Police in Hertfordshire are ‘failing victims of crime’ on too many occasions by not filing accurate reports – an independent inspection has found.
County cops failed to record more than 11,000 crimes last year, the report from Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary (HMIC) has found.
But Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Lloyd has hit back at the report, saying it ‘misleads’ the public using ‘sensationalist figures’.
The inspection on the force’s Crime Data Integrity found improvements had been made on Herts’ last inspection in 2014, and that while it had ‘implemented all recommendations’ the force still required improvement.
The report states: “Too often incorrect crime-recording decisions are made.
“Some staff and officers have an insufficient understanding of the crime-recording requirements, compounded by limited supervision to correct decisions at the earliest opportunity.”
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said: “At the time of our inspection it was accurately recording about 87 per cent of all crime reported to it – which means that more than one in 10 crimes were not making it onto the books.
“Given the focus and commitment displayed by the force leadership, police officers and staff, I am confident further improvement will follow.”
But PCC Mr Lloyd has hit out at the findings.
He said: “I’m concerned HMIC are using sensationalist figures to mislead the public into thinking Hertfordshire Constabulary is not supporting victims of crime.
“This misses the point about ensuring all victims of crime are protected and supported, not whether the technical process of whether a crime has been recorded to the level set by the Inspector.
“HMIC seem to feel that the story is about more about their inspections and not the true picture of the service offered to victims of crime in Hertfordshire.
“I strongly disagree with this approach and am concerned that vulnerable victims may be put off from reporting crime if this report goes unchallenged.”
A spokesperson for Hertfordshire Constabulary said: “We accept the findings of the report and are pleased that it highlighted the clear improvements that have been made, and our focus on improving services to victims and effectiveness in safeguarding those who are most vulnerable.
“We will continue to work towards further strict compliance with the crime recording rules and support our staff in doing so.”
HMIC estimates that the constabulary failed to record over 11,200 reported crimes each year, after examining reports from December to May this year.
This represents a recording rate of 87.2%
The 12.8% of reported crimes that went unrecorded included serious crimes such as violence offences and domestic abuse
The recording rate for violent crime is a particular cause of concern at only 84.8%
This means the constabulary fails to record over 3,700 violent crimes that are reported to it each year.
The constabulary records 96% of sexual offence crimes (including rape) that are reported to it. This is actually one of the highest HMIC has ‘seen to date’.
HMIC examined 68 vulnerable victim records. Of those, they found that 46 crimes should have been recorded, of which 21 had been. The unrecorded crimes included serious offences of child neglect and assault occasioning actual bodily harm against children.
The audit showed that 22 out of 24 modern slavery crimes reported had been recorded. The constabulary had also correctly recorded 2 associated rape crimes.
Of the reports of crime that had been recorded by Hertfordshire Constabulary, 404 out of 463 reports of violent crime, 171 out of 194 sexual offences and 392 out of 412 other offences had been recorded within 24 hours of the receipt of the report.