Gwent Police ‘did not record all crimes in line with rules’
10:21am Wednesday 11th December 2013 in News
A GWENT Police internal review has uncovered evidence that officers did not record all crimes in line with Home Office rules.
However, the review couldn’t find a widespread desire not to record incidents as crimes, despite the fact force targets were flagged up on all force computers.
A report to Friday’s Gwent Police and Crime Panel meeting said the potential impact on recorded crime could be between four to eight per cent additional crimes per year.
Earlier this year the Argus revealed that Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston gave former Chief Constable Carmel Napier an ultimatum to retire or face proceedings to remove her from her post following a public row over crime figures.
The PCC had suggested in an interview with the Argus that some statistics were incorrectly recorded.
Mrs Napier’s replacement, Jeff Farrar, commissioned the review when he was temporary chief constable.
Some 50 logs of incidents from the first 10 days of July 2013 were chosen for review – and where possible the victim was visited.
The report said: “There was no evidence of widespread or overt desire not to record incidents as crimes. However, there was evidence to show that officers had not recorded all crimes in line with the relevant Home Office counting rules. The reasons for this primarily revolved around misinterpretations of the rules as well as a desire to support the wishes of the victim.”
The discreet sample size and period covered “make any realistic assessment” of the impact on recorded crime “of limited value” and that “if a different period of time was chosen the variation could be greater or lesser.”
But the report adds that “it was the team’s professional view to reflect the differential as between four per cent and eight per cent additional crimes per year”.
The report shows how force objectives to reach “top 10 status” by 2014-15 were converted into a series of dials that were updated daily and displayed on the opening screen on all force computers.
Officers were aware of force objectives and the fact that the number of crimes were recorded in a given 24-hour period was reported at daily force management meetings.
But the review said there was no evidence “that this overt, high-level interest impacted on officers’ decision making.”
A spokesman for Gwent Police said Chief Constable Farrar previously made it “unequivocally clear to everyone working for Gwent Police that ethical and accurate crime recording is essential”.
Gwent Police said since the review had concluded a training programme had been put in place for all relevant staff, among other measures.
Nick Smith, the MP for Blaenau Gwent who called for an external audit into crime statistics, said that an estimated four to eight per cent additional crimes each year “is not an insignificant number”.
He said the situation involving Mrs Napier couldn’t be ignored: “The report repeatedly refutes any claims that the targets caused pressure to under-report crimes or in any way fiddle the numbers.
“At this stage, there is still no proof of the accusations levied at Ms Napier – and it just poses more questions about her departure.”
Mr Johnston said under Mr Farrar’s leadership “numerical targets have been removed and he has provided strong direction to the force on the importance of public confidence and the links to crime recording.
“Gwent will be the subject of an independent inspection by HMIC as part of a national programme.
“I will continue to monitor the situation very closely to ensure the people of Gwent have the best service possible.”
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