Crime data integrity
HMIC has undertaken a programme of work over a number of years to test whether crimes are being recorded by the police when they should be and categorised correctly.
Rolling programme of crime data integrity inspections
On Friday 6 November 2015, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor, wrote to all chief constables and police and crime commissioners to inform them about how HMIC will inspect forces’ crime-recording practices in future. Forces’ crime data integrity will be inspected in a rolling programme of every force in England and Wales over a number of years
Why do we inspect crime recording practices?
It is important that police forces have high-quality data that allows them to establish where, when, and how often crime is happening.
- victims of crime are provided with access to appropriate support services;
- the public are given accurate information about crime in their area; and
- the police can plan their work in support of victims and meet the demands of investigations.
This rolling programme of inspections will be completed over a period of several years and will report on the progress made by forces since our 2014 crime data integrity inspection. HMIC will produce a report at the end of each force inspection setting out, and making a judgment on, the accuracy of crime recording in that force.
Force findings will be published in batches. This will allow HMIC to show the developing picture regarding the accuracy of crime recording nationally.
Each inspection will involve the following elements:
- a self assessment of the ways in which crime is reported to the force;
- a self-assessment against local and national recommendations from 2014, and progress made against the national action plan; and
- a survey of the culture and experience towards crime-recording among officers and staff.
- an audit of incident and crime records;
- a review of crime-recording related documents, obtained from the force; and
- a fieldwork visit to interview staff.
The process for determining overall graded judgments for the CDI programme consists of three stages. Find out more about judgment criteria.
2013/14 crime data integrity programme
In the 2013/14 crime data integrity inspection, we examined and assessed the integrity of crime data in every force in England and Wales. We looked at:
- how each force applied the standards and rules for crime-recording laid down by the Home Office;
- how police culture and behaviours affected recording;
- how victims of crime were being served by police crime-recording practices; and
- how the police used out-of-court disposals such as cautions, cannabis warnings, community resolutions and penalty notices for disorder when dealing with offenders.
The findings showed that in a majority of forces victims of crime were being let down. Over 800,000 crimes reported to the police went unrecorded. The problem was greatest for victims of violence and sexual offences. This failure to record such a significant proportion of reported crime was wholly unacceptable.
The position in the case of rape and other sexual offences was especially concerning. The inspection found 37 cases of rape which were not recorded as crimes. The national rate of incorrect decisions to cancel recorded crimes of rape was 20 per cent, and in many of these cases there was no evidence that the police had informed the complainant of the decision.
HMIC made a number of national recommendations aimed at improving the crime recording arrangements across all forces in England and Wales. Individual forces also received a number of additional recommendations specific to their inspection findings.
Get the 2013/14 reports
Crime recording: A matter of fact (interim report)
Where a force has been revisited, these reports can also be found in the force reports section.
Other crime data integrity inspections
Crime Recording in Kent (2013 and 2014)
In February 2013, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent commissioned HMIC to conduct an inspection to determine whether the people of Kent can have confidence in the force’s crime figures. This inspection resulted in the publication of the HMIC report Crime recording in Kent – A report commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent in June 2013.
Following this report, the Police and Crime Commissioner invited HMIC to return to the force later in the year to assess if progress had been made.
Crime Counts (2009) and The Crime Scene (2012)
HMIC’s first report on crime data integrity, Crime Counts – A review of data quality for offences of the most serious violence, was published in October 2009. This was followed by The Crime Scene – A review of police crime and incident reports, which was published in January 2012. While the first of these focused solely on the data recorded in relation to serious violence, and the latter was much wider in scope, both examined how effective forces were in ensuring incident records which contained details of a recordable crime resulted in the correct creation of crime records.