Monday, July 14, 2014

Juking the stats II

Last week we learned that police were juking the domestic violence stats by refusing to prosecute people. But that's not the only area where they're fixing the numbers:

Police altered official crime statistics to make hundreds of burglaries disappear, a Herald on Sunday investigation has found.

A damning report obtained by the newspaper reveals the burglaries were instead recorded as more minor crimes, or as incidents, which are not counted in crime statistics at all.

Five police staff, including then area commander Gary Hill, were sanctioned over the incident, and an "extremely disappointed" Police Minister, Anne Tolley, has moved to reassure the public this is an isolated incident.

The stat-juking took place between 2009 and 2012. Judith Collins - who was police Minister at the time, and crowed about how crime had fallen in the area - admits she was told about it at the time but hushed the whole thing up. According to her, the leak is "political". But its more than that.

Crime stats are a tier 1 statistic - something "of high public interest" and "essential to critical decision-making" which therefore requires long-term, impartial, accurate statistics. Manipulating these statistics may mean we get policy based not on evidence, but on lies. The people who manipulated them almost certainly violated the Statistics Act 1975, and offence for which they could be prosecuted. Insofar as they were paid bonuses or advanced based on their "success" reflected in these false statistics, they may also have committed fraud. But naturally, no-one was charged, because the police do not think they are subject to the same laws they enforce on others. But the net result is again to further undermine the public standing of the police, and therefore their ability to do their jobs effectively...