Home Office ‘ignores crime research that conflicts with policy’

The Home Office is deliberately ignoring evidence-based research on crime and punishment that conflicts with government policy, leading criminologists have argued.

report published yesterday by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, an independent charity based at King’s College London, argues that the government does not want to learn from academics or entertain serious debate on crime.

Reece Walters, professor in criminology at the Open University, said in his essay: “Home Office suppression of criminological research that contradicts ministerial policy and opinion is a feature of this arm of government. The Home Office remains silent on all those topics that have the potential to reflect poorly on the government and is not an institution that represents the British public.” He called for an academic boycott of any Home Office-sponsored research.

Keele University professor of criminology Tim Hope said in his essay that “having placed such a premium on evidence-based policy, the government has failed to live up to that promise and has resorted to fixing both the process and the publication of Home Office research publication to meet the political needs of the time”. He added that the government was prone to be selective in its choice of data to illustrate the success of programmes, thus excluding or misrepresenting other data.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We do not recognise this report’s findings. Home Office-funded research on crime and criminality is carried out to the highest scientific standards and is subject to rigorous independent and external peer review. This was confirmed by the recently published Government Office for Science review which commented on the soundness of the Home Office’s bid appraisal and peer review processes.”

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