Watchdog says Shadow Home Secretary ‘likely to damage’ trust in statistics

Yesterday I wrote about Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling’s extraordinarily twisted use of statistics to try to justify part of the Conservatives’ ‘Broken Britain’ narrative.

Today the BBC’s Mark Easton, who broke the original story, has the news that Chris Grayling has just been sent a sharp letter from Parliament’s statistics watchdog, informing him that his mis-use of statistics about violent crime is ‘likely to damage public trust in official statistics’. The Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), Sir Michael Scholar, says he does ‘not wish to become involved in political controversy’,  but ‘must take issue’ with Grayling’s comments ‘yesterday about violent crime statistics’.

The ‘monitoring and assessment note’ from the UKSA is politely scathing about Grayling’s false comparisons of violent crime since the Labour government came to power in 1997, stating

‘We regard a comparison, without qualification, of police recorded statistics between the late 1990s and 2008/09 as likely to mislead the public’ and concluding

‘The evidence from the BCS [British Crime Survey] is that there has not been an increase in respondents’ experience of violent crime between the late 1990s and 2008/09′.

So how much longer can Grayling continue to ‘airbrush‘ statistics, or will he now accept he’s been ‘shopped‘?

You can read the full texts of the letter and accompanying note on Mark Easton’s blog.

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  • John Cartmell 4th Feb '10 - 11:05pm

    There is a clear difference between choosing data that tells your story, and stating a clear intention to make up data that will ‘prove’ your prejudices (and even making false claims of ‘official’ status). Grayling has overstepped the mark by a long way. He is not fit for office and should be removed from his shadow post.

  • As someone with a degree in Maths with a large part done in statistics its very frustrating how often statictics are misquated, misunderstood or even deliberatly misused.

    These statitics clearly stated that they were not comparable yet that is exactly what Grayling chose to do. He should appologise for misleading the electorate or be forced out by Caeron, then people might start to regain a little bit of trust in statisics used by Politicians.

  • John Cartmell 5th Feb '10 - 4:50pm

    I am defending no-one. Perhaps you didn’t hear Grayling on the Today programme where he was reminded of the statisticians’ criticism. He heard it, dismissed it, and mad it clear that he would continue to use those figures in that way because they ‘showed’ what he believed. If he does that in office, and there is no reason to suppose that he wouldn’t, then his *decisions* (not just his excuses to the public after the fact) will be, to say the very least, suspect. We don’t want a pig-headed Home Secretary riding roughshod over any evidence presented to him. He is simply not fit for office.
    As for needing to attack Labour rather than the Tories: didn’t that happen the last few elections and get nowhere? Surely there is a need to attack the policies that are wrong and those that support those policies. That means attacking both. In any case I’m wary of hiding this as ‘a plague on both your houses’. Grayling has gone a long step beyond anyone else and it’s him that needs reigning in.

  • Bill Jasons 5th Feb '10 - 9:37pm

    Typical standard lib dem hypocrisy – the Lib Dems have been happy to use the same figures for years…


  • John Cartmell 7th Feb '10 - 1:08pm

    Ian – “Grayling interpreted the figures to suppport his case but the way in which the official figures are presented has been changed to justify Labour’s claim to have reduced crime.”
    You are speaking like a Tory. The official figures don’t belong to any party; they paint a picture. But they don’t paint the picture of comparisons over the period that Grayling chose. There are figures available that do that but those don’t toe the Tory line. By all means oppose the government but don’t do so on the back of lies – that’s a Tory error.

    “So when a Labour government says “Look, we have reduced this type of crime,” and everybody knows the result has been achieved by changing the way we count crimes”
    Not true.
    They have changed the way violent crime is counted – and that count has gone up. The totally independent count that hasn’t changed its method also shows that violent crime has gone down by 50%. If you really support LibDem values then you should be avoiding those lies. Of course if you want to support someone who brings crime down then perhaps you should be voting Labour! 😉

    Of course there are many more issues (and many more within law and order): but lets keep the criticisms based on honest figures and not follow the Tory line.

One Trackback

  • By Conservatives get the numbers wrong – again on Mon 15th February 2010 at 8:21 am.

    […] we had those dodgy crime statistics, with the Conservatives claiming wrongly that violent crime had massively increased over the last […]

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