DORSET Police has been commended after an independent inspection found “high levels of accuracy” in the way crime is recorded.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has rated the Dorset Police as ‘good’, with 93% of reports recorded accurately and within 24 hours of the initial report.
Victims are “put at the heart” of crime recording and processes ensure they are believed, according to the study published last week.
The force won praise for its “outstanding” leadership in ushering in a cultural change among the workforce and promoting the positive message that victims are to be believed.
In its first major examination of force practices since 2014, HMICFRS said Dorset Police had made good progress, highlighting “robust” governance, training and performance management.
Inspectors found that 96.2% of all sexual offence crimes – and 100% of reported incidents of rape – were recorded accurately, while every incident logged through the modern slavery national referral mechanism was also correctly recorded.
Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “I am delighted with the findings and particularly pleased that our commitment to believing and supporting victims has been highlighted.
“I have set a high ambition for the force and our aim is to provide an outstanding police service across Dorset with a particular focus on services to vulnerable people. We will continue this work to improve and innovate.
“It is pleasing that the report recognises the efforts that have gone into creating a positive culture where victims receive the support and protection they need. This is an important factor in the increased confidence among the public in coming forward to us.”
HMICFRS delivered an overall judgement of Dorset Police as ‘good’ with “high levels of accuracy” in crime recording.
Based on the examination of crime reports between March 1 and August 31 2019, inspectors estimated that 93.3% were correctly recorded.
They said the force has made good progress, recording more reports in accordance with the Home Office counting rules, with an estimated 3,800 reports unrecorded each year.
In most cases, these unrecorded crimes were due to unfamiliarity among some staff with the 2018 changes around the recording of malicious communications, stalking and harassment, as well as professional third-party crime reporting rules.
The 985 audited cases included 250 reports of domestic abuse with 33 offences not recorded, including 29 violent crimes, two sexual offences and two other crimes.
The report rated the efficiency of the systems and process to support accurate crime recording as “requires improvement” but said it is confident that these issues will be addressed.
The force leadership and culture was deemed “outstanding” in how it is meeting national standards.
In conclusion, the report said: “The force has made good progress in improving its crime recording since our 2014 inspection. The leadership team is clearly committed to good crime recording. This has made sure that more victims receive the service they are entitled to and can access support and safeguarding where needed.
“We are confident that the force’s leadership and governance arrangements will enable it to address the remaining areas for improvement identified in this inspection.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, Martyn Underhill, said: “This is excellent news, particularly as these figures come just a week after new ONS data revealed a 2.3% drop in recorded crime in the county.
“Victims should be reassured that their needs are, quite rightly, being put at the heart of how the Force records crime, and that they are being believed and supported.
“It is particularly encouraging that such high levels of accuracy have been found in relation to crimes in which the victims are especially vulnerable, such as rape, sexual assault and modern slavery.
“I welcome the inspection’s findings that strong leadership, robust governance and good quality training have contributed to these high levels of accuracy, and I will continue to work with senior officers to ensure all victims get the service they should expect.”