Merseyside Police: Crime Data Integrity re-inspection 2018
Crime Data Integrity re-inspection 2018
In September 2016, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) conducted a crime data integrity inspection of Merseyside Police.
We published the report of this inspection in February 2017 and concluded that the crime-recording arrangements in the force were not acceptable. As a result, Merseyside Police was given an overall judgment of inadequate.
Our 2016 report made a series of recommendations and areas for improvement aimed at improving crime-recording in Merseyside. This re-inspection assessed the progress made since that report.
In our 2016 report we found that the force was good at recording crime against vulnerable victims and that the force was correctly cancelling all rape and robbery crimes. Therefore, we have not re-inspected these elements and have instead used the findings for these elements from the original inspection for the purposes of making an overall comparative judgment in this report.
This re-inspection assessed the progress made since that report. The findings and our judgment resulting from this re-inspection are set out below.
Please note: The previous inspection was carried out before 19 July 2017, when HMIC also took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services. The methodology underpinning our re-inspection findings is unaffected by this change.
References to HMICFRS in this report may relate to an event that happened before 19 July 2017 when HMICFRS was HMIC.
- Revised overall judgment
- Summary of inspection findings
- 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?
- What next?
Revised overall judgment
Merseyside Police has made efforts to improve crime-recording accuracy since HMIC’s 2014 Crime Data Integrity inspection report. Importantly, the vast majority of officers and staff have made progress in placing the victim at the forefront of their crime-recording decisions. We found that:
- the initial service provided to victims of rape is very good;
- the force has made good progress against a national action plan developed to improve crime-recording by police forces;
- where crimes are recorded, the force has effective processes to provide tailored support to victims based on their individual needs; and
- since March 2016 the force has changed the process for crime recording so that the majority of reports of crime are recorded at the initial point of contact with the victim.
Much work remains to be done, however. Despite these advances, the force is failing many victims of crime. Based on the findings of our examination of crime reports for the period 1 October 2015 to 31 March 2016, we estimate that the force fails to record over 19,200 reported crimes each year. This represents a recording rate of 84.16 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.07 percent). The 15.84 percent of reported crimes that go unrecorded include serious crimes such as violence and sexual offences (excluding rape). The recording rate for violent crime is a particular cause of concern at only 81.37 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.23 percent). This means that on too many occasions the force is failing victims of crime.
In particular, we consider that there are too many failures to make the correct crime-recording decision at the first opportunity. These 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.
Merseyside Police has improved its crime-recording accuracy since HMICFRS’ 2016 inspection. We found that the force has improved its:
- recording of violent crime;
- recording of serious sexual offences (excluding rape);
- cancellation processes for sexual and violent crimes;
- use of feedback to improve crime-recording decisions; and
- crime-recording audit arrangements.
Based on the findings of our examination of crime reports for the period 1 June 2017 to 31 August 2017 we estimate that the force records 90.1 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.66 percent) of crimes reported to it. This compares with our 2016 finding of 84.16 percent (confidence interval +/- 2.07 percent). We estimate that, in comparison with the findings of our 2016 inspection, this improved recording accuracy meant that the force recorded an additional 7,900 crimes for the year covered by our re-inspection audit period. This means that more victims are now receiving the support they deserve from Merseyside Police. In addition to these victims receiving an improved service and being offered additional support from Victim Care Merseyside, the force has improved its understanding of demand and the extent to which crime is affecting its communities.
Despite these improvements, we found that the force still needs to make further improvements in regard to:
- identifying and recording all reports of crime which are domestic abuse-related;
- recording of rape crimes;
- recording of modern slavery crimes;
- recording of public order offences;
- proportion of crime which is recorded within 24 hours;
- recording of multiple crimes when disclosed during the initial call, during subsequent contact with the victim or during the course of an investigation;
- use of classification N100; and
- how it records equality information from victims of crime.
Summary of inspection findings
The force has improved its crime-recording processes since our 2014 report. In particular, we found that:
- the initial service provided to vulnerable victims and victims of rape is very good;
- progress has been made with implementing changes recommended in the 2014 report, and as a result the force has completed 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 a deputy FCR and a small audit team.
Despite these advances, the force’s performance in respect of crime-recording is unsatisfactory in the following areas:
- The force is currently under-recording too many reports of crime, including:
- violent crimes; and
- sexual offences (excluding rape).
The force must improve the accuracy of its recording of these reports.
- The force is incorrectly cancelling some recorded violence offences.
- The FCR and his team do not have sufficient capacity to audit properly 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 in terms of crime-recording. They are in addition, underpinned by limited supervision by the force to support officers and staff in making good and prompt crime-recording decisions.
The force is aware of these deficiencies and as part of its response has taken the decision that as many crimes as possible will be recorded by suitably trained staff at the first point the force receives the report of a crime, usually during the initial conversation with the person reporting it to the Force Contact Centre (FCC).
Causes of concern and areas for improvement
In 2016, we identified several causes of concern and areas for improvement, you can view these in the full version of the 2016 report.
The force has made good progress with its crime-recording arrangements since our 2016 inspection. In particular, we found that the force:
- completed all the recommendations made in our 2016 report;
- improved substantially its recording of violent and serious sexual crimes (excluding rape);
- where appropriate, is now cancelling all sexual offences and most violent crimes correctly;
- provided training which has improved the understanding of crime-recording requirements among officers and staff; and
- more robustly supervises and assures the quality of crime-recording decisions, with the crime demand unit (CDU) scrutinising these decisions to ensure that better crime-recording decisions are being made.
The force must continue to improve the service provided to victims of rape, domestic abuse and modern slavery. It needs to ensure all reports of crime are recorded within 24 hours of receipt of the report, re-emphasise the need to record multiple crimes, further improve understanding of the use of classification N100 and improve its collection of equality data from victims.
The force has put a great deal of effort into reviewing and revising its crime-recording arrangements, improving supervision and providing training to its officers and staff.
New feedback processes enable supervisors, officers and staff to learn from mistakes made from crime-recording decisions. These have led to improvements in crime-recording accuracy, for which we commend the force.
Since our inspection the force has made further improvements to its crime-recording systems and processes which will assist the force to record more crimes within 24 hours. The force is making good use of its available management information and has a better understanding of crime recording compliance and the factors that can adversely affect crime recording performance. These are very welcome developments that HMICFRS has not seen in other forces and will assist the force to continue making sustainable improvements to its crime-recording performance.
How effective is the force at recording reported crime?
Overall crime-recording rate
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 96.1 percent of crime that is recorded (excluding fraud) came through an auditable record was created. This does not mean that 96.1 percent of crimes reported to Merseyside Police came through these routes but that 96.1 percent of crime is recorded this way.
We found that the force recorded 84.16 percent of these crimes (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.07 percent). We estimate that this means the force is not recording over 19,200 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.
Of a total of 1,554 reports of crime that we audited, we found 255 crimes that we assessed to be crimes related to domestic abuse. Of these 255 crimes, the force had recorded 200. The 55 offences not recorded included five sexual offences, nine other offences and importantly, 41 offences of violence. As domestic abuse often involves victims who are particularly vulnerable to further offences being committed against them, the importance of recording reported crimes of domestic abuse cannot be overstated. A review of those offences which had not been recorded did however reveal that attending officers, where needed, did complete risk assessments and considered the safeguarding needs of victims. Nevertheless, the under-recording of domestic related violence offences is a cause of concern.
Factors contributing to the force’s under-recording of crime reports are its crime-recording processes, the crime-recording knowledge of its workforce, and the limited capacity of supervision to oversee crime-recording decisions effectively.
- Deficiencies in the force’s crime-recording processes are a cause of concern. In particular, we found that, on occasion:
- when there is a need to deploy an officer to attend an incident, the decision regarding whether or not to record a crime is left to the officer. Our audit showed that the crime-recording decisions made by attending officers are too often wrong and display a lack of understanding of the crime-recording standards. A large number of the failures identified were in relation to offences of violence, which are almost always attended by an officer in the first instance, and this is of particular concern;
- attending officers do not understand some of the more complex offences such as harassment, malicious communications and public order;
- supervision of the force’s response to reports of crime and its later crime-recording decisions are inconsistent. It is the responsibility of the staff in the FCC to ensure that the rationale for not recording a crime is correct. This is clearly not happening. Many log entries on the force incident system, STORM, contained the entry “The CRDM is the attending officer, the call handler’s role is purely to deploy to the incident.” CRDM stands for Crime Recording Decision Maker, and this makes it clear that attending officers are responsible for many of those occasions where there is a failure to record a crime. The absence of intervention by the FCC staff, including supervisors, to ensure that all identified crimes are recorded is letting down victims of crime and is unacceptable; and
- supervisors at a local level also believe that they have no responsibility for ensuring their officers correctly record reports of crime. Consequently, crime-recording standards are not clearly set and officers are not being made aware of incorrect crime-recording decisions.
- Many unrecorded crimes result from incidents where more than one crime or victim is identified. On too many occasions, attending officers and staff are failing to identify these additional offences and ensure they are recorded. Again, the lack of effective supervision at both FCC and local levels fails to rectify the situation by identifying these crimes.
- The FCR has insufficient capacity to properly establish the accuracy of crime recording decisions being made by officers and staff or identify the remedial action necessary to improve these decisions.
We note in concluding this section that the force decided in October 2015 to remove its log closure team, which had been responsible for ensuring that crime recording decisions were correct. This was to be replaced by trained staff within the FCC, making crime recording decisions at the initial point of contact. This did not commence until March 2016 and so for the period of time in between there was no additional scrutiny. It is highly likely that the decision to remove this scrutiny without adequate contingency to cover the intervening period, has led in part to the results identified in our audit.
HMIC welcomes the move to crime recording at the point of contact, which will improve the service to victims of crime, in particular where the decision to record the crime generates a referral to support services.
90.1% of reported crimes were recorded
The force has made progress with its processes ensuring it now records more 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 HMICFRS that 95.5 percent of crime that is recorded (excluding fraud) came through an auditable crime reporting route.
We found that the force recorded 90.1 percent of these crimes (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.66 percent). This compares with our 2016 finding of 84.16 percent (confidence interval +/- 2.07 percent). We estimate that, in comparison with the findings of our 2016 inspection, this improved recording accuracy meant that the force recorded an additional 7,900 crimes for the year covered by our re-inspection audit period. This improvement is welcome.
Of a total of 1,258 reports of crime that we audited, we assessed 325 of these as related to domestic abuse. Of these, the force had recorded 286. The 39 offences not recorded included offences of common assault, harassment or stalking, malicious communications and public order.
We found that many of these reports involved the reporting of a crime at the first point of contact with the force, but these crimes were not recorded. In addition, on occasions the reported crime was not outlined fully on the incident record made at the time of the report, so the attending officer was unaware of what had been said.
We found that of these unrecorded domestic abuse cases, the force had conducted safeguarding in all but one case and an investigation in all but four cases. We are pleased to note that since our inspection the force has now recorded all of these missed domestic abuse crimes.
It is important that the force improves crime recording in domestic abuse incidents so that it has a greater understanding of how domestic abuse crime affects its communities, and victims can have greater confidence in the response of the force when reporting these crimes. It is clear that officers and staff now have a greater understanding of their responsibilities, but the force must further improve its recording of domestic abuse crimes.
We found that 81.37 percent of violent crimes reported to the force are recorded (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.23 percent). This is lower than the overall recording rate noted above. By our estimate, this means the force fails to record over 5,600 violent crimes that are reported to it each year. As violent crime can be particularly distressing for the victim, this is an area where the need for improvement is particularly acute.
Many of these crimes involve injury, which can cause further distress for the victim. We therefore find the recording of reports of violent crime by the force is a serious cause of concern.
In the majority of cases where violent crimes are not recorded, we found the principal causes to be:
- a failure to record a crime at the first point of contact, thereby relying on attending officers, many of whom do not understand adequately the crime-recording rules;
- a failure to identify additional crimes and victims when dealing with incidents;
- 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; and
- an absence of adequate supervision of crime-recording decisions.
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. Under 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. This in turn deprives victims of the support they need and deserve. This finding is therefore, a cause of concern.
Read the full 2016 report
88.1% of reported violent crimes were recorded
We found that 88.1 percent of violent crimes reported to the force are recorded (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.73 percent). This compares with our 2016 finding of 81.37 percent (confidence interval +/- 3.23 percent). We estimate that, in comparison with the findings of our 2016 inspection, this improved recording accuracy meant that the force recorded an additional 1,870 crimes for the year covered by our re-inspection audit period. This is a welcome improvement.
In the majority of cases where violent crimes were still not recorded, we found the principal causes to be:
- some call handlers not always recording on the incident log full details of the conversation they have had with the person reporting a crime. This means the attending officer does not always have the full information on which to base a crime-recording decision;
- misunderstanding of the complexities of recording some violent crimes such as common assault, harassment, malicious communications and public order, resulting in the failure to record such reports of crime;
- failures to record multiple crimes in accordance with the Home Office Counting Rules; and
- failures to record additional crimes disclosed during the course of investigations.
The force’s recording of reports of sexual offences (excluding rape) must improve. We found that the force records 91.18 percent of sexual offence crimes that are reported to it (with a confidence interval of +/-2.94 percent). This means that each year we estimate that the force fails to record over 220 reported sexual offence crimes that are reported to it.
Those failings are significant given the very serious nature of sexual offences and the harm they cause to their victims. We found, for example, that the force had failed to record reports of sexual assaults against adults and children.
The causes of that under-recording are the same as were identified above in respect of violent crime. These are:
- the deficiency of the processes that are currently in place for the recording of a reported crime;
- a lack of understanding of the complexities found in some sexual offences such as some online sexual offences, resulting in the failure to record many such reports of crime;
- a lack of adequate knowledge regarding crime-recording rules by officers and staff; and
- an absence of adequate supervision of crime-recording decisions.
97.2% of reported sex offences were recorded
We found that the force records 97.2 percent of sexual offence crimes that are reported to it (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.81 percent). This compares with our 2016 finding of 91.18 percent (confidence interval +/- 2.94 percent). We estimate that, in comparison with the findings of our 2016 inspection, this improved recording accuracy meant that the force recorded an additional 140 sexual offence crimes for the year covered by our re-inspection audit period. This recording rate is very good and is indicative of the effort made by the force to improve crime-recording since our 2016 report.
The force failed to record three sexual assaults and three offences involving sexual activity between children under the age of 16. We found the principal causes of these missed crimes to be a lack of understanding of the complexities of recording some sexual offences, and in particular a failure to identify additional crimes and victims, which results in the failure to record such reports of crime.
We found that Merseyside Police recorded 84 out of 85 reports of rape that we audited during this inspection. Although incorrectly classified, the remaining single report of rape had been recorded as a serious sexual offence, with an investigation undertaken and the victim provided with the service and support necessary.
Of the 84 reports of rape, we found that 69 reports originated on the force incident system, nine were third party reports initially created as classification N100 (see below), two originated from reports of modern slavery and four originated from vulnerable victim reports.
In this respect, we found that officers and staff understood well their crime-recording responsibilities. The force has worked hard to ensure this and has effective systems in place to validate its rape crime-recording decisions. Rape investigators work within a unit called UNITY and staff are available for advice and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Frontline officers who generally attend most reports of rape spoke positively about the work of the UNITY team.
However, we found that only 57 out of the 85 rapes had been recorded within 24 hours of receipt of the report, as required by the rules. While we found no delays in commencing rape investigations, the force should ensure that the delays to the recording of reported crimes of rape are not due to officers failing to believe the victim’s first report, choosing instead to investigate before recording the reported crime.
There are in addition, some issues surrounding the force’s use of the Home Office classification N100. Introduced in April 2015, the N100 classification 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 19 incident reports for which the force should have applied an N100 classification. However, it was only applied on 11 occasions. Four of the missing N100 classifications related to crimes transferred to other police forces to investigate as the offences had occurred in their area. The other four related to unsubstantiated third party reports.
Separately, we also reviewed 20 sample records where an N100 classification had been used. Nine were correctly used and of a good standard. Two were incorrectly used as they were not rape allegations and the remaining nine were converted to rape crimes. Eight of these should have been recorded as rape crimes from the outset as they were third party reports from professionals, such as social services. Despite these recording errors, we found that there was no delay in providing the necessary support to the victim or in commencing an investigation.
Understanding of the purpose and use of classification N100 was found to be inconsistent within the FCC, and among those staff involved in safeguarding investigations. The force must ensure that it consistently uses classification N100 on relevant occasions in order to minimise the delay in recording an offence of rape. This is, therefore, an area for improvement.
92 of 98 audited rape reports were accurately recorded
Since our 2016 inspection the force has not improved its crime recording for reports of rape and further improvement is necessary. Accurate recording helps to ensure the victim receives the service they have a right to expect and deserve, and it allows the police to identify the nature and extent of sexual violence in their local area. In turn, this enables the police to operate with the highest practicable levels of efficiency to identify and deal effectively with perpetrators.
In Merseyside we found that only 92 of the 98 reported crimes had been recorded as a crime. Three of these missed rape crimes were as a result of a misunderstanding by the force of the special aspects of the crime-recording rules that apply to the recording of modern slavery crimes received through the national referral mechanism (NRM). One was misclassified as a sexual assault and one was recorded as an N100. In the remaining case the officer’s understanding about consent in rape crimes was lacking, which led to this offence not being recorded or investigated when it was initially reported.
Importantly, all but one of the 6 victims in the six rape crimes that were unrecorded were nonetheless receiving a good service from the force. In the cases of the five well-served victims, the force was investigating rapes reported by the victim and was providing safeguarding and support. In the remaining one case there was no investigation due to a lack of understanding about consent in rape cases by the officer concerned. We are pleased to note that since our inspection, all of these missed rape crimes have now been recorded and are being investigated.
Where a reported rape is not recorded as a crime, forces are required to apply a Home Office classification N100. We examined 20 N100s and found that 17 were correctly applied. Two that were wrongly completed were correctly and quickly converted into rape crimes, but one of these should have been recorded as a rape from the outset. The remaining N100 was eventually recorded, having been identified as a result of an internal audit and has now been correctly converted into a rape crime.
We also found within other records that 29 N100s should have been completed and only 18 were. In addition we found seven N100s had been over-recorded.
We found that, despite the training provided, too many officers and staff still do not understand the N100 classification, and rely on the force crime registrar (FCR) to ensure they are correctly recorded. This remains an area for improvement for the force.
How efficiently do the systems and processes in the force support accurate crime recording?
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 the force’s understanding of the origin of such reports.
We reviewed 14 modern slavery crime records and found all were correctly recorded. We found that 11 additional offences related to these crimes were correctly recorded; these included four crimes of rape.
We also looked at 21 modern slavery incident records from the force modern slavery database. From these we found two reports of modern slavery that were not recorded on the force’s crime-recording system (NICHE). However, we found that the victims had been safeguarded as other crimes had been recorded on their behalf, and were being investigated.
The force has a good understanding of the origins of reports about modern slavery but accepts that there is more work needed to better understand the issues of modern slavery both nationally and regionally, so that it can improve its response. We note that staff, however, had a good basic knowledge of modern slavery offences. We also found that staff had a good basic knowledge of their respective responsibilities in relation to the recording of such offences and knew where they could obtain further information.
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 the force’s understanding of the origin of such reports.
We examined 20 modern slavery crimes and found that 21 modern slavery crimes should have been recorded and they were all correctly recorded. This is good. However, three additional crimes were not recorded: one assault occasioning actual bodily harm and two common assaults.
We also found two N100s had not been recorded for rapes that occurred abroad. The force also over-recorded one modern slavery crime.
In addition, we examined 20 modern slavery referrals received from other agencies. From these, five modern slavery crimes should have been recorded but only two were. Four additional crimes were not recorded, including three rape offences (referred to earlier in this report) and a common assault. We are pleased to note that since the inspection, all of these missed crimes have now been recorded.
The force must improve its recording of modern slavery and associated crimes.
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 Merseyside Police’s performance to be good. This is particularly the case in respect of the most serious offences.
We reviewed 20 cancelled recorded crimes of rape, violence, other sexual offences and recorded crimes of robbery. The FCR had oversight of all cancelled crimes and we found that all rape and robbery offences were correctly cancelled. We also found that 19 out of 20 sexual offences were correctly cancelled, but only 15 out of 20 offences of violence were correctly cancelled. The FCR attributed the incorrectly cancelled crimes to a newly recruited auditor, but accepted that supervision of that staff member should have been more effective.
Nevertheless, by ensuring that only the FCR and his team can cancel crimes, the force does generally make correct decisions.
Frontline staff have good knowledge of AVI and are confident submitting cancellation requests. They also understand clearly the process for doing so.
Where a crime has been cancelled, victims should always know the status of their reported crime. In the case of a decision to cancel a recorded crime, the very least victims should expect is an explanation of the reason for this decision. We found that the force had informed victims of this decision on all but two occasions. This is good and demonstrates appropriate consideration of victims’ needs.
All crime cancellations except rape are made by dedicated decision makers. Rape cancellations are made by the force crime registrar. In our 2016 inspection, HMICFRS found that all rapes and robbery offences were correctly cancelled. These have not been re-inspected (hyperlink to previous report). We did, however, find that cancellation decisions relating to violence and sexual offences required improvement.
In this inspection we examined 22 sexual offence cancellations that had been cancelled correctly. We also examined 20 violence offence cancellations and found that 17 of them were correctly cancelled. This is a welcome improvement. In those cases where the victim needed to be told of the decision to cancel the crime, the force only told 20 out of 27 victims. The force therefore needs to do more to improve its processes and to ensure that all victims are notified.
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.
We found that the force collects this information routinely in hate crime investigations (for example religious hatred or hatred predicated on a person’s ethnicity) where the protected characteristic is deemed to be a motive for the crime. It analyses and maps this information and uses it to adapt the service it provides to its communities. However, the force does not routinely collect this information for those crimes which are not identified as hate crimes. 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 is therefore, an area for improvement.
The force has made some improvements to its collection of information regarding the effect of criminality on identifiable groups within communities. The force routinely collects information relating to the age, religion and gender of victims of crime. We found that officers understood why this data was required and the importance of recording it accurately. Officers described the categories recorded and which questions to ask victims in order to establish accurate data for ethnicity or protected characteristics.
The force has developed a performance management framework which uses this data to compare the quality of service provided to victims of crime. The force already has a plan to collect data relating to other protected characteristics through its victim satisfaction surveys on an anonymised basis where victims are willing to provide this information. This progress since our 2016 report is welcome but further improvement is still required.
How well does the force demonstrate the leadership and culture necessary to meet the national standards for crime recording?
We found strong leadership from senior officers with regard to crime-recording expectations, and an approach among the vast majority of officers and staff that places the victim at the forefront of their crime-recording decisions.
The force has made good progress against the action plan, developed by the national policing lead on crime statistics following our 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.
The force has also made progress with implementing changes recommended in our 2014 report, and as a result these recommendations have been completed.
Following the publication of our 2016 inspection findings the deputy chief constable (DCC) took responsibility for leading the work to improve the force’s crime-recording arrangements. The force has re-emphasised its crime-recording expectations and explained them to officers and staff so that they understand their crime-recording responsibilities. The DCC and the force crime registrar have both been highly visible across the force, giving clear and unambiguous messages through a series of crime-recording training videos. The force has also distributed crime-recording briefings and booklets, containing a foreword by the DCC, across the force.
The force has an annual audit plan, and audits regularly in accordance with national guidance. Audit results are reported through regular performance meetings at both strategic and local levels. Crime data integrity is included on the force risk register.
The force has improved senior officer oversight of crime-recording arrangements, and of the systems, processes, supervision and training of officers and staff. As a result officers and staff now place the needs of more victims at the heart of their crime-recording decisions. In particular, the service the force provides to victims of sexual offences has improved.
We were pleased to find that the force has completed all the recommendations from our 2016 report and that the force understands the areas identified within this report where it needs to make further improvements.
Merseyside Police has made good progress with improving its crime-recording processes since our 2016 inspection and HMICFRS welcomes this improvement. It is clear that all staff have worked hard to improve the force’s crime-recording arrangements and to provide an improved service to the victims of crime and local communities.
We note that following our inspection the force crime registrar took immediate steps to ensure that the crime-recording failures we had identified were corrected. We also acknowledge that the force continues to make sustainable improvements to its crime-recording performance.
However, the force still has some work to do to improve the service it provides to victims of rape, domestic abuse and modern slavery. The force also needs to ensure that all reports of crime are recorded within 24 hours of receipt of the report, re-emphasise the need to record multiple crimes, further improve understanding of the use of classification N100 and to improve its collection of equality data from victims of crime.
HMICFRS welcomes the steps taken by Merseyside Police to improve its crime-recording arrangements. We expect the force to continue to make further progress and to build on the improvements made so far. We will continue to monitor progress.
The force, as with all police forces, may be subject to a further unannounced crime data integrity inspection at any time.