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Friday, August 29, 2014
Colwyn Bay - North Wales Police incorrectly classified seven of 30 rape allegations as 'no-crime'
An MP has demanded an inquiry after seven out of 30 rape allegations were found to be incorrectly classified by North Wales Police as a “no-crime” incident.
Plaid Cymru Westminster leader and Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Elfyn Llywd is writing to the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales Winston Roddick to ask him to investigate the situation.
It follows a critical report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary which also found the force had wrongly designated other cases as “no-crimes”, mis-classified some crimes and recorded others after a three day Home Office limit.
Key findings in the report for North Wales Police, based on a series of samples taken by inspectors, were:
Of 76 “no-crime incidents” reviewed (referring to serious allegations like rape and robbery), it was found just 60 decisions were correct.
Of the 30 rape no-crimes decisions reviewed, only 23 were correct.
Of 85 incidents examined, 78 should have been recorded as crimes but only 73 were, of which three were wrongly classified and 13 were recorded outside the 72-hour limit allowed under the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR).
Of 24 cautions examined, 23 were seen as suitable outcomes to the case.
Of 25 penalty notices for disorder examined, 24 were seen as suitable outcomes to the case.
Of 25 cannabis warnings examined, 24 were seen as suitable outcomes to the case.
Of 25 community resolutions for disorder examined, all were seen as suitable outcomes to the case.
Seven key recommendations ordered the force to improve crime recording procedures and auditing systems, and to urgently train all police officers and staff responsible for making crime recording decisions to do so properly, within six months.
One area of particular concern raised by HMIC inspectors was over the way reports referred to the force’s Public Protection Unit from outside agencies were handled.
The HMIC report, which analysed 50 such cases, said: “Of the 16 crimes that should have been recorded from these reports, one had been recorded.
“This level of under recorded crime is a serious cause for concern, particularly as some of these relate to violence and sexual assault against vulnerable adults and children.”
It added: “Reality testing in the PPU revealed that more work needs to be done to ensure accurate crime recording of rape offences across all reporting routes and in particular, those reports that are recorded as ‘concern for safety’.”
However force chiefs defended their record and said that 94% of crimes reviewed by the HMIC showed the procedures were done correctly which they said was an excellent result compared to other forces in the UK.
An incident is designated a “no-crime” if it is deemed to have happened outside the force area, there is no evidence of a crime, or if it emerges it is part of another crime.
Mr Llywd said he was alarmed by the report’s account of how the force’s public protection unit had handled referrals from other agencies, some of which involved violence and sexual assault against vulnerable adults and children.
He plans to write to police and crime commissioner Winston Roddick to ask him to investigate the situation.
He said: “Above all else, as a community we owe it to the most vulnerable to ensure we are there for them. It’s very disappointing from what I’ve been told.”
The MP was also concerned that of 30 rape no-crime decisions that were reviewed, seven were incorrect.
He said: “We really need to get to grips with this and find out what’s been going on. I feel sure that the police and crime commissioner will investigate the situation thoroughly and he will hopefully make a statement at the end.”
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Mr Roddick said: “Proper and accurate reporting of crime is vital for the integrity of policing and also because these records are used to plan policing strategy so it is imperative that they are reliable.
“It is clear from the report there are examples of good performance by North Wales Police and it is positive that overall, out of 78 cases where a crime should have been recorded, HMIC found that 73 were recorded by the force.
“The report also highlighted that staff have a clear understanding of the expected standards of behaviour and conduct around crime recording.
“My role is to closely scrutinise the performance of North Wales Police and I take my responsibilities very seriously.
“There are areas where improvement is required and I will be overseeing the force’s response to ensure that the necessary improvements are implemented as a matter of urgency within the time frames set out by the report.
“Indeed, I will be insisting on such improvements. I will be discussing the report and its recommendations with the Chief Constable.”
Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard said: “We work hard to ensure that our crime recording is done accurately in line with the national rules.
“The results of the HMIC report shows that 94% of the crimes reviewed were done so correctly which is an excellent result particularly when compared to other forces in the UK.
“Crime recording is a very complex area in which North Wales Police have invested a great deal of resources.
“We have recording and auditing mechanisms in place and our staff have the knowledge, skills and support to accurately record crimes.
“Following the review we were given a ‘verbal’ de-brief by HMIC and their recommendations have been discussed and actions are being implemented to strengthen our systems.”
Commenting on these revelations, Mr Llwyd said: “Above all else, as a community we owe it to the most vulnerable to ensure we are there for them. It’s very disappointing from what I’ve been told.”
Yesterday Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard said they would change the way they recorded the incidents at the unit.
He said: “Recording crimes can be a complex procedure.
“We would usually only record a crimes like this at the end of the procedure after the investigation has been gone through thoroughly.
“However the guidance is for us to record whether there is a crime earlier in the process which we will now be doing.”
Anglesey Labour MP Albert Owen said: “There have to be better working relationships between the local authorities and the police and they must be seen to act as one in the interests of the public, particularly where there are vulnerable young children involved.
“We need to build confidence and the best way to do it is [through] clear actions.”
The figures showed NWP had performed better in some areas compared to other forces.
The HMIC has been investigating how reliable crime data is at forces across the country, looking at how it is recorded, how decisions are made to say there has been “no crime” and the use of community punishments.
In Manchester 91 no crime incidents, referring to serious allegations like rape and robbery, were reviewed with just 65 decisions correct and of 31 rape no crimes decisions reviewed, only 22 were correct.
In Cheshire Police, out of 30 rape no crime decisions reviewed, 14 were found to have been ‘no crimed’ incorrectly, with just 42 of 71 no crime incidents being correct.