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Stats boss slams Tory use of crime figures

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The head of the UK Statistics Authority has slammed shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling for misleading use of crime figures.

Sir Michael Scholar pulls few punches in the letter to Grayling, which said his comments were likely to undermine public trust in official statistics.

Grayling's comparison of numbers of violent offences in the late 90s compared to 2008/2009 was likely to mislead the public. Grayling has repeatedly claimed big increases in violent crime and compared Britain to The Wire.

Scholar notes that the way crime was recorded changed in 2002/2003 which led to big increases in the figures. This change was made very clear in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin which included the line: "Due to this change, it is not possible to directly compare figures prior to 2002/03 with those for later years”

He suggested Grayling look instead at the British Crime Survey, which shows no increase in violent crime between the 1990s and 2008/2009, or rather what growth there has been is down to how offences are recorded.

The letter is available as a pdf. from here.

Last week Scholar issued a general appeal for all politicians not to twist official statistics in the run-up to the general election. His letter to Grayling makes clear he is quite prepared to name and shame individual politicians should he need to. ®

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