Perspectives on Policing: Mixed Signals for Police Improvement: The Value of your Crime Severity Score May Go Up as well as Down
"The development of a Crime Severity Score for England and Wales by the Office for National Statistics represents an important step towards a more sophisticated 'two-dimensional' understanding of police-recorded crime data. In this paper I start to unpick what it tells us about recent changes in the policing environment, point out its limitations as a tool for understanding crime change and flag-up some potential hazards in its usage, particularly as a tool for making judgements about 'performance'. I argue that its main value is to make central a set of 'severe' (high-tariff, high-harm, high-demand) abuse crime that are recorded in relatively low (but growing) numbers, and for which changes in the volume recorded by the police are a poor indicator of change in actual incidence. This rebalancing should force us to reconsider the meanings we attach to the ups and downs of police-recorded crime (whether weighted or otherwise) and to challenge the habit of seeing progress in reduction. Finally, I put forward suggestions for some non-traditional crime data division - such as between 'abuse' and 'reduce' crime, 'patent' and 'latent' demand crime and 'initial' and 'repeat' victim crime - that might prove useful for disambiguating aggregate Crime Severity Scores, and providing a more three-dimensional perspective on crime, police practice and on the relationships between the two."