Targets ‘may lead to poor police evidence’

POLICE force targets can create “perverse incentives” for officers to pursue cases without having evidence, a Yorkshire police and crime commissioner has warned.

Mark Burns-Williamson, the former chairman of the now defunct West Yorkshire Police Authority who took over the new role last November, said his force was undergoing an internal audit of the way crimes are recorded.

He made his comments in written evidence to MP’s Public Administration Select Committee, which is looking into whether the Government and public can have confidence in crime statistics.

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Mr Burns-Williamson said: “The old police authority set a target to increase the sanction detection rate for domestic violence cases. There was concern that this incentivised officers to proceed with cases despite poor quality evidence.”

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary is expected to publish the results of a national inspection of police crime data integrity in the autumn.

And yesterday the head of the statistics watchdog told the select committee that crime figures are likely to rise significantly if tough checks are brought in on how the police record them.

Sir Andrew Dilnot, of the UK Statistics Authority, insisted it is crucial that proper auditing procedures are introduced to check information is accurate and not being manipulated.

He issued the warning as he gave evidence to MPs after the authority withdrew its “gold standard” mark from police crime figures.