The crime statistics are out, and yet again, journalists have chosen to bypass the BCS in favour of reported crime: “Robberies up 6% but crime stable” claims the BBC. Well actually, personal acquisative crime is up by a statistically insignificant 1%.
As has been pointed out since time immemorial, an increase in the reported crime figure could have just as much to do with the policy doing their job as it has to do with an actual increase in crime. The BCS may not be perfect, but it is pretty hard to deny that it is a lot more reliable than the reported crime figure.
It always confounds me why the media leap at every single opinion poll statistic, which might only be from a sample of 1,000 (or in the case of the recent Lib Dem leadership election, as low at 400), while confine reporting of the BCS to the end of each article.
And before you think this is a “be nice to the safety elephant” post, it isn’t because he is guilty of playing exactly the same game. His press release statement is as follows: “Much of the work we are doing is aimed at tackling not just crime itself, but also perceptions of crime.” Well, on that case mate, you are failing as people as 17% of people are “very worried” about crime – a slight increase – despite it being at an all time low. “Anti-social behaviour issues are clearly matters of increasing concern for many people in England and Wales,” er, no they aren’t – overall, perceived anti-social behaviour has stabilised, “but as we roll out the measures introduced in the Respect action plan, I am confident that more people will begin to feel safer.”
Blair and Clarke’s crusade to “eradicate the scourge of anti-social behaviour” is futile because the list of things they are seeking to eradicate include “teenagers hanging around,” “people being rowdy” and “litter.” All the mission to treat such things as the most heinous of crimes will achieve is to make people feel less safe and less empowered. In short the Respect Agenda would be better described as the Blind Fear Agenda. As such, we will doubtless see the discrepency between actual crime and perceived crime continue.
Nick Clegg is about to face his first test in my book: will he play his predecessors’ game of crowing about the recorded crime figure in his press release today? We shall see.