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):

Bob Jones visit to Oleaster"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."