Monday, 15 March 2010

Crime Confusion Stirs Fresh Controversy

Anna Roberts reports on the latest batch of crime statistics released by Thames Valley Police.

The headline figure shows crime in general to have fallen by 7%, while robbery and vehicle theft has fallen considerably. 18,934 crimes were reported in the 11 months to the end of February 2010, which compares with 20,310 and 21,010 in the same period in 2009 and 2008.

Reading's Superintendent Jim Weems said 'things are going in the right direction' as these figures showed a three year decline in crime reports in the area.

However Thames Valley Police recieved a 'poor' rating on crime detection in its' annual assessment by HM Inspectorate of Police as the authority was given an overall 'fair' rating.

Thames Valley Chief Constable Sara Thornton responded by explaining that Police priorities have shifted as the policy of recent years has emphasised crime reduction and efforts to improve confidence and satisfaction with the service they provide.

Crime statistics are a highly contentious area as they are increasingly politicised by different parties in an attempt to make political capital out of them. Recently Conservatives were strongly criticised for building a climate of fear ahead of the general election, so it was a positive move to see Superintendent Weems get involved in the discussion on managing crime statistics.

He highlighted the force's online crime mapping tool, which is becoming a powerful weapon in the fight against crime, although this only began to satisfy the critics.

Yet a variety of commenters suggested there is a problem with community engagement that leads to reduced reporting of offences and this may be distorting the statistics and undermining their relevance.

Perhaps Superintendent Weems missed an opportunity to advertise Thames Valley Police's online crime reporting tool - you can find it here: -


Update: Anna Roberts notices her oversight and does a good job picking up the pieces. Now I wonder where she got that from?

Oranjepan says:
The crime profile of an area is a constantly changing challenge: governments will always say they are tackling problems, while oppositions will always say they are not or that more can be done.

But there will always be crimes so long as there are criminals, and there will always be criminals so long as reform is required.


More stories about local crime issues

The Office for National Statistics produces more statistical reports on crime


  1. Gid,
    I think the main thing I want to say here is that we need a proper 'law & order' debate - ie one which isn't hijacked by people with axes to grind, or at least if it is that it's equally balanced on the opposing sides.

    I also have to say I think the Police force is put in a difficult position by their political masters because of the multiple roles they are expected to perform. Prevention and detection are two sides of the same coin, both requiring greater community engagement from the force and from the public.

    The increase in coercive and interventionist law has grown up out of a percieved need to fill the lack of engagement, but in my view actually makes the problem worse as it mitigates against closer cooperation in the community.

    So I can say I was pleased that Super Weems joined in the discussion, but I don't think a couple of comments in an online thread will change much alone - that is something which needs a much wider debate.

  2. Gideon Mack Orangutan16 March 2010 at 16:25

    I'll grind my axe elsewhere.

  3. Gideon Mack Orangutan17 March 2010 at 16:17

    Oranj - the sooner people realise that it is not the job of the Police to help anyone, the better. Their job is to capture people doing illegal things and hand them over to the CPS to let them off - job done.

    Please don't think for one minute this is an anti Police comment - it's not. The fact is that no-one in Britain is guilty of a crime - all perps are victims of a bad upbringing, an enforced drug habit etc etc and as such all are worthy of either a suspended sentance or let off.

  4. Gideon Mack Orangutan17 March 2010 at 16:18

    I regret to inform you that these figures do not show a decrease in crime, merely the public's realisation that neither Thames Valley Police nor the CPS are going to do anything about it.

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