Police failure in recording crime


DEVON and Cornwall Police has been slammed by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabularies (HMIC), who rated the force’s crime recording “inadequate” as it failed to record reports of rape, serious sexual assault, serious assault and human trafficking.

A report published on February 9th said the force only recorded 82 per cent of crimes, leaving more than 17,400 crimes unrecorded.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams did not hold back, and said: “These are not simply administrative tasks that Devon and Cornwall Police is getting wrong.

“I was most concerned to find that the force had failed to record reports of rape, serious sexual assault (against both adults and children) and offences of serious assault and human trafficking.

“Nationally, there has been sufficient focus on the importance of crime recording over recent years to have expected better recording accuracy from the force.

“Other forces have recognised the importance of accurate crime recording, so Devon and Cornwall Police has no excuse to still be poor at recording crime, and certainly not for the most serious of offences.

“In 2014, HMIC made recommendations to the force on how it should improve its crime recording practices.

“We were disappointed to find that the force hadn’t made progress against many of these recommendations.

“We estimate that the force fails to record over 17,400 reported crimes each year.

“Victims of crime in Devon and Cornwall aren’t receiving a good enough service when they initially report crime.

“This is essential to ensure that victims of crime receive the right level of support they need at this difficult time.”

Deputy Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “There is no doubt learning from the HMIC report around crime data integrity and I accept we and other forces have got to ensure we have better processes in place to accurately record all crime.

“This is more about recording a crime, helping a victim, but then not properly updating systems around supplementary crimes related to the same investigation.

“Recording crime in the right way is important as is ensuring that we have integrity in our data systems and how they are used.

“However, what is more important to me is ensuring we give victims of crime and those coming into contact with their local police a first class service.

“We don’t believe that in the vast majority of circumstances we have not supported a victim. “We record in excess of 80,000 crimes every year in Devon and Cornwall. The HMIC has said today that more than 80 per cent of those are recorded appropriately and properly.

“While it is of concern that some crimes are being recorded differently and this needs to be addressed, my focus remains firmly on protecting and safeguarding our communities.

“As a force we will further examine the HMIC’s recommendations, look at the areas we can improve and how we can use this learning to improve the service we give to victims and the public.”

Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez said that too many errors are being made.

She commented: “This is a complicated area but too many errors are being made.

“The Chief Constable assures me that progress has already been made and that it will continue as a priority.

“I will also monitor the accuracy of crime data recording as an additional strategic measure within the plan and I will be closely scrutinising the implementation of the Chief Constable’s action plan to assure myself that performance has improved.

“Supporting victims and witnesses, and helping them to get justice, is a priority in my police and crime plan.

“I want to reassure all victims of crime, especially those who are raped or sexually assaulted, that the police will take them seriously and they will be dealt with professionally.

“If an individual is any doubt whether to report, in the first instance, they can contact the victim care unit on 0300 3030 554 where they will be supported through the reporting process.”

Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Chard & Ilminster Reporter | After studying for his NCTJ in Bournemouth, Peter started with the paper in June 2015 on a freelance basis, now permanently based in East Devon covering community and council news.