Police officers under investigation over ‘massaged’ crime statistics

Criminal claims he was pushed to falsely admit carrying out 500 burglaries

Crime Correspondent

Four police officers are under investigation tonight after a criminal claimed he was falsely persuaded to accept responsibility for 500 burglaries, in the latest crime recording scandal to hit the country’s biggest force.

The system of “taking crimes into consideration” – so-called TICs – which helped the Metropolitan police clear up 6,000 crimes last year, was suspended after “potential vulnerabilities” at Scotland Yard came to light.

The burglar withdrew the claims when his case came to court and made unspecified allegations against the officers when he was questioned, the force said.

The Met has removed the 500 burglaries – spread across a wide area of south and southeast London – from its list of solved crimes while it investigates the claims. The police watchdog confirmed last night that it would supervise an investigation into three detective constables and a sergeant.

After a suspect is charged with a crime, he is routinely taken around the scenes of his alleged break-ins to point out other places he also admits to targeting. This helps lift police crime detection rates and improve intelligence.

Officers usually take lists of unsolved burglary cases to tick them off. The burglary is then listed as solved.

It is understood that there had been such concern within the Metropolitan Police about abuse of the system that senior officers had been asked to consider requiring officers to wear cameras as they interview suspects on tours of crime-hit districts.

The advantage of TICs for the burglar is that he or she is able to “clean the slate” and will not face future prosecution for those offences. However it could mean a longer sentence for having done so.

Jack Dromey, Labour’s shadow policing minister, said: “The public must have confidence in crime statistics. The statistics watchdog Sir Andrew Dilnot has already called into question the Government’s claims that crime is falling. These latest disturbing revelations are evidence that crime stats have been massaged in the Metropolitan Police, giving a misleading picture as to the true levels of crime.”

The Met said that other cases would be removed from its lists of solved crimes if further problems emerged. TICs amounted to 4 per cent of the near 150,000 detected crimes in 2013.

Commander Simon Letchford said the force was considering recording conversations in cars to prevent abuse of the system. “We would like to reassure the public that we take our responsibility to record and investigate crime properly and ethically very seriously,” he said.

The scandal is just the latest blow to the credibility of reported crime statistics that police and the Government have used to trumpet the fall in crime. A series of scandals has shown that the practice of TICs is open to abuse amid allegations that officers encourage offenders to admit to crimes they have not committed.

A Freedom of Information request last weekend revealed that police had asked courts to take more than 100,000 crimes into consideration in three years.

The current crisis over crime statistics was triggered by the arrests of five officers in Kent in 2012 over claims about the manipulation of TICs to meet crime targets.

It led to a series of inquiries that highlighted failings within the crime recording system.

A Scotland Yard officer told MPs last year that officers massaging figures to hit performance targets had been an ingrained part of policing culture. The whistleblower, James Patrick, announced his resignation last week but will remain with the force to face a misconduct hearing after writing a book critical of police service reforms and crime statistics.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
science
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003