Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The cost of stat-juking

The Scottish government is to cease publishing crime statistics. Why? Because they've been manipulated so much that they're simply not reliable:

SCOTTISH Ministers are proposing to wash their hands of recorded crime statistics amid claims the figures are routinely manipulated by police.


However, as revealed by the Sunday Herald, the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) refused to rubber the stamp the Government's crime stats last year.

"We conclude that the statistics do not currently comply with several elements of the Code of Practice," the body noted.

The watchdog added that the Scottish Government should seek "strong levels of assurance" about the quality of the figures, but warned: "This report concludes that the Scottish Government lacks sufficient evidence to be able to provide such appropriate reassurance."

The correct course of action would of course be to fix the problem, by ensuring those statistics are reliable. Ending political pressure on the police to lie would be the start of that process. Instead, the Scottish government plans to keep up that pressure, and just shift responsibility for the statistics entirely to the police - allowing them to encourage lies while washing their hands of the consequences. The public should have no confidence at all in the result.

Meanwhile, this bit is eerily familiar:
Police sources said the recorded total was deliberately kept low by crimes being left as "incidents" by officers and kept off the books.

Officers are said to be using their "discretionary powers", such as verbal warnings, to stop incidents being upgraded to crimes.

In other cases, it has been alleged that victims of crime decline to pursue complaints after being told by officers that they will have to give evidence in court.

The violent crime figures can also be manipulated by recording serious assault as common assault, the latter of which is a lesser category.

Or, as Prez put it:
"Juking the stats ... Making robberies into larcenies. Making rapes disappear. You juke the stats, and majors become colonels. I've been here before."

The consequence, of course, is that police resources get misallocated, because they're tailored to an increasingly false picture of reality. The Soviets found out that you couldn't run an economy like that; how long will it be until the west realises you can't run a democracy like that either?