The 'Fallacy of the Excluded Middle' is committed whenever we inappropriately reduce a set of options to two alternatives, excluding other options such as those that are somewhere between those alternatives.
I was reminded of the fallacy earlier this week when a reader pointed me in the direction of this article by the Chief Executive of Probation in Lancashire examing a possible inverse relationship between police force detection rates and the measured rates of reoffending used by the Probation Service in those areas. It contains this comment:- “our current performance is 11.3% therefore 88.7% don't reoffend“.
No sooner had I read that than “That's not right.” popped into my mind. “11.3% reoffending merely means that 88.7% haven't been caught.”
Now, I don't mean to be particularly uncharitable. Clearly one of the reasons they haven't been caught may be that they hadn't committed any crime…
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A few things have come together in my mind today that I think I should share with you:-
We are all learning to deal with a new world where concerns about Police and Crime Commissioners go through Police and Crime Panels, and in some cases to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Everyone is finding their way, but the reference that has taken place this week will be the first to test the system. It is clear that, if the IPCC decide to investigate the case, then either they will do so themselves, or involve police officers in an investigation. As such, and as the IPCC investigators have police powers, this effectively would be a police investigation, and I would not normally comment in any detail on a live police investigation.
I was careful to ensure the Sunday Times had the same information I had from my Freedom of Information requests…
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Oh dear, did I blow the whistle on local politicians' expenses? I'm ever so sorry. To be fair, I kind of knew that saying “Hang on, I think you should have a look at this” was the equivalent of painting a bright red target on my back, but then I also felt that the good people out there would see the backlash for what it was.
And so it begins…
Today, as is the practice at Lancashire County Council, I was informed that a Freedom of Information request has come in about me. Here it is –
I wish to make a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act concerning Councillor Sam Chapman. I would prefer to receive this information by email but if that is not possible then by post is acceptable too.
1. Please send me all the details you hold of all expenses claims made…
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