Statistics expert rebukes Tories

By staff

The debate over the Conservatives’ use of crime statistics has seen a leading expert brand the party misleading.

Sir Michael Scholar, chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, waded into the debate over the Conservative’s use of crime stats, saying the comparison of surveys with different methodologies could mislead the public.

“It would not be appropriate for the authority to seek to intervene in political debate directly,” he said.

“However, where we see that official statistics have been presented or quoted in a way that seems likely to mislead the public, we will publicly draw this to the attention of those involved.”

Chris Grayling, shadow home secretary, had suggested violent crime soared under Labour, but he failed to mention that the method for compiling the British Crime Survey had changed.

Previously, police had decided whether an incident would be recorded as a violent crime, but new methods mean the victims themselves are now asked, prompting a swift 35% rise in recorded violent crime in the first year.

“These are figures which have been used by us, by the Liberal Democrats, by the Home Office and by the BBC to illustrate crime trends since Labour came to power,” Mr Grayling fought back.

“Like everyone else we will continue to use recorded crime statistics because they reflect an important reality; that the number of violent crimes reported to police stations, and particularly serious violent crimes, has increased substantially over the past decade, even taking into account any changes to data collection. The Home Office itself admits this in its internal documents.”

Under Jacqui Smith, the Home Office also faced criticism for misquoting crime statistics.