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Boris Johnson accused of fiddling crime figures

By Adam Bienkov
14 March 2013, 09:21

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Boris Johnson has been accused of “fiddling figures” after claiming to have reduced crime by 13% since he became Mayor.

On at least three recent occasions the Mayor claimed that crime had fallen by 13% since 2008.

However the latest yearly figures show that total crimes fell by just 5% between 2008 and 2012.

In 2007-08 there were 862,032 recorded crimes in the city. By the end of 2011-12 that had dropped to 814,646, a fall of 5.49%.

There was a big fall in crime during the Olympics, but even if you take the figures for the 12 months to January 2013, crime has still only fallen by 8.6% since 2008.

Boris told the London Assembly last month that “in spite of the recession, we have seen the Metropolitan Police Service driving down crime with total offences down by 13.6% since I was elected.”

He repeated this claim at a meeting in Catford last week saying that: “crime has come down by 13% overall” and again at the MIPIM conference in France on Tuesday.

City Hall today said that the 13% figure had been calculated by comparing the first 56 months of Boris’s mayoralty with the last 56 months of Ken Livingstone’s mayoralty.

A spokesperson for the Mayor said:

“The Mayor is referring to the long term trend on crime in the capital rather than a comparison of two points in time. Since his election in May 2008, the aggregate volume of total notifiable offences has fallen by around 13 per cent, compared with the same sum of all offences over the same number of months of the previous administration.”

This is the same statistical trick he was criticised for using during his election campaign last year.

In March 2008 a member of the UK’s Crime Statistics Advisory Committee accused Boris of “misleading the public” after he repeatedly claimed that robberies had fallen by 16.3% under his mayoralty.

An independent analysis showed that robberies had actually risen by 18.8% since he became mayor.

The Mayor’s method effectively shifts the baseline back from the start of Boris’s mayoralty and exaggerates, or in the case of robberies, actually creates a fall in crime where there has been a rise.

Boris’s election campaign used the same method to claim that Boris had cut crime by 10% since he became mayor, when crime had actually fallen by just 5%.

Green London Assembly Member and Deputy Chair of the Police And Crime Committee Jenny Jones today accused the Mayor of “fiddling the figures” on crime:

“Once again we see the Mayor peddling misleading crime statistics. The Mayor has a history of fiddling the figures on policing as we saw with police numbers in the Police and Crime Plan consultation. The public deserve openness and transparency not the Mayor spinning the crime stats to paint a rosy picture.”

Johnson’s policing deputy was recently forced to admit that figures on police numbers used in a public consultation were incorrect by over a 1000.

Boris was also rebuked by the Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority two years ago after he repeatedly made false claims about youth re-offending rates.

He continued to make the claims despite advice given by those running the project that they were “complete nonsense.”

Rather than correct his error, the mayor instead accused the Chair of the UK Statistics Authority of being a “Labour stooge.”

Fact checkers later confirmed that UKSA Chair Sir Michael Scholar is a respected former Private Secretary to Margaret Thatcher.

Last year the London Assembly passed a motion calling on the Mayor to sign up to UK Statistics Authority’s code of practice. So far he has not done so.

Adam Bienkov
Adam is a reporter for Politics.co.uk You can find links to his other work at AdamBienkov.com.

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