SIR Keir Starmer has had his knuckles rapped for wrongly claiming crime is rising to launch attacks on Boris Johnson.
Stats boffins ticked off the Labour leader for twice throwing out the charge in the Commons – and said dodgy data risks denting public confidence.
Watchdog boss Sir David Norgrove slapped down Sir Keir in a terse letter pointing out offences have actually been falling.
The Sun revealed earlier this month that exasperated Tory policing minister Kit Malthouse lodged an official complaint lashing out at fishy figures.
It came after Sir Keir claimed during PMQs in April that “crime is going up” – before doubling down at last week’s Queen’s Speech that “violent crime has doubled since 2015”.
Stern Sir David today corrected: “Total crime levels have been falling since the mid-1990s, including last year.”
And he said that violent crime has dropped by more than a quarter in the past five years.
The stats guru urged Sir Keir to stick to figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales – and recalled having to impress the importance of this to Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour last night stuck to its guns and insisted Police Recorded Crime numbers was a common way to count offences.
But Sir David warned: “The risk with the statements you made is that people may be alarmed by figures that do not reflect reality, which could affect their behaviour and lead to pressure for policy changes not supported by the data.”
A Tory source said: “We are pleased Sir Keir has been slapped on the wrists for his misleading comments and hope he won’t repeat his wrong and alarming claims.”
A Labour spokesperson said: “Police Recorded Crime is a widely used measure, including by the Policing Minister himself.
“The Conservative Party should stop trying to deflect from its poor record over the last 11 years and focus on keeping our communities safe.”
A party source pointed out that Mr Malthouse himself used the method in answer to a question in 2020.
Sir David Norgrove’s letter in full
Dear Sir Keir,
At Prime Minister’s Questions on 28 April you said that “crime is going up”.
You made a similar claim during the Commons debate on the Queen’s Speech on 11 May: “Since 2015, recorded violent crime has doubled”.
As the Office for National Statistics says in every release of crime statistics, and I said in a letter to your predecessor, the face-to-face Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) is a better indicator of long-term trends than police recorded crime.
It is unaffected by changes in levels of reporting to the police or police recording practices. The CSEW shows a reduction in violent crime of 28% between the year ending March 2015 and the year ending March 2020.
Total crime levels have been falling since the mid-1990s, including last year (though comparisons involving last year are complicated by a change in the method of collection).
The risk with the statements you made is that people may be alarmed by figures that do not reflect reality, which could affect their behaviour and lead to pressure for policy changes not supported by the data. I am sure you agree that this would not be desirable.
I am copying my letter to Kit Malthouse MP, who wrote to me about your statements.
Sir David Norgrove
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