Police ‘under recording violent crime’

Thirteen police forces have been wrongly classifying serious crime, the Home Office has admitted.

Crime statistics released today for the period between April and June show serious violent crime rose dramatically – by 22 per cent – compared to last year, after the figures were reclassified.

Speaking on the BBC, home secretary Jacqui Smith refused to name the police forces which had been wrongly classifying serious crime or how long it had been going on.

Ms Smith said the Home Office had decided to look in detail at how the elements of violent crime were recorded.

She said the government was “concerned about serious violence”, explaining “that’s why we went back to make sure we were counting it properly”.

Keith Bristow, Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead for violence and public protection, said: “The impact of changes made to the way in which some crime is recorded will make uncomfortable reading.”

Overall, crime was down six per cent during the period, with violent crime down seven per cent.

There were almost 18,000 fewer violent crimes compared to the same period last year and a 22 per cent in firearm offences.

In a pre-prepared statement from the Home Office, Ms Smith added: “Last year we reduced police targets to give them greater flexibility to deal with local crime problems and to prioritise tackling most serious violence.

“We revised offence categories for recording the most serious violence and clarified our guidance to police forces. This change means that this quarter’s figures are not comparable with last year’s.”