Cleveland Police has launched a review of its crime data following the latest HMIC report on crime data integrity, which highlighted a number of areas of improvement, as well as good practice.
The inspection was carried out on crimes recorded between November 2012 and October 2013, a dip sample of out-of-court disposals (cautions, Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND), cannabis warnings, community resolutions) and no-crime decisions for rape robbery and violence.
It also included an assessment of local crime recording arrangements under three headings: leadership and governance, systems and processes, and people and skills.
Out of 88 incident records examined by the HMIC, 85 crimes should have been recorded. Of these 67 were actually recorded as a crime. The 18 have now been recorded as crimes and are being reviewed. The main finding was that the Force needed to put more detail in explaining the rationale for decisions.
In relation to out-of-court disposals, the HMIC found Cleveland Police to be compliant with national standards.
HMIC also reviewed 84 no-crime records for the offences of rape, robbery and violence, and of those 47 records were compliant. Of the 37 that were not compliant, 12 were for rape, 11 were for robbery and 14 were for violence. All 37 have now been recorded as crimes and are being reviewed.
Cleveland Police policy in relation to rape and serious sexual offences is that an offence is recorded as soon as it is reported to the Force, and then it is thoroughly investigated. At the conclusion of the investigation, a decision may be made to change the crime recording status to no-crime. This means that victims will have been provided with support in line with the Victims’ Code of Practice.
Assistant Chief Constable of Cleveland Police Simon Nickless said: “Victims are absolutely at the heart of everything we do and we are fully committed to working in partnership with other agencies to support people who have been through a traumatic or distressing experience.
“We’ve taken immediate action to review all the decisions made on no-crimes, and also improve our decision-making process, with a higher level of scrutiny applied to ensure that decisions are accurate and compliant.
“Since November 2013, we have had a dedicated decision maker in place specifically to assess no-crime decisions in respect of rape, and this has improved our compliance rates.
“We have developed a scrutiny panel to review rape no-crime decisions, which is made up of representatives from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office, the Local Criminal Justice Board and third sector agencies working in sexual violence.
“Monthly audits of around 320 incidents are undertaken by the Force Crime Registrar and Crime Liaison Officers, who independently check compliance with the National Crime Recording Standards (NCRS) and the National Standard of Incident Recording (NSIR).
“This work also includes a review of all no-crimes for indictable offences, which includes rape and sexual offences to ensure we get it right. The results are presented back to a monthly performance group chaired by the Deputy Chief Constable. In addition, I am reviewing current procedures and identifying ways in which to improve standards.
“The report also acknowledges good practice in the Force in relation to our call handling staff employed by our partner Steria and officers in the contact centre. They are trained in the identification of risk and vulnerability and live audits of incidents are routinely conducted by supervisors.
“The Force has invested much effort in out-of-court disposals and dip sampling indicates compliance with national standards.
“The report found that Cleveland Police promote the victim as its primary focus for the reporting and recording of crime and this is reflected in its policies and procedures. The use in Cleveland of a victim call-back process was also highlighted.
“Our priority now is to focus on the areas which need improvement to ensure better recording and compliance, in order to deliver the best quality of service for victims of crime.
“If anyone has concerns they should contact Cleveland Police on the non-emergency number 101.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “The HMIC report raises some serious concerns over the recording procedures at the Force, and I am supportive of the action being taken to address this.
“One of my main priorities is to ensure a better deal for victims and witnesses, and I have asked for regular updates from the Deputy Chief Constable.
“It’s important that victims feel confident to come forward and report crime, that they are supported through the process and that crimes are ethically and appropriately recorded.
“I shall continue to monitor the situation closely.”
Posted on Thursday 28th August 2014