‘Unacceptable failings’ in Lincolnshire Police crime recording
Urgent steps have been taken to raise crime recording standards in Lincolnshire after it emerged one in five offences was being missed.
Around 9,400 reported crimes – or 19 per cent of the total – were not logged on force systems each year, according to a damning review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
This error rate rose to more than a quarter of all violent offences, leading to Lincolnshire Police being accused of “failing victims of crime”.
Separate inspection reports published for Humberside Police and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) found they required improvement and demonstrated good crime recording standards respectively.
HM inspector Zoë Billingham said Lincolnshire Police had demonstrated “unacceptable failings”.
“I am disappointed to find that almost a quarter of reported violent crimes are not properly recorded,” she added.
“This is of serious concern as it can prevent victims receiving the support they need and deserve, and prevent offenders being brought to justice.
“The importance of correctly recording crime cannot be overlooked, or simply passed off as a bureaucratic measure. If a force does not correctly record crime it cannot properly understand the demand on its services, nor provide support to those who need it most.”
The inspection report, released on Tuesday (July 17), found some evidence of good crime recording by Lincolnshire Police.
Officers and staff were praised for progress in putting the victim at the centre of their decisions, and their hard work to identify safeguarding needs.
The force also demonstrated commendable accuracy for reported sexual offences.
However, HMICFRS believes the overall standard of its crime recording is ‘inadequate’.
The examination, carried out between June and the end of November last year, found rapes, violent offences and domestic abuse incidents are all being under-recorded as some officers and staff do not understand their responsibilities.
Domestic abuse cases deemed suitable for diary appointments were also not routinely recorded as crimes within 24 hours, breaching National Crime Recording Standards.
Incident reports containing multiple reports of crime were found to often only lead to one crime being recorded.
Audits carried out by the force were also conducted incorrectly, masking the true degree of inaccuracies in crime recording.
The force has since made efforts to improve the timeliness of diary appointments and provide officers and staff with enhanced supervision.
An interim action plan has also been drawn up and additional training for staff is being considered.
HMICFRS acknowledged the “many positive steps” that have been taken since the inspection was carried out.
The MPS’s ‘good’ rating followed the finding that 90 per cent of crimes in London are accurately recorded.
However, HMICFRS believes the force has some room for improvement as it found evidence that low-level assaults and public order crimes were under-recorded.
Humberside Police was also asked to take further steps as 15 per cent of crimes are being missed, equating to 14,200 offences per year.
The force has since redesigned its communications hub and improved oversight of crime recording to address HMICFRS’s concerns.
Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor, of Lincolnshire Police, assured the public that errors in the force systems did not affect the service to victims or the pursuit of offenders.
“We are deeply disappointed by this report and absolutely committed to ensuring we resolve the problem quickly and effectively,” he added.
“We have made mistakes and we will not shirk from accepting and correcting them. We recognised last year that we needed to improve our crime recording processes and have put measures in place since this inspection. I am determined to ensure that our systems and processes match the high standards our force delivers to victims.
“Our focus and commitment is to ensure victims are at the centre of all that we do and I am confident that, despite issues in how we have recorded some crimes, that service has not slipped from the high standards we set ourselves.”