Home Secretary Theresa May has said a report claiming more than a quarter of sex offences are not recorded made “disturbing reading”.
Commenting on the investigation by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), Mrs May told ITV it highlighted “inefficiency and poor practice” and said “there is no place for target chasing in the police”.
The report was a damning indictment on the culture of under recording crime to meet targets, with the report itself stating that ‘when there are doubts about the integrity of crime data reported by the Police, this can have an adverse effect on the public’s trust and confidence in the police service.’
It looked at the extent to which police recorded crime can be trusted using data gathered from 43 police forces in England and Wales and the consequences for victims when Home Office standards were not followed. The right for a victim of crime to access services, including counselling, only happens if a crime has been recorded properly, it said.
The results make worrying reading for police and public alike, with alarming statistics such as out of 3.246 ‘no crime’ decisions, 1,077 were related to reports of rape, 1,362 to violence and 807 of robbery.
It concluded that victims of crime had been let down, saying: ‘The Police are failing to record a large proportion of the crimes reported to them. Over 800,000 crimes reported to the police go unrecorded each year. This represents an under-recording of 19 per cent,’ adding, ‘The problem is greatest for victims of violence against the person and sexual offences.’
In these categories it was calculated that 33 per cent of violent crimes were under reported and 26 per cent of sexual crimes.
Investigators also found that too many recorded crimes were removed or cancelled for no good reason. Out of the 3.246 ‘no crime’ decisions, it found that 664 were incorrect including over 200 rapes and more than 250 cases of violence.
‘Offenders who should be being pursued by the police for these crimes are not being brought to justice and their victims are denied services to which they are entitled, the study said,
In addition to these disgraceful statistics, in over 800 cases the victim was not told of the decision to not look into the crime.
Perhaps most worryingly of all, in 37 reports of rape, the police took the decision that no crime had been committed.
The study was at a national level and highlighted the different standards amongst local forces. In some areas it said reporting was good, in others it was “unacceptably bad.”
A number of forces have accepted that there was undue pressure which has adversely affected crime recording in the past.
The Home Secretary added, ”The under-recording of crime is not acceptable and I look to the chief constables for leadership on this to ensure their police forces are recording crime properly so that everyone can have confidence in the figures.”