THE BLOG
31/07/2013 11:13 BST | Updated 29/09/2013 06:12 BST

The Criminals Are All Inside

The government made much capital of the recent figures from the Office For Numbers We Just Made Up concerning crime in this country. They said that there isn't any. All crime has been solved, most criminals have rejoined society as responsible contributors to the public good, and every DJ and soap star is now firmly behind bars.

How they came to this conclusion is a mystery. Perhaps they spent great time and effort compiling a true picture of the state of things, ran it through a complicated computer programme, allowed for margins of error and statistical anomalies, typed it all up in a bound document and then someone nicked it. With a deadline approaching, they may have just dashed off what they thought the government would want to hear. It is certainly what the people would want to read, except for the part about it being completely untrue.

There could be a case made for violence against the person and muggings being on the wane but that might be because victims are not reporting their misfortune to the police because there aren't any on the street any more and they can't remember the number for 999. Or it might be because they have no confidence that the police will solve their dilemma, or that the courts will punish those caught. It seems hard to believe that muggings and theft are on a downward spiral, especially in the face of the greatest downturn in economic fortunes since we stopped bartering with chickens.

What the figures do not deal in is perhaps where the crime has moved to. It's not gone, it has relocated. Mostly, it has relocated to the perpetrators' bedrooms, from where, with a laptop and a supply of delivery pizzas, your ordinary average common or garden thief can relieve their mugs of much more than they ever could by hanging around on street corners and making off with granny's purse.

Four Russians, all barely old enough to shave, have just been arrested for their part in an alleged credit card hacking scam which netted them the unmodest sum of $300million from just three of the dozen or so major corporations they targeted from their computers. The nerds have taken over the heisting, and $300million will but them a lot of zit cream.

It is not just sullen youths who have become electronic highwaymen. Our political representatives have also found themselves to be pretty efficient at relieving the rest of us of our hard-earned.

The EU say that the amount of money that goes walkabout from their own coffers is estimated to be 404million Euros. This seems like a very precise number for something that is not correct: not 400million Euros, but 404million. Such an un-round number gives the impression of specificity. It rather implies that experts have poured over the books and determined that exact number, when in fact they just pulled the figure out of their ears and hoped we would be satisfied. That they thought that such a number would be deemed small enough to require no further investigation is nearly the most alarming thing about this.

Our own unelected overlords were not entirely convinced. A House of Lords study into the scale of fraud in the EU has reported that it is, to use a technical term, absolutely bloomin' massive.

Due to the diligence of the team from the red benches, and perhaps because they have little else to do, the peers have delved deeper and come up with a different figure, which is also a guess but is at least a round number, which gives nod to that fact. They have said that the true figure of money lost from EU budget funds is more like five billion Euros. This is approximately ten times the figure that the EU itself suggested.

To be ten times more expensive than the original estimate must mean that the people that came up with the smaller figure must be in the building trade. They would have arrived the day after they said they would, left their calculators in a pile in the middle of the room and disappeared for three weeks. We are lucky they showed up to finish the job at all.

The European Union is planning to buy itself a fleet, or swarm, of observation drones. These are a form of aerial snooping that George Orwell would have thought far fetched. This is a good idea. They could use them to spy on themselves.