Suffolk Constabulary improves its understanding of crime recording, but challenges remain
Suffolk Constabulary’s crime recording arrangements have improved since 2014, according to a new report. However, further improvements are needed to ensure that all crimes are appropriately recorded.
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Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) previously inspected how the force records crime in 2014. It found that the force was failing to record enough reported incidents and that some staff lacked understanding of recording rules.
During a re-inspection carried out earlier this year, HMICFRS found that the force has made a concerted effort to improve the number of crimes it records. The Inspectorate estimated that the force now records over 90 percent of all crime reported to it.
The subsequent report, Suffolk Constabulary: Crime Data Integrity Inspection 2019, highlighted the following improvements:
- the creation and implementation of a crime data integrity plan;
- the introduction of a team to ensure compliance with recording rules; and
- the introduction of a flexible and risk-based audit programme.
Despite these improvements, however, the report stressed that the force is still not recording enough reports of crime, and its overall grading is ‘Requires Improvement’. It highlighted concerns around most stages of the recording process, including:
- limited supervision of crime recording decisions;
- failure to record all reports, as appropriate, within 24 hours;
- not appropriately recording reports of crimes received from third parties; and
- failure to collect enough diversity information.
As a result of these issues, the force fails to record an estimated 5,300 reports of all types of crime. Recording for violent crime is a particular concern, with an estimated 3,600 reports a year going unrecorded.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said:
“Accurate and timely crime recording is important because it allows the police to properly investigate an incident, and it builds public confidence in the police service.
“Suffolk Constabulary has made improvements since our last inspection. The force has one of the best sexual offence recording rates out of the 41 forces we have inspected to date. Staff have a good understanding of modern slavery offences, and they have an effective process to ensure correct decisions are made to cancel crimes.
“However, it is disappointing that workforce understanding of recording rules – which we identified as a problem back in 2014 – has not been comprehensively addressed.
“The force needs to make sure all officers and staff understand how to properly record crime reports. It needs to replicate the pockets of good practice we have highlighted across all areas of crime recording, particularly violent crime.
“We rated the force’s leadership and culture as ‘outstanding’. The Chief Constable and his senior team have led the work in this area very effectively and are committed to making further improvements. Chief officers have consistently expressed the importance of proper crime recording, and its impact on victims to the rest of the organisation. I was greatly encouraged to see the dedication of officers and staff displayed in this regard.
“I hope to see further improvements when we reinspect the force at a future date.”
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- HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing and fire and rescue services in the public interest. It assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and fire and rescue services.
- HMICFRS inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies. It also publishes data and thematic reports on areas of particular interest.
- Since 2017, HMICFRS been responsible for inspecting all 45 fire and rescue services in England.
- Crime Data Integrity inspections assess an individual police force’s response to reports of crime by the public, and the effectiveness of that response. The inspection includes an audit, which examines the extent to which a force is applying the correct rules, as well as fieldwork.
- HMICFRS is unable to make direct comparisons with the 2014 inspection due to a change in the methodology used. In particular, the 2014 inspection was a dip-sample of records in each force which contributed to a statistically robust rate for crime-recording accuracy for England and Wales, whereas this inspection is working to a statistically robust standard within each force.
- For further information, HMICFRS’s press office can be contacted from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
- HMICFRS’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.