Concerns over sex crimes as Hampshire Police records go under spotlight

Hampshire Police has come under fire for not recording crimes
Hampshire Police has come under fire for not recording crimes
Crime has gone up in Hampshire

REVEALED: Number of sexual offences reported in Hampshire nearly trebles in four years

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INVESTIGATORS have branded as unacceptable Hampshire police’s failure to record rapes as crimes.

It comes as a major report into the force’s recording of crime found 18 rapes were at first classified as crime but then put down as no-crimes.

13750_COMMISSIONER_16/3/13''Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Police and Crime Commisssioner, Simon Hayes. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (13750-055) ENGPPP00120130316142129

13750_COMMISSIONER_16/3/13''Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Police and Crime Commisssioner, Simon Hayes. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (13750-055) ENGPPP00120130316142129

Hampshire police also admitted it had recorded fewer crimes by investigating first and then recording.

Police and crime commissioner for Hampshire Simon Hayes (pictured) hit out at the force over the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.

Mr Hayes said: ‘I am concerned that Hampshire Constabulary has been found to be under-recording crime – especially for rape cases.

‘It is critical that all victims receive an appropriate and consistent level of service from the police wherever a crime occurs.

‘Failure to properly record crime can mean that people do not receive appropriate support.

‘There has been a culture of “investigate then record” by the constabulary rather than “record then investigate” as required by national guidance.’

The HMIC report looked at 28 rape incidents recorded as no-crime – meaning they were classified as a crime but then declassified as such.

But investigators found 18 of the rapes should have remained classified as crimes.

The report said: ‘This is unacceptable given the risk associated with this type of crime.

‘No-criming decisions have been taken by local sergeants, inspectors and chief inspectors who are not independent of investigations.

‘There was also little evidence of any oversight of their decisions.’

In a statement Hampshire police said there will now be independent scrutiny over such decisions.

The force reviewed each of the rape cases and said its investigation and service to victims was of good quality – and said the problem highlighted was being addressed by the force’s new approach to sexual offences.

It added there had been a 53 per cent increase in reports of rapes. The force sees this as a sign of confidence in police.

Inspectors also looked at 127 incident records from people who called the police.

They found that 112 of them should have been recorded as crimes but only 67 were.

Eight were incorrectly classified and two were recorded after a 72-hour time limit.

The report added: ‘A number of the failures had sufficient information from the caller to require a crime to be recorded immediately.

‘HMIC concludes that the force has adopted an “investigate to record”.

‘This results in the force failing to record crime as accurately as it should.’

In the audit, 50 crimes were found to have been recorded as non-crime – meaning an incident was not recorded as a crime in the first instance – but 25 of them should have been.

Some of these were sexual offences and assaults on vulnerable adults and children.

They included those referred by agencies working with the police.

The report added: ‘Most crimes should have been recorded as crimes at the time the referrals were first received.’

Eighty-eight crimes of rape, violence and robbery were classified as no-crime – inspectors found this was correct in just 39 cases.

The force said fewer crimes had been recorded when victims did not want to pursue any criminal action, when multiple crimes were only recorded once and when multiple victims were only recorded once.

Detective Superintendent Rachel Farrell said: ‘For almost a year we have been working with our staff and officers to change the process of how we record crime.

‘This has been necessary as we cut back office staff in order to keep as many officers as possible on the front line.

‘The HMIC audit has been timely. It comes part-way through our change and highlights specific areas where we need to improve.’

Inspectors looked at crime recording between November 1, 2012 and October 31, 2013.

Nationally, crime in general was under-recorded by 19 per cent and sexual offences by 26 per cent.

The rate of incorrect decisions to cancel crime records for rape was 20 per cent.

Supervisors in Hampshire’s force control room were found to be over-stretched.

Mr Hayes urged the government to not to reduce the force’s funding any further.

The report into Hampshire police found no evidence officers were pressured to record crime incorrectly.

To read The News’ view on this click here.