Last post on Liddle (I hope)

In my last post, I promised to publish some stats I had from the Met police about whether Rod Liddle's claims about young black men being responsible for the 'overwhelming majority' of certain types of crime was true.  I wish I hadn't now.  Not because they prove Liddle's argument (they don't) but because in the fuss that's resulted from his dashed off 91 word blog post, we all seem to have zeroed in on the figures rather than the actual argument they were being used to support.

That argument was that two young men who conspired to murder a 15 year old girl because she was pregnant with the child of one of them are not anomalies when it comes to young black men.  These 'human filth', he would have us believe, are not out of the ordinary among young men from the African-Caribbean community.

All his bluster in the comments on this article in the New Statesman about how he thinks culture rather than race is the driver for what he was talking about isn't really relevant, since he's saying that culture is what makes murderous young men not out of the ordinary in the African-Caribbean community.

Even if it were true that young black men are responsible for the overwhelming majority of the crimes Liddle said they are, it wouldn't properly support his assertion.  In order for that to happen, he would need to have figures to show that the majority of young black men are violent, murderous and would attempt to murder the mother of their unborn child if having a baby would inconvenience them.

So, the stats from the Metropolitan police for people proceeded against and charged for various crimes in 2007-2008.  The first thing to point out is that even if black people represent the majority of people charged or suspected with certain crimes, it doesn't mean that black people committed the majority of them.  The vast majority of crimes reported in the Met police area never have anyone arrested or charged for.

The second is that the figures don't represent the number of individuals arrested or charged with crimes, they represent crimes for which people are arrested or charged for.  So someone who was arrested or charged for five robberies would be counted five times unless I've made a huge mistake in interpreting the data.  Here's an example of how a gang of around nine men were responsible for up to 150 robberies on the tube a few years ago.*

The last is that there are about 850,000 black people living in London according to 2006 estimates.  Even if we added together every crime with a black person proceeded against or arrested for on the Met's list and decided that each was committed by a different individual, we'd still only get about 4% of that 850,000.

On to the figures.  'Street crime' isn't a proper category of crime, and I can't think of anything that would match it.

There's no category for 'knife crime' or 'gun crime', but there's on umbrella category that might include them.

There were 173,787 total 'violence against the person' crimes reported in the year up to October 2008 (the time frame is slightly out with the Met figures I have from the FoI request).  'Afro-Caribbeans' were proceeded against for 10,784 of them, and charged with 6,082.  A total of 35,709 crimes had someone proceeded against in this category.

Robbery is the only area where Liddle has anything approaching a point on the stats.

There were 33,750 robberies reported up to October 2008.  'Afro-Caribbeans' were proceeded against for 2,273 of them and charged with 2,161.  A total of 3,971 had someone proceeded against, so African Caribbeans make up 57% of those proceeded against in this category.  Whether that counts as an 'overwhelming majority' is subjective, but there you go.  Even so, if every single robbery reported in the Met area was carried out by a separate black individual, that would mean around 4% of the 'African-Caribbean community' were robbers.  Hardly proves the 'not anomalous' assertion.

For 'crimes of sexual violence', the closest match is 'Sexual offences'.

There were 8,897 total sexual offences reported in the Met area up until October 2008.  'Afro-Caribbeans' were proceeded against for 500 of them, and charged with 459 of them.  A total of 1,689 had someone proceeded against.

There are subcategories for these, but the only area where 'Afro-Caribbeans' were in the majority of the people proceeded against was robbery, and even if you count just over 50% as the 'vast majority' it still doesn't support the assertion that Liddle was trying to make.  And defending yourself by saying something like 'it's not their race that makes murderous and violent young men the norm in the African-Caribbean community' doesn't really cut it as an 'I wasn't being racist, honest guv,' defence.  You're still left with a completely untrue idea based on stereotyped prejudices regarding how people from a certain racial group behave.

One last thing that doesn't cut it is Liddle's defence at the New Statesman.  In it, he says this:
Offhand, the figures were something like 87 per cent of Somali immigrants unemployed, 36 per cent with criminal convictions. But don't hold me to it just yet; I can't remember where the original figures came from - I think it was govt.

Does that mean we shouldn't have Somali immigrants? Nope, not in my opinion; Somalia is one of the countries I think we are truly beholden (for reasons ancient and modern) to accept people from.

But is it a problem? Yes, I think so.
But ignores more than one commenter who points out that the 87% figure might have something to do with the fact that  large percentage of Somalians are here seeking asylum, and as such are not allowed to have a job by law.  How many of the 36% with criminal convictions turned to crime because they aren't allowed to work is also unclear, as is whether they're convicted of the crime of having a job.

But, let's not get dragged into the figures, because they were only used to support the assertion that murderous and violent young men aren't anomalous in the African-Caribbean community and all we have in return is 'rap music, goat curry and a far more vibrant and diverse understanding of cultures which were once alien to us.'


*I originally thought of linking to this case because I had thought it would be a good example of how a small group of young black men were responsible for a huge number of crimes.  I hadn't realised that the group was multiracial, probably because of news stories in the press like this one in the Mail and this one in the Sun, which only picture black or mixed race suspects.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Excellent post. Another point to consider is confounding variables. As you mention, the only area where Liddle has anything approaching a point is on robbery stats, but you can't draw conclusions on these figures without factoring in possible confounding variables, such as relative levels of poverty. I'm sure with a bit of proper statistical analysis Lidlle would soon discover the shocking truth that nearly all roberries are carried out by poor people!