Statistics – 2nd Opnion…

Comments in this week’s local newspaper suggest I’m not the only one who thinks local authorities and public services manipulate figures?

As you may have already noticed, this is one of my favourite bones to chew on… The correspondent, when referring to the Police Christmas Drink Drive Campaign, made reference to a quotation from Edwin Teale, which I found particularly poignant. It also added fuel to my previous post on the subject (see Drink Up!)…  

We are told there were 108 arrests for drink driving in December 2009 but we are also told they conducted 4,000 breath tests. It therefore follows that 3,892 drivers who were not over the limit were required to give breath tests, 97.3 per cent of those tested. (Mr D F Severs – Percentages – D&S Times 5Feb10)

Severs highlights some of the major issues that are wrong with today’s police in that; discretion of a police officer is continually eroded or removed by government to further political number crunching… In the same vein he goes on to talk about how local councillors have recently hailed local police as heroes for their 31% reduction of crime in the area.

I have to agree wholeheartedly with his observation; statistics and figures are manipulated to create a more rosy picture than is fact. And in many cases, for personal or political gain… I love the quotation he used to illustrate the point…

The Pulitzer prize-winning writer Edwin Teale said: “You can prove anything with the evidence of a small enough segment of time”. He was right. The crime figures for one month, especially a month when the weather was so bad, are of no value in assessing true crime rates and the drop was therefore hardly praiseworthy. (Mr D F SEVERS)

Wish I’d found that one!

(xref: Previous post Policing but not as we know it or head over to The Thin Blue Line for an in depth piece about Cooking the Crime Stats Books)

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