Police officers are failing to record rapes and child sex abuse offences in an attempt to improve performance figures, MPs have been told.
Officers use techniques such as “cuffing”, “nodding”, “skewing” and “stitching” to make figures look better, the House of Commons Public Administration Committee has heard.
One serving officer told MPs rapes and child sex abuse offences were being recorded as “crime-related incidents” or “no crimes”.
He said he estimated rapes and serious sexual offences were being under-recorded by around 25% because of the manipulation of figures.
Metropolitan Police constable James Patrick – who is currently awaiting disciplinary proceedings – said he became concerned after joining the force in 2009 and finding robberies being logged as “theft snatch” in order to get them “off the books”.
He said: “The extent of this in the borough I was initially in was large. They were showing in some reports… a 400% increase in street robberies. If you looked at the same reports a couple of days later, robberies would be static, but theft snatch would have increased by a large amount.”
Committee chairman Mr Jenkin said he was “shocked that apparently such manipulation of police statistics could possibly happen on such a wide scale and become so institutionally prevalent”.
Mr Jenkin said: “I think what we have heard is basically how there is a system of incentives in the police that has become inherently corrupting and I think that is a very shocking thing to hear.”
He added: “This is a really savage thing to say, that we can’t trust the leadership of our constabularies to measure their own performance. This is what we pay our chief constables to do.”
Peter Barron, a former Met detective chief superintendent, said: “Performance culture takes its toll and some boroughs have their performance capped.
“They can only afford to have X number of burglaries per day and X number of robberies per week.
“At the daily meeting, they will discuss individual crimes with a view to see what opportunities there are to count them as something other than a priority crime.”
He suggested some chief police officers were guilty of “fraud” for making sure their force met performance targets.