A report on “target culture” in the police by the Metropolitan Police Federation has exposed the extent to the use of target-setting is failing victims of sexual violence and has inflated the use of racist stop and search powers.
The report speaks of “culture of fear” in the police, with one unnamed officer complaining that: “Every month we are named and shamed with a league table by our supervisors...”
It also warns that “unhealthy and arguably unethical behaviour has become the norm in several boroughs... as the end is used to justify the means when it comes to meeting performance targets. These behaviours include figure fiddling and policy breaches.”
Data manipulation, said to be “rife”, is a particular cause for concern in cases involving rape and sexual assault.
In November 2013, Met whistleblower PC James Patrick told the House of Commons public administration committee that Met figures on rape were being artificially kept down to boost apparent performance.
One method of massaging the figures is the practice of recording allegations as “crime-related incidents” rather than crimes, leading to cases not being investigated properly. In 2009, the Guardian revealed that as many as six boroughs in the Met had used this technique.
Patrick also told MPs that: “A preference had developed to try to justify ‘no crime’ on the basis of mental health or similar issues of vulnerability or by saying that the victim has refused to disclose to them.”
When asked by Committee chair Bernard Jenkin if “this would finish up with trying to persuade a victim that they weren’t raped, for example?”, Patrick replied: “Effectively, yes.”
The arbitrary use of targets also has a bearing on the number of stop and searches, whether or not it is judged to be warranted by crime levels.
One officer reported: “We are set individual targets of four arrests per month and 10 stop and searches. There should be at least one positive stop and search per month (i.e. leading to arrest), and there is also the ‘suggestion’ that should you be called to an incident, perhaps stop and search them first or whilst investigating the incident (obviously that is a serious breach of procedure and law) in order to get a search figure.”
As black people are 6.3 times more likely to be stopped and searched, the police are racially harassing people to meet their targets.