NICK Smith MP has welcomed Gwent Police’s renewed commitment to public service after receiving claims about the previous drive for crime figure reduction.

On January 23, Gwent Police released the latest crime statistics that saw increases in the likes of violent crime, theft from the person and sexual offences.

But despite more crime in certain areas never being welcome, the Blaenau Gwent MP hopes it is part of the process to restore confidence in crime stats.

Mr Smith was approached by an ex-officer of more than 30 years standing about previous Gwent Police practices to record crime.

He said: “I have met with the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Paul Harris, to discuss some of these officer’s concerns and they seem to mirror many concerns nationally.

“I am told officers had been on occasion told if a fight involved alcohol in any way to class it as Drunk and Disorderly instead of a Public Order offense – a move which would have taken it out of the recorded crime statistics.

“Again, if police were contacted to deal with abusive calls, it could be dealt with under the Malicious Communications Act instead of recorded as a crime.

“If either these events happened even once, it is troubling.

“When services are statistic based and target based, as they now seem to have been previously, the service suffers.

“I have repeatedly called for confidence in our crime figures, and the events cannot be ignored for the future.”

With tales nationwide of statistics being lowered to meet targets -; most recently with the UK Statistics Authority casting their doubt on figures -; Mr Smith has been campaigning to see the region given accurate figures.

A recent internal review showed there could be as much as 8% of crimes could be being under recorded.

The report failed to discover any pressure to reduce statistics or purposeful incidents of statistic massaging.

However, the report analysed a period in July -; after the alleged problems had occurred.

Mr Smith said: “The Police and Crime Commissioner has said the Chief Constable has made it clear to the force that ethical and accurate crime recording is essential.

“This emphasis on public service is welcome -; it is now up to the Police to make sure that confidence is sustained.”

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