A REPORT into the way Gwent Police records crime has found that while overall the force is doing well, there remains room for improvement.

The report also highlights a ‘positive’ culture within Gwent Police in securing crime data integrity and the strong leadership of the chief constable and his staff in ensuring that crime is recorded properly.

Published yesterday, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), the Crime Data Integrity report follows an inspection into the way Gwent Police and the other 42 forces in England and Wales record crime and to what extent that information can be trusted by the public.

Each force inspection involves an examination of crime records from November 1 2012 to October 31 2013.

Recent HMIC inspections have revealed weaknesses in police crime recording across the UK, particularly the under-recording of crimes.

The authors of the report examined 89 Gwent Police incident records and found that 67 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 67 crimes that should have been recorded, 58 were. Of the 58, three were wrongly classified and three were recorded outside the 72-hour limit allowed by the HOCR.

The report recommended a need for improvement in the accuracy and timeliness of crime-recording decisions.

The inspection found there is a culture among officers and staff within the force to secure crime data accuracy. The report also highlights how the internal review into crime recording instigated by Gwent PCC Ian Johnston in 2013 helped raise awareness about how performance in crime recording can be improved.

Mr Johnston said: “A significant amount of work has been undertaken by the force in respect of ethical crime recording which has been positively recognised in this inspection.

“Other police forces have followed Gwent’s lead in carrying out in-house inspections of their crime recording practices and it is interesting to note that 29 out of 43 Police forces in England and Wales are now showing an increase in recorded crime.

“I have always maintained that I am more concerned about the quality of service the public receive than numerical targets and it was pleasing to see our work around providing a victim-centred approach to policing being highlighted by HMIC.”

The report made five recommendations that it says Gwent Police should deal with immediately – including reviewing its backlog of crime records and reviewing its policy and practice for dealing with reports of making off without payment.

The report also said it was ‘concerned’ at the way in which Gwent Police records offences of making off without payment (MOWP).

It examined 20 MOWP incidents and found that 17 should have been recorded as a crime and were not. It added that one Gwent petrol station had just two out of 26 complaints recorded as crimes.

In response to the HMIC report, Chief Constable Jeff Farrar said: “It is vital the public know that when they are victims of crime, they can report it to Gwent Police and be confident it will be recorded accurately, investigated fully and that appropriate action will be taken.

“As I have said previously the vast majority of police officers join the police in order to serve as dedicated and courageous professionals, motivated by a desire to protect the public. This is particularly true of Gwent Police Officers. Nobody joins the police service with the intention of recording crime inaccurately.”