Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones expressed dismay at an inspectors’ report grading the force as “inadequate” in its crime recording.
An HMICFRS report (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services) found based on its examination of crime reports between June and November 2017, the force failed to record over 9,400 reported crimes each year — about 18.8% of its total.
This included, in some cases, serious crimes such as rape, grievous bodily harm and malicious communications.
Marc Jones has now set up an independent panel to oversee and support the force’s work to improve its crime recording procedures.
It will receive regular updates on progress made in meeting the force’s action plan in relation to the inspectors’ recommendations and carry out regular spot checks of paperwork.
He said: “At first sight the findings in this report are quite shocking and undoubtedly the force has work to do to reassure me as the public representative that they are getting this right.
“Both the Deputy and Chief Constable have my support as they tackle this and I don’t believe the report adequately reflects the everyday effort of the officers and staff across the county who strive to keep us all safe.
“I have written to the Chief Constable to raise my concerns, ask for an action plan on how the force intends to put this right and make clear my intention to support their efforts with the new independent panel to ensure public confidence and transparency.
“I have been made aware that the force were already delivering changes in this area when the inspectors visited and other forces have found similar challenges that appear to be at odds with the Crime Survey of England and Wales.
“However, my role is to hold the Chief to account and ensure the public can have confidence in the way policing is delivered and crime recorded and I intend to do just that.”
Crime recorded, but not correctly
Lincolnshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor said the report could give the impression that some crime is going unreported and unnoticed by the force but that, in fact, it was not recorded in the correct manner.
“We are deeply disappointed by this report and absolutely committed to ensuring we resolve the problem quickly and effectively,” said DCC Naylor.
“We have made mistakes and we will not shirk from accepting and correcting them. We recognised last year that we needed to improve our crime recording processes and have put measures in place since this inspection. I am determined to ensure that our systems and processes match the high standards our force delivers to victims.
“Our focus and commitment is to ensure victims are at the centre of all that we do and I am confident that, despite issues in how we have recorded some crimes, that service has not slipped from the high standards we set ourselves.
“There are no ‘missed’ victims or offenders – what we have missed is the correct procedure for recording them.”
Many of the cases referred to by inspectors relate, said the force, to on-going enquires where a victim or a witness has reported historical incidents.
For instance an officer interviewing the victim of a domestic abuse may report similar incidents stretching back years. In such cases the force were recording the incidents in a way that did not meet Home Office Counting Rules.
DCC Naylor said: “Since my appointment in this role I’ve made improving our crime recording and investigative standards a priority, which is noted in this report. It also notes that had we known about the extent of this we would have taken more urgent steps to improve standards and we have invested in better understanding these issues since October last year.
“The figures analysed by the inspectors related to those recorded between June and November last year and we had already started work on improving our processes last summer.
“The current demands on the force are considerable and we continue to attempt to maximise the use of our people and resources to keep the people of Lincolnshire safe.
“Our last HMICFRS reports have assessed us as being ‘Good’ when asking the question about how we perform at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
“The report highlights areas where we have excelled – making progress in placing the victim at the forefront of our crime-recording decisions; and we welcome the opportunity to learn and will do all we can to ensure improvements are made as quickly as possible.”