March 1, 2011 • 4:26 pm

In recent days, a spotlight has been shone on figures used by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in relation to crime on the capital’s transport network.

On the Guardian’s London blog, Dave Hill flagged up some apparent inconsistencies in the numbers cited by the Mayor.

But when tracing similar steps trying to get to the bottom of the statistics, Full Fact encountered a problem.

Nowhere in the Mayor’s press release from last week does it actually link through to the figures cited.

There is a link to the Transport for London statistics page, but figures only go up to the second quarter of the financial year 2010-11, (ie the months July to September last year). For the calendar year comparisons to include 2010 the data for the third quarter of 2010-11 would need to be taken into account.

Has this data been published anywhere else? When we contacted TfL it was explained that the figures released last week were in a spreadsheet compiled for the Mayor’s media event.

TfL’s next quarterly statistical bulletin, which derives its figures from the same information, has not been published yet but will out in the coming weeks.

If the Mayor’s press release was quoting figures that will not be published until at least next week this would appear to be a breach of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

The Code states that bodies producing official statistics should “Issue statistical reports separately from any other statement or comment about the figures and ensure that no statement or comment – based on prior knowledge – is issued to the press or published ahead of the publication of the statistics.”

We have put this point to the Mayor’s press office and to Transport for London and are awaiting a response.

We have also made initial enquiries to the UK Statistics Authority as to whether these statistics would be covered by the Code.

At this stage we are not suggesting that any breach has taken place, nor have we made a formal complaint to the UK Statistics Authority.

Even if there has been no contravention of the Code of Practice, it is worrying that when we looked into the figures, they were not immediately available.

The only source we could find for them was a spreadsheet provided on request which we were told was collated for the Mayor’s media event last week – rather than for the public.

UPDATE: We have now received an initial response from the UK Statistics Authority to our query. Figures produced by TfL may not be covered by the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, but the Authority is investigating to establish how the figures used by the Mayor relate to the Code.

We will update when we receive more information..
 

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