Not enough has been done to correct the ‘alarming’ under-reporting of crimes including rape in Herts, a new report published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) suggests.
HMIC examined 224 cases where the public had phoned the police, resulting in 130 crimes being recorded – but 181 crimes should have been recorded.
Four of the crimes that were recorded were wrongly classified and a further four had been recorded outside of the 72-hour time limit required.
HMIC’s 26-page report says: “Some victims’ crimes are not being recorded and they are not getting the service they deserve.”
Another part of the report says officers, contrary to protocol, have shown reluctance to record reports of rape as a crime until they have a full explanation from the victim
The report says: “We found that some specialist investigation officers do not properly record all reports of rape as crimes.”
During the HMIC inspection, at an enquiry office a victim of crime was told she could not report the theft of some money and her mobile phone.
This was because of a mistaken view held by staff that a mobile phone crime can only be recorded if its unique protection (IMEI) number is available.
The theft of the money was also not recorded, but advice on how to locate the IMEI number and how to make a subsequent report of crime was given.
The HMIC report says: “It is important that the force satisfies itself that frontline staff working in enquiry offices have an accurate understanding of crime recording standards and expectations.”
During 2013, Herts Police conducted its own audit programme that began to show under-recording of crime with ‘alarming variance’ from the standards expected.
The audit revealed that some crimes were not being accurately recorded. Actions such as additional training were instigated to correct this problem.
But the HMIC report says: “The force only placed the issue of crime data accuracy on the force risk register just prior to our inspection.”
HMIC describes the prior lack of action as ‘surprising’.
The report says: “This indicates that the force was not appropriately prioritising crime recording integrity.”