BBC NEWS | UK | Police miscount serious violence
Police miscount serious violence
Violent crime in England and Wales has actually increased
The Home Office has admitted that some police forces have been undercounting some of the most serious violent crimes in England and Wales.
Officials said some crimes that should have been classed as grievous bodily harm were recorded as a lesser assault.
As a result, overall violent crime remains down compared with last year - but the official total of most serious violent crime has gone up by 22%.
Policing Minister Vernon Coaker said crime figures could still be trusted.
The overall number of crimes recorded by police in England and Wales fell 6%.
Of 17 forces that contacted the Home Office to indicate that there may be a problem with their figures, 13 were asked to conduct a re-count.
Ministers concede they do not know how long the problem has been going on and the Home Office will not say which police forces have been misclassifying the incidents of grievous bodily harm.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told the BBC all of the crimes in question had been investigated by the police.
She said: "Let's be clear, this isn't crime that wasn't being recorded or wasn't being reported or wasn't being dealt with. It just wasn't being recorded in the category 'most serious violence'.
"So all of this crime has been dealt with.
"It's just that I wanted to focus particularly on most serious violence and therefore we needed to be sure that everybody in terms of categorising it was categorising it in the same way, so that we'd be able to track whether or not all the things that we're putting into place are making a difference."
Ms Smith also said that "one interesting feature" of the statistics being published was that gun crime was also down by 22%.
She added that overall violent crime was down, and "what the statisticians are clear about is that the increases in the most serious forms of violence have actually in terms of numbers been more than counteracted by the decreases in less serious violence."
She added: "We are clear that we are concerned about serious violence, that's why we went back to make sure we were counting it properly in the first place, and more importantly that's why we have taken the action we have done in terms of tackling knives."
Keith Bristow, Association of Chief Police Officers lead for violence and public protection and Chief Constable of Warwickshire, said the impact of changes made to the way in which some crime is recorded will make "uncomfortable reading".
He said: "Apparent increases in some categories of violent crime are strongly influenced by these counting amendments which were introduced by the Home Office in April 2008.
"ACPO supported the amendments to the counting arrangements as these changes will improve our understanding of neighbourhoods affected by crime.
"Some categories of crime have historically suffered from under reporting by the public, such as sexual assault and domestic abuse. The Police Service continues to actively encourage the public to report these types of offences.
"While the statistics published today show that crime continues to fall year-on-year the public is rightly concerned about aspects of violent crime and disorder."
[Retrieved: Thu Oct 23 2008 11:00:51 GMT+0100 (GMT Daylight Time)]