Kent Police has been rated as inadequate for the way the force records crime.
A report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) says Kent Police fails to record over 24,300 crimes each year. It based its findings on crime reports for the period 1 June 2016 to 30 November 2016
The damning assessment adds: “The 16.4 percent of reported crimes that go unrecorded include serious crimes such as sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.
“The recording rate for violent crime is a particular cause of concern at only 79.2 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.26 percent). This means that on too many occasions, the force is failing victims of crime.”
HMIC says improvements have to be made, adding: “In particular, we consider that there are too many failures to make the correct crime-recording decision at the first opportunity.
“These failures are often due to an insufficient understanding of crime-recording requirements by officers and staff, compounded by limited supervision to correct these decisions at the earliest opportunity.”
- The report says the forces crime reporting is ‘unacceptable’ in the areas of under-reporting
- violent crimes;
- reports of rape; and
- other sexual offences.
However, HMIC says it also found that Kent Police officers and staff are placing the victim at the forefront of their crime-recording decisions;
- the force has worked hard in bringing about improvements in the use and scrutiny of out-of-court disposals among officers and staff; and
- its victim support hub is well-established, providing those victims who get their crime recorded with access to support services to which they are entitled.
The report adds: “The force has responded quickly to the issues identified in this inspection. For example it has:
- increased the size of its data audit unit;
- appointed a new lead for crime recording and investigative standards; and
- prioritised the recruitment for new staff into roles within the investigation management unit (IMU).”
Kent Police response
In response Chief Constable of Kent Alan Pughsley said: “Kent Police’s Crime Data Integrity Report makes for disappointing reading, however we accept its findings and have responded quickly to them to make the changes we need to improve the accuracy of our crime recording.
“There are a number of instances where although we have not recorded a crime, we have responded to the victim’s needs, conducted an effective investigation and provided safeguarding to the victims.
“All of those crimes that were not recorded have been thoroughly reviewed and safeguarding has been put in place.
“I want to be clear that victims are always at the heart of what we do – something that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary recognised in its findings. Our officers and staff approach crime recording in a positive and ethical way and we have no desire to under-record crime. ‘
“I would like to apologise to any victim who has not received the service they were entitled to. However, on reviewing the recording decisions from this last year, it is apparent there have been administrative errors in the way we have been recording crime which has not been in line with the guidelines.
“We have now identified this and are working closely with HMIC to ensure all of the issues that led to those crimes not being recorded in the last year are reviewed so that our accuracy level increases. Extensive training is underway for the most up to date criteria in decision making around recording crime.
‘Since the inspection, we have worked hard with HMIC to improve our crime data integrity, not just for the last year, but going forward, and will not rest until we are satisfied it is the best it can be.”
- Immediately, the force should take steps to identify and address gaps in its systems and processes for the recording of reports of crime. This work should:
- include a review of the quality of incident recording;
- provide a consistent and structured approach to call-handling quality assurance processes; and
- identify and address shortcomings in the identification and recording of reported crime by the investigation management unit (IMU).
- Immediately, the force should take steps to ensure that all reported crimes of rape are recorded without delay and that classification N100 is used correctly.
- Within three months, the force should review the use of secondary incident records when a crime has been disclosed and in particular where crimes are disclosed during the course of investigations, to ensure the use of secondary incidents does not inhibit crime-recording accuracy.
- Within three months the force should develop and implement procedures to ensure that where more than one crime is disclosed within an incident record or is identified as part of other recorded crime investigations; that these are recorded;
- Within three months, the force should develop and implement procedures for the effective supervision of crime-recording decisions throughout the whole force.
- Within three months, the force should ensure sufficient audit capacity and capability is available to the FCIR to provide reassurance that the force is identifying and managing any gaps in its crime-recording accuracy. This is particularly important for vulnerable victims and those crimes where the risk to the victim is greatest, such as rape, sexual offences, domestic abuse and modern slavery.
- Within six months, the force should design and provide training for all staff who make crime-recording decisions. This should include training in regard to:
- the extent of the information required to provide for a crime-recording decision to be made;
- the expectation that reported crime is recorded at the first point that sufficient information exists to record a crime, which in the majority of cases will be at the point of report;
- the proper use of classification N100 for reports of rape and recording crimes of rape involving multiple offenders and from third party reports;
- offences involving the public order act, malicious communications, harassment and common assault; and
- the additional verifiable information required in order to make crime-cancellation decisions.
Areas for improvement
- The force should immediately improve how it collects diversity information from all victims of crime and how it uses this to inform its compliance with its equality duty.