News Archive

Crime Record

by msecadm4921

Recording crimes accurately is vital if police are to have access to reliable and timely information to help them target resources effectively and put victims and witnesses first.

So says Crime Recording 2005, published by the Audit Commission. It looks at how well the 43 police forces and authorities in England and Wales record crime data and compares their performance over the last three years. It finds that most forces and authorities meet the crime recording standards and all but two have adequate management arrangements in place to maintain and improve compliance.

The Commission reviewed police forces and authorities against the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) and Home Office Counting Rules. It also examined the way forces and authorities managed the process to ensure compliance with the standards. Each force and authority was given one of four ratings: "poor", "fair", "good" or "excellent".

The Commission found that 35 police forces and authorities met the minimum crime recording requirement of 90 per cent compliance with the standards to achieve a "good" or "excellent" rating. This compares to 24 (56 per cent) in 2004 and 12 (28 per cent) in the first year of reviews.

Improvement has been significant but there are still areas of concern. Two forces were rated as ‘poor’ for their management arrangements and a small number have deteriorated or failed to improve since the last review. Only one force has been judged as "excellent" for both data quality and management arrangements. In addition, five forces rely on expensive and time consuming data checking techniques rather than getting the crime recorded right first time.

Audit Commission Chief Executive Steve Bundred said:
"Accurate, timely and reliable data is vital in reducing crime and making communities safer. Improvement over the last three years has been significant with the vast majority of police forces and authorities now rated as "good" or "excellent" for data quality."But there is still work to be done. Only one force has achieved an excellent rating for its management arrangements and a small number of forces have failed to improve or even deteriorated since the last audit in 2004. Some forces are achieving a higher rating by checking data too much instead of making sure they record crimes correctly first time."

Recording crime properly has a direct impact on people’s lives. Forces taking appropriate action correctly to record crime, such as burglary, violent assault or domestic violence when it is reported, are far more likely to be able to protect the victim from future harm.

In forces with "good" or "excellent" management arrangements, victims and witnesses will find it easy to contact the police and will be updated throughout the process. Satisfaction surveys will give police information about complaint patterns and the experience of victims and witnesses so that forces can identify problem areas and respond.

Weaker forces fail to return calls from the public, provide information or make follow-up visits as promised. In some cases, such as at busy times, victims may struggle to contact the police at all.

There has been overall improvement in the management arrangements to support data quality. Twenty nine forces (67 per cent) were assessed as "good" or "excellent" for management arrangements in 2005 compared with eight (19 per cent) in 2004 and four (nine per cent) in 2003. There are two forces rated as "poor" compared with seven in 2003 and 2004.

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