LONDON: Revealed: some of the most serious crimes not being recorded in Cornwall and Devon. The police watchdog estimates it was almost 17 and a half thousand that were reported in 2016. That includes rapes, sex offences and almost eight thousand violent crimes. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has rated the force “inadequate” for recording crimes. In its report, HMIC said: “In Devon and Cornwall Police there is a systemic failure of officers and staff to make correct crime-recording decisions at the first opportunity. This is due to deficiencies in the force’s crime-recording processes, insufficient understanding of crime-recording requirements and limited supervision to correct the decisions of officers and staff and improve standards from the outset. “This means that the force is failing many victims of crime. “The force is failing to ensure it adequately records all reports of rape, sexual offences and violence, including domestic abuse, and, on most occasions, is incorrectly using classification N100.
The watchdog has made the following recommendations:
- Immediately, the force should take steps to identify and address gaps in its systems and processes for identifying and recording all reports of crime which are domestic abuse related.
- Immediately, sexual offence liaison officers should be assigned to all victims of serious sexual assaults and, in particular, to rape victims and, wherever possible, these officers should be deployed as the first responder.
- Within three months, the force should review the operating arrangements of its call management and communication units, including the use of appointments, and ensure that these arrangements secure the recording of all reported crimes at the first point of report that sufficient information exists to do so, and in any event within 24 hours of receipt of the report.
- Within three months, the force should develop and implement procedures for the effective supervision of crime-recording decisions throughout the whole force.
- Within six months the force should put in place arrangements to ensure that:
- At the point of report, victims are believed;
- Conversations between call handlers and callers are summarised accurately in the incident log, thus providing attending officers with full facts on which to base crime-recording decisions;
- Multiple crimes are always recorded when described within incident records or identified as part of other recorded crime investigations;
- The practice of awaiting the results of medical examinations or video interviews before making crime-recording decisions is stopped; and
- Online reports of crime are triaged at the point of receipt to ensure any ongoing risks to the victim or the wider public is identified and appropriately managed.
Within six months, the force should design and provide training for all staff who make crime-recording decisions. This should include training in regard to:
- The extent of the information required to provide for a crime-recording decision to be made;
- The expectation that reported crime is recorded at the first point that sufficient information exists to record a crime, which in the majority of cases will be at the point of report;
- The proper use of classification N100 for reports of rape; and
- The importance of believing the first account of the victim”.
HMIC said the force has made limited progress with its crime-recording arrangements since our 2014 report.
- Improvements have been made to the knowledge and understanding of crime-recording requirements among officers and staff within the force’s public protection teams;
- The force has also made some 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. This includes improvements to the force’s use of out-of-court disposals (e.g cautions and community resolutions); 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 small audit team”.