Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Saturday, 20 February 2010

Manchester police chief admits snowballing mistakes

Snowball fight (generic)
Snowball fights are rarely thought of as "serious violent crime"

The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police has criticised some of his officers for recording snowball throwing as "serious violent crime".

Peter Fahy said the officers concerned had failed to show any common sense.

During last month's cold spell, six snowball-throwing incidents were logged as serious violent crimes, although no-one was injured or arrested.

The classification is more often given to offences such as murder, rape and causing grievous bodily harm.

A spokesman for the force said the six incidents had been misreported by the officers and since rectified.


But speaking at a police authority meeting on Friday, Mr Fahy was scathing about the mistake.

We are working with officers to ensure they know how to properly code crimes so they are an accurate reflection of the situation
Terry Sweeney
Assistant Chief Constable

He reportedly said some of his officers were too cautious in recording crimes as they were confused by government regulations and caught up in bureaucracy.

Mr Fahy, who took over as chief constable in 2008 after moving from neighbouring Cheshire, said he was trying to change the culture of over-recording crime in Manchester.

The chairman of the police authority, Paul Murphy, said: "I am disappointed some officers couldn't distinguish between different types of crime but the force's performance is improving significantly."

He added: "This constant measure of performance makes people nervous and indicates almost a lack of confidence, which says that what I will do, I'll report this and be safe. You know, it's disappointing that we're not using elements of common sense in this."

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said: "Due to the complexity of the Home Office Crime Categories, occasionally incidents could be classified as a serious violent crime when they are first reported but downgraded when an officer has visited the scene and established the actual circumstances.

"We are working with officers to ensure they know how to properly code crimes so they are an accurate reflection of the situation."

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