Staffordshire Police praised by HMIC for crime recording

Thursday, 20th November 2014

STAFFORDSHIRE Police have been praised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) following the inspection of the force’s crime recording procedures.

The county’s force is one of ‘a handful of forces’ that ‘stood out from the rest’ in terms of robust recording of crimes.

Now other UK police forces are being urged to look towards Staffordshire Police, and the others highlighted, who have ‘long-term and lasting’ solutions to crime data integrity.

Staffordshire Police say that three factors set them apart from the national picture. These are:

  • simplified crime-recording arranagements
  • effective and appropiate training for staff
  • leadership which values crime data integrety.

Over the summer inspectors from HMIC spent time observing those performing roles involved in crime recording and reviewed a large amount of crime data within Staffordshire.

HMIC have earlier this week, on Tuesday 18 November, released their national report on Crime Data Integrity.

In the context of the national picture, the public of Staffordshire can be assured that their force is one of the forces doing well and can be trusted.

Deputy Chief Constable Nick Baker said: “We welcome this HMIC report which recognises the force’s accurate and ethical crime recording. Our integrity when it comes to the recording of crimes is absolutely critical in ensuring that the public has confidence in the force.

“Accurate crime recording is also vital to our problem solving approach which enables us to target our resources to tackle the issues that affect our communities.

“The report has been very complimentary of Staffordshire Police’s centrally-based crime audit team. The team is highly skilled and experienced in ensuring the recording of crime is ethical and complies with the standards expected of us.

“The force’s policing plan places a high emphasis on integrity and meeting the needs of our communities by taking a victim centred approach. Senior management fully support accurate crime recording and have abolished targets for crime reduction to ensure when crime is committed, it is recorded.

“We also benefit from the Ethics Transparency and Audit Panel which was introduced by the Police and Crime Commissioner. This is responsible for independent scrutiny of the accuracy of crime recording, examines our response to incidents and analyses the way complaints are handled.

“However, we are always looking for ways to improve these standards and are continually working on improving systems to support this. HMIC identified a need for improvement in the recording of crimes received as referrals from other agencies (third parties). This area of more improvement had already been identified by the force and improvements put in place to strengthen this area which was acknowledged by HMIC.”

Responding to the report the county’s Police & Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis commented: “Staffordshire Police has made good progress in the accuracy of its crime recording. It’s a critical part of reinforcing public confidence but the unhealthily strong target chasing which has existed across policing for many years has been a serious problem in ensuring honest and accurate recording of crime.

“I promised to scrap policing targets and 15 months ago that happened. Not only has it supported accurate recording it also means officers can use their professional judgement and training to manage their workload instead of chasing targets.

“It’s improved performance and because victims are at the forefront of ‘no targets policing’ it has led to better outcomes. This has been highlighted in today’s HMIC report on Crime Data Integrity. The exceptional accuracy of crime reporting makes Staffordshire Police one of the very best forces in the country.

“The strongest ever independent scrutiny of crime recording in Staffordshire has also been helpful. Members of the public who make up the Ethics, Transparency and Audit (ETA) Panel I established last year also brings further rigour to the way crime is recorded.

“This approach is about to be extended when the first Safer Neighbourhood Panels are launched to increase local communities’ ‘ownership’ of policing. Panels will enable people to influence the way their local area is policed through regular meetings with their local police commander where they will also scrutinise restorative justice decisions and monitor the way police record crime and other areas of public interest.

“My ambition, which the Chief Constable shares, is for policing in Staffordshire to be the most open, transparent and ethical in the country.

“As we would expect from HMIC, there is always room for improvement. It says that when crimes are referred from other agencies, recording needs to get better. HMIC acknowledge that positive change is already happening. This involves new procedures and investment in technology around agencies involved in sharing safeguarding information. It’s part of a radical and different approach being adopting to technology that will put Staffordshire at the forefront, and make it the most effective, efficient and agile police service in the UK.

“Staffordshire Police have responded to the challenges set down and now have a strong platform on which to build so that public confidence in policing can be increased even further.