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UK Police under-record 800,000 crimes per year

Our People - Luke Cowles
18 November, 2014

HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary) have published their latest large-scale investigation; ‘Crime-recording: Making the victim count’. The investigation makes for uncomfortable reading. It concludes that the national average of under-recording crime is 19%, which equates to in excess of 800,000 crimes a year. This includes more than 25% of sexual offences reported to the police not being recorded by them as a crime, with the same treatment for 33% of violent crime.

Tom Winsor, HMIC’s Chief Inspector has stated “A national crime-recording rate of 81% is inexcusably poor. Failure properly to record crime is indefensible”.

But this is just a national average. Let’s look at some individual forces. The Metropolitan Police recorded 82.6% of reported crimes (948 recorded out of 1148 reported) that came through to their own call handling centres. On the positive side Staffordshire recorded 96.6% of crimes reported (113 out of 117) and South Wales recorded 96.3% of crimes reported (158 out of 164). The worst offenders include Avon & Somerset recording 67.2% of crimes reported (90 out of 134) and Northumbria recording 72.2% of crimes reported (83 out of 115).

Of course, all of the above is simply statistics. But it means victims reporting crime are having their report recorded as ‘no crime’ far too quickly in the absence of supportive evidence. Reading between the lines it means a victim’s crime report faces suffering from a default position of not being believed. This is not a victim centred approach. Tom Winsor, HMIC’s Chief Inspector, has put it aptly ‘The police should immediately institutionalise the presumption that the victim is to be believed… They – and their communities – are entitled to justice’.

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