Serious crime in Lincolnshire is going unrecorded, says damning new report
More than 9,400 serious crimes, including woundings and rapes, have gone unrecorded by Lincolnshire Police, according to a shocking new report.
An inspection of crime records held by Lincolnshire Police over a six-month period in 2017 found the force to be “inadequate and “letting down many victims of crime”.
The report, published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) today (Tuesday, July 17), has led Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones to set up an independent panel to rapidly improve the force’s crime recording procedures.
In its report, HMICFRS found that nearly 20 per cent of crimes reported to police went unrecorded between June 1 and November 30 last year.
Among them were common assaults, “malicious communication”, such as bomb hoax calls, sexual offences and grievous bodily harm.
The report said: “We believe there are too many failures to make the correct crime-recording decision at the first opportunity and these failures are caused by the force’s reliance on the recording decisions of officers attending incidents.”
More 3,200 reports of violent crime, over 140 sex offences and a quarter of “vulnerable victim crimes” were considered to be unrecorded.
Lincolnshire Police was only found to be good in drawing up a “comprehensive action plan for improvement”.
Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor said: “We are deeply disappointed by this report and absolutely committed to ensuring we resolve the problem quickly and effectively.
“We have made mistakes and we will not shirk from accepting and correcting them to ensure that our systems and processes match the high standards our force delivers to victims.
"We recognised last year that we needed to improve our crime recording processes and have put measures in place since this inspection.
“Our focus and commitment is to ensure victims are at the centre of all that we do and I am confident that, despite issues in how we have recorded some crimes, that service has not slipped from the high standards we set ourselves.
“There are no ‘missed’ victims or offenders - what we have missed is the correct procedure for recording them.”
But Mr Jones said: “At first sight, the findings in this report are quite shocking and undoubtedly the force has work to do to reassure me, as the public's representative, that they are getting this right.
"Both the Deputy Chief Constable and Chief Constable have my support as they tackle this as I do not believe the report adequately reflects the everyday effort of the officers and staff across the county who strive to keep us all safe.
“However, I have written to the Chief Constable to raise my concerns, asked for an action plan on how the force intends to put this right and made clear my intention to support their efforts with the new independent panel to ensure public confidence and transparency.
"I have been made aware that the force was already delivering changes in this area when the inspectors visited and other forces have found similar challenges that appear to be at odds with the Crime Survey of England and Wales.
"However, my role is to hold the Chief Constable to account and ensure the public can have confidence in the way policing is delivered and crime recorded and I intend to do just that."
The panel set up by Mr Jones will receive regular updates on the progress made in meeting the forces’ action plan in relation to the HMICFRS recommendations, carrying out regular spot checks of paperwork as part of the process.
Mr Naylor said: "Since my appointment to this role in May 2017, I have made improving our crime recording and investigative standards a priority, which is noted in this report.
"It also notes that had we known about the extent of this, we would have taken more urgent steps to improve standards.
"We have invested in better understanding these issues since October last year, whereas the figures analysed by the inspectors related to those recorded between June and November last year.
"This was at a time when we had already started work on improving our processes last summer.
“The current demands on the force are considerable and we continue to attempt to maximise the use of our people and resources to keep the people of Lincolnshire safe.
“Our last HMICFRS reports have assessed us as being ‘Good’ when asking the question about how we perform at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
“The report highlights areas where we have excelled – making progress in placing the victim at the forefront of our crime-recording decisions - and we welcome the opportunity to learn and will do all we can to ensure improvements are made as quickly as possible.”
More by this authorKerry Coupe