11:28AM, Monday 29 July 2019
An inspection of Thames Valley Police has rated the force as ‘inadequate’ in how it records crime, including rape and domestic abuse.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), the body which rates the effectiveness of police forces and fire services, found the force’s recording rate for violent crime is ‘still too low’.
“Officers and staff are still failing to correctly identify and record domestic abuse and rape crimes,” the report also states.
The organisation published its findings last week following an inspection in May.
The report found that ‘frontline officers, including supervisors, have a poor understanding of the force’s crime recording system’, called NICHE.
“The force relies on NICHE to record crime and assess demand. But officers and supervisors clearly still do not understand how crime records are created and what entries constitute recorded crimes,” it adds.
“Incidents which have been disclosed directly to public protection teams, in particular those reported by professional third parties, and which amount to a crime in law, are not always recorded as such.”
Officers and staff have yet to fully understand changes made in April 2018 to how stalking, harassment, and coercive and controlling behaviour incidents are recorded.
“Together with common assault, these crime types made up the vast majority of missed domestic abuse crimes,” it states.
The report looks at a case study where a woman was repeatedly a victim of domestic abuse, and told Thames Valley Police she was being subjected to a forced marriage, with relatives controlling her life.
She was ‘distressed’ and attempted suicide a day before reporting this, the report says, but police did not attend and did not record any offences or ‘provide information to suggest a crime did not occur’.
The report found that five rape crimes were misclassified as another offence and seven were not recorded at all. In three cases, ‘failing to record the rape crimes meant it didn’t conduct a full investigation into the reports’.
But the inspection found its overall crime recording, including violent and sexual offences, has improved since the 2017 inspection. It has developed a crime data integrity plan and ‘provided comprehensive crime recording training to call handling staff in its contact management centre’.
The force has made improvements and since an inspection in 2017 is believed to be recording an extra 13,800 crimes a year.
HMICFRS said Thames Valley Police needed to continue improving its crime recording.
In a statement, Thames Valley Police said it ‘fully accepts’ HMICFRS.
Deputy Chief Constable Jason Hogg said: “We recognise that listening to victims and recording reported crimes is the first step in providing a satisfactory service and underpins the quality of our investigations.
“The grading by HMICFRS of our crime data integrity falls far below the standards that we set ourselves or that the public rightly expect from us.”
He added: “HMICFRS have noted our determination to get crime recording right, that they are encouraged by the improvement that they found and that whilst there is still a way to go, that we are on the right track.
“Despite significant improvements we acknowledge that we have not progressed as far or as fast as we would have wished to.
“We have worked hard since HMICFRS published their last report and will continue to work to ensure that the improvements we make are sustainable.”
“Last year we responded to over half a million calls for assistance; that is over 1,400 incidents a day and every day the members of this force come to work to fulfil only one purpose, and that is to keep the communities of Thames Valley safe from harm."
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