Telegraph can’t do stats…

Oh dear, it seems the Daily Telegraph needs a refresher course in statistics…

More than one crime in five in London is now committed by a foreign national, raising fresh fears over the impact of immigration.

Around a third of all sex offences and a half of all frauds in the capital are carried out by non-British citizens.

Poles, who have entered Britain in record numbers since they joined the European Union in 2004, committed 2,310 crimes in the first six months of this year to become the most prolific offenders.

Romanians, whose country became part of the EU in January, committed more than 1,000 offences — an eightfold rise on the same period in 2006, according to Metropolitan Police figures for solved crimes.

Ah, look, this is the data for ‘solved crimes’ not all crime, i.e. that committed and reported but not solved, so immediately these figures are questionable. It could be that foreign nationals are committing lots of crimes, or it could be simply that the Met is particularly good at solving crimes committed by foreign nationals, which could mean that these crimes get extra resources or that there’s just a smaller pool of potential criminals to target and that their nationality narrows the field down even further.

To ‘help’ matters, the Telegraph chucks in a Daily Mail-style table of the ‘worst offenders’…


And now the problems with this data becomes even more apparent, especially if you start comparing this table to the Met’s own crime figures.

So, for violent crimes, the top twenty list above weigh in with a total of 3812 offences, while the Met’s rolling 12 month figures give a total of 172,734 violent offences from March 07 to March 08 (down 5.3% on the previous years. As we’re only dealing a half year’s figures (and ignoring seasonal variations for ease) that gives us 86,387 violent offences of which these top twenty account for under 5%. So its not 1 in 5, its about 1 in 20.

Of course, this doesn’t include crimes committed by foreign national which aren’t solved, but if the Telegraph can compare apples and oranges to make its point, then so can I to show that their figures are a crock of shit.

Sex Offences? Full year is 8766, so a half year is 4383 and our top twenty weighs in with 263, and we have a figure of 6% and not a third as the Telegraph claims.

Theft and handling is a little tricker – the Met gives figures for burglary and robbery but doesn’t mention handling, while the Telgraph’s copy leads on fraud, which isn’t mentioned at all in either their table or the Met’s stats.

Still, we get, from our top twenty table, 3637 solved crimes while burglaries alone run to 93,894 a year, so that’s 46947 for the half year and a figure of just under 8%, which will almost certainly fall once handling offences are factored in on top.


21 thoughts on “Telegraph can’t do stats…

  1. Two other possibilities you didn’t mention:

    Foreign criminals might be less competent than home-grown one

    The Met police might be targeting foreigners when they investigate crimes so they are less likely to solve the others (OK thats just a more provocative way of saying that they get more resources maybe)

    Its all a bit like how the old ‘sus’ laws used to unearth more black criminals – if 80% of the people you stop and search are black you are 4 times more likely to find black criminals than white.

    Still. Shocking example of statistics abuse.

  2. I’m not sure you’ve proved anything unless you know what proportion of the crimes on the Met database are solved, which they don’t appear to say.

    A quick Google tells me that the Met “solved” (i.e. got some smackhead to have another 3786 burglaries taken into consideration on the understanding thet he’d get a lighter sentence) 21% of crimes in 2006. Tony McNumpty released the figures in the last few days of 2007.

    So your “1 in 20” becomes more like 1 in 4, your “6% and not a third” becomes 6 times 5 – well, would you believe it – about a third, and burglaries – wow – goes up to 38%.

    Refresher course in statistics ?

  3. Wow Laban Tall, you really need to go back to school mate.

    Lets use your method to calculate how dangerous my fellow Brits are. So 19 in 20 violent crimes are committed by non-foreigners, 95%. By multiplying by 5 as per your ingenious method we find out that… 475% of all violent crime was done by British citizens.

    OMFG!!1!!11! Run to the hills and grab yourself a shotgun.. the Brits are coming!!

  4. Laban:

    The point I’m making here is that to get from the Telegraph’s figures for solved crimes to the 1 in 5 crimes committed by foreigners shtick you have to suppose that a further 20% of all reported violent crimes, 28% of reported sex offences and fuck knows how many frauds, as the stats given are for theft and handling, are all committed by foreign nationals.

    In short, you have to believe in bullshit.

  5. Surely it’s just a question of “solved crimes by foreigners” divided by “solved crimes” ? (Always given that the clear up rate may be different for different types of crime).

    If say 20% of solved crime is committed by green aliens, I’m quite prepared to believe that they’ve also committed “a further” 20% of the unsolved crime. Not sure why that seems so unreasonable to you.

    Anyway, I’m off to bed. So should you be too ! Goodnight.

  6. Oh dear – I wouldn’t start throwing around the “back to school” insults just yet.

    Laban is right.

    You should divide by *solved* crimes to get the relevant percentage.

  7. If you bother to read the Telegraph article, then it’s they who claim that ‘more than one crime in five in London is now committed by a foreign national’

    Not ‘solved crimes’ but crimes committed, which is a very different thing.

    Obviously you’re having comprehension problems with this comment of mine…

    ‘Of course, this doesn

  8. Hi Unity,

    I’ve blogged about these figures before when the Mail and Express used identical ones.

    The Telegraph coverage is worse than you thought. The paper’s counting the number of people accused, but claiming they’re solved crimes AND crimes committed. I know because I submitted my own FOI request and I’ve got the raw data in front of me. I’ve also got figures for people charged in the whole of 2007, and they’re way lower than those accused in the first six months. Solved crimes will be even lower than that.

    If you want the full data, drop me an email at fivechinesecrackers AT gmail DOT com. I’ll probably be blogging about this myself today.

  9. OK – so it would have been be more accurate for them to to say:

    “Foreigners account for a fifth out of the crimes which are solved, that number itself representing a fifth of all crimes committed.
    On the assumption that that 20% sample (the solved crimes) is representative of the whole (all crimes), then it is not unreasonable to suggest that foreigners do indeed commit around 20% of all crime, solved or unsolved.”

    Happy now?

  10. Since the 2001 Census recorded that the foreign-born population in London accounted for around 28 per cent of the total – presumably considerably more now – surely the real story here is that people born overseas appear to be *more* law abiding than those born in the UK?

    You can check the data out here:

    Of course the real real story is, hey, they’re just like us!

  11. In the 2001 census, 27% of people in London were born outside the UK (and I think that’s gone up, but can’t find the source figures). So, even if 1 in 5 crimes are committed by foreigners, they’re much better behaved than Brits.

  12. Of course, just realised that the Torygraph is talking about foreign nationals, not foreign born (some of whom will be British citizens). Still, with recent influx from Eastern Europe I’d be very surprised if the foreign national population is less than 20 per cent, the point still holds

  13. Also, what percentage of the population of London are “foreigners”? That table looks a lot like a list of the most numerous nationalities in London.

  14. The Telegraph says they’re talking about foreign nationals, but the actual figures don’t refer to foreign nationals at all. They only measure what someone states as their nationality when they come to the attention to the police. The person accused could be born here and describe themselves as being another nationality or born abroad and describe themselves as British – or they could be lying – and there’s no way of telling how many are actually resident here.

    They’re pretty meaningless actually – which could be why the police don’t publish them.

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