Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The consequences of juking the stats

One of the modern diseases of management is statistics-based management practices. Collect statistics, set targets, and punish the underperformers. Theoretically this creates an incentive for people to improve performance. in reality, it creates an incentive to juke the stats to create the illusion of performance. In the average office, that doesn't matter - it makes no difference in the great scheme of things how many reports you process (in fact, you could say that about most office jobs). But when you apply such techniques to policing, it means police stop investigating rapes:

Rape victims were pressured to withdraw their allegations by a specialist [London] Metropolitan police unit as officers tried to gerrymander their performance statistics, the report found.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the Sapphire unit at Southwark had failed victims. Women reporting rapes and sexual assaults were encouraged to withdraw their allegations, it said.

The watchdog said its investigation followed cases in 2008, when the Southwark Sapphire unit was performing poorly and under pressure to improve.

The report found women were questioned repeatedly by a detective about whether they had consented to sex. They were encouraged to withdraw their complaints, which boosted the unit's sanctioned detection rate.

The rape allegations were not recorded by police.

The IPCC calls this "wholly inappropriate" and "deeply disturbing". One could say the same about the management practices which led to this abuse.

Meanwhile, I am wondering whether the New Zealand police use such methods - and if so, whether we will learn of similar horror stories here.