Derbyshire Constabulary has been praised for maintaining a constant focus on improving crime data integrity over a number of years
The force’s Chief Constable Mick Creedon welcomed the publication of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s report into crime data integrity.
The inspectors found that the chief officers of the force have maintained a consistent focus on improving crime data integrity over a number of years.
Mr Creedon said: “The inspectors have praised chief officers for their commitment to improve data integrity and their understanding and knowledge of the subject. The force follows our lead.
“We are completely committed to properly and accurately recording crime. There is no benefit for anyone in under-recording and somehow misrepresenting the reality of offending and victimisation.
“The inspectors found that in the majority of cases in Derbyshire crime was recorded accurately. They say in their report ‘We found no evidence of inappropriate performance pressure skewing the reporting of crime. We found that across the force, staff firmly believed that it was important to record crime properly and accurately at all times.’
“I’m very gratified by this and proud that the force has been shown to be recording crime in an ethical way. I am particularly pleased that HMIC found a distinct victim focus within the force’s approach to crime recording and that front-line staff display this in their everyday actions.”
The report highlights that inspectors dip-tested seven reports of rape and found that all had been properly identified and recorded. The inspectors reported that there is a high degree of confidence that all reports of rape from whatever source are correctly identified and recorded. All rape and serious sexual crime is audited on a regular basis to avoid misclassifications.
Throughout the force, rape victims are assisted by sexual offences liaison officers (SOLOs) at an early stage.
While there has been a rise in reports of serious sexual offences and rape, particularly historical crimes following recent national investigations, those responsible for recording and managing these crimes categorically stated to inspectors that there were no pressures affecting the correct recording of these types of crime.
The force has a high discontinuance rate in prosecutions of rape cases but the report points to this as evidence of their desire to fully and accurately record such matters and bring offenders to justice.
Mr Creedon added: “I realise that a lot of media coverage will focus on the national findings but I believe that the public of Derbyshire can be confident that results of our local inspection show that the recorded crime information in Derbyshire can be trusted. We require our officers and staff to act with integrity.
“Over recent years enormous pressure has been placed on policing in respect of crime statistics - and this has come largely from the Home Office, HMIC, national media and at times even local media and Police Authorities.
“Forces recording high crime rates have been accused of ‘failing’ and league tables have been created with negative connotations. Here in Derbyshire we have long moved away from this simplistic and flawed approach; we seek to focus on the victim and not the numbers.
“The police service should be required to record the offending the public tell us about and that which we discover ourselves. Until we reach this situation and for as long as we blame forces if crime increases, there is a danger that some will seek to under-record crime. I am really glad that in contrast to the national report, the positive local report reflects the effort we have made and the commitment we have to victims of crime.”
Commissioner Alan Charles added: “Victims need to have confidence that if they come forward to report a crime it will be correctly recorded, a view firmly held by both the Chief and I. This report confirms that victims of crime in Derbyshire can have faith in the standards of the force’s crime recording, as it proves that in the vast majority of instances crimes were recorded accurately.”
The HMIC made several recommendations and the force has already begun to change procedures to address those suggestions.
The HMIC pointed out that sometimes community resolutions were being used inappropriately. For several months an independent panel, comprising a magistrate, representatives from the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, local councils and the independent advisory group has met to scrutinise these matters. The panel dip-tests the use of cannabis warnings, cautions, restorative justice disposals and police notices for disorder to ensure that these out-of-court disposals are used proportionately and correctly.