Changes in the way crimes have to be recorded give the distorted impression that acts of violence are on the rise, Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping said today.
In the last 12 months, Home Office recording rules have required Nottinghamshire Police to log incidents like staring and offensive texts within the violent crime category. “Additions like these create a knock-on effect of increasing the fear of crime,” the Commissioner pointed out.
“What it does is distort the picture of violence in our county, the result being that the figures go up and the fear of crime goes up. Labelling such matters as ‘violent’ serves no good purpose for a public trying to make sense of the crime rate.
“While I accept that incidents like these might have the potential to lead to violence, I do think they should be put in an entirely different category to those causing physical harm.”
He highlighted a number of Nottinghamshire incidents recorded in the violence band of offences and which he believed would puzzle many members of the public. These include:
- A child reported being stared at by the parent of another child at school. A crime of harassment was recorded.
- Caller reports receiving unwanted text messages from a family member. Messages are not abusive or threatening. One crime of harassment recorded.
- Following an argument between colleagues at a factory, a victim accidentally came across conversations on Facebook that were about him, but not aimed at him. One crime of harassment recorded.
- Man phones when in drink to report an assault. He then refuses to speak to police or give any details. One crime of assault recorded.
- Two women were arguing. One swiped a teddy bear in the face of the victim and the hard nose of the bear hit her cheek causing stinging. Recorded as common assault.
- Victim reports being involved in a play fight which resulted in a bruise on his left arm. Crime of assault recorded.
“Common sense should dictate that putting these incidents in the ‘violent’ band simply muddies the waters when it comes to giving the public a clear view of the crime rate and how safe from harm they are,” the Commissioner said.
Current Home Office rules mean that as soon as the basic principles for crime recording are satisfied a crime is recorded. It is a victim-centred standard which means that to justify not recording a crime there must be credible evidence to show it has not taken place. This means, said Mr Tipping, that many forces, including Nottinghamshire, have seen a rise in the logging of violent crime.
Latest figures – yet to be ratified – for Nottinghamshire indicate that crime has risen by 8.9 per cent (year to date), amounting to a rise of 1055 recorded crimes. Violent crime has risen by 34.1 per cent – a rise of 856 recorded crimes. Based on previous years, this means that Nottinghamshire Police is seeing about three months’ worth of violent crime in the space of two months.
In the same period robbery, burglary and vehicle crime have all fallen.
Other examples of the change in rules concern the new notifiable offence of Malicious Communications, leading to an increase in harassment figures. Most of these offences involve people sending offensive texts. Previously dealt with as a ‘non-crime,’ 196 extra offences have fallen into the volume violence band in Nottinghamshire since mid-April.
There have also been a number of new notifiable offences introduced under the dangerous dogs act, resulting in more than 50 crimes being recorded.
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Posted on Friday 3rd July 2015