Reporting Scotland misuses small-scale research report to produce scare story on organised crime


(c) Sun

On 4th June 2018, Reporting Scotland gave quite an extended, headlined, report, with 24 long, compound, sentences on organised crime. Despite, the length, they failed to mention the researchers’ own repeated warning against generalising the findings beyond their small sample to the national situation in Scotland. Reporting Scotland began with:

‘A new focus is needed in the fight against organised crime in Scotland. An 18-month research study says crime gangs rely on vulnerable people to develop their businesses.’

Later, they say:

‘It’s insidious affecting ordinary communities across Scotland.’

Statements like these and the failure to qualify them at any point, suggest a crime problem of some scale and intensity across the country yet the researchers are careful not to say that. As early as page 3 in the report, ‘Community Experiences of Serious Organised Crime in Scotland’, we see this:

‘188 individuals participated in the study, which mostly involved semi-structured qualitative interviews, but also a small number of focus groups, unstructured interviews and observational research.’

So, this is a small-scale piece of qualitative research. Such research can be very useful in explaining the complexity of social situations and, in particular, helping professionals, such the police, to develop effective strategies. However, such research, cannot be used to tell us how common something is or how widespread it is. For that, you’d need a much bigger sample, randomly selected and spread across the country. The researchers are not to blame for Reporting Scotland’s misuse of their findings. On page 3 and again on page 25, in the methods section, they say:

‘While the case study areas had traits that were similar to other communities in

Scotland, however, it should be noted that these findings should not be read as a generalised picture of SOC-community relations in Scotland.’

Further, they say:

‘It is notable, however, that connections between street crime and organised crime were often based on informed perception rather than direct experience.’

So, the researchers remind us that their findings cannot be generalised and that they are often based on what the people they interviewed had heard was happening to others as opposed to things they had experienced themselves.

Now, Reporting Scotland did not directly say that these crimes were affecting large numbers of people, but they left their audience thinking that they were because, well, the BBC was reporting it, so it must be ‘big’, and because the BBC said nothing to suggest it wasn’t happening to large numbers of people.

Given their prominence in the report, it’s difficult to explain the failure to mention the declared limitations on interpreting these results, as other than deliberate and then we’re left to wonder why.

This is only the latest in a sequence of reports on crime in, or indeed, not in Scotland, by BBC Scotland. This tendency or agenda is likely to be undermining public confidence and, by association, weakening the reputation of the Scottish Government. I’ve already complained about these and will do it again on this latest example.

Here are links to the earlier cases:

BBC News tries to spread knife crime crisis into Scotland to tell us: ‘You’re no different. Don’t get any ideas!’

BBC Scotland lie and distort to try again to spread violent crime crisis into Scotland despite it having only 3.5% of the gangs for 8% of the population, falling levels of violent crime and because of falling levels of fear of crime?

Are Scots less concerned about crime not just because there is less but also because they are learning not to trust media distortion?

As hate crime falls in Scotland and soars elsewhere, STV and BBC Scotland report fake news of an increase

6 thoughts on “Reporting Scotland misuses small-scale research report to produce scare story on organised crime

  1. Ludo Thierry June 5, 2018 / 11:29 am

    Organised crime – I dunno? – but Johnston Press very arguably victim of executive piracy, mibbes? (google the history of the exec ‘salaries’ and prepare for a jaw drop), Update edit from HoldTheFrontPage:

    Regional publisher Johnston Press has warned of likely cost savings in the second half of 2018 amid “continued pressure” on the group’s revenues.
    In a trading update issued this morning, the group said revenues fell by 9pc year-on-year in the period 1 January to 31 May.
    It goes on: “The trading environment remains extremely challenging,..We expect to see continued pressure on revenues in the second half of the year, and a requirement for cost savings.”
    The update also revealed that no agreement has yet been reached on the refinancing of the £220m of bonds which become due for repayment on 1 June 2019.

    The first ‘cost saving’ is former CEO Ashley Highfield’s (former beeb exec) grotesque remuneration package – but all too little too late probably.


  2. John June 5, 2018 / 11:56 am

    If you believed what the BBC and STV in Scotland said you really would not be voting for independence , you would be thinking the Scots are a scrounging , knife weilding , uneducated , lazy ,ungoverned rabble , and as such couldn’t be trusted to rule themselves . Since this is the message they intend to put out they are doing a grand job . They constantly need to be pulled up about this but once the daily bile in put into people’s homes the damaged has been done !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alasdair Macdonald June 5, 2018 / 12:24 pm

    Thank you again for nailing this story, which, as it was being broadcast, certainly gave the impression of being built of pretty flimsy evidence. The headline and what it was ‘dog whistling’ did not fit well with what some of the people being interviewed were actually commenting. But, as you have indicated often, it is the headline which causes the fear.

    Even when you have you have substantially discredited the story and put the report’s content into perspective, when we say that we need to get a sense of proportion, we are often faced with, ‘It MIGHT be the tip of an iceberg’. Which quickly morphs into that ‘it IS’ and so, most of the population is under the control and influence of ‘gangs’.

    I am a member of our local Community Council and each month we have a report from officers of Police Scotland of the crimes in our area and the adjacent ones the previous month. Perhaps about 20 % of the city is covered. In April, there were 15 reported crimes, the most serious of which was the theft of a bicycle! (Being a keen cyclist, this is a serious offence! My previous one was stolen about 18 months ago!) Levity aside, it is ‘crimes’ of this nature which are concerning for most people because it upsets the trust and sense of community in an immediate way. Major crime of a violent nature, for most of us, is very rare. However, we are being defrauded daily by the international fraud cartel based in the City of London. Our area actually had a gangland murder in it, but almost all of us knew exactly what it was and felt very little threat to our personal safety. It is a whole world away from the kinds of things that impinge on our quality of life – like drunks peeing in our closes, someone flytipping in the lane, wing mirrors of cars getting twisted off, people having abuse shouted at them.

    We should not underestimate the potency of ‘the tip of the iceberg argument’. Think of the useless regulations that we have had to face at work because some eejit gets a hobby horse. Streets around schools are caged in behind metal barriers squeezing pupils and parents into a constrained space, so that cars can ‘drop off’ unrestrictedly, filling the vicinity with exhaust fumes and all of this because at A school somewhere A child was struck by a car. The ‘tip of the iceberg’ leads to the streets around schools being declared ‘death traps’. Barriers are installed which make pedestrian access difficult. The answer is ban cars from 500 metres of schools at opening and closing times and sell all that metal for scrap – the money raised could be given to the HT to provide resources or fresh fruit in the dinner school.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 June 5, 2018 / 1:09 pm

      Thanks for this entertaining and informative read. Had my wallet and mobile phone stolen last week but not planning to move house because of that.

      Liked by 1 person

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