The Daily Mail: Nick Ross Under Fire Over Media 'Big Lie' On Crime

Sunday, 22 July, 2007

Former Crimewatch host Nick Ross was under fire last night after accusing the media of distorting crime figures.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Ross launched a scathing attack on the way the statistics were reported, saying journalists were hyping fears of crime.

He said: 'The media have long been peddling a big lie about crime, either that or they have been astonishingly incompetent about persuading their listeners, readers and viewers of the truth because the truth is that crime has been declining for well over a decade.

'The most common forms of crime have plunged. Burglary is down 58 per cent, car crime down 61per cent, violence by 48 per cent.' And he added: 'Yes we do get the wrong impression, yes it isn't healthy and yes the media are in part to blame, hunting in packs and hungry for the narrative regardless of the underlying truth.' His outburst angered politicians and crime policy experts.

David Ruffley , Conservative spokesman for police reform, said: 'We all know Nick Ross is meant to be a great national treasure but he's doing exactly what Labour Ministers do, he's being very selective with his statistics.

'Why doesn't he get it that knife crime has doubled and gun crime has doubled in the past decade?

'If he doesn't accept that, I don't know what he was doing fronting Crimewatch. There's a huge concern about the early release of prisoners because we know that a major proportion of crime is committed by people who come out of prison.'

The annual British Crime Survey, published last week, showed that violent crime had risen by five per cent on the previous year, with more than 2.4million incidents. More than a million people were attacked by drunken thugs.

But experts said that these figures underestimated the true amount of crime on Britain's streets.

A study by respected think-tank Civitas, carried out by two criminologists at Loughborough University, claimed that violent crime rose by 82 per cent if all crimes were included in the survey. And the authors also said at least three million crimes were estimated to have been omitted from the 2005 survey.

Victims of Crime Trust director Norman Brennan said: 'The perception and reality of crime are much closer now than they have been.

'I've heard from 10,000 police officers in the past year through my forms and surveys. I know what the police feel so I find it amazing that people say crime is going down.' Mr Ross said last night: 'I really don't want to dignify what you are doing with a response. I have worked closely with victims' groups for many years, much more so than any of these so-called think-tanks. I will read your story with interest.'

He presented Crimewatch for 23 years, finishing each episode with the phrase: 'Don't have nightmares, do sleep well.'

Earlier this month he hosted the show for the last time after learning that his contract would not be renewed. Amid claims that BBC1 was being ageist and getting rid of older presenters, Mr Ross, 60 next month, complained of being edged out.