‘Misleading’ – stats agency lambasts ministers over omission of computer crime from figures
MP expressed concern that government’s claims overlooked ‘a large, serious and growing area of crime’
Credit: Kat Wilcox/Pexels
The UK Statistics Authority has criticised the Home Office, home secretary Priti Patel and prime minister Boris Johnson over “misleading” comments suggesting crime has gone down.
Responding to a letter from MP Alistair Carmichael, which raised concern about the comments, UKSA chair Sir David Norgrove said the figures had been presented “in a misleading way”.
Norgrove responded: “I agree that ONS measures of crime must be used accurately, and not misrepresented. In this case, the Home Office news release presented the latest figures in a misleading way. The Home Office news release in two places presented the statistics to give a positive picture of trends in crime in England and Wales, based on a fall in total crime excluding fraud and computer misuse. The exclusion was stated. However, in the title and in two other places the release refers to a fall in crime, without making clear that this is true only if fraud and computer misuse are excluded.”
Four days later, on January 31, the prime minister also claimed the government "has been cutting crime by 14%" . Norgrove said he did not make clear that this excluded fraud and computer misuses.
“The ONS bulletin quite properly includes fraud and computer misuse in total crime,” Norgrove added.
He also agreed with Carmichael that the Home Office news release should have acknowledged that the pandemic and lockdown restrictions were the main drivers of recent crime trends, rather than solely attributing falling crime to the government’s Beating Crime Plan.
UKSA has written to the Home Office, the PM and the home secretary to “draw their attention to this exchange”.
The Home Office had not responded to a request fro comment from Public Technology sister publication Civil Service World at time of going to press.
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