Report says one in 10 crimes in Kent has not been reported correctly, with a target-driven culture leading officers to focus on easier-to-solve crimes.
A call for a national investigation into the police crime figures has been made after an official report showed that one in 10 crimes in Kent has not been recorded correctly.
The investigation by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) also found that a target-driven culture in the Kent has, until recently, led to officers pursuing crimes on the basis of how easy they are to solve rather than their severity or their impact on victims.
Inspectors found that Kent police were actively seeking out cannabis users to hand out formal warnings and a special team set up to tackle burglary was inappropriately redeployed to deal with shoplifting cases.
Anne Barnes, the Kent police and crime commissioner (PCC), who initiated the study in February, said the national investigation was needed because the scale of under-recording in the county’s crime figures was “utterly unacceptable” and could have serious ramifications if found elsewhere.
The HMIC report says the under-recording of 10% of crimes in Kent means that some victims are not getting the service they deserve because victim support services are only triggered when a crime is recorded.
But the investigation found no evidence of corruption in the way that crimes had been recorded or resolved in Kent.
“Appreciably more needs to be done before the people of Kent can be confident that the crime and resolution figures published by the force are accurate as they should be,” concludes the report.
Barnes said she was dismayed by HMIC’s finding that there was “institutional bias” in Kent towards chasing numeric targets: “I’m staggered that 10% of crimes are not being correctly recorded and it is utterly unacceptable. I despair for some of the victims of crime who have been very poorly served, as every single victim of crime should receive a quality service.”
She said she was relieved that the Kent police had stopped some officers putting performance targets ahead of tackling crimes that had a greater impact on victims. Barnes is to discuss the issue on Tuesday with her chief constable, and she urged other PCCs in England and Wales to carry out an in-depth investigation into their own force’s crime recording methods.
Zoë Billingham, HMIC inspector for the eastern region, said: “Our inspection has found that appreciably more needs to be done by Kent police to make sure its crime figures are as accurate as they should be. The force has been addressing the issue of crime recording and has made significant progress in this area. However, we found that the force had under-recorded approximately one in every 10 crimes of the sample we examined – this means some victims are not getting the service they deserve.
“We are confident that, given the improvements made so far, and the commitment of the chief constable, the force will respond positively to the issues raised in this report and take steps to improve the accuracy of crime recording in Kent.”
HMIC said it plans to conduct a review of the integrity of crime figures in all police forces in England and Wales during 2013/14.
News published on: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/17/police-crime-figures-inquiry-kent