OK, I want some help here.
The Brits count and report crimes based on the outcome of the investigation and trial.
Homicide statistics too vary widely. In some developing countries, the statistics are known to be far from complete. Figures for crimes labelled as homicide in various countries are simply not comparable. Since 1967, homicide figures for England and Wales have been adjusted to exclude any cases which do not result in conviction, or where the person is not prosecuted on grounds of self defence or otherwise. This reduces the apparent number of homicides by between 13 per cent and 15 per cent. The adjustment is made only in respect of figures shown in one part of the Annual Criminal Statistics. In another part relating to the use of firearms, no adjustment is made. A table of the number of homicides in which firearms were used in England and Wales will therefore differ according to which section of the annual statistics was used as its base. Similarly in statistics relating to the use of firearms, a homicide will be recorded where the firearm was used as a blunt instrument, but in the specific homicide statistics, that case will be shown under “blunt instrument”.
Many countries, including the United States, do not adjust their statistics down in that way and their figures include cases of self defence, killings by police and justifiable homicides. In Portugal, cases in which the cause of death is unknown are included in the homicide figures, inflating the apparent homicide rate very considerably.
In 2001, Dave Kopel, Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne Eisen wrote a column which included this statement:
More recently, a 2000 report from the Inspectorate of Constabulary charges Britain’s 43 police departments with systemic under-classification of crime – for example, by recording burglary as “vandalism.” The report lays much of the blame on the police’s desire to avoid the extra paperwork associated with more serious crimes.
Britain’s justice officials have also kept crime totals down by being careful about what to count.
“American homicide rates are based on initial data, but British homicide rates are based on the final disposition.” Suppose that three men kill a woman during an argument outside a bar. They are arrested for murder, but because of problems with identification (the main witness is dead), charges are eventually dropped. In American crime statistics, the event counts as a three-person homicide, but in British statistics it counts as nothing at all. “With such differences in reporting criteria, comparisons of U.S. homicide rates with British homicide rates is a sham,” the report concludes.
This backs up what Inspector Greenwood asserts, but I can’t find that specific report.
What I have found is an document from the Home Office dated April 2013 on their official “counting rules” (PDF) that does not mention convictions or even prosecution.
I’d REALLY like to find something definitive on this question, but I’m coming up blank. Help?