I’ve been meaning to get around to writing about the issue of using crime figures as an indicator of police performance for a while now. Aside from the risk of mis-recording crime due to target-driven performance management, I believe there is a fundamental argument against judging police performance by using crime figures. It boils down to this:
Crime rates are not the definer of effective police performance; they merely provide information about criminal activity.
What do I mean by this?
Well, we’ve been so used to judging police performance based on whether crime is higher or lower than some previous point in the past (binary comparisons), positions in league tables, or variance against arbitrary numerical targets, that it’s been easy to miss the obvious question about whether we’re measuring the right thing in the first place. Even when crime trends are shown in time series format (e.g. control charts)…
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