Monday, July 07, 2008

Donpaskini gets angry at the cost of crime report

Donpaskini is angry about the Cost of Crime report.

Before I refute his actual claim I need to deal with his accusation that I'm lying. Essentially he believes that I'm pretending the report's empirical evidence concerning the problem of crime justifies my recommendations when there is no clear link. Even if he were right then my error would be a non sequitur, not a dishonesty; a fallacy, not a lie. I just thought I should clear that up. Throwing accusations of dishonesty around without justification is unfortunate.

Now, to his main accusation. He describes my logic as the following:

Stage 1: Data analysis using government figures about costs of
different crimes, broken down by region to derive a cost per head of crimes in
that area

Stage 2: (Mumble, mumble)

Stage 3: Therefore we need to cut bureaucracy and elect local police
chiefs, just as the Conservative Party want

It's pretty simple really. Our report is designed to illustrate the seriousness of the problem and how it varies between areas, so that forces can better be held to account. It does that with Stage 1 alone.

However, we can't leave it there. If we write a report that identifies a serious problem we are rightly going to be expected to have some ideas about a solution. I was asked, in every radio interview, something along the lines of "so, what do you think can be done to get this cost down". Having answers, however tentative, to that question in the report makes it more effective. It makes our analysis more positive and helpful.

It's really nothing more than that. Not all interesting empirical reports provide a neat case for one solution to a problem or another. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be accompanied by policy ideas.

1 comment:

donpaskini said...

This is a measured and thoughtful response to my post, and I'll update to link to it.

Would you accept that there is no evidence from the data that the TPA collected and analysed in the report that "If the Government give people the information and the power to tailor their local police force to their local needs, we will be able to drive crime levels down and improve the lives of millions"?

I appreciate that you are going to get asked about solutions, but at the very least I'd have thought that there should be some kind of mention where the policy recommendations aren't based on the research findings.

Another way of doing it would be to have a section on what further research might be helpful to develop policy responses to the findings of the report - that tends to be what Joseph Rowntree Foundation, for example, would do.