Blurred Stats (Part III)

— The U.K. Statistics Authority just censured Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders for “hugely” exaggerating rape conviction statistics – here’s a list of news outlets that published the bogus figures

Last week, the U.K. Statistics Authority formally censured Saunders for “hugely” exaggerating the 2017 rape conviction rate.

Via “CPS chief is blasted for claiming the number of rape convictions is more than double the real figure” by Martin Beckford, The Daily Mail, October 21, 2017:

Britain’s top prosecutor has been blasted by a watchdog for claiming the number of rape convictions is more than double the real figure.

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, was warned that the hugely inflated figures in a report on violence against women were ‘misleading’.

She was told in a letter from the UK Statistics Authority that the true number of people convicted of rape last year was under 1,400. This is less than half the 3,000 she alleged in the report by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) earlier this month.

The huge gap is because the CPS includes crimes that were originally investigated as rapes but later downgraded to less serious offences.

Last night, TV company executive Leon Hawthorne, who complained about the statistics discrepancy, said: ‘Alison Saunders went on the media to boast about how more and more rapists are being found guilty. The problem is her figures are a calculated deception.’

Here’s a list of news outlets that published the “hugely” inflated figures, including two major British newspapers that last year issued corrections as a result of efforts by this blog:

The Independent – Last year, The Independent falsely reported that in 2016 there were “a record number of rape prosecutions (4,643) and convictions (2,689).” The paper later issued a correction “to reflect the fact that the CPS rape conviction figure of 2,689 also include cases where a conviction was obtained for an alternative or lesser offence.”

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Earlier this month, the paper again falsely reported that the number of convictions for violent crimes against women including rape “had increased, from 69 per cent in 2007-08 to 75.3 per cent this year – the highest ever recorded.”

The Daily Telegraph – Last year, The Telegraph falsely reported that in 2016, the “conviction rate for rape cases rose to 57.9 per cent of the 4,643 cases brought.” The paper later issued a clarification, plus a lengthy explanation. It did not report the 2017 statistics.

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The Guardian – Last year, The Guardian false!y reported that in 2016 there were “a record number of rape prosecutions.” The report correlated those numbers with inflated numbers of convictions.

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Earlier this month, the paper again falsely reported that the “number of rape prosecutions completed rose from 4,643 in 2015-16 to a record 5,190 in 2016-17.”

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BBC News – Earlier this month, BBC News falsely reported that in 2017, convictions for rape rose “to new highs of 5,190.”

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The Times – Earlier this month, The Times falsely reported that “the number of rape convictions rose from 2,689 to 2,991 between 2015 and 2016.”

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• BuzzFeed News – Earlier this month, BuzzFeed News falsely reported that “convictions for rape have increased by 48% over the past 10 years.”

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Click here to see the underlying CPS data on the 2017 rape conviction rate.

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Blurred Stats (Part II)

— U.K. Statistics Authority censures head of state prosecution service for “hugely” exaggerating rape conviction rate statistics

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I recently blogged about how the U.K. Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) frequently inflates the rape conviction rate with its annual Violence Against Women and Girls crime report.

For instance, this year’s report boasts the “highest volumes ever recorded” of rape convictions, with a rise “from 2,689 in 2015-16 to 2,991 in 2016–17.” However, the accompanying data shows that those figures include “cases resulting in a conviction for rape, but also cases initially flagged as rape where a conviction was obtained for an alternative or lesser offence,” and “where a decision is taken to charge an offence other than rape, or where a rape charge is subsequently amended.”

Efforts via this blog to report the actual figures last year resulted in corrections in two major British newspapers, including a page two correction in the print edition of The Daily Telegraph.

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Now comes news that the U.K. Statistics Authority has censured Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, for “hugely” exaggerating the figures.

Via “CPS chief is blasted for claiming the number of rape convictions is more than double the real figure” by Martin Beckford, The Daily Mail, October 21, 2017:

Britain’s top prosecutor has been blasted by a watchdog for claiming the number of rape convictions is more than double the real figure.

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, was warned that the hugely inflated figures in a report on violence against women were ‘misleading’.

She was told in a letter from the UK Statistics Authority that the true number of people convicted of rape last year was under 1,400. This is less than half the 3,000 she alleged in the report by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) earlier this month.

The huge gap is because the CPS includes crimes that were originally investigated as rapes but later downgraded to less serious offences.

Last night, TV company executive Leon Hawthorne, who complained about the statistics discrepancy, said: ‘Alison Saunders went on the media to boast about how more and more rapists are being found guilty. The problem is her figures are a calculated deception.’

Blurred Stats

— Annual Violence Against Women and Girls crime report by U.K. state prosecution service inflates rape conviction rate statistics for second year in a row

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Last year, I blogged about how the U.K. Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) inflated the rape conviction rate with its annual Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) crime report.

In a press release, the CPS claimed that in 2015-16 it convicted “more cases of rape…than ever before,” with “a rise in the rape conviction rate [from 56.9 per cent] to 57.9 percent.” Those figures were widely reported by the British press. However, a close look at the accompanying data showed that those figures included “cases initially flagged as rape where a conviction was obtained for an alternative or lesser offence” and “where a rape charge is subsequently amended.”

Efforts via this blog to report the actual figures resulted in corrections in two major British newspapers, including a page two correction in the print edition of The Daily Telegraph.

Earlier this week, the CPS released its 10th annual VAWG report. The report again boasts the “highest volumes ever recorded” of rape convictions, with a rise “from 2,689 in 2015-16 to 2,991 in 2016–17.”

The accompanying data also includes the caveat that “CPS data on successful rape prosecutions includes not only cases resulting in a conviction for rape, but also cases initially flagged as rape where a conviction was obtained for an alternative or lesser offence.” The data report further states that CPS figures include cases “where a decision is taken to charge an offence other than rape, or where a rape charge is subsequently amended.”

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So far five major publications, The Guardian, BBC NewsThe Independent, The Times, and BuzzFeed News, have published stories quoting the CPS’ claims about “record” numbers of convictions.

I’ll ask all four about the inflated figures and blog the results.

Blurred Lines

UK prosecution service fudges the statistics on rape

Earlier this month, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) released its annual Violence Against Women and Girls crime report.¹ Via a press release, the CPS claimed that it was “convicting more cases of rape…than ever before,” with “a rise in the rape conviction rate [from 56.9] to 57.9 per cent.”

Despite the CPS’ own admission that it “does not collect data which constitutes official statistics as defined in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007,” figures from the press release were reported in several mainstream newspapers, including the Guardian and the Telegraph.

the-guardian-violence-against-women-and-girls-crime-report

However, a close look at the report itself reveals that the rape conviction rate includes “cases initially flagged as rape [but] where a conviction was obtained for an alternative or lesser offence” and where a rape charge is subsequently amended.”

For example, the report states that there was a total of 2,689 rape convictions for the financial year 2015-16, yet according to statistics from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ),² there was only 1,297 rape convictions for the calendar year 2015 – a disparity of 1,392.

My questions:

• How many cases initially flagged as rape were later charged or convicted with a lesser crime? How many where the conviction was amended altogether?

• How many convictions were obtained in the period prior to the start of the financial year 2015-16? How many after the calendar year 2015?

Those are questions for a statistician better qualified than a C-grade maths student such as myself. In the meantime, I’ll ask the CPS about its methods of recording statistics and blog the results.

Stay tuned.

¹The report is also “inclusive of data on men and boys.”
²MOJ data “only includes cases where the final conviction was for rape.”