Crime statistics are used by different groups for different things. On a political level, it provides a measure for the success or failure of certain criminal justice policies. On an operational level, it provides important information on how best to allocate state resources. From a civil society perspective, it provides indicators against which to measure criminal justice performance and therefore an important tool to hold accountability the various role-players in the criminal justice system.
The precinct level statistics should also be used by community safety and security practitioners to develop, implement and measure the success of social crime prevention initiatives. It is critical that the crime statistics are credible and reliable else national, provincial, local and community level decision-makers and crime prevention/reduction practitioners may plan and act inappropriately to crime problems.
In 2006, the British Home Office reviewed the United Kingdom’s Official Crime Statistics because:
- The Home Secretary is concerned that public trust in the crime statistics produced by the Home Office has declined to such an extent that it is no longer possible to have a debate about alternative criminal justice policies on the basis of agreed facts about the trends in crime. He wishes to be advised on what changes could be made to the production and release of crime statistics so that public trust is re-established .
Therefore, without accurate crime statistics, criminal justice policies and their impact cannot be quantified. However, crime statistics alone cannot provide all the answers but they do assist us to plan and monitor local level and national level crime prevention initiatives.