Crime is going down - officially. The trouble is that most people don't believe it: they feel that society is becoming more crime-ridden. So what could explain the discrepancy between the claims made by politicians and the everyday experience of citizens? In this hard-hitting expose, Rodger Patrick, former Chief Inspector of West Midlands Police, shows how this has come about. He unpacks the gaming behaviours of police forces under pressure from central government to reduce crime rates and increase detection rates by any means - including some that are unethical and even criminal. A Tangled Web takes the reader into the arcane world of 'cuffing' - making crimes disappear by refusing to believe the victims; 'dding' - inducing suspects to 'd' at locations where they can claim to have committed crimes that will be 'taken into consideration', sometimes in return for sex, drugs and alcohol; 'stitching', or fabricating evidence, which allows police forces to obtain convictions without ever going to court; and 'skewing', or concentrating resources on offences that are used as performance indicators, at the expense of time-consuming investigations into more serious crime. Rodger Patrick cites the w considerable number of official inquiries into police forces that have uncovered evidence of these practices on such a scale, and over such a wide area, that they cant be put down to a few 'rotten apples'. He argues that the problems are organisational, and result from making the career prospects of police officers dependent on performance management techniques originally devised for the commercial sector. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has long taken a relaxed view of the problem, putting a generous interpretation on evidence uncovered in its investigations, although in a small number of cases officers have had to resign or even face criminal charges. 'Whilst the police continue to engage in the forms of perverse behaviour outlined in this book, the public will doubt continue to draw their own conclusions about crime levels. The criminal fraternity are the main beneficiaries of such a situation.'
Rodger Patrick, BA (Hons), MSc. (by research), PhD, Beta Gamma Sigma (awarded by Aston Business School) in an ex-Chief Inspector of West Midlands Police. He served for thirty years in the West Midlands Police before retiring in 2005. During his career he carried out a variety of roles including training, personnel, CID, community relations and public order. However his greatest operational challenge was policing a large inner-city area including the Balsall Heath area of Birmingham during the 1990s when community representatives came onto the streets in large numbers to challenge the drug dealers, pimps, kerb crawlers and street sex workers who, they maintained, were responsible for making the neighbourhood unsafe for residents. Negotiating a way through this crisis of confidence in the police brought about a transformation in the way the local police interacted with the populace and heralded a sea-change in the way the area was policed. By 2000 the area had ceased to be Birmingham's 'red light' district. This experience stimulated his academic interest in the relationship between police governance, policing style and effectiveness and he completed a case study on the Balsall Heath experience as part of an MSc (by research) at Aston Business School in 2004. This quantification of the impact of changes in police accountability led to an attempt to assess the impact of performance management on police effectiveness as a piece of doctoral research. However, it quickly became clear that the data on police performance was being distorted by various 'gaming'- type practices. This rendered any attempt to gauge accurately the impact of change on performance based on official statistics virtually meaningless. The focus of the research then shifted to the identification, categorisation and measurement of 'gaming' practices and the implications for the governance and regulation of the police. This study was carried out at the Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV), University of Birmingham and completed in 2009. The author applied for a position on the Crime Statistics Oversight Committee in 2013 but his offer of assistance was declined.