Thursday, May 8, 2008

It's Only A Crime If You Think It's A Crime

Well, the crime rate in Norfolk, UK will be dropping dramatically. No, it's not because the Psychic Friends Network has taken over fighting crime and the evil-doers over across the pond. It's because they have realized that the best way to use statistics is to ignore them. Of course. Wait. What?

According to our friends across the pond at the Daily Mail, the police officers in Norfolk, UK have been told to not record reports of crimes (such as car vandalism) if no one actually sees it happen. Apparently, there was a memo circulating within the force over there that was leaked out which described the belief that the force is "criming" things that really aren't crimes. (I didn't know it was possible to be "criming" things at all, really.) Um, perhaps I need to know more before I just write this off as totally ridiculous. What else?

The memo also reportedly stated that the goal was to keep recorded crime "down to 1,500". (Just to put that in a little bit of perspective for you, Over there in Norfolk, criminal damage (that stuff that no one usually sees happen) accounts for one in five crimes reported nationally. In Norfolk, of the 62,626 crimes recorded in 2006, only 50% were investigated. Of those 62,626 crimes, 17,258 involved criminal damage. They want that to be around "1,500." Huh. OK. It's good to have goals. I guess.)

Now, given the wording of the memo, this makes perfect sense and shouldn't really be a problem. The memo reads: "One example is where a car window is found to be damaged, no entry to vehicle, no witnesses and no idea how it happened. This has been recorded as criminal damage, even though there is no evidence to suggest it fits the definition. If there is no evidence of someone intending to destroy or be reckless then there is no crime. Please ask yourself if there is evidence of a crime or if it is more appropriate to deal with it in a different way." Wait. What?

Now, those over at the Police Federation in Norfolk (ie, the cops who do their jobs fighting crime as opposed to sitting in their office writing ridiculous memos about ignoring crime) have stated that "very rarely" do car windows get damaged where no-one has committed a crime. See, those Police Federation members are pretty smart. They know that spontaneous combustion of car windows and other things that are usually vandalized is an infrequent occurrence at best.

I find it interesting that this method is only being applied to vandalism. I mean, I wonder why the genius who thought this up didn't feel that it would be appropriate to apply it to other crimes. I mean, just because someone is black and blue and appears to have been beaten, that doesn't mean a "crime" has taken place and to assume that one had would just be "criming" something that need not be "crimed". Apply that rationale to every alleged "crime" without a witness and you're not going to be "criming" much...including real crimes!

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