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Riots make no impression on crime figures at Government website

At a time when homeowners across the UK are faced with rises in homeowners insurance premiums based on post code information collated by insurance providers, the latest statistics for August 2011 on the Governments internet crime maps make very interesting reading.

Scenes of mayhem

Of course, August 2011 was the month when many of the UK’s major cities fell victim to looters and rioters in their thousands. Graphic television newsreel showed hundreds of rioters stealing, breaking windows, setting fire to vehicles and assaulting innocent people in dozens of different locations. A quick perusal of the crime figures for the areas concerned on the Government website does not quite reflect the scenes of mayhem reported on news bulletins every night for a week, and in fact, some residents in the areas affected may even consider asking their home insurance providers to consider lowering their premiums as crime rates actually fell.

Crime rates drop at riot epicentres

Take St Anne’s Square in Manchester for example. Television cameras captured images of youths looting, setting fire to cars and pelting the police with rocks and stones at the height of the riots, yet according to the crime map for August the square enjoyed its lowest level of crime in four months! The Bullring in Birmingham was the setting where mobs in their hundreds sent horrified shoppers fleeing for cover as they set about wrecking the centre. In all police made over 100 arrests before calm was restored, but once again according to the Government website incidents in August were considerably down on those for July. Similar figures can be found at riot torn areas in London, Bristol, Liverpool and Croydon and one wonders how the website can report such low levels of criminal activity.

It’s all in the figures

Apparently it is all in the interpretation of statistics! According to a police spokesman the Home Office guidelines would deem a couple of dozen looters ransacking one store as just one crime! The judges who sat up all night handing down sentences to those caught may view it differently, as would the terrified bystanders caught up in the events. However, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Peter Fahy, says it is silly of us to judge the impact of the riots by the number of individual crimes that took place, I wonder if insurance actuaries take the same view.

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