Building the picture

On 12 March 2013, HMIC published ‘Mistakes were made’, the findings of a review into how the Metropolitan Police Service, Surrey Police and Sussex Police dealt with the information and allegations which they received between 1964 and 2008 regarding the criminal sexual conduct of the late Jimmy Savile.

This review considered the way in which these forces applied the statutory Code of Practice on the Management of Police Information (and the associated guidance which was issued as a result of that Code) in dealing with the information and allegations.

It also examined the extent to which those forces made effective use of the Police National Database to aggregate discrete pieces of information (both within and across forces) and so build a picture of the extent and nature of the alleged offending.

HMIC concluded that mistakes had been made in the handling of information and allegations, and stated that we were “sufficiently concerned about information management” to commit to conducting a further review in this area. This inspection will fulfil this commitment, and will seek to answer the question: could the same mistakes that were revealed in the Savile case be made again?

In this inspection, we have considered the extent to which police forces have adopted and implemented the framework of national guidance for the handling of police information and implemented it within local policy.

We have examined the process by which the police deal with information from specialist policing activities – primarily major crime investigations, counter terrorism and those relating to the internal investigation of police staff for misconduct, corruption or criminal offences – within the context of our findings on Savile.

For the purposes of this inspection, HMIC analysed the results of a self-assessment survey on the management of information which all forces completed in September 2013 and conducted fieldwork in 13 police forces. Selection of forces for fieldwork was based on three criteria which were:

  • involvement in cases reported by victims of Savile (Surrey Police, Sussex Police, the Metropolitan Police Service and West Yorkshire Police);
  • involvement in the Bichard Inquiry (Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Humberside Police); or
  • because there was a high, low or average (compared to other forces in England and Wales) level of risk regarding information management identified in the national self-assessment survey (Dyfed-Powys Police, Hampshire Constabulary, Lancashire Constabulary, Lincolnshire Police, Merseyside Police, North Yorkshire Police and Nottinghamshire Police).

Get the report

The final report of this inspection, Building the Picture: An inspection of police information management, found variations in the way different forces apply national guidance on information management. HMIC concluded that this means there is a real risk that the mistakes we identified in our report about police contact with Jimmy Savile (such as failures to share information within and across forces) could be repeated. There is therefore an urgent need to achieve greater consistency across all forces.