Greater Manchester Police: Crime Data Integrity inspection 2016
Published 9 February 2017
In January 2017, HMIC completed a review of our crime data integrity inspection rolling programme. The 16 original inspection criteria which inform the overall judgment of the inspection are unchanged. However, HMIC introduced two changes to the way in which an overall graded judgment is determined:
- a slight lowering and broadening of the recording rates for each of the four possible graded judgments; and
- to enable separate graded judgments to be applied to the statistical and non-statistical elements of this inspection, the introduction of three core questions that are based around the 16 inspection criteria, each of which contribute to the overall graded judgment.
While the contents of the existing report remain valid, in order to make sure that all forces have published grades for the three questions, HMIC has applied this updated approach to our assessment of the published inspection findings for Greater Manchester Police. This resulted in the following assessment:
How effective is the force at recording reported crime?
How efficiently do the systems and processes in the force support accurate crime recording?
How well does the force demonstrate the leadership and culture necessary to meet the national standards for crime recording?
As a result, the published overall graded judgment for the crime data integrity inspection of Greater Manchester Police, and as shown at the top of this publication, remains as Inadequate.
The judgment criteria page provides further information about how these criteria are applied.
- Summary of inspection findings
- Previous recommendations
- What next?
Greater Manchester Police has made some efforts to improve its crime-recording accuracy since HMIC’s 2014 Crime Data Integrity inspection report. We found that:
- officers and staff have made some progress in placing the victim at the forefront of their crime-recording decisions;
- it has made good progress against a national action plan developed to improve crime-recording by police forces; and
- it has made progress toward the introduction of a new IT system which it intends will support more effective crime-recording.
Much work remains to be done, however. Based on the findings of our examination of crime reports for the period 1 September 2015 to 29 February 2016, we estimate that the force fails to record over 38,000 reported crimes each year. This represents a recording rate of 85.49 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.92 percent). The 14.51 percent of reported crimes that go unrecorded include serious crimes such as sexual offences and rape. The recording rate for violent crime is a particular cause of concern at only 75.36 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 4.50 percent). This means that on too many occasions the force is failing victims of crime.
Improvements must be made in many areas. In particular, we consider that too often the time taken for officers to attend reports of crime is unacceptable, and that there are too many failures to make the correct crime-recording decision at the first opportunity. These failures are often due to an insufficient understanding of crime-recording requirements by officers and staff compounded by limited supervision to correct these decisions at the earliest opportunity. However, these failures are also linked to the current limitations of the force’s IT systems which do not allow for auto-recording of crime at the first point of contact.
Summary of inspection findings
The force has made some progress with its crime-recording processes since our 2014 report. In particular, we found that:
- the force has made progress with implementing changes recommended in the 2014 report, and as a result has completed some of these recommendations;
- the force has also made good progress against the action plan, developed by the national policing lead on crime statistics following the 2014 report, and which all forces have been asked to implement. These include improvements to the force’s use of out-of-court disposals (i.e. cautions and community resolutions) and to the level of its audit of crime-recording decisions; and
- the force crime registrar (FCR) – responsible for oversight of crime-recording arrangements – has completed a national College of Policing course for FCRs and is now fully accredited for the role. His work is supported by the deputy chief constable and a small number of staff.
Despite these advances, the force’s performance in respect of crime-recording is inadequate in the following areas:
- The force is currently under-recording too many reports of crime, including:
- reports of rape;
- violent crimes; and
- sexual offences (excluding rape).
The force needs to act promptly to improve the accuracy of its recording of these reports and to provide all victims with the service to which they are entitled and deserve.
- Reports of crime reported directly to public protection investigation units (PPIUs) are not always being recorded.
- The force is incorrectly cancelling some recorded sexual offences (excluding rape), and offences of robbery and violence.
- The FCR provides information to local policing divisions on crime-recording performance, including individual feedback for officers and staff. However, not all divisions are providing this feedback to their officers and staff.
- The FCR and his team do not have sufficient capacity to efficiently and effectively audit and scrutinise crime-recording decisions.
- The force must improve its collection of information regarding the effect of criminality on identifiable groups within communities.
Some of these failings are a consequence of officers and staff not understanding their responsibilities for crime-recording, including the cancellation of recorded crime records. They are, in addition, underpinned by limited supervision by the force to support officers and staff in making good and prompt crime-recording decisions.
Overall crime-recording rate
85.49% of reported crimes were recorded
Over 38,000 reports of crime a year are not recorded
The force has considerable work to do in order to ensure it records all reports of crime in accordance with the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR). We examined reports of crime which the force received, and for which an auditable record was created. The force informed HMIC that 99.86 percent of crime that is recorded (excluding fraud) came through an auditable crime reporting route. This does not mean that 99.86 percent of crimes reported to Greater Manchester Police comes through these routes but that 99.86 percent of crime is recorded this way.
We found that the force recorded 85.49 percent of these crimes. We estimate that this means the force is not recording over 38,000 reports of crime each year. Those failings are depriving many victims of the services to which they are entitled and are a cause of concern.
One factor contributing to the force’s under-recording of crime reports is its process for dealing with the initial receipt of these reports. We found that:
- where a reported crime does not require the immediate attendance of a police officer the report is sent to a local resolution team (LRT), located on each division. These teams have responsibility for the management and co-ordination of the response to less urgent reports of crime and for deciding whether or not to record a crime, its classification, investigation and finalisation; and
- where a decision is taken to deploy an officer to speak to a victim, there is often an unacceptable delay, sometimes for several days. Some incidents are also inappropriately sent to LRTs for investigation which leads to delays in crime-recording decisions being made.
In too many cases, the crime-recording decisions made by attending officers and in LRTs are wrong. We found that this is because officers and staff do not understand fully the crime-recording requirements.
A further problem relates to supervision of the force’s response to reports of crime and of its later crime-recording decisions.
The operational communications branch (OCB) is responsible for ensuring that all reported incidents that have been assessed for attendance are dealt with within specific timescales and that, when finalised, correct crime-recording decisions are made. We found that within the OCB and across LRTs the supervision is inconsistent, so many crime-recording decisions are incorrect.
We also found that the FCR operates a feedback process to draw crime-recording mistakes to the attention of the relevant officer or staff member. However, we found little consistency in its application. There are important differences across divisions, where some officers receive feedback and others do not. As a result, the force does not use the feedback process to its full potential. This is an area for improvement.
We note, in concluding this section, that force IT systems are also a contributory factor which limit the effectiveness of crime-recording within the force, as they do not allow for auto-recording of crime at the first point of contact. To address this issue, the force has commenced work to introduce a new IT system intended to help improve the efficiency of its crime-recording arrangements.
Violence against the person
75.36% of reported violent crimes were recorded
Over 16,800 reports of violent crime a year are not recorded
We found that 75.36 percent of violent crimes reported to the force are recorded (with a confidence interval of +/- 4.50 percent). This is slightly lower than the overall crime recording rate noted above. By our estimate , this means the force fails to record over 16,800 violent crimes that are reported to it each year. As violent crime can be particularly distressing for the victim, this is an area in which the need for improvement is particularly acute.
Many of these are crimes involving injury that can cause even further distress for the victim; we therefore find the recording of reports of violent crime by the force is inadequate and a serious cause of concern.
It should be noted, HMIC’s approach in this inspection is to achieve a confidence interval of no more than
+/- 3.0 percent. However, to achieve this confidence interval when recording accuracy is particularly poor requires a substantial increase in the number of records HMIC must audit. In the case of recording of violent crime by Greater Manchester Police, this would have necessitated the audit of an additional 870 records. We therefore decided not to extend the audit on this occasion and to accept the confidence interval as reported.
In the majority of cases where violent crimes are not recorded, we found the principal causes to be:
- delays of many hours, and in some cases days, in the deployment of an officer to speak to the victim. This leads to hostility and an understandable lack of co-operation from the victim;
- inconsistency of effective supervision to ensure that the force attends to victims’ reports of crime in a timely manner; and
- a lack of understanding of the complexities found in some violence offences such as harassment, resulting in the failure to record many such reports of crime.
Victims of violent crime, and in particular victims of serious violence, often require substantial support. This support should come not only from the police but from other appropriate agencies, such as Victim Support. In those circumstances, crime-recording takes on a heightened importance. Failing to properly record a violent crime can result in victim support agencies receiving no notification that a person has become a victim of violent crime. That, in turn, deprives victims of the support they need and deserve.
91.71% of reported sex offences were recorded
Over 500 reports of sex offence crime a year are not recorded
The force’s recording of reports of sexual offences (including rape) requires improvement. We found that the force records 91.71 percent of sexual offence crimes that are reported to it (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.53 percent). We estimate that this means the force fails to record over 500 reported sexual offence crimes each year.
Those failings are significant given the very serious nature of sexual offences and the harm that they cause to their victims. We found, for example, that the force had failed to record reports of sexual assaults against vulnerable adults and children.
Two of the causes of that under-recording are the same as were identified above in respect of violent crime. There is, firstly, a lack of adequate knowledge surrounding the crime-recording rules by some officers and staff within the force. There is, secondly, a lack of appropriate supervision for crime-recording decision-making.
We found a further cause of this under-recording to be the deployment of officers and staff who do not possess the specialist skills and knowledge necessary to properly deal with these reports, to provide the right support to these victims (who are often vulnerable), or to make the correct crime-recording decision. We found that the majority of detective officers are specially trained officers (STOs) who, in the absence of a uniformed STO, could attend reported sexual offences, yet sometimes they are not asked to do so.
Sexual offence victims require significant support from the outset. The failure to record such crimes, to provide appropriate support to the victim and any delay in attendance or investigation will often result in a lack of confidence in the police and reluctance on behalf of the victim to engage in subsequent stages of the criminal justice system. The force must improve its performance in this regard.
100 of 111 audited rape reports were accurately recorded
We found 111 reports of rape that should have been recorded but only 100 of these had been recorded. These include reports that originated on the force incident system, from a review of records used to justify not recording a report of rape (known as N100s), and in one case from a record of a crime of modern slavery.
As already described, reports of rape should involve the attendance of an STO to speak to the victim, yet we found that this is not always happening. In one case we found that a report of a non-recent or historic rape was referred to an LRT to progress. Whether recent or historic, all such reports must be attended by an STO to ensure the victim receives the service and support necessary. STOs understand that it is their responsibility to create the crime report following initial attendance; other officers may not, resulting in crimes not being recorded.
There are, in addition, some issues surrounding the force’s use of the Home Office classification N100. Introduced in April 2015, the N100 is a record created to describe why reported incidents of rape or attempted rapes, whether from victims, witnesses or third parties, have not been immediately recorded as a confirmed crime. This can include where additional information confirms the rape did not occur, or where the rape occurred in another force area and was therefore transferred to the relevant force to record and investigate.
We found 10 incident reports for which an N100 classification should have been applied. However, it was only applied on three occasions.
Separately, we also reviewed 20 sample records where an N100 classification had been used. Among these we found five reports that the force should have recorded as crimes of rape, two of which the force had subsequently recorded, but much later than they should have been. Three had not been recorded at all.
The timeliness of the recording of a report of rape is important. Victims generally require significant support from the very outset and any delay in providing support can be detrimental to the recovery of the victim and any investigation, which in turn can influence negatively any future judicial proceedings. The failure to record some reports of rape, including the incorrect use of the classification N100 is, therefore, a cause of concern.
Crime reports held on other systems
30 of 46 vulnerable victim crimes were recorded
In order to be confident that vulnerable victims always receive the support they need, the force must improve its recording of crimes reported directly to its public protection investigation units (PPIUs).
We found that officers and staff working within the public protection department (PPD) and divisional PPIUs use a database called the PPI to record and manage investigations, including sexual offence crimes.
We examined 50 cases recorded on the PPI; of these we found that 22 crimes should have been recorded, yet only 15 had been. The seven reports which were not recorded included three crimes of violence. We found the supervision of crime-recording decisions from reports held on the PPI to be ineffective.
We found that the force does not have effective procedures in place to assure itself that crime reported by third parties (such as health professionals or social services), whether by email or during multi-agency meetings, are recorded.
We also examined 27 PPI email records. Of these, we found that 24 crimes should have been recorded, yet only 15 had been. The nine reports which were not recorded included sexual offences and violence. Once again, we found that the supervision of crime-recording decisions from the reports held within these email records was ineffective; 30 out of 46 vulnerable victim crimes were recorded.
We note with approval, however, that senior leaders within the PPD – aware that many third party allegations of crime that are being investigated within the PPI are not being recorded as crimes – had themselves audited one division’s PPI records. This identified serious crime allegations which had not been recorded. Consequently, the force has introduced an audit process to specifically address this area.
The seriousness of the risks associated with under-recording reports of crime made to the PPIUs renders the gap in the recording that we found a further cause of concern.
Offences relating to modern slavery are an important and recent addition to the crimes that forces must record and investigate. We therefore reviewed the recording of reports of modern slavery offences. We also examined forces’ understanding of the origin of such reports.
We examined 20 recorded crimes of modern slavery. In these, we found that the force should have recorded 33 reported crimes of various types, yet had only recorded 28. The five reported crimes which the force did not record include one offence of modern slavery, one of rape, one of sexual activity with a child, one of violence and one of theft. The force needs to do more to ensure that it identifies, records and investigates all crimes from reports of modern slavery. This, therefore, requires improvement.
The force has a good understanding of the origin of reports of modern slavery and works at local, regional and national levels to develop that understanding further. The force lead on modern slavery is committed and enthusiastic, and the force has introduced a modern slavery unit which provides good governance and partnership engagement in this area.
The force has introduced a modern slavery advisory role in each division of the force. The force is also training 120 staff to take on the role of victim liaison for modern slavery. We found that frontline officers and staff understood modern slavery less comprehensively; but that the force anticipates that its introduction of local advisors and liaison officers will improve this.
Where additional verifiable information (AVI) is obtained to show that a recorded crime did not occur, the crime record can be cancelled. In this respect, we found that the force’s performance requires improvement. This is particularly the case in respect of the most serious offences.
We reviewed a dip-sample of cancelled recorded crimes of rape, other sexual offences, violence, and robbery. The FCR has clear oversight of rape cancellations and we found that 18 out of 20 offences were correctly cancelled. The two incorrect decisions had been made by a locally-based designated decision maker (DDM) and the FCR had intervened to correct these.
Within PPIUs and the central PPD, DDMs are responsible for cancelling sexual offence crimes (excluding rape). We found that 17 out of 21 such offences were correctly cancelled. DDMs within Divisions are responsible for cancelling violence and robbery offences. We found that only 10 out of 20 violence offences and 15 out of 22 robbery offences were correctly cancelled.
In the 2014 report, the cancellation of recorded crimes was an area recommended for improvement. The improvement in rape crime cancellation decisions is welcome. However, the absence of any evident improvement in the decisions to cancel other types of crime is unacceptable.
Where a crime has been cancelled a victim should always know the status of his or her reported crime. In the case of a decision to cancel a recorded crime, the very least the victim should expect is an explanation of the reason for this decision. We found that the force had not done so for 32 out of the 83 cancellation decisions we reviewed. This includes sexual offence crimes which we found did not meet the standard of AVI required to justify the decision to cancel the crime record. This risks leaving the victim with the mistaken impression that the police are still pursuing an offender.
The force must improve its procedures in relation to its decisions to cancel recorded reports of crime, and ensure that it informs victims of any such decision. This is, therefore, an area for improvement.
Code of Practice for Victims of Crime
The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime provides clear guidance to police forces regarding the service that they should provide to the victims of crime. We have concluded that the force is aware of its responsibilities under this code. In particular, we found that the force, after it records a crime, sends victims a standard letter which provides them with information about the offence to which they have been subject and directs them to other organisations which can provide them with the support they may require.
HMIC found that the force must improve its collection of information regarding the effect of criminality on identifiable groups within communities.
Protected characteristics, such as gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, religion and age do not necessarily increase the vulnerability of an individual to the risk of crime. However, it is important that the force records information regarding the characteristics of victims of crime in order that it may identify any patterns which may exist between different community groups and their vulnerability to (or their relative likelihood to report) different types of crime.
Importantly, so long as the force fails to record such information, it will be unable to understand clearly whether its crime-recording decisions are consistent across different community groups. This, therefore, is an area for improvement.
Officer and staff survey
We conducted a survey of officers and staff in Greater Manchester Police of their experience in respect of crime-recording. Some 423 respondents completed the survey. The majority of officers and staff reported that the force’s approach in respect of crime-recording had improved or significantly improved since our 2014 inspection. Nevertheless, we were concerned to find that a minority of respondents reported some deterioration in the force’s approach to crime-recording during this period.
The force has implemented some of the changes recommended in our 2014 report. However, it must make further progress to ensure that it:
- provides all officers and staff with the training necessary to understand their crime-recording responsibilities; and
- improves the effectiveness of its supervision of crime-recording decisions, including crime cancellations.
These outstanding areas for improvement as set out in our 2014 report are addressed by the recommendations set out below.
The force should now address the areas for improvement and implement these recommendations.
Cause of concern
In Greater Manchester Police there is a systemic failure of officers and staff to make correct crime-recording decisions at the first opportunity. This is due to the force often failing to provide a timely response to a report of a crime, not understanding crime-recording requirements, and limited supervision to correct these decisions and improve standards from the outset. The force is not always recording reported violent crimes, sexual offences and crimes reported to its public protection investigation units (PPIUs). This means that the force is failing victims of crime too frequently.
The force is failing to adequately ensure that it records all reports of rape.
The force’s recording, supervision and audit of reports of crime contained in its PPIUs’ records, and which often involve vulnerable adult and child victims, do not enable the force to record all crimes contained within these reports.
- Within six months, Greater Manchester Police should put in place arrangements to ensure that:
- it records all reports of crime in accordance with the crime-recording rules, at the first point that sufficient information exists to do so, and in any event within 24 hours of receipt of the report;
- where officer attendance is necessary, this occurs without undue delay;
- where officer attendance is not required, and a crime-recording decision still needs to be made, local resolution teams have sufficient capacity to make contact with the victim without delay to allow for this decision to be taken; and
- where the crime report is received by a PPIU, including those reports received during meetings with partner agencies or through the PPI email, they are recorded.
- Within six months, the force should design and provide training for all staff who make crime-recording decisions. This should include training in regard to:
- the extent of the information required to provide for a crime-recording decision to be made;
- the expectation that reported crime is recorded at the first point that sufficient information exists to record a crime, which in the majority of cases will be at the point of report;
- the proper use of classification N100 for reports of rape; and
- the standard of additional verifiable information required for the purpose of cancelling a recorded crime.
- Within three months, the force should develop and implement procedures for the effective supervision of crime-recording decisions throughout the whole force.
- Immediately, the force should ensure that all reports of rape are attended in the first instance by a specially trained officer, and it records all such reports as crimes or applies appropriately the classification N100.
- Immediately, the force should ensure that it puts in place arrangements for effective supervision of its PPI database.
Areas for improvement
- The force should formalise how it provides feedback to staff regarding their crime-recording decisions by introducing common practices across all areas of the force to ensure this is done.
- The force should immediately take steps to ensure that when it cancels a recorded crime, it always informs the victim of this decision.
- The force should immediately improve how it collects diversity information from victims of crime and how it uses this to inform its compliance with its equality duty.
- The force should immediately take steps to put in place arrangements that ensure that it identifies, records and investigates all crimes from reports of modern slavery.
Greater Manchester Police’s crime-recording arrangements are inadequate.
The force has made some progress in its crime-recording processes since 2014 but still has far more to do if it is to stop failing victims of crime. We found a culture among officers and staff which is placing the victim more towards the forefront of their crime-recording decisions. Nevertheless, systems and processes to support effective crime-recording arrangements, and officer and staff knowledge of crime-recording requirements, are insufficient.
HMIC expects the force urgently to make progress to implement the recommendations we make in this report. We will monitor this progress.
The serious causes of concern found during this inspection are such that HMIC will re-visit the force during 2017 to assess progress.