North Yorkshire Police - Crime Data Integrity re-inspection 2019
Crime Data Integrity re-inspection 2018
In December 2017, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) conducted a crime data integrity inspection of North Yorkshire Police.
We published the report of this inspection in February 2018 and concluded that the force’s crime recording arrangements were not acceptable. As a result, we gave North Yorkshire Police an overall judgment of inadequate.
Our 2018 report gave numerous recommendations and areas for improvement aimed at improving crime recording in North Yorkshire Police. This re-inspection assessed the progress made since that report.
In 2018, we found that the force was good at identifying and recording modern slavery crimes and making crime cancellation decisions for robbery offences. So, we have not re-inspected these elements. Instead we used these findings from the original inspection to make an overall comparative judgment in this report.
Our findings and judgment resulting from this re-inspection are set out below.
- 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?
North Yorkshire Police has taken action to improve crime-recording accuracy since HMICFRS’s 2014 crime data integrity inspection report. We found that:
- most officers and staff have made progress in placing the victim at the forefront of their crime-recording decisions;
- it has worked hard to improve the knowledge and understanding of crime-recording requirements for modern slavery crimes among officers and staff;
- it has implemented most of the recommendations set out in our 2014 report; and
- it has made good progress against a national action plan developed to improve crime-recording by police forces.
However, we found that more work remains to be done. Despite improvements, based on the findings of our examination of crime reports for the period 1 February 2017 to 31 July 2017 we estimate that the force fails to record over 9,200 reported crimes each year. This represents a recording rate of 80.1 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.86 percent). The 19.9 percent of reported crimes that go unrecorded include serious crimes such as sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape. The recording rate for violent crime is a particular cause of concern at only 74.9 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.38 percent). This means that, on too many occasions, the force is potentially failing victims of crime.
The force must make improvements in several areas. There are too many failures to make the correct crime-recording decision at the first opportunity. Not all staff and officers have a good understanding of crime-recording requirements, and limited supervision means poor crime-recording decisions are not corrected at the earliest opportunity.
North Yorkshire Police has significantly improved its crime recording arrangements since our 2017 inspection. Of those forces we have re-inspected, North Yorkshire Police has achieved one of the most impressive levels of improvement. We found it has:
- significantly improved its overall crime recording standards, including for violence and sexual crimes;
- improved its recording standards for rape crimes;
- improved its recording of crime reports received directly into its public protection department from partner organisations (such as social services);
- developed and implemented a crime data integrity (CDI) action plan to address recommendations and areas for improvement and drive systemic cultural change;
- substantially improved the number of crime reports it records within 24 hours; and
- invested in additional resources to scrutinise and improve crime recording decision making and data quality.
We examined crime reports from 1 December 2018 to 28 February 2019. Based on our findings, we estimate that the force records 92.8 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.69 percent) of crimes reported to it. This compares with our 2017 inspection finding of 80.1 percent (confidence interval +/- 1.86 percent). We estimate that, compared to the findings of our 2017 inspection, this improved accuracy meant that the force recorded an additional 6,100 crimes for the year covered by our re-inspection audit period. So, substantially more victims will now have their reported crimes recorded. Recording these reports makes sure victims have access to the force’s victim support service, Supporting Victims, when they may otherwise not have been referred to it.
The force is determined to get crime recording right, to understand clearly how crime affects its communities and to respond appropriately to this demand.
However, in a few areas the force still has more work to do. It recognises that it still doesn’t record some reports of crime and that it must work to make sure it records all:
- crimes associated with domestic abuse;
- public order crimes; and
- offences of making, taking or distributing indecent images of children.
We also found that officers and staff don’t always understand or use the Home Office classification N100 for rape reports which don’t require a crime record. And the force needs to make sure it informs victims when it decides to cancel their reported crimes.
The force began a phased programme of crime recording training in January 2019. So at the time of our inspection some supervisors, officers and staff hadn’t completed it. The force has an implementation plan which should make sure all staff receive this training. But the planned date for completing this is not until summer 2020. We would encourage the force to review this time frame and work to complete this training sooner, if possible.
We are confident the force will achieve further progress in these areas. This is due to its sustained commitment to continuous improvement and its proven ability to make improvements since our 2017 inspection.
Summary of inspection findings
The force has improved its crime-recording processes since our 2014 report. In particular, we found that:
- progress has been made to implement changes recommended in the 2014 report and, as a result, the force has completed most 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, which all forces have been asked to implement; and
- the force has improved its use of out-of-court disposals (e.g. cautions and community resolutions) and has removed the crime-recording function from the force control room to a dedicated unit called Crime Recording and Occurrence Management Unit (CROMU) which, although recently set up, is intended to improve crime-recording performance.
We also found that the force crime and incident registrar (FCIR) – 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. Her work is supported by two deputies.
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;
- reports of rape; and
- other sexual offences.
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.
We found that:
- crimes reported during incidents involving domestic abuse are not always being recorded;
- incidents which have been disclosed directly to public protection teams as part of multi-agency safeguarding arrangements, and which amount to a crime in law, are not always recorded as such;
- delays in recording of a reported crime are, in some cases, leading to delays in the referral of victims to the force’s victim support service Supporting Victims, letting down those victims who need the early support this service can provide;
- the force is incorrectly cancelling some recorded rape, violence and sexual offences; and
- the force must improve the extent to which it collects information regarding the effect of criminality on identifiable groups within communities; in particular, groups with identifiable protected characteristics (i.e. gender, sexuality or ethnicity).
Some of these failings are a consequence of officers and staff not understanding their responsibilities for crime-recording. In addition, there is limited supervision of the crime-recording decisions taken by officers and staff.
Causes of concern and areas for improvement
In 2017, we identified several causes of concern and areas for improvement. You can view these in the full version of the 2017 report.
We found that the force has committed to improving its processes to make sure it achieves good crime recording standards. As a result, it has:
- substantially improved its overall recording of crime, including violent, domestic abuse-related and sexual crimes;
- developed and implemented procedures for supervising crime recording decisions throughout the whole force;
- reviewed the operating arrangements of its force control room, crime management unit (CMU) and crime occurrence management unit (CROMU) to improve its crime recording arrangements;
- merged the CMU and CROMU so it can record more crimes at the first point of contact, ensure initial compliance with the National Crime Recording Standard and improve data quality; and
- fully implemented all but one of the recommendations made in our 2018 report.
However, some officers and staff still aren’t always sure how to deal with some types of crime, such as:
- common assault;
- harassment; and
- malicious communications.
We are confident that the force will address these gaps in knowledge through its crime recording training programme. This began in January 2019 and will be provided to all officers and staff who make crime recording decisions.
We note that chief officer leadership and governance arrangements for crime recording have contributed significantly to these improvements. Governance is managed through a CDI improvement board. It meets monthly and is chaired by the deputy chief constable (DCC). The force reports its own crime recording audit results to the board. It adds any resulting recommendations to the CDI action plan and monitors progress through the board. This is welcome.
How effective is the force at recording reported crime?
Overall crime recording rate
North Yorkshire Police 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 HMICFRS that all crime that is recorded (excluding fraud) came through an auditable crime-reporting route.
We found that the force recorded 80.1 percent of these crimes (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.86 percent). We estimate that this means the force is not recording over 9,200 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 1,711 reports of crime that we audited, we assessed 327 to be crimes related to domestic abuse. Of these 327 crimes, the force had recorded 243. The 84 offences not recorded included 60 violent crimes, a sexual offence and several criminal damage, malicious communications and public order offences.
We found that many of these reports involved reporting a crime at the first point of contact with the force, but these crime reports went unrecorded with insufficient justification to explain why.
In the crimes not recorded we found safeguarding requirements had been considered in most of these cases but that around half of these were not investigated. This included cases involving actual bodily harm, a case of coercive and controlling behaviour and a sexual assault. The absence of an investigation may have increased significantly the potential risk of harm to these victims.
Under-recording crimes relating to domestic abuse incidents, and failure to provide a satisfactory service to these victims, are a cause of concern. This is because domestic abuse often involves victims who are particularly vulnerable to further offences being committed against them.
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 supervisors to provide effective oversight of crime-recording decisions.
- Deficiencies in the force’s crime-recording processes are a cause of concern. In particular, we found that:
- At the time of the audit the force had experienced a sharp rise in call volume and consequently force control room performance deteriorated. Crimes were recorded in the force control room by trained crime recorders. These staff were responsible for answering 999 and 101 calls and were under severe pressure to perform both roles. Their priority was to answer calls and therefore crime recording was not afforded the attention required.
- Attending officers are sometimes unclear on who has responsibility for recording a report of crime when the investigation of the crime rests elsewhere; this results in some crimes not being recorded.
- When there is no requirement for an officer to attend a reported incident, or when further offences come to light after the initial deployment or during subsequent investigation, the force does not always record reported crimes.
- Incident records that contain multiple reports of crime often result in only one crime report being recorded.
- Where further crimes are identified they are often referred to within an existing crime record when, in fact, an additional crime record should be created.
The force has already taken steps to address some of these deficiencies through the introduction of CROMU. Although new, we found that this team has a good understanding of crime-recording requirements. This is welcome. The force should continue to monitor performance in this area to satisfy itself that the development of this team results in the significant improvement to crime-recording accuracy that is needed.
However, in addition we found that:
- Call-handlers (who receive reports of crime by telephone) and frontline officers are not always sure about crime-recording requirements, and there is a lack of experience and knowledge among some recently recruited staff.In particular:
- basic crime-recording principles and knowledge of crime-recording requirements relating to common assault, harassment, malicious communications, public order offences and make, take or distribute indecent images of children are not always understood;
- call-handlers sometimes apply the wrong incident type to an incident thus making it unclear that it involves the commission of a crime;
- at the point of reporting, on occasion, when assessing whether, on the balance of probability, an offence has been committed, insufficient emphasis has been given to the account of the victim; and
- dispatchers do not always pass all available information to attending officers thereby making accurate crime-recording decisions difficult; similarly the updates and results from attending officers are not always recorded within incident logs with sufficient accuracy and detail.
- A further problem relates to the force’s supervision of its crime-recording decisions. We found this requires improvement. In particular:
- Where an officer is deployed to an incident, the responsibility for supervising crime-recording decisions rests with frontline supervisors. However, these supervisors do not have the capacity to scrutinise adequately all crime-related incidents to satisfy themselves that crime-recording decisions are correct.
- The force has a process whereby any domestic incident opened as a domestic crime in Storm needs to be assessed by a sergeant and inspector if no crime is being recorded. This is a robust process, however, we found that the seriousness of these incidents is often not appreciated and insufficient consideration is given to crime-recording requirements when reviewed by the sergeant and inspector.
- The force has a large number of constables carrying out the role of temporary sergeant. This inevitably results in a dilution of the knowledge and experience required to achieve accurate crime recording across the whole force.
- Control room supervisors do not have the capacity to scrutinise adequately all crime-related incidents to satisfy themselves that crime-recording decisions are correct.
92.8% of reported crimes were recorded
The force has made significant 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 the force received, and for which an auditable record was created. The force informed us that 100 percent of crime it records (except fraud) comes through an auditable route. This doesn’t mean that 100 percent of crimes reported to North Yorkshire Police come through these routes, but that 100 percent of crime is recorded this way.
We found that the force recorded 92.8 percent of these crimes (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.69 percent). We estimate that this means the force is recording an additional 6,100 reported crimes each year because of its improved crime recording arrangements. This is a statistically significant improvement of 12.7 percentage points.
Of a total of 879 reports of crime that we audited, we assessed 220 as related to domestic abuse. Of these, the force had recorded 203. Of the 17 unrecorded crimes, 14 were violent crimes, including:
- common assault;
- harassment; and
- malicious communications.
We found that the force offered or provided safeguarding in most cases. But its failure to record these crimes generally meant that no investigation took place.
It is important that the force continues to work to improve crime recording in domestic abuse incidents. This will allow it to understand fully how domestic abuse affects its communities, and help victims reporting these crimes to have confidence in its response.
We found that 74.9 percent of violent crimes reported to the force are recorded (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.38 percent). This is lower than the overall crime-recording rate noted above. By our estimate, this means the force fails to record over 3,300 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 the violent crimes not recorded by the force involve injury, which can cause even further distress for the victim. Therefore we find the force’s failure to record reported violent crime to be a serious cause of concern.
In the majority of cases where violent crimes were not recorded, we found the principal causes to be that:
- the processes currently in place for recording a reported crime (described earlier) were deficient;
- officers and staff did not understand adequately the crime-recording rules, particularly about the complexities of some violence offences such as harassment, malicious communications and common assault; and
- there was a lack of adequate supervision of crime-recording decisions.
Victims of violent crime and, in particular, victims of more serious violence, often require substantial support. This support should come not only from the reporting and investigating officers, but from other appropriate agencies, such as Supporting Victims – the force in-house team which supports victims of crime. In these circumstances, crime recording is even more important because failing to record a violent crime may mean that Supporting Victims is not notified that a person has become a victim of violent crime and so cannot offer victims the support they need and deserve.
91.4% of reported violent crimes were recorded
We found that 91.4 percent of violent crimes reported to the force are recorded (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.73 percent). This is lower than the overall crime recording rate above. We estimate that, compared to the findings of our 2017 inspection, the force is now recording an additional 2,590 reported violence crimes each year. Again, this is a statistically significant improvement, of 16.5 percentage points.
The 8.6 percent of violent crimes that go unrecorded include offences like harassment, malicious communications and common assault. Many of these were reported directly to the force, but it didn’t record them as crimes. In most cases where the force still doesn’t record violent crimes, the principal causes were:
- changes made in 2018 to the recording requirements for stalking, harassment and malicious communications, which officers and staff didn’t always fully understand and apply; and
- sometimes failing to record all crimes reported in incidents involving more than one crime.
The force’s recording of reports of sexual offences (excluding rape) must improve. We found that the force records 89.5 percent of sexual offence crimes that are reported to it (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.88 percent). We estimate that this means the force fails to record over 170 reported sexual offence crimes each year.
Those failings are significant because of the very serious nature of sexual offences and the harm they cause to their victims. We found, for example, that the force failed to record reports of sexual assault against both adults and children and sexual activity with a child.
The causes of that under-recording are similar to those identified above for violent crime which were:
- the deficiency of the processes that are currently in place for the recording of a reported crime; and
- a lack of adequate supervision of crime-recording decisions.
Sexual offence victims require significant support from the outset. The failure to record such crimes, to provide appropriate support to the victim, or 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 respect.
95.4% of reported sex offences were recorded
The force records 95.4 percent of sexual offence crimes (including rape) that are reported to it (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.63 percent). This is a significant improvement and a very good achievement. We estimate that, compared to the findings of our 2017 inspection, the force is now recording an additional 110 reported sexual offence crimes each year. This is a statistically significant improvement of 5.8 percentage points.
Recording sexual offence crimes is particularly important for victims, as many of these crimes are very serious in nature and cause significant harm. So this recording standard is welcome.
We note that the force failed to record a small number of reported sexual offences against children. Two of these were reports of non-recent sexual assaults from one victim. The force also failed to record five offences of incitement to sexual activity, all of which were reported to it by third party education professionals.
Rape is one of the most serious sexual offence crimes a victim can experience. Therefore, the accurate recording of such reports is especially important. It helps to ensure victims receive 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.
We found 103 reports of rape that should have been recorded, but only 94 of these had been recorded. These include reports that originated on the force incident system, reports received directly by specialist officers from third-party professionals, and from a review of N100 records (see below).
We found that in three of these missed crimes, adequate safeguarding was not put in place and two of them were not sufficiently investigated. In one of these cases the crime was not recorded because the victim was suffering from mental health issues and officers did not properly understand how to deal with her ability to consent. She subsequently reported being victim to the same offender on a second occasion and the force is now investigating these matters.
The reasons for these nine crimes not being recorded were:
- the deficiency of the processes that are currently in place for recording a reported crime;
- officers and staff not understanding adequately the crime-recording rules; for example four of the missed crimes of rape were incorrectly recorded as a different crime and in some cases the wrong decision had been taken not to record a crime due to officers not understanding the issue of consent to participate in sexual activity; and
- lack of adequate supervision of crime-recording decisions.
There are, in addition, some problems surrounding the force’s use of the Home Office classification N100. Introduced in April 2015, the N100 is a record created to explain why reported incidents of rape or attempted rapes, whether from victims, witnesses or third parties, have not been recorded immediately as a confirmed crime. This can include instances 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 20 incident reports for which an N100 classification should have been applied, but it was only applied in 12 of them.
Separately, we also examined 22 sample records where an N100 classification had been used and found that 20 were correctly recorded. The remaining two were correctly changed to a crime of rape and a crime of sexual assault.
We found very little understanding of the N100 classification among frontline officers, including those working in the specialist safeguarding department or the force control room. Awareness was good in the force crime management unit and CROMU, which are co-located, and responsible for the initial assessment, review and filing of all crimes. In addition, all N100 reports are recorded by a deputy FCIR who checks all incidents of a sexual nature and identifies those requiring the N100 classification. However, as the force has changed this post holder the knowledge required to undertake this task well has been lacking.
The force must ensure that it uses classification N100 consistently on all relevant occasions in order to minimise the delay in recording an offence of rape.
The recording of a report of rape is important. Victims generally require significant support from the outset and any delay in providing support can harm both the recovery of the victim and any investigation. This, in turn, can have a negative effect on future court proceedings. This is an area for improvement.
32 of 33 audited rape reports were accurately recorded
Rape is one of the most serious crimes a victim can experience. Accurate recording 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. In turn, this allows the police to identify and deal with perpetrators as efficiently as possible. We found that the force has improved its recording of rape crimes since our 2017 inspection. This is welcome.
We found that 33 reports of rape should have been recorded but the force had recorded 32. It misclassified the unrecorded report as assault by penetration. But it safeguarded the victim and completed a proportionate investigation.
When forces don’t record a reported rape as a crime, they must apply a Home Office classification N100. We found no change or improvement in how the force uses N100s since our 2017 inspection.
We checked 20 N100 records, all of which were correctly recorded and classified at the start. However, we found two occasions where an additional N100 should have been recorded for second victims. These were not recorded.
Separately, we also identified 14 other occasions when the force should have used an N100 classification. But it only did so in eight of these. So it is still failing to record some N100s and is not following the correct process to transfer reports of rape that occurred in another force area.
We found that staff and officers still had very little awareness of the N100 classification. This is disappointing as we highlighted this matter as an area for improvement in our 2017 report. The force must continue to work to improve officer and staff understanding of N100s and make sure it uses this classification correctly.
How efficiently do the systems and processes in the force support accurate crime recording?
Crime reports held on other systems
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 teams.
We examined 75 vulnerable victim records. Of these, we found that 44 crimes should have been recorded, of which 30 had been. The unrecorded crimes involved crimes committed against both vulnerable adults and children and included one case of child neglect, two assaults and one sexual assault. We were pleased to find that all relevant safeguarding was undertaken, however only half of these cases were investigated.
The reasons these crimes are not being recorded are the same as those identified for other offences. There is a lack of understanding about who has responsibility for recording crimes where uniformed and specialist staff are involved in the report. It is also clear that, while staff working in the force safeguarding teams are very focused on safeguarding vulnerable victims, recording crimes reported to them is not their first priority.
Recording these reports of crime is important as it allows the police to identify and understand the nature and extent of crime experienced by vulnerable adults and children, and to ensure it has adequate resources in place to protect these victims from harm. This is an area for improvement.
47 of 51 vulnerable victim crimes were recorded
We found that the force has improved its recording of crimes reported directly to its public protection teams. Since our 2017 inspection, the force has:
- revised its process for managing and recording safeguarding referrals;
- provided guidance to officers and staff in its public protection teams about crime recording requirements for professional third-party reports and about using classification N100 for reported rapes; and
- provided crime identification training for staff attending multi-agency meetings.
This improvement is very welcome as the recording of these crimes is important. It means the force can be confident that vulnerable victims receive the support they need.
We examined 25 adult and 25 child vulnerable victim records. And we examined 25 adult email referrals and 25 child email referrals received by the vulnerability assessment team.
We found that in total these records contained 51 reports of crime which the force should have recorded, and it had recorded 47 of these. Two of the unrecorded cases originated from multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) referrals. These included one crime of controlling and coercive behaviour and one of stalking. In both cases, safeguarding actions were initiated through the MARAC. But the failure to record these crimes meant that neither of them was investigated.
Of the remaining unrecorded cases, one involved a crime of harassment. The victim was safeguarded, but didn’t support a formal prosecution. So no further investigation was required. The last unrecorded case involved a child making threats to commit criminal damage. Although the force put safeguarding measures in place, there was no investigation because it didn’t record the crime.
The HOCR require that reports of crime are recorded within 24 hours of receipt of the report. We found that, of the reports of crime that had been recorded by North Yorkshire Police, only 74 out of 94 reports of rape, 335 out 448 reports of violent crime, 184 out of 257 sexual offences (excluding rape) and 536 out of 634 other offences had been recorded within 24 hours of receipt of the report.
Although some victims may be referred to support agencies in other ways, the delay in recording a reported crime also delays the referral of the victim to Supporting Victims. As some victims would benefit from the early support this service can provide, these delays are unacceptable.
We found that these delays can be attributed to:
- not always recording all crimes reported as part of a single incident;
- failure to always record a reported crime at the first opportunity, sometimes delaying this until after an appointment with the victim; and
- call handlers incorrectly classifying reports of crime as non-crime incidents.
If the information the force gets at the first point of contact satisfies the national crime recording standard, it should record crimes straight away, and in any case within 24 hours.
Since our 2017 report, North Yorkshire Police has substantially improved the proportion of crimes that it records within 24 hours. We found it did so for:
- 304 out of 341 violent crimes;
- 131 out of 145 sexual offences; and
- 278 out of 293 other offences.
So generally, when the force makes correct crime recording decisions, its procedures now make sure it records the crime within 24 hours. This timely recording enables it to make early referrals to Supporting Victims for those victims in need of support. This is very welcome.
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 needs to improve.
We reviewed 22 cancelled recorded crimes each of rape, violence and sexual offence crimes (excluding rape) and three of robbery. Of these, we found that the FCIR had correctly cancelled 20 of the rape crimes. Other crime cancellation decisions are the responsibility of designated staff, known as designated decision-makers (DDMs). The DDMs had correctly cancelled 18 out of 22 sexual offences, 20 out of 22 violence offences and 3 out of 3 robbery offences.
We also found that many officers and staff had a very limited understanding of what counts as AVI for the purpose of cancelling a recorded crime. The process applied by the force allows officers to make several attempts to have a crime cancelled without appropriate supervision and is not efficient.
A victim should always be informed of the status of his or her reported crime when a crime has been cancelled or transferred to another force for investigation. 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 of the 53 victims who should have been informed of the transfer or cancellation, 41 had been told. This is an area for improvement.
If additional verifiable information shows that a recorded crime didn’t take place, the record can be cancelled. In this respect we found that the force performs well.
We reviewed a sample of cancelled rape, sexual offence and violent crimes. The force crime registrar (FCR) makes rape cancellation decisions. Designated decision makers (DDMs) make all other crime cancellations.
We found that the force had correctly cancelled:
- 21 out of 22 rape crimes;
- 19 out of 22 sexual offence crimes; and
- 18 out of 20 violent crimes.
This is a similar standard to our 2017 inspection.
However, the force only informed 12 victims of its transfer or cancellation of their reported crime, out of the 20 it should have told. So this remains an area for improvement for the force.
HMICFRS found that the force must improve in its collection of information regarding crimes affecting 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. This helps them to 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, as 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 continues to explore how it can improve its collection of information to better understand and respond to the effect of criminality on identifiable groups within communities. But no progress has yet been made. As this was an area for improvement in 2017, this is disappointing.
How well does the force demonstrate the leadership and culture necessary to meet the national standards for crime recording?
Despite the deficiencies in the force’s crime-recording processes, including the limited supervision applied to crime-recording decisions, overall we found good leadership from senior officers in North Yorkshire Police in regard to crime-recording expectations, and an approach among the 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 national action plan, developed by the national policing lead on crime statistics after our 2014 report, which all forces have been asked to implement.
Additionally, good progress has been made with implementing changes recommended in our 2014 report, and as a result the force has satisfactorily completed most of these recommendations. Those not completed have been superseded by the new recommendations above.
The role of the FCIR is important to ensuring crime-recording arrangements are effective. However, the FCIR’s capacity to undertake force audits had been significantly reduced for over 9 months, as a result of both deputy FCIR posts being vacant. These vacancies have now been filled by staff who do not yet have the experience or the expertise to fully undertake the requirements of the role. The force should keep the resourcing of this important function under regular review so as to satisfy itself that it is able to have a full and clear understanding of the effectiveness and efficiency of its crime-recording arrangements.
We also note that the force is undertaking a review of the CROMU to ensure resourcing levels are appropriate and that the functions undertaken by this team support improvements to its crime-recording arrangements. This is welcome.
The leadership effort that North Yorkshire Police has put toward improving crime recording has been pivotal to the improvements we found in this inspection.
After our 2017 inspection findings, the DCC took responsibility for leading the work to improve the force’s crime recording.
The force has re-emphasised its crime recording expectations and explained them to officers and staff. And those who make crime recording decisions now have mandatory performance objectives linked to crime recording standards.
We found the governance arrangements for crime recording are well established and effective. The force has a CDI improvement group chaired by the DCC. This group monitors progress against a CDI action plan, created to address the recommendations and areas for improvement from our 2017 inspection. The force has made good progress against this plan and has fully implemented all but one of our 2017 recommendations. It is still working on the final outstanding recommendation as it seeks to complete its crime recording training programme.
The force presents the results of its own crime recording audits to the CDI improvement group and then to heads of departments. The audits contain recommendations which are added to the CDI action plan. So progress can be monitored each month by the CDI improvement group.
Messages from chief officers about crime recording expectations have been consistent and unambiguous. These come through several channels including briefings, organisational learning bulletins, online messaging, leaflets and posters. This has helped develop a culture where officers and staff fully understand the importance of crime recording and the positive effect it can have on victim services. We were particularly impressed by the officers and staff we spoke to, all of whom put the victim at the forefront of their crime recording decisions.
Both the DCC and the FCR have been visible across the force reinforcing these messages. This is welcome.
Since our 2017 inspection North Yorkshire Police has made significant progress in its crime recording standards. This is welcome.
We are confident that the force’s ongoing improvement programme and effective leadership will address those areas that require further attention.
We welcome the steps taken by North Yorkshire 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.