Watchdog rules Hampshire police do not record 15,000 crimes each year

MORE than 15,000 crimes are not recorded by police each year, a report has found.

Hampshire chief constable Olivia Pinkney
Hampshire chief constable Olivia Pinkney

Inspectors at a watchdog analysing how Hampshire police records crime found 540 sex offences went unrecorded.

Nearly 40 rape cases were not recorded out of 249 looked at - and some officers and staff did not understand ‘the circumstances in which victims cannot give true consent’.

It comes after Hampshire was blasted in a 2014 report for allowing sergeants, inspectors and chief inspectors to class rape reports as non-crimes without independent oversight.

But Hampshire police insisted 31 of the 38 rapes not recorded and looked at by inspectors were investigated.

Among reasons for not investigating six of them was that the complainant was drunk, had mental health problems and repeatedly reported rapes and the victim would not cooperate with police.

Police had not recorded a reason why they had decided not to investigate a seventh incident.

The data integrity inspection found some detectives were still investigating before recording a rape allegation, seeking to ‘to prove or disprove the report before making a crime-recording decision’.

A Hampshire police spokesman said: ‘We take the investigation of rape very seriously and, as the report states, we are committed to learning the lessons that this inspection and our own internal assessments have highlighted.’

Inspectors said some officers and staff did not know enough about consent, including ’when the victim is pressurised to engage in sexual intercourse or threatened with harm if sexual intercourse is refused’.

Overall the force was branded as requires improvement - but HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services said officers had made improvements, including:

:: Made all the changes recommended in the 2014 report

:: Trained those who are responsible for crime recording

:: Used a national action plan designed to help police

:: Set up a gold group providing senior oversight to tackle the problem

Asked if the force accepted it was not recording 15,000 crimes a year a spokesman said: ‘No and HMICFRS is clear about the progress we have made.’

He added: ‘Within the 15,200 crimes that weren’t correctly recorded, the report makes clear that in the vast majority of cases an appropriate investigation and safeguarding activity was undertaken and as a result victims got the service and support they should.’

The report said police ‘generally place the victim at the forefront’ of decisions and there was strong leadership to improve.

Enzo Riglia, assistant police and crime commissioner for Hampshire, said there had been ‘significant progress’ since 2014.

He said: ‘Whilst there are still areas for improvement in the accuracy of crime recording, the report shows that victims can have confidence that they will be taken seriously and that the crime will be investigated.

‘However, crime recording rules are challenging and complex, and therefore it is crucial that officers and staff are afforded regular opportunities to refresh their understanding, especially as rules are being updated and changed. The police and crime commissioner will continue to monitor the Constabulary’s performance in this area, in particular the implementation of the recommendations made by HMICFRS.’