Back in 2006, Tim Blair declared
I’d lean towards the official police figures myself (although jerked-around crime counting methods make comparisons problematic), mainly because they’re, you know, official police figures. The British Crime Survey is just a survey.
Alas, he backed the wrong horse, as this story from the BBC proves:
Police miscount serious violence
A number of police forces in England and Wales have been undercounting some of the most serious violent crimes, the government has admitted.
It means figures for serious violent crimes rose by 22% compared to last year – rather than showing a fall as previous figures appeared to indicate. …
However, the revised figures still show that overall crime and overall violent crime remain down on last year – a finding backed by the results of the British Crime Survey (BCS), also released on Thursday.
The BCS, which is a study of the experiences of victims, rather than police records, shows an overall decrease of 6% in the number of crimes compared to last year.
Crime has been falling in almost every developed nation, regardless of the specific crime-busting approaches by different governments.
So while six out of 10 people think crime is rising nationally, the risk of being a victim is at its lowest level since the BCS began in 1981. The statisticians report goes on to note that those most likely to say crime has risen a lot are also most likely to read a tabloid. And that’s a damning sideswipe at the media that ministers would never be prepared to make.
When he learned how unreliable the police figures were, tabloid journalist Tim Blair admitted he was wrong and posted a correction. Well, not exactly.