Sussex Police looking again to ensure crime recording accuracy

Sussex Police
Sussex Police

Sussex Police is looking again at how it records a range of offences after finding it had failed to report more than half of its knife crime, the police and crime commissioner (PCC) has said.

At a meeting of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel on Friday (April 26), PCC Katy Bourne told councillors the force is looking at how it records a range of offences in light of the under-recording of knife crime.

As reported by the LDRS in March, Sussex Police figures show it had failed to record 1,322 knife crime offences between 2016 and 2018.

Mrs Bourne made her comments in response to a question posed by Chichester District Council deputy leader Eileen Lintill (Con. – Petworth), who referred to a 2014 report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

The 2014 report came alongside a national call for better crime recording by police forces, from HMIC.

Cllr Lintill said: “A number of us were on panel when HMIC uncovered the problems with crime reporting previously. We talked about it and you reassured us that it had been sorted and there weren’t any problems going forward.

“Earlier on we hear there are problems because knife crime wasn’t being recorded in the correct way.

“Are you concerned there are fundamental issues with how crime types are recorded and, if so, what do you propose to do about it?”

Mrs Bourne said: “I am monitoring this and the accuracy of how they record crimes.

“It was about four or five years now that HMIC did their initial crime data integrity inspection and Sussex Police were actually the highest performing force at that time.

“Whilst we are really keen, as the chief constable said, not to rest on our laurels, the issue of the knife crime recording was a lack of process. It slipped up.

“We are just looking across the other crime types to ensure those processes are still being followed accurately.

“HMIC will be coming back into the force either later this year or the beginning of next year again to do an inspection of our crime data integrity.”

In papers seen by the panel, the under-recording of the knife crime statistics by Sussex Police has been described as ‘systems and process issue’, in which some crimes involving knives and sharp instruments were not included in submissions to the Home Office.

The revised figures now show a year-on-year increase of knife crime within the county. However, the papers say, the risk of knife crime in Sussex ‘remains low.’

The HMIC last examined crime recording by Sussex Police in 2016, giving it an overall rating of ‘Good’.