#014/2013 – Kent Police needs to do more before the public can be confident in the accuracy of its crime figures

A review of crime recording in Kent by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has found that appreciably more needs to be done before the people of Kent can be confident that the crime and resolution figures published by the force are as accurate as they should be.

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 Kent Police’s crime figures. HMIC reviewed key stages of Kent Police’s crime recording process from initial calls from the public, through to the final resolution of the crime. HMIC also examined the extent to which the culture in Kent had an impact on crime recording practices.

The inspection found that the public is being offered a high level of service from the call handling staff at the point of an initial phone call. However, the processes that followed would sometimes deteriorate, as crimes were not being correctly recorded – in the sample reviewed, HMIC found the force had under-recorded approximately one in every ten crimes. Crimes were also not being resolved in accordance with national requirements and guidance, with a small number of cases found where cautions had been issued for serious crimes. We also found cases where penalty notices had been inappropriately issued to people with significant offending histories.

HMIC concluded that there has in the past been an institutional bias in Kent towards chasing numerical targets for solving crime which has led to some officers focusing on categories of crime which have the best chance of a quick and easy resolution. As a result, resources have sometimes been diverted from tackling other crimes – some of which have far greater impacts on the people and communities in Kent. This approach does not contravene the Home Office Counting Rules, but it is against the spirit of them.

HMIC acknowledged that the force has recognised the issue of a target-driven culture as a major problem. It is developing a framework with a much stronger emphasis on service to the public and the Chief Constable has expressed determination to change this culture.

In the report published today, HMIC highlights a series of issues that Kent Police will need to address in order to improve the accuracy of its crime figures.

Zoë Billingham, HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Eastern Region said:

“Our inspection has found that appreciably more needs to be done by Kent Police to make sure its crime figures are as accurate as they should be. The force has been addressing the issue of crime recording and has made significant progress in this area. However, we found that the force had under-recorded approximately one in every ten crimes of the sample we examined – this means some victims are not getting the service they deserve.

“We are confident that, given the improvements made so far, and the commitment of the Chief Constable, the force will respond positively to the issues raised in this report and take steps to improve the accuracy of crime recording in Kent.”

HMIC plans to conduct a review of crime data integrity in all forces in England and Wales during 2013/14. HMIC will revisit Kent as part of this inspection to assess how the force has responded to the issues identified in this report.

Notes to editors:

  • The report, Crime Recording in Kent, can be found at www.hmic.gov.uk
  • In 2012, HMIC published a review of the systems and processes of crime recording in all 43 forces in England and Wales. The review – The Crime Scene – can be found at www.hmic.gov.uk
  • HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing bodies.
  • For further information, HMIC’s press office can be contacted during office hours from 8:30am – 5:30pm Monday – Friday on 0203 513 0600.
  • HMIC’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217 729.