Tag Archives: Tom Winsor

“Victims let down by poor crime recording” states HMIC report

In its latest report entitled ‘Crime Recording: Making the Victim Count’, encompassing the results of what is the most extensive inspection and analysis of crime recording carried out to date, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) finds that the national average rate of under-recording of crime is almost one-in-five.

The inspection was designed to review the integrity of police-recorded crime data (it was not an inspection or inquiry into the integrity of the police service). In examining over 8,000 reports of crime incidents detailed to the police, the HMIC found the national average of under-recording of crime to be 19% (which amounts to over 800,000 crimes each year).

During the audit period November 2012-October 2013, police were found to be less likely to record violent and sexual offences as crimes than they were other crime types. The inspection also found that, on the national average, over a quarter of sexual offences and a third of violent crimes reported to the police each year are not being recorded as crime.

Every force was inspected, and the results from each have been used to build a statistically representative figure on a national basis. HMIC emphasises that the picture at a local level is mixed. Not every force is the same. In a few forces, crime recording is very good and highlights the fact that this procedure can be carried out very well and the statistics trusted. In some other forces, though, HMIC suggests the process is “unacceptably bad”.

During and since the inspection, some forces have taken significant steps to improve their procedures, a fact which is naturally welcomed by HMIC.

National crime recording rate is “inexcusably poor”

Commenting on the report’s contents, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor said: “The first duty of the police service is to protect the public and reduce crime. A national crime recording rate of 81% is inexcusably poor. Failure to properly record crime is indefensible. This is not about numbers and dry statistics. It’s about victims and the protection of the public.”

Winsor continued: “The position in the case of rape and other sexual offences is a matter of particularly serious concern. The inspection found 37 cases of rape which were not recorded as crimes. The national rate of under-recording of sexual offences (including rapes) as crimes was 26%, while the national rate of incorrect decisions to no-crime rapes was 20%. These are wholly unacceptable failings. Some police forces have exemplary records in this respect while others are very bad. It’s particularly important that, in criminal cases as serious as rape, these shortcomings are put right as a matter of the greatest urgency. In some forces, action is already being taken in this respect.”

Tom Winsor: Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary

Tom Winsor: Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary also said: “The police should immediately institutionalise the presumption that the victim is to be believed. If evidence later comes to light which shows that no crime occurred then the record should be corrected. That’s how the system is supposed to work.”

Importantly, Winsor explained: “Victims need – and are entitled to – support and assistance. They – and their communities – are also entitled to justice. Failures in crime recording can also increase the risks to victims and the community of the denial of justice. The police need to take this subject very seriously. Trust in what the police tell others about crime is part of the essential trust which the public must have in the police service.”

The public’s view is unequivocal. When surveyed, 95% of respondents agreed that it’s important all crimes reported to the police are recorded accurately, but only 66% trust the police to do so. The inspection found that even when crime was correctly recorded, many incidents were removed or cancelled from the system as: ‘No crimes’. One-in-five of the 3,246 reviewed decisions to cancel a crime record were incorrect. This included over 200 rapes and more than 250 crimes of violence against the person.

The police should inform victims of these decisions, states HMIC, but in over 800 of the 3,246 decisions reviewed for this inspection there was no record of the victim having been told. This means that victims may be under the impression that their crimes are being investigated when in truth they’re not.

The inspection found that, once recorded, decisions on the classification of crimes were correct in 96% of cases.

Undue pressure placed on police officers?

Relatively little firm evidence was found of undue pressure being put on police officers to manipulate figures, despite allegations and assertions to that effect.

However, in a survey of over 17,000 police officers and staff, 39% of the 8,600 individuals who said they had responsibility for making crime recording decisions reported that performance and other pressures were distorting those decisions. When presented with that picture, a number of forces admitted it.

That said, the inspection also found that forces are making considerable efforts to change the culture in which such practices have been permitted in the past.

The HMIC inspection also looked at over 3,700 out-of-court disposals (consisting of cautions, penalty notices for disorder, cannabis warnings and community resolutions). In over a fifth of cases, HMIC found the offender should not have been given the sanction and should either have been charged and sent to court or given a different and more severe out-of-court disposal.

HMIC was also concerned that not all victims were asked for their views on the punishment (as the rules require).

Despite the clear framework and set of rules for the sound and consistent recording of crime by the police, the failures identified by HMIC are, in the main, attributable to lapses in leadership and supervision of officers and staff in addition to poor knowledge of the rules.

Victim Support is calling for all crime to be reported and accurately recorded

Victim Support is calling for all crime to be reported and accurately recorded

HMIC has recommended that the College of Policing should establish standard training to be provided by each force which ensures that all officers and staff who are likely to record crimes or have supervision of crime recording have a sound understanding of the relevant principles to be applied (and are periodically tested in that respect).

A number of forces are doing well in recording crime and have already tackled these issues. Some forces, including Kent and Merseyside, have moved swiftly to make improvements since the HMIC inspections. They’re already implementing changes and prioritising victims’ needs. This demonstrates how rapidly improvements can be made.

Number of crimes dismissed is “alarming”

In response to the HMIC’s findings, Adam Pemberton (assistant CEO of Victim Support) stated: “The sheer number of crimes that have been dismissed by the police is alarming. It’s equally astonishing that so many victims are not told if the police later decide that no crime took place.”

Pemberton stressed: “Each mistake represents a victim losing their chance for justice and support. Victims of crime rely on the police service to believe them and to investigate crime properly, and they should be able to trust them to do just that.”

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“Victims must not be left to investigate crimes” states Victim Support

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s (HMIC) latest report (entitled ‘Core Business: An Inspection into Crime Prevention, Police Attendance and the Use of Police Time’) reveals that victims of criminality receive a different response from the police for the same kind of incident depending on where they live.

The report – dubbed the ‘Policing Postcode Lottery’ – examines all 43 police forces in England and Wales. It looks at three principal aspects of day-to-day policing: the prevention of crime, how crime is investigated (and offenders brought to justice) and freeing up and using police time more efficiently (which includes the use of modern technology). The report merges three complementary inspections into a single assessment.

The document states that criminal damage and car crime are on the verge of being decriminalised because some forces had given up. In some cases, victims were asked to check for CCTV or fingerprints.

It also notes that partnerships are crucial for supporting crime victims and preventing further offences, highlighting the work that Victim Support pursues with victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales.

‘Policing postcode lottery’ must stop

HMI Roger Baker, who led the inspection, said: “Police forces have done a good job in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, in turn leading to long-term reductions over the last ten years. However, we were concerned to find that a member of the public will receive a different response from the police for the same type of crime or incident, depending on where they live. This sort of ‘postcode lottery’ has to stop and a consistent approach applied across England and Wales.”

Baker added: “It’s only by fully understanding how they use their staff that police forces can ensure they’re both efficient and responsive. We found that this vital element of evaluation and analysis is still lacking in the majority of forces, with fewer than a quarter investigating demand in order to prioritise and organise their workforce. In this age of austerity, it’s more important than ever that forces understand how to prioritise their resources.”

Tom Winsor: HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary

Tom Winsor: HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Thomas Winsor commented: “The oxygen of effective policing is intelligence. Information is useless if it cannot be found and used at the time and in the circumstances in which it is needed. In policing, if it’s inaccessible to those who need it, great harm may occur which could and should have been prevented. Despite this, in too many respects police forces have failed to embrace and exploit the capacities of modern technology. They’ve established information systems which, even now, lack necessary standards of interoperability. Steps are now being taken in this respect – and they are to be welcomed – but progress until now has been too slow, insular and isolationist. This must change urgently. As long as these material shortcomings persist then lives are at risk.”

Winsor also stated: “England and Wales has 43 police forces. There are not, and never have been, 43 best ways of doing something. While the roots and much of the practice of policing are local, and will remain so, police forces must collectively recognise that it’s in the public interest that every force must understand and adopt Best Practice to be applied in the most efficient and effective way in each police force area.”

Placing victims at risk of further harm

Responding to the report, Adam Pemberton (assistant CEO of Victim Support) explained: “As a charity that has supported millions of crime victims, we know how important it is that they get the help they need from the police. It’s critical that victims can trust officers to investigate their case thoroughly and keep them informed of progress and the outcome. It is totally unacceptable for victims to have to investigate their own case as it could put them at risk of further harm and they may miss vital evidence which could allow offenders to evade justice.”

Victim Support believes that it's Unacceptable for victims to investigate crimes themselves

Victim Support believes that it’s Unacceptable for victims to investigate crimes themselves

Pemberton added: “We know from supporting children and young people, victims of domestic and sexual violence and those with mental health problems how devastating crime can be for their well-being and sense of security. They are also some of the people most likely to suffer repeated crimes.”

In conclusion, Pemberton said: “These are not the standards we should expect from the police and improvements must be made. We will make sure crime victims and witnesses receive the support they need and the respect they deserve.”

*Read the HMIC Report in full

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HMIC asks public for views on new assessments of police forces in England and Wales

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has launched a consultation in relation to its new approach to assessing police force performance in England and Wales.

This new programme of inspections – also known as PEEL (Police Efficiency, Effectiveness and Legitimacy) assessments – will assess how well each of the 43 forces in England and Wales provides value for money (efficiency), cuts crime (effectiveness) and provides a service that’s fair and treats people properly (legitimacy).

Each force will be assessed against these three themes, and given one of four ratings for each theme: Outstanding, Good, Requires improvement or Inadequate.

HMIC will publish the results of these assessments in a user-friendly format, making it easy for members of the public to discern at a glance how well their local force is performing and, over time, whether that performance is improving or deteriorating.

Tom Winsor: Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary

Tom Winsor: Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary

This consultation gives the public the opportunity to have their say on the approach used to make these assessments, as well as the way they will be presented.

The consultation period will run until Friday 29 August 2014 so everyone with an interest in policing – including the public and the service – will have an opportunity to have their say.

Major undertaking for the Inspectorate

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor said: “Our new programme of all-force assessments is a major undertaking for the Inspectorate, and will have significant implications for the police and, therefore, the public. This is not assessment for assessment’s sake – the new inspection programme will allow the public to see clearly the performance of their local force.”

Winsor added: “These all-force inspections will make a material contribution to the way in which the police service improves the service it provides to the public. With this in mind, we are offering members of the public the chance to give us their views about how we conduct these assessments and what they should look like.”

In conclusion, Winsor commented: “I encourage everyone with an interest in the service their local police force offers to the community to read and respond to the consultation. This input will be invaluable in how we highlight both good practice within policing, and the areas where forces are falling short.”

Respond to the consultation

Consultation on HMIC’s programme for regular force inspections

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