PCC responds to HMIC crime recording report
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones has made the
following statement in response to today's HM Inspector of
Constabulary report on crime
recording (1 May):
"Today's report from HMIC, rather than illuminating
a complex subject, instead shows the difficulties and dangers of
trying to compare things that are not the same. Sensational
headlines and sound bites do not tell the whole story, and do not
get us closer to the truth.
"In the introduction, the report suggests that there is scepticism
about whether crime figures are accurate because of the public
sector performance culture. Yet, 60-odd pages later, the
report concludes that 'we found no evidence of performance
pressures leading to failures of crime recording, whether
under-recording or misclassification of crimes'.
"While the report seeks to unearth the complexities of this issue,
the way the report is presented is all about stark headlines
and sweeping generalisations. As I have said in the past,
performance measures are an essential tool for spotting what's not
working or what's not right: they should not be used as the basis
for reward or promotion, and neither should they form the basis of
a league table. That's why we've never had performance
related pay here in the West Midlands.
"It's also why I object to a report that tries to compare, for
example, crime reporting in London with crime reporting in Essex,
when the former has 16 incident classifications and the
latter has over 200. It's not comparing like with like.
What's needed is a standardised approach to crime recording
across the country, so as to reduce confusion and varied practice.
This would offer greater transparency to the public, and
enable everyone to compare 'apples with apples'.
"Here in the West Midlands, we have a good and improving story
to tell about crime recording. We have a centralised, expert
crime services team, staffed by professional crime recorders.
Local commanders can't influence their decisions. Our
recording of sexual offences was rated excellent in a recent
HMIC audit. Any rape offence which is no-crimed has to be
reviewed by a specialist officer and the independent crime
registrar. The recent Operation Sentinel, which focused on
vulnerability and victims, led to a 10% increase in sexual offence
reporting - which is just the outcome we wanted; more victims
willing to come forward.
"West Midlands Police has shown that we seek out issues and
problems with crime recording, and fix them, which is how it should
be. This speaks to the integrity of the officers under the
Chief Constable's command, and their intrinsic professional desire
to do the right thing."