How the Express and Mail include figures released months ago as new

There's a technique hacks use when they want to reheat old stuff and present it as new. It's quite a simple one. It's called 'pretending the old figures are actually new'. Or 'lying'.

Our friend James Slack has provided us with a couple of examples. In February he gave us 'More than 860 immigrants enter Britain EVERY DAY - and two-thirds come from outside EU' that reheated three month old figures, and last summer we got 'A fifth of crimes committed by immigrants', which said:
Foreign nationals are now responsible for more than one in five crimes committed in London, police figures revealed yesterday.

When the paper had reported the exact same figures six weeks earlier.

Today, proving that the Express likes to outdo Slack's distortions, we have 'Knifing and shootings up as murder rates soar', which says:
Shocking statistics released last night show a 14 per cent increase in murder and manslaughter in England and Wales between 1998 and 2007.

So - some statistics were released on a Sunday - that is shocking - especially as:
The figures, supplied in Parliamentary answers by Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker, emerged just days after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith claimed the Government was winning the battle against violent crime.

They were revealed in a Parliamentary answer that was given on a night when Parliament wasn't sitting? What the...?!

In reality, Vernon Coaker took part in a debate last Thursday about crime in London, and answered a written question about knife carrying. In the written answer, he refers to figures revealed three months ago when the Home Office published 'Homicides, Firearms Offences and Intimate Violence 2006/07'. Eagle eyed readers will spot that these are the exact same figures the Express used to scare its readers about the number of dirty murdering foreigners we have on our shores a couple of weeks ago.

Coaker doesn't contradict Jaqui Smith as the paper implies, saying this in the debate about crime in London:
It was interesting that the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Ruffley) would not go back to 2002-03, but used 1998-99 as his baseline. The reason is that there was a different way of counting crime in 1998-99. Let me go through the figures, just as the Metropolitan Police Service has, from 2002-03 to this year, which are all counted in exactly the same way, so that the people of London know exactly what is happening. Between 2002-03 and this year, there was a more than 20 per cent. reduction in crime. There has been a reduction in the total number of murders in London since 2002-03 of 17.5 per cent, and a reduction in the total number of knife-enabled offences of more than 30 per cent. during that period. The year-on-year figures from the Metropolitan Police Service also show considerable reductions in crime. We need to ensure that the people of London know about these reductions, not because we want to be complacent or because the job is done, but because we want to move forward on the basis of facts.

More importantly, he doesn't refer to any of the figures the Express does, saying only this in the written answer:
Available data from the Homicide Index relate to offences currently recorded as homicide where the apparent method of killing is ‘sharp instrument'. Between 1997-98 and 2006-07 police in England and Wales recorded 2,333 such homicides, 635 of which were recorded by the City of London or Metropolitan police forces. These data cannot be broken down to a more local level than police force area.

And that's it. The paper has pretended that Coaker has contradicted Jaqui Smith, and pretended he's mentioned figures he actually hasn't, all so it can crowbar in some alarmist statistics.

As for the figures the paper chooses to focus on and imply come from Vernon Coaker - they're not much good. Lots of cases from last year will still be going on, and some of these offences will end up being no longer classified as homicide. There are caveats all over 'Homicides, Firearms Offences and Intimate Violence 2006/07' pointing this fact out. As an example, in 2005/2006, there were 769 cases initially counted as homicide, with 44 of those ending up being counted as something else. A similar number this year would show the lowest number of homicides since 2000/2001.

In 2006/2007, 757 were initially recorded as homicide, compared to 729 in 1997/1998, which is a much smaller gap than the one the Express gives us. That's because there were 121 cases that ended up not being counted as homicide that year. In fact, the number of cases initially recorded as homicide is at its lowest since 1999/2000. We have no idea how many of those from this year will turn out not to be homicide. The paper is going on and counting them all anyway.

And why? Because it's not trying to report the news or tell its readers accurately what is going on in the world. It's trying to create a specific false impression to scare them. Remember, kids. 'News' doesn't mean 'news' when we're talking about newspapers.

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