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; 'nodding' - inducing suspects to 'nod' 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 now 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 cannot 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 no doubt continue to draw their own conclusions about crime levels. The criminal fraternity are the main beneficiaries of such a situation.'