Hampshire Police chief constable gives reassurances over recording of crime

Hampshire Police provides a good overall service, according to a new report
Hampshire Police provides a good overall service, according to a new report

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HAMPSHIRE’S top police officer is reassuring residents that crime recording improvements are under way after the policing watchdog raised serious concerns.

Chief Constable Andy Marsh spoke out as Zoe Billingham, the region’s HM Inspector of Constabulary, said the force’s approach to recording crime is not as accurate as it should be.

As reported, a recent inspection of crime data revealed that of a sample of 127 incident records from calls to police, 112 should have been recorded as crimes – but only 67 were.

But in a police efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy (PEEL) assessment released today, which looks at the force as a whole, Ms Billingham states there have been immediate steps to rectify the issue.

The force provides a good service at lower than national average cost to the taxpayer, according to the HMIC report.

Mr Marsh said: ‘HMIC have already recognised that we have got a strong plan in place to address the issues. We have a strong victim focus.

‘I’m actually pleased at the transparency and accountability that this report brings.’

The latest HMIC report states the force performed well overall in cutting crime and anti-social behaviour, providing value for money and a fair service that treats people properly.

Ms Billingham said the force puts victims at the centre of policing. She added: ‘I have been encouraged by the force’s response to the financial challenges it has faced. It has achieved the required level of savings while protecting neighbourhood policing as far as possible and increasing the proportion of staff and officers in frontline crime fighting roles.

‘There is some room for improvement in ensuring a consistent quality through better supervision so that opportunities to gather the best evidence are not missed.

Ms Billingham said there was a strong performance in many areas, but added: ‘I have serious concerns about its approach to crime recording, which is not as accurate as it should be, although the force has taken immediate steps to rectify this.’

The force has cut its workforce by 18 per cent since 2010 due to government spending cuts compared to 14 per cent nationally and is on course to save £80m by April 2017.

Taxpayer funding for policing in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is 44p per person, compared to the national average of 55p.

Mr Masrh said: ‘Because we are a low cost force we have had to be more innovative around some of the things we have done to save money. This will mean that after 2016 we have got fewer places to go to save further money. Any further cuts will mean a reduction in the scope of what we do.’

Police and crme commissioner Simon Hayes said it is ‘reassuring’ that the report highlights areas where the force is performing well. He added: ‘This report does highlight the detrimental impact that further government cuts to policing will have on the Constabulary’s ability to maintain and improve their performance in the future.’

PEEL assessments have been introduced by HMIC for the first time as a way of inspecting police.

Reports of homophobic crimes fall in county

REPORTS of violent crimes motivated by a person’s sexual orientation have fallen in Hampshire – bucking the national trend.

Hampshire police recorded 50 violent homophobic crimes from January to October, 57 last year and 80 in 2012.

But figures reveal 17 forces recorded more violence against the person offences classed as homophobic between January and October than the whole of last year.

Gay rights charities said it was encouraging that nationwide more people were reporting hate crime, but many victims felt ‘silenced’ by abuse. Richard Lane of gay rights charity Stonewall said: ‘Our campaigns aim to not just encourage individuals to report attacks, but for police to make people feel more at ease approaching them.’