What’s missing from crime statistics data? Competition and innovation, not the ONS

According to Jill Matheson, National Statistician of the Office of National Statistics, both the British Crime Survey (who’s shortcomings I have explained here) and the Police figures (which we use) were not properly covering crimes against children, businesses, fraud and cyber crime – and some anti-social behaviour were not included either in the figures.

So far so good, these are the sorts of things we need to know. But beyond that, apart from a few minor improvements, the report strikes me as not very imaginative or game-changing.

So for starters, a big hat-tip to The Thin Blue Line Blog who I’ve just corresponded with for a detailed list of how crime statistics can be gamed and how this does not seem to have been addressed.

And then there’s Recommendation no. 4 which wants a new quango – An Independent Advisory Committee. Oh dear. I thought we were all over quangos – the ultimate Blairite policy solution.

Finally, I have to say my greatest disappointment with the report came from  one of the conclusions, arguing that the solution was to move it out of the Home Office and put themselves – i.e. the ONS –  in charge of it. Isn’t that a bit of a naked bureaucratic power grab?

Granted, the Home Office has long come in for some well-justified stick. But not everyone believes the ONS is some alternative paragon of efficiency, accuracy and brilliance. Remember Len Cook?

To date, the ONS website is still impenetrable and I’m currently tired of waiting for a reply from a couple of weeks ago on a bog-standard socio-economic population breakdown of A,B,C1, C1, D and E.

So here’s what you need to know;

With all government data, crime included, the solution will never be to hand control of it from one monopoly provider to another. The answer is to let many developers use the raw data and to compete and innovate in its provision to the world.

The full report is available here.

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