A police force in Yorkshire has been ordered to make improvements after inspectors found it was failing to record more than 17,000 crimes a year.
Some officers and staff at South Yorkshire Police “simply did not understand” crime recording rules, particularly in domestic abuse cases, leading to delays with victims getting support, according to the latest report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. The force has been given a rating of ‘requires improvement’, with one in 10 crimes said to be going unrecorded.
The watchdog had last inspected the force’s crime recording in 2014 and found improvements had been made since then.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said: “The force has implemented most of the recommendations we made in our 2014 report.
“As a result, we found areas of good crime recording practice during our inspection.
“The force takes a victim-focused approach to crime recording decisions and has made good progress against the national action plan.
“I was also reassured by the high level of accuracy in the recording of sexual offences.
“However, South Yorkshire Police still fails to record more than 17,000 crimes each year.
“We saw evidence that officers and staff simply did not understand the Home Office’s crime recording rules, particularly in cases involving domestic abuse and vulnerable victims.
“Early support can be crucial for victims of crime, and these delays are preventing victims accessing the support they need.
“I am aware that South Yorkshire Police has made immediate moves to resolve some of these issues since our inspection.
“I am recommending that they continue to improve training provision and supervision procedures to ensure we see an even more marked improvement in the future.”
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Forber said the inspection found South Yorkshire Police has made significant progress since 2014.
He said: "The report found overall levels of crime recording were ‘good’, and both leadership and organisational culture in relation to crime recording were ‘good’.
“We do recognise there is further work to do to eliminate some identified administrative failings. In those highlighted within the report, such as the sexual offence crimes, the majority of these are where a second crime has occurred, but not recorded. Where vulnerable victim crimes were not recorded, safeguarding was still undertaken in all appropriate cases.
“South Yorkshire Police has made a commitment to a victim-focused service and we take these recommendations seriously. A programme of work has already been implemented to deliver improvements we look forward to demonstrate our continued progress at the next inspection.”
The force said some examples of unrecorded crimes highlighted in the inspection were:
- A report from a third party of a 16-year old who was slapped by his or her mother following an argument over hoovering, which should have been recorded as common assault;
- A report from a third party of a nine-year-old slapping an eight-year-old, which should have been recorded as common assault;
- A sexual offence against a child was recorded, however public order offences against the child’s parents were not recorded.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said improvements had been made since the inspectors’ visit.
He said: “South Yorkshire Police has been making steady progress in all areas in which it has been inspected.
“Clearly more needs to be done around crime data recording, but having spoken to the chief constable about this, I am reassured that the force has moved on positively since the inspection.”
It is the third poor inspection for a police force in Yorkshire in the past year.
In February, crime recording at North Yorkshire Police was rated as inadequate with one in five crimes not being recorded properly.
Last month, Humberside Police was given a rating of ‘requires improvement, with more than one in 10 crimes going unrecorded, according to the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.