HMIC inspections of crime recording by Forces
As part of its inspection programme into the way the 43 police forces in England and Wales record crime data. HMIC recently inspected the accuracy of crime recording by three police forces: Greater Manchester, Sussex and Staffordshire.
Driving this inspection programme are two historic elements: HMIC's inspection in 2013 of Kent Police which found clear evidence that targets are detrimental to the integrity of crime data; and the Public Administration Select Committee’s report, "Caught red-handed: Why we can’t count on Police Recorded Crime statistics", which found in 2014:
- substantial and credible evidence indicating that the Police Recorded Crime (PRC) data do not represent a full and accurate account of crime in England and Wales
- strong evidence that PRC under-records crime, and therefore the rate of decrease in crime may be exaggerated
- the cause of this is lax police compliance with the agreed national standard of victim-focussed crime recording.
In this recent round of inspections, Greater Manchester Police’s approach to crime recording has been is judged by HMIC as ‘inadequate’. Of the other two forces, Sussex’s approach was judged as ‘good’, following improvements since HMIC’s 2014 Crime Data Integrity inspection, while Staffordshire’s approach was judged by HMIC as ‘requiring improvement’.
HMIC previously inspected the accuracy of crime recording in Greater Manchester Police in 2014. Following an inspection which was completed in May this year, Greater Manchester Police’s approach to crime recording is judged by HMIC as ‘inadequate’.
The headline-attracting figure in HMIC’s report is that the Greater Manchester Force only records around 85% of crimes reported to it.
Despite finding some evidence of progress since 2014, HMIC also found that the Force:
- is currently under-recording too many reports of crime, including reports of rape, violent crimes and sexual offences;
- is incorrectly cancelling recorded sexual offences (excluding rape) and offences of robbery and violence; and
- has limited supervision to support officers and staff in making good and prompt crime-recording decisions and there is a lack of understanding by officers and staff of their responsibilities for crime-recording
HM Inspector of Constabulary Dru Sharpling said:
“We estimate that the force fails to record over 38,000 reported crimes each year. The reported crimes that go unrecorded include serious crimes, such as violence and sexual offences. The failings are often a consequence of a lack of knowledge on the part of the officers and staff as to their responsibilities for crime-recording; including the cancellation of recorded crime records.”
In its defence, Greater Manchester Police GMP said recording levels had risen from 68% to 85% in the past two years, and that further progress would be made once a new IT system had been introduced.
Deputy Chief Constable Ian Pilling said: “Whilst there are some unacceptable crime recording failings, many are simply administrative issues and do not mean we have failed the victim. A significant amount of activity has taken place to address these administrative problems and we will continue to work hard to address this.”
HMIC’s inspection and report found that Sussex Police records nearly 95% of crimes reported to it. Significantly, the Force had recorded all reports of rape that HMIC audited during this inspection, and decisions to cancel recorded crimes of rape, violence and other sexual offences were correct.
However, HMIC advised that the Force still has progress to make to further improve the accuracy of its recording of violent crime and sexual offences reports.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said: “Although we have graded Sussex Police as good, there is still room for improvement. The force is still not recording a large number of crimes each year properly – approximately 5,300 crimes, including some serious crimes, such as violence and sexual offences. HMIC expects crimes to be recorded accurately and for victims to receive a good service from the police. If the crime is not recorded properly at the outset, then this will not happen.”
HMIC’s report notes that the Force records around 91% of crimes reported to it. The inspection found that the Force had implemented all previous recommendations set out in the 2014 report, recorded every reported rape and introduced new processes to ensure that it records crimes reported by adults who are vulnerable.
However, HMIC judged that the Force required improvement as:
- the force is currently under-recording too many reports of crime, including reports of violent crimes, sexual offences and crimes of modern slavery;
- there are too many failures to make the correct crime-recording decision at the first opportunity; and
- there is limited supervision by the force of crime-recording decision-making and a lack of understanding by officers and staff of their responsibilities for crime-recording.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said:
“The force is still not recording a large number of crimes each year properly – approximately 6,700 crimes, including some serious crimes, such as violence and sexual offences. There is a lack of knowledge amongst officers and staff about their responsibilities to record crime.”
Published: 26 August 2016