Friday, December 12, 2008

Lies, Damn Lies And Knife Crime Stats

Officials tried in vain to stop the government's 'reckless' release of yesterday's much vaunted knife crime figures which have been exposed as a sham by the very body which compiles the statistics. Ministers and Downing Street spinners have been blasted for 'corroding public trust' by using 'selective' figures to claim they are winning the war on the streets.

That 17% fall in serious injuries and deaths over the past six months, dominated the TV news bulletins. It seemed too good to be true - and indeed it was. 

Once again this spinning government has been exposed for manipulating crime statistics to suit their own ends, pulling the wool over our eyes and peddling lies. 

Head of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Michael Scholar, attacked the figures as "irregular" and "premature" and said the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had tried to block their release.

Ministers were quick to use the figures to prove they're winning the war on knife crime. But the figures covered just six months since the £2m home office campaign targeting 10 knife crime hotspots.

Many smelt a rat as these strange statistics popped up from nowhere and grabbed the headlines, all packaged up for the TV news bulletins, with smiling home secretary Jacqui Smith and prime minister Gordon Brown. 

But Sir Michael, in his letter to No 10 and the home office,  said the figures were not due for release "for some time" and that officials at the ONS  tried to stop their release.

Thursday's figures appeared to suggest there had been a sharp fall in the number of teenagers caught carrying knives and hospital admissions due to knife wounds in areas targeted by police.

Sir Michael said the figures were provisional and had not passed through the "regular process of checking and quality assurance". 

Ominously he had been told by ONS officials that officials or advisers in No 10 caused the home office to issue a press release containing the information.

"I hope you will agree that the publication of prematurely released and unchecked statistics is corrosive of public trust in official statistics and incompatible with the high standards which we are all seeking to establish."

So government ministers and Downing Street spinners sanctioned the selective and manipulative spinning of these statistics. Peddling lies is a shameful and irresponsible way to run the country. 

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