Northamptonshire Police still has an “unacceptable” shortfall in its accuracy of recording crimes despite the fact it is now recording crime more “ethically”, a new inspection report has found.
In August last year, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) raised a number of concerns about the accuracy of crime recording by Northamptonshire Police after inspectors found “performance pressures” were encouraging officers to not record crimes to help meet force targets.
The force was given a series of recommendations to achieve within six months and HMIC has now published their findings after a follow-up inspection carried out in November 2014.
The reports states there have been a number of improvements in Northamptonshire Police’s approach to crime recording, with crimes now recorded in accordance with national guidelines and with a “sound ethical basis”.
Inspectors found the force has “comprehensively shifted away” from a previous policy of ‘investigate to record’, which senior officers had accepted had been a mistake.
However, HMIC said very few staff were aware of the force’s new crime recording policy and a “number of changes in chief officer leadership” had not assisted in providing clarity about responsibility and reinforcement of important messages with front line officers.
However, the report states that there are still “areas of concern” and accuracy was still below “acceptable levels”.
During the inspection, a total of 132 incidents were reviewed by HMIC and 116 crimes were identified. However, Northamptonshire Police had only identified 99 crimes.
After analysing 105 crime reports held on other systems such as crime reports to social workers, HMIC identified 27 crimes, however Northamptonshire Police only recorded 15.
Of the 17 crimes missed, five crimes of violence were not recorded, three sexual offences, including two of rape, four robberies, a theft and a criminal damage.
The report states; “When we looked at reasons why crimes were not recorded, we found that in five cases there was no discernible reason why this did not happen, but in a further five cases, records indicate that the decision was made as the victim was not believed by the officer.”
HMIC also found that Northamptonshire Police is still not accurately recording domestic incidents.
A ‘dip sample’ of 50 records showed that 11 crimes should have been recorded but only two were. On the previous audit, 13 crimes should have been recorded but none were.
In response to the report, Detective Superintendent Steve Lingley, Head of Crime, 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.
“The accuracy and integrity of crime recording continues to be a priority for Northamptonshire Police.’’