We shouldn’t believe statistics showing a phenomenal drop in Great Britain’s violent crime rate since it banned the possession of virtually all handguns. A new report suggests you can make surveys, polls and statistics say pretty much anything you want them to — it’s just a question of how you manipulate the data.
Each time CNN host Piers Morgan goes on one of his anti-Second Amendment rants, he brings up Great Britain’s rapidly declining crime rate in the years since its 1997 handgun ban. The problem is, even the Brits are beginning to believe the statistics are too good to be true, given their own experience.
“One in three [British subjects] had been a victim of crime, or knew someone well who had been, within the last year,” and “nearly half (45%) knew of someone in their community who had been a victim in the last year,” Louise Casey, most recently the U.K.’s first Victim’s Commissioner, wrote in a 2008 survey, according to AmmoLand.
Professor Adam Smith took note of speculation over faulty statistics in a report commissioned by the Home Office secretary. According to AmmoLand, Smith wrote:
“The Home Secretary is concerned that public trust in the crime statistics produced by the Home Office has declined to such an extent that it is no longer possible to have a debate about alternative criminal justice policies on the basis of agreed facts about the trends in crime.
Casey’s report also said that “a very significant number [of British subjects] expressed concerns about coming forward more generally to intervene, report crime or give evidence.”
As well they should.
The AmmoLand story suggested that the United Kingdom is skewing its crime statistics.
“Officers now fear that speaking out about scandals, mistakes and other serious issues – including pressure from senior officers to massage crime figures – will lead to disciplinary measures or the sack,” the AmmoLand said in quoting the UK Telegraph.
As a result, “bobbies find themselves under huge pressure about how to record crime,” Steve Williams, head of the 130,000-member Police Federation, told AmmoLand.
The AmmoLand report also said:
In the British category known as “no crime,” which is similar to our deemed “unfounded” category, in which a reported crime can be removed from the statistics under certain circumstances, a complex social dance occurs. The North Yorkshire Police, following the National Crime Recording Standard, report that in many “no crime” cases, a Crime Recording and Occurrence Management (CROM) unit, or a Force Crime and Incident Registrar (FCIR), or a Dedicated Decision Maker (DDM) is required to correct the record and change the crime to a “no crime” category.
Add to that the fact that Great Britain’s bureaucracy requires as many as five people — an officer, a crime screener, a crime manager, an auditor and a supervisor — to handle a single incident report, from recording the information to reporting it as a crime. And there is plenty of opportunity to remove it from the crime category.
“Targets for reducing crime were perceived to lead to pressure to down-grade priority crimes to non-performance managed crime types,” another report, this one from 2011, by Alistair Fildes and Andy Myhill. Examples included “Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) to common assault, robbery to theft, or burglary to criminal damage.”
So, the next time Morgan rails against “Americans who love their guns” and brings up British crime statistics, nod your head, smile knowingly and softly say, “bullocks!”