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Whistleblower claims crimes kept off the books in Essex
6:00am Tuesday 26th November 2013 in News
HUNDREDS of crimes are being kept off the books in Essex, according to sources close to Essex Police.
Whistleblowers have claimed crimes are often either downgraded or not recorded by the force.
One officer, who asked not to be named to protect his career, said: “This is going on all over Essex.
“Operation Julep in Southend has been running for years. The way it works is officers are allocated a mobile phone.
“Retailers are told to not come through the switchboard, but to call the mobile phone.
“Then it doesn’t get recorded in the proper way, unless the person responsible is caught – and then it is recorded, so you get 100 per cent detection.
“They are totally bypassing the system.
“We were told attempted burglaries, where a window is smashed, should be marked down as criminal damage to reduce burglary figures.
“A yob goes down a road bashing in wing mirrors, but it is put down as a road traffic accident.
“It is wrong. We know it is wrong and it does not sit comfortably.
“Mobile phones being taken are not recorded as theft, but lost property.
Hundreds of crimes are not recorded.”
Another source said theywere told to put everything they could down to lost, not stolen.
They decided to speak out after a Parliamentary Select Committee, chaired by North Essex and Harwich MP Bernard Jenkin, heard allegations by PC James Patrick, who lives in north Essex, about manipulated figures in the Metropolitan Police.
An investigation is now being carried out by MPs.
Essex Police declined to answer specific questions about the most recent allegations, but defended its recording methods.
A spokesman said: “Essex Police is acutely aware it is very important for our communities to have faith in the accuracy of crime data. From an operational viewpoint, it is also vital crime data accurately reflects what is happening, so we deploy our people to the right place at the right time.
“Our Chief Constable is committed to ensuring officers act with integrity and crime is recorded accurately.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston admitted there is a problem and it is a national issue, drawing attention to comments by Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon in the light of the allegations around the Metropolitan Police.
Mr Alston said: “The police service is a disciplined profession and officers will act according to the guidance they believe they have received from their leadership.
“Chief Constable Mick Creedon has been widely quoted stating ‘my fear is inadvertently we are all still putting pressure on officers to do all they can to manipulate and create crime reductions.
‘I don't think they do it because they are inherently corrupt, but because pressure is put down to reduce it.’’’ Mr Alston added: “Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh and I have made it clear crime will be recorded correctly in our county.
“This is a matter of police integrity, of treating victims with respect, and of ensuring that officers have the most accurate possible information as they work both to prevent crime and bring criminals to justice.”
North Essex and Harwich MP Bernard Jenkin believes the public have been misled, figures have been changed and something needs to be done.
He said: “It is not excusable, but it is understandable.
“A target culture is embedded in our police service. People have been trained to try and present crime statistics as better than they really are.
It will take years to reform the culture so officers don’t feel this is the right thing to do.
“We need a culture where any police constable can raise with superiors any concerns, without fear or favour.”
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