Friday, July 04, 2008

Why are the Taxpayers Alliance lying about crime?

The Taxpayers Alliance have a new report out about crime. It goes like this:

Stage 1: Data analysis using government figures about costs of different crimes, broken down by region to derive a cost per head of crimes in that area
Stage 2: (Mumble, mumble)
Stage 3: Therefore we need to cut bureaucracy and elect local police chiefs, just as the Conservative Party want

What's interesting is that there was literally no attempt made to connect the 'research' that they did with the conclusions. They didn't compare their cost of crime figures across different years, they didn't compare with other countries, they didn't compare different policing strategies or anything. Nor did they weight the figures they got for any of the socio-economic factors which the report itself mentions will affect the results. It's either that they don't know what actual research is, or they don't care.

So when Matthew Sinclair, policy analyst at the TaxPayers' Alliance, says that the report showed that local police forces should be freed to set their own performance targets, rather than rely on centrally imposed targets, he is lying. Because it shows nothing of the kind. The information that they collected has no relation to the conclusions which they've drawn from it.

None of this, of course, prevented the Daily Express, Daily Mail or Daily Telegraph from copying out the Taxpayers' Alliance's press release and passing it off as news. This sort of nonsense is cynical and corrosive. Regardless of your political perspective, an important issue like how to reduce crime should involve finding out what works, using proper research methods.

So here's Paskini's law of pamphlets: When a campaigning group makes claims which they can't back up it's usually because the actual facts don't support their case.

UPDATE: Matt Sinclair responds, here.


At 4:16 pm , Blogger Tom P said...


Have a look at the report they did on council pensions too, it follows the same sort of pattern.

1. local authority final salary pension schemes cost a lot of money.
2. therefore they should close and become either money purchase or career average.

there is simply no linkage between the first and second points (especially as there is a BIG diffrence between the two types of scheme they suggest instead).

worse than that they include a figure from Hymans Robertson about the cost of local govt pensions as a % of council tax, even though Hymans publically retracted the figure. they even acknowledge that Hymans pulled the figure but use it anyway!

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