In response to the SNP challenge over his £3 billion gaffe, Andy Kerr’s campaign has taken an extraordinary step that calls into question the integrity of their whole campaign.
When challenged by the East Kilbride Mail over the figure of £3 billion for 3,500 hospital bed days, a spokesman for Andy Kerr dismissed it as ‘a typo’.
However, instead of leaving matters there, the spokesman went on to say “knife crime costs the NHS £500 million and is estimated to cost the Scottish economy £3 billion”.
Unfortunately for Andy, there appears to be no reliable estimate that puts the cost of knife crime at £3 billion in Scotland.
In March, Labour asked the Scottish Government for estimates for the cost of knife crime to both the NHS and to Scottish Society and received the following answers:
S3W-39823 – No information is held on the financial cost to the NHS of knife crime.
S3W-39822 – Scottish Government officials are carrying out ongoing work examining the economic and social costs of crime in Scotland, however precise cost estimates specifically for knife crime are currently not available at either the per offence or cumulative level.
Labour is now using a figure of £500 million for the cost of knife crime to the NHS and Andy has said the cost to the economy as a whole is £3 billion.
We have found the following pieces of evidence for the overall cost of crime:
1 The Taxpayers Alliance published a report on the cost of crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It can be found here:
This excluded Scotland because the Scottish legal system classifies crime differently from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The key findings of the report are:
- Recorded crime in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland cost nearly £15 billion in 2007, equivalent to nearly £275 for every person.
- “Violence against the person, including murder and serious assault, was responsible for the highest economic and social costs, at around £155 per person.
- “Residents of Nottinghamshire suffered from the highest cost of crime, at £390 per person. It was closely followed by London, at £388 per person, though that could partly be due to a large number of visitors making London’s daytime and evening population significantly larger than the resident population. Humberside had the third highest cost at £380 per person.
With Scotland’s population of 5.2 million, and taking the the highest English regional figure (£390 per head for Nottinghamshire) AND uprating it to £450 per head in 2007,
and then increasing that at 5% per annum up to 2010 the TOTAL cost of ALL crime to Scotland in 2010 comes to an estimated £2.8 billion.
No support there for a £3 billion cost for knife crime alone.
2 The Victim Support Scotland publication ‘Do You Know How Supporting Victims Of Crime Is Helping Scotland?, which is available here contains the following statement:
“Criminal activities cost a lot of money each year. Serious and organised crime alone is costing Scotland about £2 billion a year.”
The definition of ‘Serious and Organised Crime’ would include knife crimes. Again, no support for the notion that knife crime alone costs Scotland £3 billion.
It is clear from this quick analysis, which is more robust than anything Labour has published, that the figure of £3 billion not just a typo – it is simply wrong – on every count.
The importance of this goes beyond the constituency contest in East Kilbride.
Labour is presenting Andy Kerr to the Scottish voters as a Finance Minister in waiting, to replace John Swinney.
Any prospective Finance Minster who allows misleading statements like this to go out in his name is clearly not fit for the job.
Visitors to our campaign headquarters tell us that Andy has been challenged on the errors in his campaign literature and has failed to answer.
We intend taking this to the next level and will be asking Iain Gray to clarify whether the Labour Party will stand behind Andy’s figures, and if they do, will they publish their evidence.