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New measures to improve the way in which crime figures are recorded ...
New measures to improve the way in which crime figures are recorded

and published have been announced by home secretary Jack Straw.

The changes, which were recommended by a joint Home Office/Association of Chief Police Officers working party, will be the first major revision to the coverage and counting rules since 1980.

By changing both the counting rules and the coverage it is hoped that

the new measures for counting crime will be carried out in a more

meaningful and reliable way.

Under the present rules, which have attracted some criticism, a

string of offences by one offender can be counted as one crime.

The aim of the counting rule revisions is broadly to adhere as

closely as possible to the principle of 'one crime per victim'.

Equating the number of crimes recorded to the number of victims will

lead to greater accuracy and more honesty in the figures. This more

accurate picture is likely to reflect the figures in the British

Crime Survey.

The changes to coverage give a less arbitrary view of notifiable

offences, with clearer rules for determining whether new and revised

offences should be notifiable. The coverage will also be expanded to

include all indictable and triable either way offences. The new

framework will provide greater clarity in deciding how to treat new

or revised offences.

Speaking at a Police Federation meeting in Brighton, Mr Straw said:

'I very much welcome the recommendations of the joint Home Office/ACPO working party on ways to improve the recorded crime figures.

'The government is pledged to strengthen the independence of

the National Statistical Service, and to improve the integrity of

official statistics. In the home office recorded crime statistics are

a top priority.

'Over the years the crime figures have attracted particular

criticism. Recorded crime figures can never give a complete picture

of crime but better information is essential if the police and other

agencies are to have effective policies to tackle crime.

'This new system will give a more accurate picture of the levels of crime which we are facing today. And I believe it will be a more honest and open system too.'

Mr Straw also said that publication dates would be set according to a

fixed formula. In future it will no longer be possible for political

considerations to influence publication dates.

He added:

'I want to take the politics out of crime statistics. Ministers

have traditionally given detailed briefing when the crime figures are

published. But in future, the director of research and statistics

will give the briefing which will ensure a more balanced and

impartial approach.'

Welcoming the measures to improve the recorded crime statistics, ACPO

crime committee spokesman and chief constable of West Mercia David

Blakey said:

'These changes make sense. By defining more clearly what is a

'crime', and the way multiple crimes should be recorded, a more

robust and useful set of figures will become available.'

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