Crime May Not Be Falling At All

The number of people in prison has more or less doubled since 1993.  Police recorded crime has more or less halved in this period.  The linked document gives some of the reasons for the rise in the prison population.  The only one that seems to matter is that courts are trying more serious offences against the person.

One can understand that creeps in prison have less chance to commit crimes against us and so crime might drop, but wouldn’t we expect the drop in crime to lead to lower volumes through courts and caution systems at some point?  In some ways one might expect declining crime to lead to a declining prison population, those on probation, doing community service and so on.  One might also expect the recidivist population to decline too.  Judging on what happens in the courts this isn’t true.

In 2011/2012 68,100 out of 108,119 offenders with more than 15 previous convictions, some 62.9%, received a penalty other than prison. This was compared to 49,729 in 2006/07, an increase of 38%.

So with crime declining year on year the prison population and the numbers of recidivists getting non-custodial sentences is rising.  The number of convictions offenders have is rising a lot too, with 44% having 15 or more on the rap sheet.

There has been a fall in out of court disposals (cautions, fixed penalties).  I don’t get fussy about precision until I think I have a correlation model.  I can’t get past the notion that a real fall in crime should lead to a fall in criminals being convicted.  Clearly this may not be a straightforward relation, as banging up recidivists might well reduce crime while the useless creeps are banged up.

I know police crime stats are juked – they always were.  All developed countries show a big drop since around 2000 and no doubt nodding, skewing, cuffing and fitting play a role.  Performance management itself has been on the rise in the public sector and a lot of pressure is put on the people doing it year on year.  One of my old universities simply lied on the employment figures for its graduates (it was me who taught the poor sod with no data how to do this – pick a figure just above the national average and work the spreadsheet backwards – they still do this).

The way police figures are going we will have no crime in 12 years.  One would suspect there must be a point at which the prisons would be empty of all but lifers and the few bobbies left fighting over rescuing kittens from trees.  This, of course, isn’t going to happen.

With crime down roughly 50% it seems amazing our cops have got so good at finding it that they are still getting as many crooks as ever in front of the courts or other means of disposal – after all you might think they would only have half the opportunities to spot bodies to nick.  My own thief taking was pretty random and I suspect would have dropped more than half with only half the opportunities (one gives up through boredom) – at least in uniform.  So where does the steady stream of jail fodder come from and why do they have more convictions than ever on arrest?

If we have more criminals committing less crime one would expect them to have fewer convictions on arrest.  Given the idiots who commit most crime we might expect doubling the prison population to reduce crime by 50% – though this assumes one scumbag is not simply replaced by another.  On this “model” doubling the prison population again would more or less eradicate crime.

Criminals inside don’t commit crime in society – that’s rock solid.  So twice as many locked up might be a fit with a 50% reduction in crime.  But what is the relation between the actual criminal population size and the relevant prison population?  I doubt we ever have half of them banged up.  Say it’s one in ten and we double that.  All of a sudden the ratios collapse in any simple form – we still have 80% of them in society instead of 90% – so crime would drop only 10% or so on the simple model.  Of course, those left among us might be substantially deterred – but we should remember recidivists are slow learners if they learn at all.

Remember, many corporations increase profits and top manager earnings simply through accounting devices and tax stealing through offshore transfer pricing and offshoring jobs to gain global wage arbitrage.  Police accounting is quite possibly as bent.

It makes sense to me that the availability of criminals to bang up and otherwise dispose of (I like the term ‘dispose’) is because there is plenty of crime.  There is certainly enough for the criminals themselves to have bigger rap sheets than in the past (up from 9 convictions to 15 in a few years).

One needs a dynamic model of crime to know whether it is going up or down.  I work with statistics for a living and intend no unpaid overtime here.  The production of a decent model is someone else’s job.  i’d want paying.  The question is why some overpaid ex-student of mine in some government department or criminologist hasn’t produced such a model.  There will be work comparing police recorded crime with the British Crime Survey – but both of these are subject to abuse, the latter done on the cheap.

There is clearly a point at which, if crime is really falling, there will be few criminals left to catch and a fall in jail numbers and those in front of courts or otherwise disposed.  This is obvious before we get clever with numbers.  In the States they’ve been jailing people for fun, personal profit and generally being black or brown.  Their cops have been reducing crime figures for years too and their prison population is four or five times ours – without reaching the obvious mutual decline above.

I don’t know at this stage what I would include in a crime model spreadsheet – what I have in mind would render the BCS obsolete and be much cheaper.  Essentially we need to correlate police figures with courts, jails, probation and money estimates of crime.  We could create an online BCS-type check.  Anyway no one is paying me so I’ll just say my guess from police, court/other disposal and jail figures is that 43 chief constables are lying to us about crime.  And the government is wasting loads of our money producing useless figures.

We should really expect crime to rise because of austerity, pressure on welfare and immigration (French cops hate Romanians).  I’ve used approximations here,  but what I’m saying in principle holds.

I’d take recording crime out of police hands – after all its mostly clerical-routine – this would partly stop the gaming-juking – but also improve service delivery.  I don’t normally like privatisation but a bit of customer choice might be good on ringing the law.  Nah! Scrap that – they’d start trying to sell us life insurance.  We could try something like this:

Crime might just be down because we have most of the prolific offenders in prison – if this is the case we’d expect it hard for cops to reduce crime much further.  A pile of considerations can be found here:

The latest ONS – in which I discovered BS is now CSEW is here and says the crime drop is real:,5

The ONS work does point to some of the problems in believing police recorded crime from a different tack than Steve Bennett.  While it isn’t hard to believe crime will fall by banging crooks up, we need more sophisticated analysis.  I’d start by asking the criminals.  I know they are lying bastards but there are ways.  That and the cops on the line.  A small straw poll suggests criminal activity is moving – from burglary (too risky) to borrowing from shops and stealing cash in public places.

When Will The Lying – From Police Statistics to the Economy Stop?

Plato wrote seven books on the training of people supposed to look after society – his Guardians.  I gave up after The Republik – you can get this free on line.  My rating of even this famous tome is dross – somewhere below a Zimbabwean high interest bond.  Students never came into my business maths modules to learn the maths and understand the limited application of such.  They were instrumental, after a piece of paper that would help them get a job.  They restricted their in class learning to being able to do the sums set in tests, not unlike the cops and others in ‘diversity training’ and other hapless nonsense learn ‘correct speak’.

Police statistics across the developed world show a consistent drop in crime.  Cops know there is really an increase in crime.  I’ve heard many comment that the burglars become ‘borrowers from  shops’, that there is a massive increase in fraud, the war on drugs is lost and so on.  What makes sense of the repeated claims that crime is dropping is a proper understanding of “performance management” – and ultimately the old Soviet style of performance management has taken over our societies.  Can you really say the word “targets” these days without wanting to spit?

Not long ago we were being told a new knowledge society was being formed – the left denounced this decades ago as a “risk society” and critique of mainstream neo-liberal, neo-classical and neo-con (there is no alternative) buffoonery stretches back more than a century.  Critique largely comes from people on sinecures of one form or another and largely fails to engage the population at large.

Pretty much any complex formal reasoning is beyond most of our population.  Universal education has largely failed in this respect.  I know plenty of people who can spot that police statistics lie and that bankers lie about their systems and the personal brilliance and risk taking through which they merit vast bonuses.  It is also easy to dismiss cops struggling in the day-to-day lunacy of the Swamp, Reservation and Everglades who believe ACPO are pathetic, careerist pen-pushers (think NHS, Care, Banks too).  This is “envy” or the attitude of malcontents.  The Catch 22 is that to avoid being envious or malcontent one must produce soundly argued critique and any such critique is broadly wasted because the population won’t be able to understand it.  Hence ‘dictatorships of the proletariat’ and other unimpressive top-down solutions that first require proles run towards bullets.

Most banks across the world have undergone ‘stress tests’ since the crash.  Banks in Cyprus passed theirs 18 months back and are now clearly worth as many multiples of a bag of rocking horse droppings needed to produce a big, fat, zero.  The UK and USA are very similar on the debt front on household, corporate and government debt per capita.  The UK has vastly higher financial sector debt.  I have seen no public exhibition on whether this financial sector debt is a good or bad thing, or even whose money is involved or at risk.  I can say, on the other debt, that a 30% wealth tax would put the UK and USA to rights  (i.e bring household, corporate and government debt to the supposedly optimal 180% of GDP).  When polices statistics get in the news it’s very rare for the material to be treated as performance management and the figures are taken at face value.

We are now 5 years post-Lehman and every six months or so the books get cooked again in front of us.  A magician tells us everything is hunky-dory and we get on with waiting for the next bail out – and now post-Cyprus for bail-ins that will take our savings accounts.  Across other performance managed tedium we wait for the next Hillsborough, next Baby P, next Nico Bento, next lousy hospital, next miserable treatment of the disabled and old – and so on.

The simple answer is that our “professionals” are lying to us as surely as any Soviet apparatchik (there the apparatchiks have become the entrepreneurchiks).  What we have lost, if we ever had it, is accounting based on reality.  A question I want an answer to is what would really happen if we collapsed the financial sector entirely, replacing it with small, local banks doing real investment and utility work.  Would we starve, not be able to have homes, medical care and things we really need?  This is a basic question about our security and one would think politicians and media-types would want us to know.

I regard many organisations as much worse than the police – social work, lawyering, accountants, banksters, politicians and my own academy.  The idea of a more “professional” police fore fills me with dread.  Our local bobby and CPSO are fine – the problems are in management and we should be looking at much less of this, not paying it more through professionalisation.

The bankers’ (and I think bankster now the better term) role in our society is not explained so we can understand what they do, and much the same can be said of our managers and politicians across our society.  They all seem to need vast amounts of produced wealth (sort of money) to do these jobs not explained to us.  There were claims not long ago that the financial sector might be producing as much as 40% of our GDP – but now it seems the accounting of this is in multiples of the bag of rocking horse droppings standardised in Value at Risk.  They can make up their accounts and do so based on various fantasies.

We need some good management – but I suspect we can’t get any until the lying stops.  In the police example we keep hearing the same performance management figures and such matters (if we look) as vast increases in the recidivist criminal population that suggest an opposite of any decrease in crime.  Our prisons are full, yet huge numbers of new arrivals already have a dozen community punishments.  Politicians may ponse on about human rights, but keep quiet about the UK (and US) as a very poor place to get legal help and access to justice in the developed world.

I take the guess that financial services are almost entirely criminal and no use to anyone decent (we only need utility banking and would be better off with general rather than ‘personal’ pension plans – to cut fees that destroy much of the investment – and banks that could invest in facilities we need and not chase “international rates of return”).  No one is explaining to us how our contributions to bail outs is supposed to work and why the vastly competent super heroes of finance can’t use their own kryptonite.

We know damned well what would happen if we abolished the police force and I doubt even criminals would vote for that (the rest of us would kill them).  Abolishing ACPO is another matter, as collapsing financial services to utility status would be.  Getting on with management reform after collapsing the lies might even give us more cops and allow guaranteed employment (I’d invest in cattle prod futures on account of our more recalcitrant welfare spongers – including banksters newly separated from their ill-gotten gains).

Yates (once of the Yard) is now a standard Bahrain thug cop

We learned today that Yates was so economical with the truth in front of Parliament over Ms Wallis’ job application that most of us would consider him to have lied.  He can also be seen on Channel 4 News lying that the resistance in Bahrain is about criminals in the villages attacking unarmed police.  For a place with “no crime” Bahrain has a vast police force in addition to a very large military (both massive for somewhere with a population of about one million, half of which is expat).

I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of this video in which the unarmed police sport assault rifles and (towards the end) another throws a petrol bomb.

I find it extremely disturbing that anyone like Yates could hold senior office in the Met.  After 8 years the IPCC is now merely addressing the problems of senior figures retiring before disciplinary action as something they can do nothing about..  It is more likely Yates was appointed for his ability to bullshit in cover-up than any reforming ability.  Is this a mere continuation of his role at the Met?  He is now condoning an oppressive regime, though we  would be unlikely to fully support the opposition, some of which is crude, sexist and backward-looking in its fervor – though also full of splendid people.  Some years back the Bahrain Government denied there were any prisons in the country, let alone torture.  There was a massive jail near Jaws and 10% of my students had suffered torture.  Yates is now a mouthpiece for the current lies.  I find it intolerable senior service with the Met has produced such a monster and wonder how many more there are.

Another Police Shooting Goes Wrong

I’d like to see a good percentage police patrol vehicles carrying a rifle and someone trained to use it.  In a better world I’d rather see an unarmed police force, but we’re going from bad to worse.  The basic idea is to give officers and the public confidence the right kind of back up can be brought in quickly when nutters of criminal and terrorist varieties kick off.

There’s a sad history of shootings going wrong.  Duggan and Grainer look to be part of this, but so was the awful accident in training that killed Ian Terry.  There is always a price to pay in practical matters.  Many believe we can’t properly arm our police for fears of escalation – but this ignores the stresses of working as a cop, or being innocent participants in some killing spree, without speedy containment.  There is a wider story than the odd sequence of bungles.

The Grauniad has just produced this piece of dross on Grainger – – and much of the problem from Stockwell, through Duggan and on to this concerns utterly false reporting and the lack of ability to state the honest case quickly, for a variety of legal and PR ‘reasons’.  Our sub-judice laws are antiquated and based on silly ideas of what will prejudice a fair trial – as in Leveson and the Akers’ testimony.

Justice delayed is justice denied and we should allow quick and accurate reporting – indeed insist on it – and ensure we have jurors capable of making decisions on evidence in court, rather than turkeys swayed by earlier barking rot in the media or for that matter allowed in court as in Nico Bento and the well-known Irish cases.  The current system encourages gossip and for police and public bodies to engage in secrecy under the claim they have to wait for the day in court.

We don’t know why Grainger or Duggan were shot or even de Menezes.  We do know GMP even killed one of its own in training and along with a catalogue from around the world know officers are ramped up and will make mistakes.  In one incident, a black detective was shot 13 times by his own (he lived).  I was involved in some very farcical activity myself and have no faith a court and jury could understand why a weapon might be wrongly discharged and  what the pressures of not taking a shot can be.  Can one, for instance, shoot a terrorist running away, in order to protect the public in the future?

Our laws need bringing up to speed in a number of areas to include the necessity of quick statements of facts within days of incidents that cannot be ruled as  prejudicing future trials.  The trials of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four were clearly prejudiced by Irish hysteria and god knows what happened in the Bento case  in which judge and jury were convinced by claptrap expert non-evidence.  This had nothing to do with the press reporting facts in an early delivery of what the prosecution case was.

If Grainger has survived, could he possibly face a fair trial given his record has been made public?  Can the others arrested given we know this was a suspected armed robbery?  The answer is ‘yes’ – and so can various journalist managers after Akers.  There either is evidence or not.  That many people have no clue what evidence is and believe gossip, religion and other rot is always a matter for a court – sadly our courts aren’t particularly good at determining evidence themselves, with judges who would  struggle with O level chemistry poncing on about which forensic evidence to believe.  Denning called utterly crap evidence good against known standards and he is hardly alone.

My contention is our cops are being put through fear on a regular basis that wouldn’t be there if we had a more honest system and could trust to wider firearms issue.  In the way of this is the fear of telling the truth quickly when something goes wrong, including the ludicrous story of shouting ‘armed police’ at Stockwell and the branding of at least 17 witnesses as muppets incapable of hearing it — when the obvious need was for quick shooting to prevent a terrorist pushing the button rather than giving him reason to do so – except he was just an innocent man hyped by a trail of incompetence into what he was not in the shooters’ minds.  The focus on the shooter is a mistake and full of gossip-based idiocy.  We need a very different debate.



Don’t Believe an ACPO Word On Modernisation – a link to the Lesser Odious Blair – this one the dork who ran the Met.

I spent some time doing organisational restructuring.  It isn’t pleasant and the major “tool” is sacking people.  People are usually the major business cost.  If you can get rid of them you can buy more advanced machines and this usually lets you get – er – rid of more people.  Terms like rationalisation, modernisation, squeezing costs and all kinds of kwality initiatives cover the basic function.

The idea is supposed to be about producing an overall economy that is high productivity, low unit cost.  We all benefit because we end up in smarter jobs, earning more as UK plc vanquishes external competition.  Obvious bolloxs – but most people seem suckered by this drivel – it has a compelling logic but more or less no corroborating data.

Various countries have been stacked up as being better than this than the UK.  The USA, Germany, Japan have all been the lands of milk and honey in the myth.  They never were.  In other countries Thatcher is lauded for curing the British disease, but in fact “Thatcherism” pre-dates the Iron Lady by a couple of decades.

What smashed our working-class economy was international competition – largely a combination of cheap labour putting up with poor working conditions, huge improvements in logistics (particularly shipping), new production engineering requiring greenfield sites, the ability to embody skills in machines and greedy top managers and utterly hapless politicians.

Many sectors of our current economy are uncompetitive, but find ways to look as though they aren’t.  We seem OK with notions like textile workers having to compete with  South Asian sweat shops and child labour, but somehow OK with our cops being paid vast differentials over such distant counterparts – and judges, lawyers, professionals and managers.  There is no evidence they are more productive than their distant counterparts.

So now the cops are putting some of their work out to tender.  In any company doctoring I did, ‘modernisation’ largely involved finding out who was getting paid a lot and could be delayered.  This means cuts to the overall budget – and it does not mean, as Blair glibly states, that this saving will be spent on more vital activities.  It might mean this in a private company where redeploying the savings could increase productivity and sales; but it just will not mean this in the public sector where the spend is being cut.  It means jobs will go through ‘natural wastage’, redundancies and potentially a big axe on promoted jobs through promotion freezes, new forms of ‘area management’ (with fewer managers) and getting management done at lower levels without extra pay.  These are the rules of the game – Blair and other ACPOs hope to manage the process and keep their own fat pay.  If I was doing the job the outcome would be similar, except I’d delayer the lot of them too.

The obvious and rarely addressed problem with all this efficiency is that it only makes sense in an economy with employers hungry for labour and capital hungry to invest in productive economy.  In previous times it has taken the Black Death and world wars to bring this about.  Sent to Japan to see their miracle first-hand, I found low unemployment but also people doing all kinds of non-jobs in banks and government that made our Post Office look like it was running on a skeleton staff (1980s).  There were great conditions in key factories, but also many employed part-time (48 hours a week) on low pay.  It was clear even then they had no answer to maintaining full employment other than government spending.  Though their executives take more responsible pay, my liver is still recovering from expense account spending!

The essential analysis is called business process analysis.  In policing this reveals that much work done is clerical and can thus be done at a cheaper rate.  I would expect much of the management could also be driven down the ranks and senior jobs eliminated under a form of area management,  You don’t hire extra staff, but cheaper new  staff and although you want the management done, you want this to be part of the lower order jobs, not a LOMBARD class (lots of money but are right dicks).

I could knock out a spreadsheet on what changes produce what savings.  As a clue, you cost the average PC with her on costs (pension, redundancy entitlements etc.), get rid of 100 and cost the new staff (say 50 clerks) and their on costs.  You then cash-flow the savings to show break even points.  You bring in a new rank of ‘supervising constable’ (some are currently called area beat managers) and see how many sergeants and inspectors can go.  Keep doing this until you have rid the world of half of ACPO.

The upfront redundancy costs are laid off against future savings and reduced cash-flow.  You might create a new management level with all current ranks from chief inspector of chief super rolled into one and put out to interview.

Alongside this you would look to reduce the number of steps and any duplication in identified business processes – say getting some bastard to court.  Summons, for instance, beats arrest, custody and charge hands down in business terms.

I admit it is complex, but it always means fewer and less well paid jobs with lower pensions.  No one has ever worked out how to do any of this and produce new job opportunities with comparable pay and conditions.  Why would the private sector produce such when it can invest elsewhere at cheaper rates that bring it more profit?  The private sector cavalry is as mythical as Custer  is as a hero (basically he was a money-grubber who led his men on a cavalry charge into a volcano after an act of genocide).

Not only will the jobs that go never return, the ‘savings’ won’t help the economy either.  Wages have flat-lined since 1980 and cash in the hands of our bottom 50% (most cops) has shrunk from 14% to 1 %.  This is why our pubs, shops and so on have disappeared and why much small business can’t make its way – no one can spend unless they borrow and that bubble has burst,  The redundant cop with any sense will pay down her mortgage debt, not go on a spending rampage.  Most won’t get a sinecure in Bahrain to make sure nothing changes there!

I think most would agree our legal system needs modernisation and to be much cheaper.  We would like to see our economy more productive.  The way to do this is through full employment as a right and democratic-approved earnings caps in all sectors and a more equal society which retains (or improves) innovation motivation and getting the work we need done done.  I’ve always wondered why we are so scared of this and why, with chronic examples like the Soviet Union, we are so tamely on the road to serfdom under banking tyranny’s unseen politburo.

Any money saved in police modernisation (I think ACPO so dire it will end up as a cost) will just be sucked into the swamp of money making money a long way from our shores. And our cops will end up demoralised, just as the communities based around mines still are.  The shining economic miracle of the Rising Sun is now the dead donkey of leading government debt.  If they couldn’t do the jobs business why should we think we can using the ideology that failed them?  Sound, capitalist Japanese will tell you cutting government spending actually made their earlier collapse much worse.

The Privatisation of Policing

Readers will recall that the gutless Coalition no one voted for failed to take up my offer of policing by my Zambian trained Laotian Guard supervised by a call centre in Bangalore.  The thrust of my argument that policing is basically minimum wage scut-work that can be routinised like Macdonalds or shelf-stacking has nonetheless taken hold between the powerful thighs of the Home Secretary.  One can pick up the gist at –

The whole idea of right-wing economics is to produce levels of efficiency in which no jobs are worth doing and make the wages of the Chinese peasant economy the world currency.  ACO-Offshore always experiences difficulties in reducing public sector pay and the various Spanish practices such as insistence on qualified doctors, nurses and unreasonable insistences on a living wage and pensions.  One 7th of the cop at your door or refusing over the phone to send one is pension.  Any of my Laotians who can no longer jump high enough on my command merely does the decent thing, returning to subsistence farming or drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle.  We can’t have these old cops on the welfare bill for 40 years pretending their superannuation paid for it.  They are clearly a drag on current efficiency and force ACO-Offshore to hold much of our nationally created profits in the Caymans.

Thatcher taught us we have no need to wasteful mining, manufacturing and collective bargaining, and should buy in commodities, plastic trash and energy from the cheapest serf economies.  Bow we must tale full advantage of the knowledge that the going rate for work is whatever it commands in rural China or a tin mine in the Congo (just not quite enough food in order to motivate ensured effort tomorrow).  There is no point importing highly skilled Eastern Europeans and having them idle about in low paid jobs when they could take over high paid jobs in policing, displacing our own talent into working smarter in the jobs they so often point out our Swamp-class decline.

The key element in all this is the levelling of public sector privilege to the golden par days of How Green Was My Valley in which expensive Welsh workers were replaced with virtuously cheap Irish ones.  There will be many claims about skills and getting the job done properly – but look at Response which is manned by men and women wet-behind-the-ears from training school and old lags who have upset supervision somewhere.  And what advances would a private sector manager, such as myself, bring to the statistics of police success when he could relate them directly to a doubling of a vulture fund investment in Congolese Enclosures?

Wake up and smell the coffee people – you are vastly overpaid, There is a waiting reserve army to take your jobs and this is only what has happened across other industry sectors while you supported the Establishment.  The textile, shipyard and manufacturing workers were first and you didn’t stand up for them.  Now they’re coming for you.   They haven’t even started reducing the deficit yet – it’s really up to 150% of GDP.  We’ll be going Greek soon.  One pound in every seven of police pay is going on pensions and all salaries are 50% too high.  It costs £500 to get one of you to an incident.  ACO-Offshore will reduce that to £100 through judicious use of market forces, home working and networked response through the temporary deputisation of people next door.

Some rank and file objections can be found here – .

The real changes we need are economic and this means economics based on full employment with wages  that encourage decent lives (for cops as well as those criminally inclined) in jobs we deem worth doing instead of the current immoral banksterism.  We could have doubled the size of our policing effort and still imported all the crap we don’t want, including the inability to pay and retain the cops we need.

Corruption Report

Corruption is seen to be a major problem across the EU, both in terms of the EU’s institutions themselves and in the member countries.  A major report can be found at – – with the full EU report here –

In the depths of the report you will find that interviews with around 1300 people across the UK revealed that a third of UK citizens think that bribery or abuse of power is widespread among the police. By comparison the Finnish seem relatively confident in their police force, with just 7% considering abuse of power as an issue for police in Finland.  Generally speaking, across the report, those having the hardest economic times (struggling to pay bills) tend to believe there is more corruption than those better off.

58% of the those asked in the UK see bribery or abuse of power is widespread among politicians, while an astonishing 98% of those asked in Greece saw corruption as a major problem.  The costs incurred by corruption in the EU are around £100 billion per year. Worrying then that the majority of Europeans (70%) think that corruption is unavoidable and that it has always existed.

The report is based on typical social science opinion polling and doesn’t break much new ground.  Work like this can be found buried under our glossy ‘news production’ for years.  Big business runs on tax evasion it makes into avoidance by bribing politicians.  Britain is the hub of massive offshore tax havens.  Academics even attempt to justify it all through Laffer curves and the like – based on the notion pretty much anything is better than letting government get its hands on the money.  Hedge fund favourite Apple sits on a huge offshore haul, and, of course, crude worker exploitation in China.

Opinion, of course, may be just what people make up in their tiny little minds after a conversation with Fairies.  The big message may be that human behaviour tends to corruption when the system doesn’t keep us honest – but this is facile as one only has to watch sports to know this.  We may be approaching a time in which we need to sweep our organisational systems clean, with all the dangers this brings in changing power relations.  We need something as severe as revolution, but we’ve seen plenty and they have done little about the problem.  Behaviour doesn’t change, just possession of the whip and how can do the ripping off.  All the anti-corruption design of the New York PD left it needing Bill Braxton and communism has been little more than a notable failure (weirdly many of our performance management schemes are broadly ‘Soviet’).

Hard evidence on police corruption comes from areas like wire-taps and long-term observation.  If we turned this kind of investigation on our politicians and big business (which is done at micro-level in Panorama and Dispatches), god knows what we’d find.  Obama is preventing any such investigation into bank mortgage fraud and the rest – so the Establishment must know the likely outcome.

If this EU survey had caught me in its questioning, I’d have said I think our police are corrupt.  But it would not have gone on to ask why or whether I think I’d get a better deal from them in comparison with other places I’ve lived (generally a big yes).  The corruption issue for me is that our cops are not loosed on corruption in our wider societies.

time to strip the rich of their assets?

Statistics has a long and disreputable history outside science and mathematics.  The word is from the Greek meaning ‘numbers of the State’.  The first notable stats I know of concern the Athenian treasury – where the actual and claimed deposits were out by several decimal points (needless to say this was not an error of surplus).  The response of the Athenian Democracy was genocide; not of those with fingers in the till, but some poor sods elsewhere whose grain was considered more important than their lives.

The Greek treasury is empty again, though quite how empty we don’t know.  Accounts no longer tally or account, but hide.    This is true of performance management everywhere – and what ‘performances’ they are!  British crime statistics are considered as though they represent all crime, yet are only the tip of an iceberg (Steve Bennett‘s blog has all you need –  The questions we need to get at concern why we have become so deceitful and have ‘scientised’ the deceit.  We need better explanations of actual behaviour, of theories-in-practice rather than what is espoused.

No amount of postmodern pisswitter is going to get to the truth.  In one sense the truth is already out there.  We know this is a rotten world and we should be doing better.  I think a WB Yeates poem hits the rub – the one which starts and ends with a beggar being lashed by a horseman.  Revolution has left all the same except who does the lashing.  Inherent in all social critique is that we can bureaucratise power through government and yet who do we mistrust more than politicians and bureaucrats?  They are standardly the vile creatures of our literature, from The Frogs to Dirty Harry.  Power cannot be trusted to look after itself.  All the communist experiments failed with a combination of the iron cage of bureaucracy and mad despotism.

There’s a need to understand our bureaucracies in terms of the real actions of such as scumbag politicians feeding at the trough and cleaning up on insider trading, down to lowly cops nodding and cuffing crime (approved by bosses in everything except a paper trail) and social workers doing anything but visit their clients.  And we have to understand that we bend to the same winds and are part of what is rotten in the State of Denmark.

In economics and finance, stuff like the Black-Scholes equation, Gaussian single and multiple copula and all kinds of chaos modelling would make any cop already pissed to despair on multivariate statistics weep.  Just as there can be a point in predictive policing, there could be one in market analysis.  Questions arise about what outcomes make the kind of point we want.  It’s easy enough to state some on policing – crime prevention, villains nicked, communities safeguarded … all hard to quantify.  I have used such criteria in EU bids (plus jobs created and safeguarded) and one uses a spreadsheet to produce the ‘outcomes’ as do the bureaucrats.  No one checks on the ground – and thank god for that as by the time you have battled the bureaucracy for the money (which may arrive two years late) and persuaded a couple of dozen staff to lie in the accounts (owing to perverse fractional funding), there is little energy left to actually do anything.  Add central accounts’ stealing half the money (via transfer pricing) and you can find yourself with none to pay for the work that needs doing.  The EU funds end up doing a fraction of the good they would if the money was handed over in full and on time.  But this is one of the only games in town so you have to play.  Projects that promise much really do little more than keep a few middle-class flunkies in work until the funds run out.

Finance is considered a cost in the value chain, a term that means a business must make money faster than it consumes costs.  One generally tries to reduce costs to a minimum, so how has finance become so bloated it now dwarfs the real economy, and how have top managers ‘managed’ to become such a massive cost?  Clues may lie in looking at the books of Porsche at the height of their market dominance through superb engineering – they were making more money from their currency hedging.

We talk of getting rid of (useless) backroom staff in business and policing.  What could be more backroom than finance?  Like many successful parasites, finance has learned to make its host feel it gets benefits.  It’s hard to turn down profits from ‘money making money’ – but in the end this is not essential work and a drain on real effort to building purpose.  We should be designing systems to get what needs doing gone as efficiently as possible.  Finance could only be a utility in such design.

In fact, we can’t even design police forces that operate effectively.  We choose instead to manage the appearance of doing so through statistics.  The question on bwanker bonuses is not if they are worth it – but whether we can afford finance other than as a utility at all.  I’m sure, from a scientific view point, that we can’t – it’s a tail wagging the dog.  This is now dawning on some who need reality to be a slap in the face from a wet fish – pensions down by 50% and more in the UK for some.  In Greece, maybe 50% are smashed to poverty – more if it goes tits-up.  We are much closer to this across Europe and the USA than most think.  And all this has happened in my lifetime as agricultural and manufacturing and service productivity has risen in powers of ten.

We know where the swag is and it’s time we took it into public control.  Designing this public control is the problem.  The ideological game played on us is ‘better the Devil you know’, demonising change as bringing something worse – this, of course, is also fair comment.  The deep question is why leadership is so bad almost everywhere under the corrupting forces of self-interest and power.  So how do we design the corruption out?  bill Braxton is inclined to the view that anti-corruption design had left the NewYork force cumbersome and inefficient.  Plato wrote seven books on the matter without letting his gaze slip from his own navel.

It’s clear that if we allow wealth to accumulate as we do now, the wealthy take political and economic control.  The claim is this is a meritocracy, almost as the best soccer players gravitate to the top clubs.  I don’t want to work to their ends.  Yet I know this is driven by my own interests.  Complex as this is, I don’t believe the choice is between herding cats and despotic power.  Even if Dominic Strauss Kahn can’t work out that young women shagging old men at parties are likely to be prostitutes, most of the rest of   us can!

I can baffle you with maths that predicts the past (really) but can’t predict the future it is part of in trading.  This is the stuff of invisible cloth and a language of pseudo science (‘fat tails’ and ‘decay’).  One theory after another (Laffer curves were a fairly recent example) is used to demonstrate corporate tax evasion is really are good thing (because governments are so useless); they are killed off in peer review, but remain co-opted into the ideology.  We need more direct meaning than such stuff can provide.  Why can we not afford public services when a tiny few are holding such a big bag of swag?  Why, with all the increases in productivity can we not afford much bigger social provision?  In the past, the vast majority of us worked the land.  This land now provides massively more food with a tiny fraction of workers.  How much work do we need to do to give all a healthy standard of living?  My guess as an economist is it isn’t much more than a 20 hour week over 20 years.  Set against these and further questions the financial services industry in no more than a massive fraud to redistribute our hard work instead of efficiently organising it.

Predictive Policing

Predictive policing made the C4 News today.  The idea presented was about the use of data to improve prevention and detection, though predictive policing also includes such matters as predicting police misconduct.  The above links give the flavour of what it’s about and a summary of a fairly recent symposium can be found at

Like broken windows policing the ideas are complex and likely to suffer simplistic interpretation.  It will be interesting to see the UK roll-out.