West Yorkshire Police failed to record one in three crimes – including child sex offences – a damning inspection report has found.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) looked at a sample of cases in the county over a 12 month period.
It found that the force recorded only 187 of 284 crimes that had been committed.
Of 35 rape complaints where police concluded no crime had taken place, HMIC inspectors found that in fact 12 should have led to criminal investigations.
“This is unacceptable,” the report said.
They also found widespread failures to act on reports from outside agencies – of 108 reports, only three were recorded as crimes when 27 should have been.
The report said: “As some of these records related to sexual offences and assaults on vulnerable adults and children, this is a serious cause for concern and is a matter of material and urgent importance.”
HMIC found some detective inspectors who were responsible for recording crime data were also responsible for meeting performance targets. “This is not a suitable framework as [they] are not independent” the report said.
A spokeswoman for the West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, who is responsible for overseeing the work of the force, said he was concerned by the report – and wanted reassurances that claims that crime is falling were accurate.
She said: “While the report recognises some of the continuing work of West Yorkshire Police to improve crime recording practices, some of the findings in the report are clearly a cause for concern.
“The police and crime commissioner recognises the importance of having accurate data around crimes to provide the assurance that victims, especially the most vulnerable, deserve and importantly provide public confidence in the crime figures produced.
“He needs to be assured that crimes are being recorded, categorised correctly and that a reduction in crime is truly a reduction and is not down to recording practices. This is why the refreshed Police and Crime Plan includes data integrity as a priority.
“While the commissioner has been updated on work to address and standardise crime recording practices within West Yorkshire Police both before and after the inspection, he will be meeting with the deputy chief constable next week to get an early view on the immediate and longer term action they will take to address the recommendations contained in the report.”
West Yorkshire said improvements had been made since the inspection took place last year – and insisted crime was falling.
Temporary Deputy Chief Constable John Robins said many of the ten recommendations made by HMIC had already been acted upon.
He said: “Over the last year we have continued to audit and inspect our crime recording process, to ensure that it is robust, transparent and accountable. We recognise that improvements still need to be made in some areas.”
He added: “There is no doubt that, for the tenth year in a row, crime has fallen.”