West Mercia Police 'must improve' violent crime recording

Police officer writing in note book Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Out of 39 forces inspected so far - 20 have been told they need to do better

A police force has been told to immediately improve the way it records violent crime after failing to document more than 4,200, inspectors have said.

West Mercia Police is "depriving some domestic abuse victims of the support they need and deserve," the police watchdog said.

Essex, Warwickshire and North Yorkshire are also failing to report thousands of violent crimes each year.

But the review of the four forces said all had improved since previous checks.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) is carrying out "crime data integrity" inspections which have, so far, covered 39 of the 43 forces in England and Wales.

Derbyshire, which was reviewed in March, has had the worst rate of crime-recording overall, after failing to record about 30,300 crimes a year.

The latest inspections found West Mercia was not taking down the details of more than 8,900 reported crimes each year, including more than 4,200 reports of violent crimes (12%), particularly harassment, stalking, coercive and controlling behaviour and domestic abuse, as well as modern slavery.

In most cases it was because some frontline officers were failing to identify certain crimes, it said.

However, HMICFRS said the force's data recording had made "good progress" overall since its 2014 inspection and rated it "good".

A spokesperson for Victim Support said: "Reporting violent crime can be incredibly challenging for victims.

"The failure to record such crimes, even when they are reported, can seriously impact victims' access to justice and certain forms of support when they need it most.

"These flaws in crime recording deter other affected individuals from engaging with the criminal justice system."

HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said: "While there are still some concerns, victims of crime can be more confident that their crimes will be recorded in a proper manner."

West Mercia's police and crime commissioner John Campion said it showed in the majority of cases the force was performing well but he added there was "room for improvement".

Warwickshire Police was also rated good and said to have made changes to its systems since 2014.

The latest report found it had not recorded more than 1,500 (10%) of reported violent crimes and was urged to record more crimes within 24 hours.

The force's Assistant Chief Constable Alex Franklin-Smith said it meant victims were getting a "better service".

In 2017, North Yorkshire Police was rated "inadequate" when 74.9% of reported violent crimes were recorded. But the latest report found this had increased to 91.4% and it was rated "good".

The force said it followed an "extensive plan of action".

In Essex, officers were failing to record about 6,700 crimes a year, with 2,500 reports of violence not being properly tracked.

However, inspectors said the force had made "excellent progress" since 2017 and rated it "outstanding", adding it "has one of the best recording rates in the country, with over 95% of all reported crimes recorded".

Deputy Chief Constable Pippa Mills said the force was working "to ensure we improve even further".

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