Flaws found in Cheshire Constabulary crime records

A critical report into the way Cheshire Constabulary records crimes has revealed that a significant number of crimes were not recorded and incidents of rape, robbery and violence were wrongly recorded as no-crimes.

The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) looks at how crimes were recorded in Cheshire between 1st November 2012 and 31st October 2013 and highlights several areas of concern.

It reveals that of the 96 incident reports that the inspectors examined 90 crimes should have been recorded. However, only 62 were recorded and four of those were wrongly classified. 19 of them were also recorded outside the 72-hour limit allowed under the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR).

Inspectors also reviewed 71 no-crimes of rape, violence and robbery, which were initially recorded as a crime but subsequently found not to be a crime. They concluded that no-crime criteria was “not widely understood” and only 42 of the no-crime decisions were correct.

Out of 30 rape no-crimes that were reviewed, 14 were found to have been classified as no-crimes incorrectly and there was evidence that issues such as mental health and alcohol dependency can have a negative impact on the investigative process.

The report states “As the records we reviewed related to offences of rape, robbery and violence this is a significant cause for concern and is a matter of material and urgent importance.”

The Crime Data Integrity report makes several recommendations regarding the recording of crime by Cheshire Constabulary. Their recommendations include an immediate review of all recorded reports of rape from the last 18 months so any incorrect no-crime decisions are re-recorded, the victim is provided with the level of service they should expect and where possible offenders are brought to justice.

The inspectors also recommend that the force immediately begins to operate an adequate system for auditing no-crimes, ensures that staff have access to an adequate system for confidential reporting, safeguards are put in place to protect the accuracy of crime which is recorded directly by officers onto the crime-recording system and that the views of the victim are considered properly when out of court disposals, such as warnings and cautions, are used.

Cheshire Constabulary says it welcomes the report which details HMIC′s findings on crime recording within the Constabulary following their visit in March 2014.

Assistant Chief Constable Guy Hindle said: “Following an internal review Cheshire Constabulary has already taken action to address some of the main recommendations highlighted within the report. We are confident that our crime recording in areas such as burglary and vehicle crime is robust and in accordance with the national recommendations.

“However, we recognise that there may have been issues in the administration of certain types of crime, specifically violence and sexual offences where the details of the crime can often be complex which can make the recording of the crime complicated.

“Having had the issues highlighted by HMIC we have undergone a review of the crimes incorrectly classified to ensure thorough investigations have taken place and their classifications have now been changed. It is important to stress that HMIC questioned the administration process of recording the crimes at fault, not the investigations into them.”

Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer said, “I am committed to ensuring that victims are at the heart of policing and I am assured that when the Constabulary receives a call for help, that call is assessed and an appropriate response provided, with victims receiving the help and support they need.

“I will hold the Chief Constable to account for implementing the recommendations contained in the report to ensure compliance with national standards and to promote a victim centred approach to crime recording.”

The Crime Data Integrity report following an inspection of Cheshire Constabulary is available on the HMIC website.

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