Police overstated violent crime figures

PUBLISHED: 11:23 23 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010

GUIDANCE on reporting serious violent crimes has been misinterpreted by Herts Police, leading to a number of offences being classified wrongly. Errors in the logging of serious violent crimes within the correct category have been revealed in 18 police for

GUIDANCE on reporting serious violent crimes has been misinterpreted by Herts Police, leading to a number of offences being classified wrongly.

Errors in the logging of serious violent crimes within the correct category have been revealed in 18 police forces across the country. But while most have been under-reporting such offences, Herts Police have said that they have over-reported the number of crimes falling into this category.

A spokesperson said that in the six months from April to September 2008 the police recorded 39 offences as serious violent crimes when they should have been classified as less serious offences.

She explained that the force had misinterpreted guidance from the Government over the classification criteria of violent crimes. However the issue did not affect overall violent crime figures. She said that there had been a 21 per cent decrease in violent crime between 2007 and 2008 and that there has been a further decline of 10 per cent since April 2008 - a total of around 5,000 fewer offences.

She added: "Despite not being required to do so by the Home Office we have reviewed and resubmitted all of our serious violent crime figures to the Home Office for the period concerned. We continue to review and monitor all crimes of this category."

LibDem prospective Parliamentary candidate for St Albans, Sandy Walkington, said he knew many local people were concerned about violent crime despite the county being one of the safest in the UK.

He said the situation would be made worse if people felt police statistics were not reliable and added: "We have to be able to trust local crime statistics. The absolute and unquestioned reliability of Government figures has to be one of the cornerstones of democracy - and yet again we have been let down.

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