David Cameron's use of crime statistics is a "propaganda effort Joseph Goebbels would have been proud of", a former police chief has said.
During a debate on policing and crime rates in the House of Lords on 22 July 2010, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, chief superintendent of Durham Constabulary from 1989 to 1998, accused the prime minister of misleading the public.
He pointed to Mr Cameron's claim in the Commons this month that crime "went through the roof" under the previous government.
Lord Mackenzie told peers: "Not true. The latest annual update on national crime statistics for England and Wales, released last week on 15 July, demonstrate that the government is misleading the public about the levels of crime."
The Labour peer claimed that since 1997 the British Crime Survey (BCS) showed that overall crime had reduced by 43% and violent crime was down by 42%.
He said: "Any attempt to suggest otherwise by misquoting or disbelieving the British Crime Survey, which is accepted as a gold standard by most British academics and internationally, is beneath contempt and it deserves to be exposed as a scaremongering propaganda effort which Joseph Goebbels would have been proud of," he said.
Lord de Mauley, the government's Home Office spokesman in the Lords, said the government was working with the UK Statistics Authority to consider how to produce "crime statistics which are robust and have public trust".
He said that any fall in crime was welcome but it remained "by any measure too high".
"Police continue to record more than 1,000 incidents of grievous or aggravated bodily harm each day and, perhaps even more worryingly, more than 100 incidents of serious knife crime," he said.
He said that while the survey was important, it did not cover all types of crime.
"It omits rape, assault, drug offences, fraud, forgery, crime against businesses and even murder," he said.