Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Mail's reporting of crime statistics questioned

In January, the Mail published this article on the August riots:

The UK Statistics Authority released a Monitoring Brief (pdf) on 20 March which looked into the Mail's article and concluded:

the reporting of this information by the Daily Mail is likely to have left its readers with the impression that far fewer crimes were recorded as a result of the disorder in August than was actually the case.

The Mail's article - by Jack Doyle and Graham Smith - began:

The riots that left whole neighbourhoods up and down the country in a state of ruin last August were the worst civil disturbances for a generation. But reading crime figures released yesterday, it is almost as if the five days of widespread looting and violence never took place.

But the UK Statistics Authority said:

The Daily Mail article quoted the correct number of specific offences of disorder recorded by the police, but did not give the numbers of the other offences that it used to illustrate the disorder in each area. These included serious violent offences (such as murder), criminal damage (e.g. to buildings, cars and arson offences), and acquisitive crimes (such as burglary, robbery, vehicle and other theft).


The Daily Mail went on to correctly note, but question, the way in which the Home Office Counting Rules govern the recording of riot, public order offences and violent disorder by police forces. In some cases the Mail’s reporting is likely to have left readers with the impression that far fewer crimes were recorded as a result of the events in August than was actually the case. For example, the article says that in Croydon the Metropolitan Police only recorded 7 disorder offences, while in fact a total of 430 offences were recorded. The total number of offences that were recorded by the ten police forces that experienced more extensive disorder (recording 20 or more disorder-related offences) was 5,112. This total includes the 141 specific offences of disorder, as well as more than 2,500 acquisitive crimes, 1,800 offences of criminal damage and 360 violent offences.

(Hat-tip to journalism.co.uk)

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