Suffolk: Police watchdog’s inspection suggests nearly 15% of Suffolk burglaries, sex offences, robberies, criminal damage and violent offences are not recorded as crimes by constabulary
PUBLISHED: 13:43 28 August 2014 | UPDATED: 11:42 29 August 2014
The accuracy of Suffolk’s crime figures was called into question today after a police watchdog’s audit found nearly 15% in a sample of offences were not recorded as crimes.
During the audit HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) examined 99 incident records and found 86 crimes should have been recorded - only 74 were, according to its report released on Crime Data Integrity.
In the wake of the findings Suffolk police have acknowledged the county’s crime figures would now be higher than was first stated earlier this year, although stressed all reported incidents are investigated.
In addition the small sample size makes it impossible to calculated the effect it would have relating to the rise in crime figures.
The offences scrutinised by the HMIC involved burglary, violence, criminal damage, sex offences and robbery.
Furthermore the inspection found there was “significant concern” over the recording of offences on vulnerable children and adults.
Out of a sample of 54 reports scrutinised by HMIC it found 37 crimes should have been raised. However, only 14 (38%) were. Some of these included allegations of sexual offences and assaults.
In addition the audit identified only two out of six rape offences reviewed were correctly recorded, with some offences not being captured at all.
Inspectors acknowledged Suffolk’s chief officers actively promote the importance of accurate crime data to staff and there was an emphasis on the needs of the victim. However, somewhere in the process the accuracy of the data measuring crime was incorrect.
Last month Suffolk Constabulary hailed its eighth annual fall in recorded crime.
The total number of offences from April 1, 2013, to March 1, 2014, was said to be 34,441 – a year-on-year drop of 7.1%.
Last November following concerns nationally that crime was not being recorded accurately a spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary said the force “prides itself on having a transparent approach to recording crime”.
Suffolk’s senior officers do not believe the rise in the overall crime figures would be as much as 14% as other high-volume offences such as shoplifting was not included in the HMIC audit. Officers said they are confident the disparity in reports and recorded offences would not be as great in these type of categories.
Assistant Chief Constable David Skevington said: “We take this report extremely seriously and are determined, along with other forces nationwide, to ensure that we improve in this important area.
“As a service, both locally and nationally, we recognise that there is more we need to do to ensure that we raise standards and achieve consistency in crime recording across the country.
“However, we are encouraged that the report recognises that we have a victim-focussed culture right across our organisation, which places the needs of those who have suffered crime at the heart of our response.”
Mr Skevington will be forming a task force to both implement the recommendations contained in the report and further explore how we can improve our performance in this area.”