18 Nov 2014

800,000 crimes ‘unrecorded every year’

An official inquiry has found almost 20 per cent of crime in England and Wales goes unrecorded every year.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor says victims are being let down, with over 800,000 crimes reported to police each year ending up unrecorded.

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The inspection of all 43 forces over a year between November 2012 and October 2013 found the worst-affected areas were violent crimes, where one third were unrecorded, and sexual offences, where the unrecorded rate was 26 per cent.

The report also reveals a worrying trend of a process which has become known as ‘no crimeing‘, where the offence is cancelled or removed from books.

Inspectors found 20 per cent of more than 3,000 “no crime” decisions were wrong, and these included 200 rapes and more than 250 crimes of violence, a situation they describe as “a matter of especially serious concern”.

The HMIC report says the worst forces were Avon & Somerset, Hampshire and West Yorkshire.

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These findings appear to support claims by whistleblower ex-PC James Patrick, who told a Commons select committee last year that Metropolitan Police crime figures were “manipulated” and sexual crimes were under-recorded by up to 25 per cent. Mr Patrick has since resigned.

HMIC, in posing the question “are police massaging the figures?”, conducted an online survey of officers and police staff.

It found a fifth of this sample of 8,600 had felt pressured in the last six months to not to record certain crimes.

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Mr Winsor concludes: “It is not the force which pays the highest price of crime-recording failures, but those victims and the wider community to whom justice may be denied.

“This can be especially true for the vulnerable, and those who suffer more serious crimes. Failure properly to record crime today may not only fail today’s victims; it places others at risk of becoming victims tomorrow.”

Chief Constable Jeff Farrar, national policing lead for crime recording, said:

“Pressures from workload and target culture, use of professional judgement in the interests of victims, lack of understanding of recording rules or inadequate supervision, can all lead to inaccurate crime recording.

“There have been allegations of improper practice, such as dishonest manipulation, in crime recording. However, the biggest and most in-depth inspection ever conducted by HMIC could not find anyone to come forward with any firm evidence to support this.”

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