Derbyshire Constabulary needs to make significant and immediate improvements in its approach to recording crime, according to a report released today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
Currently, the force only records 65.3 percent of crimes reported to it, meaning it fails to record an estimated 30,000 crimes each year. Violent crime is of particular concern, with almost half of all reported incidents going unrecorded, including many involving domestic abuse.
The force has only recently developed and started to implement a crime-recording improvement plan to address recommendations made by HMICFRS in 2014, and against which the force has made limited progress.
HM Inspector Zoë Billingham said: “I am deeply troubled and disappointed that Derbyshire Constabulary is failing to put over a third of crimes reported to it on the record.
“It is crucial that every police force is able to accurately record crime. Not only does it allow forces to understand demand on their services, but it enables them to direct and prioritise their resources in a targeted, cost-effective way. Most importantly though, in many cases, when a reported crime is not recorded, victims are denied an effective police response and ultimately they are denied justice.
“We last inspected Derbyshire Constabulary’s crime recording approach in 2014. We revealed a number of deficiencies in the force’s processes and, as a result, we made a number of recommendations aimed at improvement. Unfortunately, the report released today shows that much of what we recommended has not been progressed.
“Despite these very poor findings, it is important to note that there is a real commitment on the part of the force to improve. I look forward to seeing the recommendations in our report being implemented over the coming months and the accuracy of crime recording improving quickly and significantly.”
According to the report, there is a general lack of training and knowledge development amongst officers and staff on how to properly record crime. Other problems include the removal of a force-wide policy on crime recording.
HMICFRS’s report sets out a comprehensive action plan for improvement, listing a range of recommendations for completion over a 12 month period.
HMICFRS will continue to monitor Derbyshire Constabulary and will carry out a further inspection in due course.
Derbyshrie Constabulary's Chief Constable Peter Goodman said: “Firstly, I think it is really important to stress that this report doesn’t reflect the care and compassion victims of crime receive from our dedicated police officers every day. Nor does it reflect the work they undertake to prevent and reduce offending in our communities.
“What is important to the people of Derbyshire is the support and care offered to crime victims and that they understand the efforts our officers make to bring perpetrators to justice. This report isn’t a measure of those things; it is a measure of how we count crimes in a very complex way.”
Derbyshire Constabulary gathers, records and assesses information every day in various different forms, through emergency calls, crime investigations, intelligence, safeguarding and many other areas. The force does this to prevent and protect people in communities from crime and harm.
Mr Goodman continues: “The report has highlighted areas where we clearly need to do better in order to comply with the Home Office Counting Rules, and our action plan to tackle these areas is already under way led by a chief officer.
“I do however continue to have concerns with the crime recording system and counting rules should not be used as a method to measure the effectiveness of our police response, decision making, investigation or safeguarding, or indeed our success as a force.
“As an example, I point to one of the case studies used in this report which creates an impression we have not supported a vulnerable crime victim, and assumptions similar to this seem to have been made throughout, but that is absolutely not the case. In another case highlighted, allegations of a serious sexual offence were recorded and investigated; all suspects were identified and arrested, and support provided to the victim, yet because crimes were not recorded for each suspect, this is reported as a failure by HMICFRS.
“This does not reflect the safeguarding or support we provided in these and many other cases. It does not impact on the suspect or future safeguarding measures and does not impact on the investigation or putting the case before a court. The HMIC is measuring counting rule compliance not our approach to victim focused support.
“Information is the lifeblood of policing which has to capture vulnerability through all crime types, including on line fraud and cyber-crime. It has to cater for those who are afraid to follow the traditional route of picking up a telephone to report or walking into a police station.