Police face unannounced crime recording inspections

Police officers

Police forces in England and Wales have been warned they face unannounced inspections over crime recording.

The Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) move follows continuing concerns about the way police keep records.

The watchdog's inspectors will for the first time turn up at the headquarters of each force without notice.

Inspections are normally arranged several weeks in advance, apart from police cell visits which are conducted jointly with the Prisons Inspectorate.

In a letter to chief constables, Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Tom Winsor said: "In future, in relation to crime recording, HMIC will carry out unannounced inspections.

"These will not be confined to those forces in which crime recording was found in 2014 to be especially bad. Every force will be inspected.

"The intensity of each inspection and the aspects of crime recording inspected will be at HMIC's discretion. Forces will be told what is required when the inspectors arrive."

'Withering' assessment

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said HMIC was "absolutely withering" in its assessment of the way police were recording crimes and that is why inspectors wanted to go back to forces on an unannounced basis and ensure they have got their practices right.

Last year, an HMIC report said a fifth of crimes reported to police in England and Wales could be going unrecorded by them.

It found that 14 alleged rapes were among the offences that had not been recorded by officers.

The inspection of 13 forces found one report of rape was not recorded because of "workload pressure".

Home Secretary Theresa May said the report exposed "unacceptable failings" by the police.

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