively this pushes officers back into the primary “Catch 22″ of the regulations, or ensures that it is their own force which deals with their own problems. The results of this are clear even in my own potted history, but can also be distastefully illustrated by the unravelling of Hillsborough and the undercover policing scandal. The stance of police leadership, ACPO, was made abundantly clear in the statement last December of Andy Trotter, in which he said “Most whistleblowers are airing grievances…Most whistleblowing is internal gossip and attempts to embarrass others in the organisation”. I have personally been told, by a very senior officer, that whistleblowing is looked upon as a “breach of trust and confidence”. As long as this persists nothing can ever change for the better and cover ups will inevitably continue.
25. The police promotion system has, for a number of years, operated by seeking examples of “improvements” or “reductions”, such as those represented statistically which relate to crimes or resource. This method, known at the lower end of the promotion process in the “Met” by the acronym “TOWBA”, is set to become the preferred method of promotion nationally. It involves set achievements within a managed learning framework. It drives such perversion as putting officers through performance management, not because it is necessarily warranted but because it is a “required development objective”. Sadly within this some of the candidates seek to settle personal issues, while others simply ask for “volunteers”. For me one of the most terrifying aspects of what I have discovered is that all of those who have obtained the pecuniary advantage of promotion, in at least the last eight years, must now be investigated. Nobody in the police is exempt from the knowledge of manipulation in statistics (whether they be crime, resource or otherwise) and anyone who says they are is either a liar, or so foolishly uninquisitive that it begs a clear question as to their suitably suitability for the office held. Even stupidity remains no excuse. With the specialist knowledge all officers have, not least including the Fraud Act or Misconduct in a Public Office and Corruption offences at Common Law, there certainly does not exist any ignorance as to the implication of making personal gains in this way. To say it bluntly, no single officer from the rank of Sergeant to Chief Constable or Commissioner can be exempted from suspicion of not only police misconduct, but of serious criminal offences. It is of little surprise that the discussion of these topics is so uncomfortable that it is often muted or mooted, in particular by those more senior where the personal gains have been more prolonged and substantial. Knowing this can do nothing but further darken the meaning behind the attitude to, and statements about, police whistleblowers.
26. As stated at the outset, I have overrun the generally accepted word count of the Committee, for which I apologise profusely, but the points raised are the barest bones of my experience since 2004. I am hugely grateful for any grace granted. There are, sensibly, only two recommendations that I can make at this point and refuse to abuse the opportunity by asking for any assistance in respect of my own position.
27. Firstly, if given the opportunity, I would plead with the Government to remove Section 29 of the Police Reform Act 2002 and at the same time bolster the IPCC for the increased level of incoming reports that would inevitably follow. Simultaneously I would recommend that “Professional Standards” departments be dissolved with a complete budgetary and functionary transfer to the IPCC -most importantly without any of the existing staff contingent. While there may be loud resistance to -or quiet words against -this, I would urge that it is the only way to ever effectively watch the watchmen -though immediately the Government must establish a method by which the new IPCC is monitored. Nothing involving both power and humans is or ever has been immune to corruption and perversion, without exception.
28. The second recommendation is that a full, public inquiry into policing is held, bringing together all currently outstanding matters, and that the areas including crime recording are
investigated, with a singular intention of making sure that this never happens, not to anyone, ever again. Misconduct investigations that invariably will arise must be doggedly pursued by the IPCC and not by any police force under their supervision, no matter how against the grain that may at first appear to rub.
29. I recognise the fragility of my own position, writing this on top of everything else, but I have no qualms in concluding by quoting Frank Serpico, having had personal contact with the man himself. His words all those years ago at the Knapp Commission are in essence my own now: “I hope that police officers in the future will not experience the same frustration and anxiety that I was subjected to at the hands of my superiors because of my attempt to report corruption. I was made to feel that I had burdened them. The problem is that the atmosphere does not yet exist in which an honest police officer can act without fear of ridicule or reprisal from fellow officers. Police corruption cannot exist unless it is at least tolerated at higher levels. Therefore, the most important result is a conviction by police officers that the
department will change”.
30. I thank the Committee for their time in reading and their consideration of this written evidence, and I also welcome any questions that the Committee may wish to ask. I am happy to be called before the Committee at their convenience.
I’m sure that even those of you have never been by employed within a Police Service in any capacity can see just what James is risking here.
Thank you James, and thank you @OccupyPolice for allowing me to reproduce your item.