“A staggering mess”: Met Police gaffe leaves wrong crime figures for the whole of London online for six months

Police officer: David Holt

Police officer: David Holt

Incorrect crime statistics for all of London, including the four EastLondonLines boroughs, were displayed on the Metropolitan Police website for six months without anyone noticing, ELL can reveal.

The mistake only came to light after the Met police were alerted when Lutfur Rahman, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and Councillor Sirajul Islam, leader of Tower Hamlets Labour group criticised the error as “a staggering mess.”

The Met have apologised for the error, which was only spotted at the end of last month after Tower Hamlets Labour group highlighted what it believed to be a nine per cent rise in local crime figures.

The force said the incorrect figures for all London boroughs were corrected within 24 hours of the police being notified of the mistake.

All the same they confirmed that: “The incorrect crime stats were displayed on the website from mid May 2013 – November 2013 and was caused by an automated procedure, which failed to recognise the change from last reporting year to this one.”

This was due to an error in the design of the automated publishing process that meant the current year’s figures were shown under the previous year’s heading for all the London boroughs.

“Unfortunately this error was not picked up by our regular quality checks,” added the Met.

As a result of the technical failure, the crime figures for Tower Hamlets were published with the last three years in the wrong order. Before the figures were corrected, the police website documented 29,510 crimes in Tower Hamlets between 2012-2013 but the newly corrected figures demonstrate that there were only 29,080 crimes. Therefore there has been a rise of 1.4 per cent since 2010/11 rather than the 9 per cent, which Labour initially claimed.

The met police added: “We are now reviewing the system design and have strengthened the validation process to ensure that this error is not repeated. We work hard to improve the quality and accuracy of the information we provide and are grateful for any errors and omissions being brought to our attention.”

Islam said: “It is pretty worrying that the Met have made such a staggering mess of the most simple crime statistics. People need to be confident that figures on important issues such as this are accurate.”

Although Tower Hamlets council knew of the statistical error, Hackney, Lewisham and Croydon council remained unaware of the issue.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime said they had nothing further to add to the Met’s comments.


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