An interim report on crime data integrity by HMIC has identified serious concerns about the crime-recording process. HMIC has found weak or absent management and supervision of crime-recording, significant under-recording of crime, serious sexual offences not being recorded, and some offenders having been issued with out-of-court disposals when their offending history could not justify it.
HMIC’s inspection of crime data integrity intends to identify to what extent police-recorded crime information can be trusted. The interim report, published today, is based on inspections carried out in 13 police forces, and sets out the emerging themes so far. This inspection – which looks at how the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR) and National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) are applied – has identified serious concerns in the emerging picture. HMIC has found:
- Weak or absent management and supervision of crime-recording.
- Significant under-recording of crime.
- Serious sexual offences not being recorded – HMIC identified 14 rapes not recorded.
- A lack of victim focus by the police when making crime-recording decisions.
- Some offenders having been issued with out-of-court disposals when their offending history could not justify it, and in some cases they should have been prosecuted.
The report sets out a number of reasons for these concerns, such as poor knowledge of the recording rules, inadequate or absent training in how to use them, poor supervision or management of police officers and the pressure of workload – where police officers have been managed in such a way as to overload them with cases.
The inspection has also identified strengths which are common to all of the forces visited so far:
- When crime reports are recorded, the classification of the offence which is recorded is correct on almost every occasion.
- By listening to calls made to the police, HMIC is finding that victims of crime receive a professional service with call-takers being polite, helpful and showing empathy to the needs of the victim during initial contact with the police.
It must be emphasised that this is an interim report, and covers 13 of the 43 Home Office police forces. The report emphasises that the only statistically significant finding is the national one, and that will be available in the final report in October 2014. This report contains emerging themes, not final conclusions.
The forces inspected so far are:
- Cheshire Constabulary
- City of London Police
- Devon and Cornwall Police
- Essex Police
- Gloucestershire Constabulary
- Greater Manchester Police
- Gwent Police
- Hertfordshire Constabulary
- Metropolitan Police Service
- Norfolk Constabulary
- North Wales Police
- North Yorkshire Police
- South Yorkshire Police
“The accuracy and integrity of police-recorded crime data are vital to public trust in the police. The HOCR and NCRS are not optional – every police officer should be able to understand and properly apply them, and every police force should adhere to them.
“The consequences of under-recording of crime are serious, and may mean victims and the community are failed because crimes are not investigated, the levels of crime will be wrongly under-stated, and police chiefs will lack the information they need to make sound decisions on the deployment of their resources.
“Although this is an interim report, and we have identified common strengths, we are seriously concerned at the picture which is emerging – particularly about the significant under-recording of crime, and serious sexual offences not being recorded.
“This is an inspection of the integrity of police-recorded crime data – not an inspection or inquiry into the integrity of the police. HMIC will inspect the remaining forces in England and Wales to provide a full picture of crime data integrity, with the final report published in October 2014.”
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Police not recording a fifth of crimes, watchdog report suggests
A fifth of crimes in England and Wales could be going unrecorded by police, according to a report.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said 14 alleged rapes were among the offences that had not been recorded by officers.
One report of rape was not recorded because of "workload pressure", the inspection of 13 forces found.
Home Secretary Theresa May said the report exposed "unacceptable failings" by the police.
HMIC is conducting an inspection into the way all 43 forces in England and Wales record crime data.
If its initial findings were repeated across England and Wales, it could mean 20% of all crimes were going unrecorded, it said.
Mrs May said it was "quite possible" the HMIC study could lead to an increase in recorded crime.
An unrecorded crime is classed as one that is reported to the police, but not recorded as an offence.
The failure rate was too high, HMIC found.
"We believe that it is weak or absent management, poor knowledge on the part of those making the crime recording decisions with the crime recording rules, weak or absent training or workload pressures," said Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor.
"But because the failure rate is as high as it is... it is impossible to rule out discreditable or unethical behaviour."
Out of a sample of 3,102 incidents, HMIC found 2,551 crimes should have been recorded but 523 were not. This included reported sexual offences, violent crimes, robbery and burglary.
Describing "workload pressure" being cited as the basis for not recording a report of rape, the report said: "In this example, it was considered that recording the crime would entail too much work, as the officer made a judgment that the circumstances of the complaint made it unlikely that the case would be prosecuted."
Met officer James Patrick said he was forced to resign from the force after raising concerns similar to those in the report.
|Whistle-blower James Patrick is about to leave the Met|
The watchdog also found some offenders were being wrongly given out-of-court disposals, including cautions and fixed penalty notices. In one in 10 cases, the measure could not be justified because of the individual's offending history, it said.
Adam Pemberton, of the Victim Support charity, said unrecorded crimes were "completely unacceptable".
"This is about much more than inaccurate statistics or poor number-crunching - each mistake represents a victim losing their chance to get justice and to access support services."
Crime stats 'could rise'
Mrs May said: "HMIC's interim report exposes unacceptable failings by the police.
"It is quite possible, once HMIC has completed its work on recorded crime statistics and made recommendations on how the police need to improve, that we will see an increase in recorded crime.
"If that increase is driven by improved accuracy in the recording of crime or more victims reporting crime to the police, we should welcome it.
"Such an increase would not mean that crime itself is rising."
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "Though only an interim report, the Inspectorate's findings are extremely serious."
Although HMIC has only inspected 13 of 43 forces so far, this covers 60% of crimes, because two of the largest - the Metropolitan Police and Great Manchester Police - have already been done, HMIC said.
The other forces already inspected are Cheshire, City of London, Devon and Cornwall, Essex, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, North Wales, North Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.
- We have been telling you that police recorded crime has been manipulated & fiddled since 2009
- Other sites and officers have been telling you the same
- James Patrick and others gave evidence on this to the PACT committee back in November 2013
- I (Steve Bennett - Retired WMP) supplied written evidence to the PACT committee
- The Home Office knew of this prior to and since the coalition took office
- Despite this, the Coalition included policing in the CSR.
- 000's of officer numbers have been cut
- Chief & Senior police officers were paid massive bonuses to create, oversee or otherwise condone processes that have corrupted crime numbers. None of these bonuses have been repaid.
- These bonuses in their quantum massively outweigh the amounts found to have been mis-claimed by the MP Expenses scandal
- ACPO rank officers & senior command management have perpetrated and orchestrated this disgraceful pernicious deception, whilst the rank and file were forced to implement these corrupt practices, impugning and compromising their professional integrity
- THIS is the biggest contributor to the fall in police confidence and officer morale
- What, if anything will you do to ensure James Patrick is treated fairly through his departure from the met?
- What, if anything, will you do to bring the ACPO & Senior management officers responsible for this scandal to account?
- Will you now accept that crime has not fallen, it was a gross error to reduce officer numbers and that recruitment will funded to enable the British tax payer to have the police presence it needs to combat the true crime levels?
- What will you do to stop the vilification and victimisation of whistle blowers in the police?
- Will you now look at police detections with the same scrutiny as they are fiddled just as perversely as recorded crime?
- Will you stand up with integrity and honesty and admit that the proud boasts of falling crime over recent years was fallacious political spin?
- You commissioned the Office of National Statistics to thoroughly investigate the integrity of police recorded crime. "Gaming" or the fiddling of figures received a one line reference in that report with no recommendations for any remedy. Will you accept that this was a complete waste of time?
- Will you accept that British Crime Survey, based on a comparatively tiny sample of less than 40,000 interviewees is a weak indicator of crime?
- WHAT if anything will you do to restore public confidence and officer morale now?
Retired West Midlands Police Officer
Thin Blue Line UK