Changes in the way crimes have to be recorded give the distorted impression that acts of violence are on the rise, Notts Police and Crime commissioner Paddy Tipping has said.
In the last 12 months, Home Office recording rules have required Notts Police to log incidents like staring and offensive texts within the violent crime category.
“Additions like these create a knock-on effect of increasing the fear of crime,” the commissioner pointed out.
“What it does is distort the picture of violence in our county, the result being that the figures go up and the fear of crime goes up.”
“Labelling such matters as ‘violent’ serves no good purpose for a public trying to make sense of the crime rate.”
“While I accept that incidents like these might have the potential to lead to violence, I do think they should be put in an entirely different category to those causing physical harm.”
Mr Tipping highlighted a number of Notts incidents recorded in the violence band of offences and which he believed would puzzle many members of the public. These include a child reported being stared at by the parent of another child at school. A crime of harassment was recorded.
In another example, two women were arguing and one swiped a teddy bear in the face of the victim. This was recorded as common assault.
Current Home Office rules mean that as soon as the basic principles for crime recording are satisfied a crime is recorded. It is a victim-centred standard which means that to justify not recording a crime there must be credible evidence to show it has not taken place. This means, said Mr Tipping, that many forces, including Notts, have seen a rise in the logging of violent crime.
“Common sense should dictate that putting these incidents in the ‘violent’ band simply muddies the waters when it comes to giving the public a clear view of the crime rate” the commissioner added.
Latest figures for Nott indicate that crime has risen by 8.9 per cent, amounting to a rise of 1,055 recorded crimes.
Violent crime has risen by 34.1 per cent - a rise of 856 recorded crimes.
Based on previous Notts Police is seeing about three months’ worth of violent crime in the space of two months.