Crime data integrity programme (crime recording inspections)

Part of: Behind the frontline Police ethics and accountability Policing on the beat

Between 2015 and 2020, HMICFRS carried out a programme of work to test whether crimes were being recorded by the police when they should be and categorised correctly.

Rolling programme of crime data integrity inspections

After 55 inspections and follow-up reviews, this rolling programme concluded. We will continue to examine how police forces record and categorise crimes but the methodology will now be incorporated into our regular PEEL inspections.

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. The letter informed them about how we would inspect forces’ crime-recording practices in future. Forces’ crime data integrity was inspected in a rolling programme of every force in England and Wales over several years.

Read Crime-recording: Chief Inspector’s letter to the police service (PDF document, 113 kB)

Reports

All the reports were published here..

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.

This makes sure:

  • victims of crime are given 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.

Read about the crime recording process

Methodology

This rolling programme of inspections was completed over a period of several years and reported on the progress made by forces since our 2014 crime data integrity inspection. We produced a report at the end of each force inspection setting out, and making a judgment on, the accuracy of crime recording in that force.

Each inspection involved the following elements:

Force self-assessment:

  • 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.

HMICFRS inspection:

  • 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.

Read the technical methodology (PDF document, 73 kB)

The process for determining overall graded judgments for the CDI programme consisted 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 examined:

  • 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 worrying. The inspection found 37 cases of rape which weren’t recorded as crimes. The national rate of incorrect decisions to cancel recorded crimes of rape was 20 per cent. In many of these cases there was no evidence that the police had informed the complainant of the decision.

We made several national recommendations aimed at improving the crime recording arrangements across all forces in England and Wales. Individual forces also received additional recommendations specific to their inspection findings.

Get the 2013/14 reports

Crime-recording: making the victim count

Crime recording: A matter of fact (interim report)

Crime data integrity force reports

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 us 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 our 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 us to return to the force later in the year to assess if progress had been made.

Read Crime recording in Kent – An interim progress report, commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent

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. The first of these focused solely on the data recorded about to serious violence. The latter was much wider in scope. Both inspections examined how effective forces were in making sure incident records which contained details of a recordable crime resulted in the correct creation of crime records.

Please note: In July 2017 HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). Inspections carried out before July 2017 may continue to refer to HMIC.