Officers lack ‘basic’ knowledge of crime-recording principles

Lancashire Constabulary has been accused of using “unacceptable” crime recording practices after an inspection revealed more than 20,000 offences are missed every year.

Nov 28, 2017

Lancashire Constabulary has been accused of using “unacceptable” crime recording practices after an inspection revealed more than 20,000 offences are missed every year. Just 84 per cent of crimes committed – including the most serious offences – are properly recorded in Lancashire, according to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). In a report published on Tuesday (November 28), it criticised the force for giving officers and staff a poor understanding of “basic crime-recording principles” and only offering limited supervision to correct their mistakes. Another report found Hertfordshire Constabulary has made good progress on crime recording but still has more work to do. And a third inspection praised South Wales Police as ‘good’ for achieving 90 per cent accuracy. HM Inspector of Constabulary Mike Cunningham claimed many of Lancashire Constabulary’s failings were due to not sustaining action taken in response to previous HMICFRS recommendations. “This is undermining the effectiveness and efficiency of its crime-recording arrangements,” he said. “I’m disappointed to find that the constabulary is currently under-recording crimes where the victim is sometimes vulnerable including some victims of domestic abuse. “Immediately, the constabulary must identify and address gaps in its systems and processes for identifying and recording all reports of crime.” In 2014, HMICFRS suggested Lancashire Constabulary improve its crime data integrity through measures including implementing a national action plan and developing its workforce’s understanding of modern slavery offences. The most recent inspection found it has made some progress in these areas and has a sexual offence recording rate of almost 94 per cent, more than many other forces. However, violence, rape and domestic abuse offences are still being under-recorded and its overall response was graded as ‘inadequate’. In part this was due to a lack of awareness among officers and staff about their responsibilities – the report claimed some lacked “basic” knowledge of crime-recording rules regarding common assault. Other officers were observed not recording domestic abuse offences because the victim did not want any formal action to be taken. However, inspectors noted that they properly understood their safeguarding requirements. The recording problems were being exacerbated by a lack of routine supervision and limited auditing of crime-recording decisions, as they minimise opportunities to introduce training. Other areas of concern included officers not always recording further offences that emerged after initial attendance and an ‘automatic recording’ programme no longer working properly. HMICFRS recommended Lancashire Constabulary take action to identify gaps in its recording processes and provide training or all officers and staff who make crime-recording decisions. A spokesperson for the force said it is “already acting upon the recommendations to ensure that crimes are properly recorded, investigated and victims of crime are at the heart of everything we do”. Similar issues were identified in Hertfordshire Constabulary, where again poor understanding and supervision contributed to 11,200 crimes going unrecorded each year. In particular, officers and staff were seen failing to make the right decision at the first opportunity when dealing with violent crime. HMICFRS said this meant it is “letting down too many victims of crime”. In contrast, inspectors noted that South Wales Police records nearly all offences reported to its public protection teams and makes good decisions when considering whether or not to cancel a recorded crime. Although further improvements are required in rape recording, the force was praised for establishing a crime integrity team and ensuring officers and staff have a good understanding of crime-recording requirements. It has also introduced an effective feedback process for when mistakes are made and has developed training to address ar

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