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Jack McCoy

Crime Recording standards in your Force

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Jack McCoy

Hey guys, just wondering about the above question.

When I started my career in 2014 with Police Scotland and up until 2018 when I transferred to an English force (that shall remain un-named), it was up to us, the cops, deciding if we should record a crime based on whether or not there was enough evidence in what was being reported to fulfil all the elements of a crime.

An example would be as follows:

I went to a report of a house-breaking (burglary down south) and the caller was insisting someone had managed to make their way through a locked and secured door, not stolen anything, and then left the same way and relocked the door behind him. The caller believed the 'suspect' had somehow managed to acquire a copy of his keys and had a nosey about the place, deciding NOT to steal anything from an array of jewellery, electronics, a bit of cash and a couple of really nice motors.

Long story short, without any evidence to substantiate that someone had actually gained entry to his property and based on the fact that nothing had been stolen despite the clear opportunity to do so, I wrote the call off. Pretty simple and straight forward. 

Well, apparently this doesn't seem reasonable to my current English force, as the above example would have necessitated me raising a crime report, conducting CCTV and house-to-house enquiries, obtaining a CJS and calling for CSI/CSU/SOCO...

During my 1 year with them thus far, I have had to record more non-sense as crimes than ACTUAL crimes, including harassment against 2 people named in an anonymous letter to their children's school, raising a concern about the children's welfare, domestics were a father has tried to make contact with his estranged children when they have become adults (this was of course the mother reporting it as a harassment against her...) and assaults against ambulance staff BEFORE they even attend an address, as in the past, the patient has kicked off and they are afraid of going in there alone and being assaulted...

The magic little words people need to use is 'honest held belief' and somehow that justifies raising a crime for harassment because your neighbour in a cul-de-sac walks past your window every morning to walk the dog (YES, I have been forced to record this a crime!).

Obviously the apologists will say "you just record it and the write it off" but I have this silly notion that as a Police officers, we should only be recording actual crime and not the ramblings of people who feel the whole world should revolve around their petty squabbles. There's also that little notion of actually spending time Policing and protecting people, rather than wasting 2-3 hours each shift (on slow days) writing off 'crimes' that shouldn't have been recorded in the first place.

Anyway, long story short, I've pretty much had enough and I am actively looking to transfer to another force, one that hopefully doesn't see it fit to waste Police time and public funds on perpetually infantilising people and instead focuses on doing the actual job.

With that said, there are currently 3 forces I am considering that would still be within a commutable distance for me, or at worst, require me to move maybe 30 minutes down the road.

 

Merseyside, Cheshire and the GMP.

 

Is there anyone here that works for any of these than can advise on what they are like on this issue. I realise I might be coming off as very 'unrealistic' and overly 'ideological', but at the end of the day, if all forces are the same, then I'll seriously need to consider chucking the job altogether if I can't get a move off of Response/front line and into any department that doesn't have to deal with this on a daily basis.

Cheers guys, and stay safe out there.

Just this week

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skydiver

Jack I think you'll find that all English and Welsh forces are similar or aspire to be similar when it comes to recording 'offences' as HMG has been beasting us since 2012 on the subject. It used to give the government the convenient excuse that crime wasn't rising as the increase was down to better recording standards but after 7 years that excuse looked increasingly thin.  

We have decision makers in my force whose job is to look through call logs and crime reports to look for unrecorded crimes. It is also their job to decide if a crime can be cancelled or not and because of frequent clashes with them over that I am removing more and more of them from my Christmas card list!  A report of an assault becomes assault and public order as the caller mentioned that the suspect swore at their neighbour even though the neighbour didn't report anything and can't be contacted.  I had a harassment which wasn't harassment but when I sent that to be cancelled the decision maker refused as the original call log mentioned that the 'harassment' had arisen over an allegation that the caller had chastised the suspect's son meaning that I was told that an assault had taken place.  I gave up arguing with them and just filed it.

We have made a massive rod for our own backs by employing people who adhere to the exact letter of home office recording standards without using common sense or discretion.   

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SimonT

Crime recording rules are mercilessly strict. Its what you do after that's the forces problem. 

We crime constantly but can write off practically anything if there is no evidence, public interest etc 

If I had to fully investigate everything I crimed I would drown in a week 

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Jack McCoy
Author of the topic Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, SimonT said:

We crime constantly but can write off practically anything if there is no evidence, public interest etc 

If I had to fully investigate everything I crimed I would drown in a week 

 

Edited by Jack McCoy
duplicate, please delete

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Jack McCoy
Author of the topic Posted
8 minutes ago, SimonT said:

We crime constantly but can write off practically anything if there is no evidence, public interest etc 

If I had to fully investigate everything I crimed I would drown in a week 

We can write almost anything off as well, my issue is with all the time wasted in doing so. It can take a couple of hours to go to a call, explain to the caller why despite it being recorded as crime we won't be investigating it (ie the whole evindetial/public interest test etc) and then all the time spent putting the crime on and writing it off with the correct finalisation template.
 

Surely they can't actually think this is reasonable. I have missed going to affrays, robberies, assaults and all sorts because I was busy at a non-crime call getting details for a crime which I would need to file the same day...

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Jack McCoy
Author of the topic Posted
5 minutes ago, Reasonable Man said:

You need to know the history of crime recording in England and Wales to understand why crime is recorded as it is. 

Briefly in the late ‘90s/early noughties it was increasingly recognised that not only were police officers not recording all crimes that were reported to them but the different forces were applying different rules for crime recording meaning meaningful comparisons couldn’t be made. This led to a rewrite of the Home Office Counting Rules for Recorded Crime (HOCR) to include the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS). This is where the provincial of you believe the victim unless there is credible evidence to the contrary comes from. Over 15 years on and there are still cops who don’t grasp this and think that there should be evidence of a crime before they have to record it. 

For a few years police recorded crime (PRC) increased and annual inspections by the Audit Commission showed improvement and better consistencies in crime recording.  Then they stopped inspecting and the gap between PRC and the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) widened. Several enquiries and inspections and in 2012 HMIC inspected all forces for a nationwide view and found that only 4 out 5 crimes that should be recorded were recorded. 

Since then every force has been subject to a thorough inspection and most found to be lacking. 

This has resulted in the crime recording decisions being taken away from officers to varying degrees across most forces. The proof over time is that police officers are not good at applying the rules for crime recording. Now although that upsets some/many it is irrefutably the case. 

That is not to say that in some cases the pendulum hasn’t swung the other way and there is some recording of crime when there shouldn’t be but that is a minor issue compared to tens of thousands of crimes not getting ‘on the books’. 

I'm well aware of the reason behind how the trend started and that it comes from good intentions, but the pendulum has swing so far in the wrong direction it is simply criminal in my opinion.

Criming based on honest held belief when you cannot establish the elements of a crime is not rational because it is not objective. My honest held belief might be that teaching evolution in science class amounts to a religiously motivated hate crime because it actively contradicts pretty much all popular religions. Is it rational to go about recording 100,000s of hate crimes on a daily basis, solely on someone's honest held belief?

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Reasonable Man
4 minutes ago, Jack McCoy said:

I'm well aware of the reason behind how the trend started and that it comes from good intentions, but the pendulum has swing so far in the wrong direction it is simply criminal in my opinion.

Criming based on honest held belief when you cannot establish the elements of a crime is not rational because it is not objective. My honest held belief might be that teaching evolution in science class amounts to a religiously motivated hate crime because it actively contradicts pretty much all popular religions. Is it rational to go about recording 100,000s of hate crimes on a daily basis, solely on someone's honest held belief?

Well your not going to beat the system. The example you give is not a crime and never can be, so can’t be a hate crime. 

I always found that the frustrated officers complaining about having crimes recorded invariably just didn’t understand the Rules, usually applying charging standards or purist legislation to the circumstances when the HOCR takes a different approach.

Unless you accept the Rules as they are applied you will continue to be very frustrated and moving forces in E&W isn’t going to solve that. Unless and until the National desire to have the best crime recording system in the world ceases to be of high importance and forces are allowed to slip back into consistently under recording crimes again. 

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Jack McCoy
Author of the topic Posted
9 minutes ago, Reasonable Man said:

Well your not going to beat the system. The example you give is not a crime and never can be, so can’t be a hate crime. 

Give it some time. The same rationale that has libelled walking past your neighbours door 'harassment' will soon be used to extend to pretty much everything and anything.

I'm sorry you feel that sanity and reason have no place in crime recording standards, but you 're right, I personally cannot beat the system, so perhaps for my own sanity and sense of decency I should perhaps give strong consideration to no longer being part of the system that is blindly marching to a tune that will cripple Policing and leave victims of crime helpless due to officers spending 95% of their time dealing with imaginary grievances.

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Jack McCoy
Author of the topic Posted

I appreciate people's response. Are there any officers in the 3 forces I mentioned that can provide specific examples/advice of how their respective forces operate?

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Sir Penguin
4 minutes ago, Jack McCoy said:

I appreciate people's response. Are there any officers in the 3 forces I mentioned that can provide specific examples/advice of how their respective forces operate?

You can cross Merpol off your list because I’ve had to crime someone knocking on a front door as an assault before! 

Pretty much every ‘verbal-only’ domestic is crimed as an assault. The rationale for that is that if the victim has phoned the police they have feared violence. Even if they negate this at scene.

It is easier for us to crime and file than try to write it off on the log. 

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Jack McCoy
Author of the topic Posted
1 minute ago, Sir Penguin said:

You can cross Merpol off your list because I’ve had to crime someone knocking on a front door as an assault before! 

Pretty much every ‘verbal-only’ domestic is crimed as an assault. The rationale for that is that if they’ve phoned the police they have feared violence. 

It is easier for us to crime and file than try to write it off on the log. 

 

Thank you. I take it Merpol means Merseyside correct?

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Sir Penguin
1 minute ago, Jack McCoy said:

 

Thank you. I take it Merpol means Merseyside correct?

It does.

It was frustrating to begin with but we’ve been doing it for that long now people just get on with it. 

It is very inefficient but hey ho it’s the police. 

I can’t say it bothers me much anymore. It’s just another change in procedure which will probably change again in the near future. 

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Jack McCoy
Author of the topic Posted
1 minute ago, Sir Penguin said:

It does.

It was frustrating to begin with but we’ve been doing it for that long now people just get on with it. 

It is very inefficient but hey ho it’s the police. 

I can’t say it bothers me much anymore. It’s just another change in procedure which will probably change again in the near future. 

I know what you mean, I have been told that I care too much about the job instead of just doing it for the sake of doing it, but I have always felt that Police, as an organisation, have a greater role to play in society beyond just locking people up. We should be more like teachers, helping people realise that in a free society, offence and annoyance doesn't always constitute a crime and that learning to deal with your problems is essential for your well being. There's too much reliance on the Police to do everything for you these days.

It's not a political issue either, as regardless of whether there is a Torry or Labour party, people seem to keep expecting Police, doctors, teachers, emergency workers to deal with all their problems and never actually do anything to help themselves. You used to be able to tell people to 'lock their doors' after a burglary, now if you do, there's a good chance you 'll get a complaint of incivility against you. It won't go anywhere (yet), but it really does show just how much we have regressed as a society when people feel a complete and total lack to safeguard themselves and simply rely on someone else to clean up their mess.

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stewie_griffin
1 hour ago, Reasonable Man said:

...Unless and until the National desire to have the best crime recording system in the world ceases to be of high importance and forces are allowed to slip back into consistently under recording crimes again. 

I'm pretty sure that E&W already has the best crime recording system in the world. Recording crime has never been an issue.

Solving crime and preventing crime... not so much.

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