MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Crime Statistics

Reform’s crime figures, which came out today, are both interesting and illuminating. Using the 2001 census and the Freedom of Information Act, they came to their conclusions using a per 1000 ratio. The statistics are far more interpretable than the government’s official ones. And, they give a clearer picture of crime hotspots. There are some questions about the validity of the study, due to the difficulty of getting accurate population figures, and which areas qualify as parts of certain towns. Nonetheless, these are still a very useful set of statistics. The part that was most interesting to me was that Stockport, the town nearest to where I live, is the third most crime-ridden in the country. I am saddened to say that this does not surprise me.

The figures have unsurprisingly elicited an all too familiar response from politicians, and politicised police chiefs. In particular, Nottingham city council’s response was risible. Their city has an exceptionally high crime rate, whichever way they want to split hairs. Adding in less crime-ridden suburbs, does not reduce the number of crimes committed. I can understand that they don't want businesses and prosepctive university students to be scared away by the study. But, the fact that they didn't even seem to admit that they had a serious problem, shows them in a very bad light.

The other main fallacy is the view that these figures are engineering a ‘fear of crime’, out of proportion to the actual level of offences. However, this view treats the public like fools. People believe that there is an increase in crime because of their personal experiences of crime. The Guardianista view that people in crimeless suburbs pick up the Daily Mail and start foaming at the mouth, proclaiming loudly ‘that this country has gone to the dogs’, is both arrogant and ignorant. To deny people the ability to view transparent crime statistics, based upon the view that we don’t want to scaremonger, is simply not an acceptable view. In fact it’s a positively Stalinesque proposal.


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