Serious concerns over Cleveland Police after rape and robbery reports were wrongly dismissed

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A POLICE force has launched a review after an inspection found alleged crimes such as rape were not recorded correctly.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) raised some serious concerns after an inspection of crimes recorded by Cleveland Police.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Nickless.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Nickless.

The inspection looked at a random sample of crimes recorded between November 2012 and October 2013, and how they were dealt with including out-of-court disposals and ‘no-crime’ decisions for reports of rape, robbery and violence.

HMIC reviewed 84 records for such offences where no crime was deemed to have been committed by the Force.

Out of those 47 records were compliant but 37 were not.

They included 12 were for rape, 11 for robbery and 14 were for violence.

All 37 have now been recorded as crimes and are being reviewed by Cleveland Police.

Out of 88 incident records examined by the HMIC, 67 were correctly recorded as a crime.

The others have since been recorded as crimes and are being reviewed by Cleveland Police.

HMIC said the Force needed to put more detail in explaining the reasons behind its decisions on recording crime.

The Force says rape and other serious sex offences are recorded as an offence as soon as it is reported.

Police say a decision to change the status may be made after it has been thoroughly investigated.

Simon Nickless, Cleveland Police Assistant Chief Constable, said: “Victims are absolutely at the heart of everything we do and we are fully committed to working in partnership with other agencies to support people who have been through a traumatic or distressing experience.

“We’ve taken immediate action to review all the decisions made on no-crimes, and also improve our decision-making process, with a higher level of scrutiny applied to ensure that decisions are accurate and compliant.

“Since November 2013, we have had a dedicated decision maker in place specifically to assess no-crime decisions in respect of rape, and this has improved our compliance rates.”

A scrutiny panel has also been developed to review rape no-crime decisions, made up of representatives from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office, the Local Criminal Justice Board and outside agencies.

Monthly audits of around 320 incidents, including a review of all non-crimes for serious offences, are also undertaken by the Force Crime Registrar and Crime Liaison Officers, who independently check they comply with national standards.

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: “The HMIC report raises some serious concerns over the recording procedures at the Force, and I am supportive of the action being taken to address this.

“One of my main priorities is to ensure a better deal for victims and witnesses, and I have asked for regular updates from the Deputy Chief Constable.

“It’s important that victims feel confident to come forward and report crime, that they are supported through the process and that crimes are ethically and appropriately recorded.

“I shall continue to monitor the situation closely.”

The HMIC report also acknowledged good practice in Cleveland Police for call handling staff.

The sample showed out-of-court disposals, including warnings, complied with national standards.

The report also found that Cleveland Police promote the victim as its primary focus for the reporting and recording of crime.