City of London Police - Crime Data Integrity inspection 2019

Overall judgment

graded good

Since our 2014 inspection, City of London Police has made changes to its systems and processes to improve crime recording. These changes, supported by relevant training and messages from the assistant commissioner, have improved the crime recording standards the force is achieving.

We found the force has:

  • developed and implemented a crime data integrity (CDI) action plan to address our 2014 inspection’s recommendations and areas for improvement, and to embed systemic cultural change;
  • high levels of crime recording accuracy overall;
  • an effective process to identify and record crimes related to domestic abuse;
  • robust crime recording governance and performance management arrangements; and
  • an effective feedback process so officers and staff who make errors can learn the correct requirements for their future crime recording decisions.

We examined crime reports from 1 June to 30 November 2018. Based on this, we estimate that the force records 93.8 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.82 percent) of crimes reported to it. We estimate that the force fails to record over 400 reported crimes each year.

However, the force acknowledges that it still has more work to do. It recognises that it still does not always make the correct crime recording decisions and that it must work to:

  • make sure it records all reported crimes within 24 hours;
  • make sure officers record proper explanations of why they don’t record reported crimes; and
  • improve officer and staff understanding of the Home Office N100 classification.

We also found that officers and staff didn’t always fully understand and apply changes made in April 2018 to the recording requirements for stalking and harassment.

Summary of findings

The force has improved its crime recording accuracy since our 2014 report. We found it has:

  • introduced direct crime recording in its force control room for when it receives a crime report from the Metropolitan Police Service (which handles calls on its behalf);
  • provided training which has improved officer and staff understanding of crime recording requirements;
  • effective feedback processes for officers and staff which support its commitment to continual improvement;
  • strong governance arrangements to make sure that it maintains the improvements it has made to its crime recording accuracy;
  • completed all the recommendations from our 2014 report; and
  • implemented 26 out of 29 recommendations from the national action plan developed in 2014 to improve crime recording by police forces.

The force crime registrar (FCR) and her deputy are responsible for oversight and audit of crime recording requirements. They have completed a national College of Policing course for FCRs and are fully accredited for the role.

Despite these advances, the force needs to improve:

  • how often it records crimes within 24 hours as required by the national crime recording standard;
  • its understanding and use of Home Office classification N100 for reported rapes;
  • its collection of equality information to help it understand and respond to the effect of criminality on identifiable groups within its communities; and
  • how officers use cannabis warnings, penalty notices for disorder and community resolutions, to make sure it only issues these in accordance with national guidance.

We note that senior leaders are clearly aware of many of the remaining issues the force must address to further improve crime recording.

The planned introduction of a force resolution centre, which is intended to centralise most crime recording supervision and scrutiny, is welcome.

Areas for improvement

The force should immediately improve:

  • crime recording processes, to make sure it records crimes within 24 hours as required by the national crime recording standard;
  • officer and staff understanding of the correct use of the N100 classification;
  • its standard of violent crime cancellation decisions;
  • how often it informs victims when it has decided to cancel or transfer their crimes to another force;
  • its collection and analysis of equality data through its crime reporting and recording systems; and
  • its use of cannabis warnings, penalty notices for disorder and community resolutions, to make sure it only issues them in accordance with national guidance.

How effective is the force at recording reported crime?

graded good

Overall crime recording rate

93.8% of reported crimes were recorded


The force has made good progress with its processes, ensuring it now records more reports of crime in accordance with the Home Office Counting Rules (PDF document) (HOCR). We examined reports of crime which the force received, and for which it had created an auditable record. The force told us that 93.5 percent of crime it records (excluding fraud) comes through an auditable route. This does not mean that 93.5 percent of crimes reported to City of London Police come through these routes, but that 93.5 percent of crime is recorded this way.

We found that the force recorded 93.8 percent of these crimes (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.82 percent). We estimate that this means the force is not recording more than 400 reports of crime each year.

We found that supervision and oversight of crime recording decisions in the control room were effective. The force also has constructive feedback processes for officers and staff which support its commitment to continual improvement. In most cases where the force still doesn’t record crimes, we found this was because:

  • officers and staff don’t always fully understand and apply changes made in April 2018 to the recording requirements for stalking and harassment offences;
  • there is a lack of understanding of the crime recording rules for non-injury assaults and public order offences; and
  • it didn’t always follow the rules for recording third party crime reports.

Of the 585 reports of crime that we audited, we assessed 26 as related to domestic abuse. Of these, the force had recorded 22. The four missed crimes included:

  • one injury and one non-injury assault;
  • one crime of harassment; and
  • one crime of malicious communications.

In the case of the injury assault, the force’s failure to record the crime meant it didn’t consider safeguarding requirements or conduct an investigation.

The recording of domestic abuse incidents has contributed significantly to the force’s overall crime recording results. This is a testament to its hard work and commitment to crime recording.

Violence crimes

91.8% of reported violent crimes were recorded

Over 100 reports of violent crime a year are not recorded

We found that 91.8 percent of violent crimes reported to the force are recorded (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.52 percent). By our estimate, this means the force fails to record over 100 violent crimes that are reported to it each year.

This recording rate is good. It is indicative of the improved recording standards achieved by officers and staff and of the scrutiny given to reports of violence since our 2014 report. This is particularly important as many of these crimes are very serious in nature and cause significant harm to their victims.

In most cases where the force still doesn’t record violent crimes, we found this was because some frontline officers fail to identify and record violent crimes such as common assault, harassment and malicious communications.

Victims of violent crime often need a lot of support. This should come from the force, and other appropriate agencies such as Victim Support. In these circumstances, crime recording is even more important. If the force fails to record a violent crime properly, it can mean victims aren’t referred to Victim Support. This deprives victims of the support they need and deserve.

Sexual offences

More than 91.2% of reported sex offences were recorded

The force recorded all of the sexual offence crime reports we found in the incident records that we audited (with a confidence interval of – 8.8 percent). This is an exceptional achievement.

This recording rate shows the close attention the force gives to reports of sexual offences. It ensures victims receive the service and support they deserve. This is welcome and is particularly important as many of these crimes are very serious in nature and cause significant harm to their victims.

Rape

7 of 12 audited rape reports were accurately recorded

Rape is one of the most serious crimes a victim can experience, so it is especially important that reports of rape are recorded accurately. It helps to make sure victims receive the service and support they deserve. And it helps the police identify the nature and extent of sexual violence in their local area.

We found 12 reports of rape that should have been recorded, but only seven had been. The five unrecorded rape crimes originated from three separate cases. We found that the force provided adequate safeguarding in two of these cases and investigated one of them.

Of the two cases that were not investigated, one was a professional third-party report where failing to record the crime meant there was no subsequent investigation. In the other case the victim was suffering from mental health problems. Medical staff advised the police not to speak to the victim about the rapes at the time of the report. But the force has made no subsequent attempt to complete an investigation.

The Home Office classification N100 was introduced in April 2015. Its purpose is to explain why reported incidents of rape or attempted rape, whether they are reported by victims, witnesses or third parties, haven’t immediately been recorded as a confirmed crime. This can include instances where additional information confirms the rape didn’t take place, or where the rape took place in another force area and was transferred to the relevant force to record and investigate.

We found five incident reports for which the force should have applied an N100 classification, but it only did so on three occasions. Separately, we also reviewed 22 sample records where it had applied an N100 classification. Of these, we found:

  • three were duplicates;
  • three records contained a total of five rape reports, four of which should have been recorded as crimes from the outset but were not (as mentioned above);
  • one was incorrectly converted into a recorded rape crime; and
  • one was correctly converted into a recorded rape crime.

The remaining 14 records were correctly applied.

We found that N100s are poorly understood by frontline officers. The FCR and deputy FCR often have to take remedial action to make sure N100s are correctly recorded. So, this is an area for improvement.

How efficiently do the systems and processes in the force support accurate crime recording?

graded requires improvement

Crime reports held on other systems

15 of 17 vulnerable victim crimes were recorded

For vulnerable victims to get the support they need, it is important that crimes reported directly to public protection teams are always recorded. We were pleased to find that the force works hard to make sure this is the case.

We examined eight vulnerable victim adult records and 15 vulnerable victim child records. We found that the force should have recorded 17 crimes, of which it had recorded 15. This level of recording accuracy is encouraging.

The two unrecorded crimes were both non-injury assaults involving child victims. They were both professional third-party reports, so they should have been recorded as crimes at the point they were reported to the police. There was adequate safeguarding in both cases. One of these crimes was investigated, but in the other case the victim’s family chose not to pursue an investigation.

The force has worked hard to make sure that staff working in the public protection team clearly understand their crime recording responsibilities. This includes reports of crime made to them during meetings, case conferences and ongoing investigations.

Modern slavery

Offences relating to modern slavery are an important and recent addition to the crimes that forces must record and investigate. So, we examined how well the force records reports of modern slavery offences. We also examined the force’s understanding of the origin of such reports.

We examined six modern slavery records and found that six modern slavery crimes and one rape crime should have been recorded. The force correctly recorded them all.

The force has also worked hard to improve officer and staff knowledge and understanding of modern slavery. Additional support is also available from specific points of contact who can provide advice for those dealing with modern slavery crimes. We found that officers and staff understand the features of modern slavery and can identify these crimes early on. But we noted that often these crimes were only recorded after the intervention of the FCR. The force should seek to understand and address the reasons for this.

Timeliness

If the information that the force gets at the first point of contact satisfies the national crime recording standard, the force should record crimes straight away, and in any case within 24 hours. The force needs to improve further in this respect.

We found that of the reports City of London Police had recorded, it had only recorded the following number within 24 hours of receiving the report:

  • 189 out of 246 violent crimes;
  • 29 out of 34 sexual offences; and
  • 177 out of 244 other offences.

Although some victims might be referred to support agencies in other ways, recording reported crimes late leads to delays in referring victims to Victim Support. This is unacceptable, as some victims would benefit from the early support this team can give.

Cancelled crimes

If additional verifiable information shows that a recorded crime didn’t take place, the record can be cancelled. A recorded crime can also be cancelled when it was committed in another force area and is subsequently transferred.

We reviewed a sample of cancelled recorded crimes of rape, other sexual offences, violence and robbery. We found that the FCR had correctly authorised all five cancelled offences of rape.

Designated decision makers (DDMs) are responsible for other crime cancellation decisions. The DDMs had correctly authorised the cancellation of:

  • 4 out of 6 sexual offences;
  • 12 out of 20 violence offences; and
  • 5 out of 6 robbery offences.

So the force needs to improve its standard of violent crime cancellation decisions.

If a crime has been cancelled or transferred to another force to investigate, victims should always know the status of their reported crime. If the force decides to cancel a recorded crime, the very least the victim should expect is an explanation of why it decided this. We found that of the 29 victims who should have been informed of the transfer or cancellation, only 19 had been.

Code of Practice for Victims of Crime

The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (Document) gives police forces clear guidance about the service they should give crime victims. We have concluded the force is aware of its responsibilities under this code.

When City of London Police records a crime, it asks the victims if they are happy for their details to be passed to Victim Support. If they agree, the police pass their details on accordingly.

Victim Support offers free face‐to‐face confidential support to people who have been victims of crime or are afraid of someone. Victims can contact a member of Victim Support staff directly by telephone or email for one‐off advice or ongoing support.

Equality

We found that the force must improve the way it collects information about crimes affecting identifiable groups within communities.

Protected characteristics, such as gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, religion and age, don’t necessarily make someone more vulnerable to the risk of crime. However, it is important that the force records information about victims’ characteristics. This helps to identify any patterns between different groups and how vulnerable they are to (or how likely they are to report) different types of crime.

We found that the force routinely captures information on age and gender, but not on ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation. It can only get this information from the narrative or audio recording of the call when the victim happens to disclose it.

If the force fails to record such information, it won’t be able to fully understand and respond to the effect of crime on identifiable groups in its communities. So, this is an area for improvement.

Officer and staff survey

We carried out a survey of officers and staff in City of London Police about their experience of crime recording. Some 138 respondents took part. We were pleased to find the majority agreed that the chief officer team clearly communicates the need for ethical crime recording.

Also, staff were clear that they no longer felt under any pressure to minimise the number of crimes recorded because of performance targets. Some staff felt that the force was now recording too many unnecessary crimes, but our audit did not find this to be the case.

How well does the force demonstrate the leadership and culture necessary to meet the national standards for crime recording?

graded good

The assistant commissioner is the force lead for crime recording and has been particularly visible in communicating crime recording expectations and its link to better victim services. But some officers and staff think the force is more focused on crime recording performance than on providing the right victim service. The force needs to work to dispel this perception.

To reinforce crime recording expectations, the assistant commissioner has recently introduced a process where supervisors communicate these expectations to frontline staff. This should address the concerns of those officers and staff who may have wrongly interpreted previous crime recording messages as not being victim focused. This approach is welcome.

There are a range of governance arrangements that consider crime recording issues, including:

  • CDI oversight meetings;
  • the integrity standards board;
  • the performance management group; and
  • a recently introduced crime standards board.

The force reports its crime recording audit findings into its learning and development arrangements to inform future training requirements. And the corporate communications team shares relevant audit findings and recommendations with officers and staff. This is good practice.

The FCR and her deputy are fully supported by the chief officers. They are empowered to make the necessary decisions to maintain and further improve crime recording.

City of London Police has a CDI improvement plan which includes all force and national recommendations from our 2014 reports. It has made good progress against this plan and has fully implemented all recommendations from our 2014 report. However, the force is aware that it still needs to improve how officers use cannabis warnings, penalty notices for disorder and community resolutions, to make sure it only issues these in accordance with national guidance.

The force has also implemented 26 of the 29 recommendations from the national action plan which the national lead on crime statistics developed following our report.

The new crime standards board is managing completion of the outstanding recommendations.

Conclusion

The force has made good progress in improving its crime recording since our 2014 inspection.

The leadership team in City of London Police is clearly committed to good crime recording. This has made sure that more victims receive the service they are entitled to and can access support and safeguarding where required. We are confident that the force’s leadership and governance arrangements will enable it to address the remaining areas for improvement identified in this inspection.

What next?

We welcome the steps taken by City of London Police to improve its crime recording arrangements. We expect the force to continue to make progress and to build on its improvements made so far. We will monitor this progress.

As with all police forces, we may carry out another unannounced crime data integrity inspection of this force at any time.