THE POLICING inspectorate has “serious concerns” over the way the police record crime following an interim report on 13 forces, including North Yorkshire.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) says it has “identified serious concerns about the crime recording process” after a review of how UK forces recorded crime revealed a “significant under-recording of crime” and, in some instances, serious sexual offences going unrecorded.
It identified 14 rapes across the force areas which had not been recorded.
The news comes after the Crime Survey for England and Wales appeared to show a 15 per cent overall drop in crime nationally compared with the previous year.
So far HMIC has reviewed 13 of England and Wales’ 43 forces by listening to about 8,000 telephone calls to the police to check whether they were correctly recorded. Its final report is published in October this year.
One of those forces already reviewed is North Yorkshire. HMIC found during the time analysed that the number of crimes recorded was 56 when it should have been 64.
Greater Manchester Police were found to have recorded 265 crimes out of 388 that HMIC felt should have been recorded.
Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick said they were still waiting for a detailed report specific to North Yorkshire Police, but had already acted upon initial feedback.
He said: “It is important to note that victims of crime have independently demonstrated, via The British Crime Survey, that North Yorkshire Police provide one of the highest standards of service in the country.
“As with any guidance issued, there is always an element of professional judgement and interpretation required in reaching a decision. Over the last couple of years there have been some very encouraging HMIC reports on crime recording in North Yorkshire.
“The most recent report in 2014 has identified issues that have already been addressed and are subject to a National Crime Recording Standards Quality and Improvement Board chaired by the Head of Crime, Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Mason, which meets regularly to continually review current procedures and identify ways in which to improve standards.”
Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The interim HMIC report gives me cause for concern. Ensuring we record crime properly is extremely important, not only for the general public, but particularly for victims.
“Behind every statistic in this report is an individual, a victim, and I have committed to supporting those people however I can. I am confident the same desire is at the heart of North Yorkshire Police, but there are clearly some questions which need to be answered.
“North Yorkshire Police are already taking steps to deal with some of the issues, as am I.”
The HMIC said that the statistics did still show a general downward trend in crime, but went on to say the pressure to pursue national targets is likely to have contributed to the issue.
“A factor in public concern, and a probable cause for scepticism about national crime figures, is the culture in the police – as in other major government organisations – of pursuing targets and being under pressure to demonstrate good performance," it added.
The HMIC report said the consequences of not recording crime “may be severe” adding: “our system of public justice requires offenders to face the law and its sanctions, and if they escape justice not only is it denied, but more victims may be created”.