MATTHEW Scott has sought assurance from Kent Police over their recording of crime after describing its performance in this area as ‘not good’.

Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) made the remark during a meeting of the force’s Performance and Delivery Board last week.

It comes after Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found Kent Police was only correctly recording around 84 per cent of reported crimes, meaning 24,000 crimes a year were not making it onto the force’s books.

During the meeting on September 27, Mr Scott told Chief Constable Alan Pughsley he intended to invite HMIC back ‘sooner rather than later’ but added: “Hypothetically, if they were to return tomorrow are you absolutely confident that they would find greater accuracy?”

The Chief Constable was at pains to assure Mr Scott, who was elected as PCC last year in a county-wide vote, that Kent Police were not ‘supressing crime in any way, shape or form’. He said improvements had been made to the force’s administrative processes around Crime Data Integrity accuracy, and that those improvements explained why recorded crime in Kent had increased.

Chief Constable Pughsley added: “If you rolled forward to the end of the year, if we said January 2018 for example and HMIC came in and inspected our data then, I would be wholly confi dent that our accuracy would be regularly at 90-plus per cent.” Although Mr Scott said he was ‘satisfied’ with the Chief Constable’s answer, and believes ‘a lot of lesson have been learned’, he added: “We await to see what happens when I do invite HMIC back, probably next year.”

What the HMIC audit found

  • An assessment by HMIC, published in June, found the quality of crime recording by
    Kent Police had ‘slipped significantly’ since the force was given a clean bill of health three years ago.
  • HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said she was ‘disappointed’ by
    the findings, which revealed around 1 in 6 crimes in Kent were not making it onto
    the books – that equates to approximately 24,300 crimes a year.
  • She went on to say the force had ‘taken its eye off the ball’ as a result of poor
    supervision of crime-recording decisions and inconsistencies in its own auditing
    system that was giving it ‘false positive’ results.
  • However, she acknowledged ‘immediate steps’ were being taken by the force to
    rectify the situation.
  • The findings were based on examination of crime reports for the period June 1 to
    November 30 last year.

Force explains why it appears fewer people are charged

A FREEDOM of Information request made by the Times has revealed a signifi cant drop in the number of people charged with offences compared to the number of crimes recorded. Police figures show in 2015 a total of 111,303 crimes were recorded, of which 14,090 resulted in a charge.

However, by 2016 there were 126,020 recorded incidents, although the number of
charges fell to 13,009. When asked to explain the figures, Kent Police’s Superintendent John Phillips said the discrepancy was due to ‘changes’ in recording practices.

He said: “Officers follow strict Home Office guidance when investigating and recording
crime. Many single crimes recorded previously could now be recorded as multiple crimes.” Previously if four people were fighting outside of a nightclub and it was not clear who was in the wrong, one report of affray would have been recorded – now four counter
allegations of assault and one of affray could be recorded, he explained.

Investigations sometimes find no crime was committed, or if they are do not result in a
charge but in a community resolution, which are recorded differently.