A new Investigation Management Unit set up by Northamptonshire Police to improve the recording of crime by the force is ‘very close to being unable to function’, according to a new inspection report.
After a visit to the force in November last year, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has detailed the changes made by the force in response to a number of criticisms of its crime recording highlighted in a report published in August 2014.
HMIC found that Northamptonshire Police had set up new Investigation Management Unit (IMU) in October last year to form a “more dynamic link between those attending and recording crime at the front line and those managing and processing the resulting records.”
A detective inspector has been selected to head the new unit and he has been given the staff from the former Crime Management Unit (CMU).
The report states that the staffing levels in the former CMU had suffered from the very long-term absence of two of its most experienced staff and the two control room staff joining the unit “did not have the skills and experience to backfill for this absences”.
The report states: “The unit appeared very close to being unable to function. There are real concerns that there is a lack of recognition of the potential imminent collapse of the IMU.”
HMIC found that “significant and worrying backlogs of crimes have built up in several areas, including some 1,675 crimes awaiting filing.”
The report states: “These backlogs and the workloads due to staff absences are having a substantial impact on the welfare of the staff that remain. “One manager commented on these numbers stating “they have never been as high as this before.
“Similarly, the force control room has seen significant turnover in the people employed coupled with unexpected resignations. At least one intake of new recruits saw multiple resignations rather than going on to complete their training. This has meant that managers will not release operators from duties to receive the crime training they need from the IMU staff.
“Instead the IMU trainers have been used to train groups of new recruits to control room positions. This series of events is not detailed in the force risk on crime data integrity.”
HMIC also found that there was a “surprising absence of publicity within the force” about this new unit. HMIC were told that a sign for the IMU office was only installed days before the inspection.
Staff in the control room are unaware of the IMU, their location and function.
In response to the report, Detective Superintendent Steve Lingley, Head of Crime, said the accuracy and integrity of crime recording continues to be a priority for Northamptonshire Police.
He said: “The force has responded positively to this report by increasing the number of officers and staff in the crime management unit, training and awareness for front line staff, a new quality assurance programme and enhanced victim care.
“Working with partners the police are now accurately recording third party reports to ensure we fully understand the picture of reported crime within the county.”