July 14 2024
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Whistleblower’s Diary: lying pandas & dodgy crime stats

Whistleblower’s Diary: lying pandas & dodgy crime stats

Panda cub, by Marc Blickle from Flickr

Panda cub, by Marc Blickle from Flickr

I have never trusted Pandas. They look way too sad to not be found hanging on a much more regular basis; that leaves us with the other, frankly much more worrying, truth behind them: they are accomplished liars.

Behind those big, sad eyes, is plain old mischief, as so clearly proven last week by the Panda who ‘pretended to be pregnant‘ in order to get more food.

This little bugger didn’t even look up and to the left as it duped the world…though this does beg a question: how did the park keepers communicate with it? Did it start knitting baby booties and shouting at people, then crying while shovelling chocolate-coated gherkins down its throat? Did it sit and pat its tummy and regale them with tales about how much its grapes were killing it?

These are important questions, and yet no one has answered them.

Obviously, it’s not only endangered species that are full of shit. The British Crime Survey has been shown to be the biggest load of codswallop since, well, police recorded crime: it turns out that the survey underestimates crime by around a half, by just ignoring it… like the police.

Marion FitzGerald, visiting professor of criminology at the University of Kent, argued that claims of ever-falling crime were misleading because the crime survey excluded card fraud. Professor FitzGerald told The Times: ‘Ministers were readily persuaded that the crime survey represented a “gold standard” for measuring crime when it started to show a continuous fall from the time Labour took office in 1997. As patterns of crime have changed over the last 20 years or more, the crime survey failed to track these changes and so it has continued to tell a story which is music to ministers’ ears.’

It was reported that Professor FitzGerald’s analysis prompted the Office for National Statistics. You can see the ONS here – headline findings below.

Statisticians said that the plastic card fraud figures were not included ‘due to conceptual difficulties with assigning victimisation’. Pandas do not have conceptual difficulties, they just lie.

I’m not going to say anything more about this, in this column, other than:


So, there we have it…Pandas are lying little turds and the British Crime Survey isn’t even fit for use as their bog roll.

Anyway, I’m off to Mexico, now confirmed, to speak to their police forces about perverse incentives and data manipulation. I fly out on the 22nd, courtesy of the US Embassy and Mexican Federal Police, to deliver a seminar and Q&A session on the 23rd.

As soon as I’m back, well pretty soon after anyway, I’ll also be in London, attending a charity event for Public Concern At Work to introduce a special screening of Serpico.

All of a sudden, things are looking more and more interesting every single day…


  • According to the Crime Survey, there were an estimated 7.3 million incidents of crime against households and resident adults (aged 16 and over) in England and Wales for the year ending March 2014 – a 14% decrease compared with last year and the lowest estimate since the survey began in 1981:
  • Violence saw a 20% fall, criminal damage fell by 17%, and thefts decreased by 10%;
  • By contrast, police recorded crime showed no overall change from the previous year, with 3.7 million offences recorded in the year ending March 2014. Prior to this police recorded crime figures have shown year on year reductions since 2002/03;
  • Both sets of figures have shown falls in crime since 2002/03 – police recorded crime has fallen at a faster rate than the Crime Survey which (as the ONS puts it) ‘has raised questions about the quality of crime recording by the police’;
  • For the last year, the ONS reckoned the ‘pattern has changed’ with recorded crime showing a similar level of crime compared with the previous year while the survey continued to fall. ‘The renewed focus on the quality of crime recording by the police is likely to have prompted improved compliance with crime recording standards in some police forces, leading to a higher proportion of reported crimes being recorded,’ said the ONS. This was reckoned to have ‘particularly impacted’ the police recorded figures for violence against the person (up 6%) and public order offences (up 2%).
  • The number of police recorded shoplifting offences revealed a 7% increase compared with the previous year. ‘Anecdotal evidence from police forces suggests that this rise is likely to be a result of a genuine increase in crime rather than any change in recording practice,’ said the ONS.
  • There was also a large increase in the volume of fraud recorded (17% year on year) though it was ‘difficult to judge to what extent that reflected an improvement in recording practices, an increase in public reports or a rise in actual criminality’; and
  • Sexual offences recorded by the police saw a 20% rise from the previous year and continues the pattern seen in recent publications. This rise was ‘related to the effect of the Operation Yewtree investigation’.

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