Crime statistics

Unbelievable Crime Statistics

Shota Utiashvili
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Shota Utiashvili

Former Director of the Department of Information and Analysis at the Georgian Interior Ministry and a former police captain

On 20 June, the interior ministry decided to put an end to the rumors that had been circulating for several months and published the crime statistics. The interior ministry asserts that during the first five months of 2014, as compared to the first five months of 2013, the level of crime fell.

Is the data published by the interior ministry trustworthy?

My answer is: this data has been totally falsified. It is not trustworthy.

The simplest way to test the reliability of statistics is to compare them with other statistics from the same entity. If it turns out that the same entity is publishing two conflicting sets of data, obviously we are dealing with the falsification of statistics. This, in turn, means that the data of that entity is not reliable. This is exactly what has happened in the case of the interior ministry.

In April 2013, the interior ministry held an official presentation and published data that is still available on its official website. According to this data, the first three months of 2013 saw 11,708 crimes committed in Georgia.

Data published on 20 June of the same year shows that in the first five months of 2013, the number of crimes committed stood at 13,215. The difference between these two numbers is 1,507.

We thus had the situation where an average of 4,000 crimes were committed per month in the first quarter in 2013, whilst only 1,500 crimes were committed over the following two months taken together, i.e. in April and May. This means that crime, on average, decreased by 5.3 times. Since June, the number of crimes increased once again. There is no monthly data available for the period of June to December 2013, but based on the total annual data, the average number of crimes per month stood at 2,400 (it should be noted that crime statistics, as a rule, are characterized by clear seasonality).

A five-fold decrease in crime within a month is itself unbelievable, but even this pales against the following data. In January-March 2013, some 3,837 crimes were solved, whereas in January-May the number of solved crimes stood at 6,447; thus by a simple calculation it can be derived that 2,610 crimes were solved in April and May.

The official statistics of the interior ministry thus state that 1,507 crimes were committed in April and May 2013, but 2,610 crimes were solved. This means that the percentage of solving crimes was 174%. In other words, the police solves 17 crimes for every 10 crimes committed.

Can these numbers be correct? One could argue that in April and May the police solved, along with newly committed crimes, a large number of older crimes too. However, surely the police were also solving crimes before that period, when the indicator of solved crimes stood at 33% (the average of the January-March period), as well as thereafter when the indicator of solved crimes unexpectedly soared to 59.9% (the average of 2013).

One should also say that in 2013, the police would not have been able to solve many older crimes because the universal amnesty adopted in December 2012 affected the majority of articles of the Criminal Code and thus criminal proceedings initiated under those articles were terminated. As regards the investigation of so-called political cases, their share is statistically insignificant.

The 174% indicator of crimes solved, as well as the five-fold decrease in crime in a month, is unprecedented in the entire history of world justice. I am sure such things could never happen.

Before it is too late (perhaps it is already too late), the interior ministry must instantly stop manipulating statistics and present a real picture to both society and, first and foremost, to its own employees. Without this, even talking about the real fight against crime is futile.

P.S. The traditional excuse that such things happened during "those" nine years and that crime was also concealed in the past, will not work in this case. In 2004, when the statistical service was subordinated to the interior ministry, around 20,000 crimes were registered in Georgia; in the following years the number of registered crimes increased to 60,000.

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