Thursday 26th April 2018,
North Yorks Enquirer

EXCLUSIVE: “Inadequate” Inspection – HMICFRS Contradicts MULLIGAN

EXCLUSIVE: “Inadequate” Inspection – HMICFRS Contradicts MULLIGAN

by TIM HICKS

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Background: NYP are rated “Inadequate” for crime recording

Regular readers of the NYE will be aware of my recent article: “NYP fails crime recording inspection”

Concerning a rating of “Inadequate” (the lowest available to the Inspectorate) by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) Crime Data Integrity (CDI) for North Yorkshire Police (NYP) crime recording: “As it stands today, we estimate almost 1 in 5 crimes in North Yorkshire are not properly recorded. This is simply inexcusable.”

 The full HMICFRS report can be read here. It is a good report, clear, well written and based on empirical audit testing. It does HMICFRS credit and is well worth reading in full. There is a full analysis of the report contained in the above article

The response of Police & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire (PCC) Julia Mulligan to the HMICFRS Inspection 

Police & Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan released a positive statement on the website which gives the bare fact, but does not mention the grading of “Inadequate”. It then went on to downplay the importance of this failure by claiming it has not impacted victims and was primarily a recording issue:

“Crime recording must improve as a matter of urgency”

Commissioner Julia Mulligan, elected Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, says the Chief Constable must make improvements ‘as a matter of urgency’ following HMICFRS Crime Data Integrity report which found that 80 per cent of all crime was being recorded by North Yorkshire Police.

Julia said: “I am concerned by this report which clearly identifies that North Yorkshire Police is not recording crime as it should. The public rightly expect better, and improvements need to be made as a matter of urgency.

“I also have wider concerns about how well the police understand some crimes, in particular stalking, harassment and coercive control, which this report highlights. This will form part of the action plan going forwards.

“However, crime recording is complex and can be much more difficult than you may think. For example, the report says, during a single incident a number of crimes may occur which must all be ‘crimed’ separately. In addition, information taken by the Force Control Room is not always fully communicated to officers at the scene.

“On the more positive side, the report does state clearly that the service to victims was not impacted, with officers attending and responding as needed. This is principally therefore a recording issue, as opposed to a failure in providing a service to victims. It is also reassuring to see that there is no evidence of deliberate actions to avoid crime recording. 

“In response, it has been agreed that a member of my team will work directly with senior officers to oversee the implementation of an action plan, and I will ask them to report on progress in public.”

In her statement above, PCC Mulligan states: “On the more positive side, the report does state clearly that the service to victims was not impacted, with officers attending and responding as needed. This is principally therefore a recording issue, as opposed to a failure in providing a service to victims.”  

In fact, what the report actually says about the failures in service to victims is this:

  • ….too many offences continue to go unrecorded and therefore not investigated properly. The force is potentially depriving victims of the services and justice to which they are entitled.
  • In the crimes not recorded, HMICFRS found that safeguarding requirements had been considered in most of these cases but that around half of these were not investigated.
  • Although some victims may be referred to support agencies in other ways, the delay in recording a reported crime also delays the referral of the victim to Supporting Victims. As some victims would benefit from the early support this service can provide, these delays are unacceptable.
  • A victim should always be informed of the status of his or her reported crime when a crime has been cancelled or transferred to another force for investigation. In the case of a decision to cancel a recorded crime, the very least the victim should expect is an explanation of the reason for this decision. We found that of the 53 victims who should have been informed of the transfer or cancellation, 41 had been told.
  • Delays in recording of a reported crime are, in some cases, leading to delays in the referral of victims to the force’s victim support service Supporting Victims, letting down those victims who need the early support this service can provide.
  • The recording of a report of rape is important. Victims generally require significant support from the outset and any delay in providing support can harm both the recovery of the victim and any investigation.
  • The investigation found that in three of the rapes not recorded, adequate safeguarding was not put in place and two of them were not sufficiently investigated. In one of these cases the crime was not recorded because the victim was suffering from mental health issues and officers did not properly understand how to deal with her ability to consent. She subsequently reported being victim to the same offender on a second occasion and NYP is now investigating these matters.
  • Victims of violent crime and, in particular, victims of more serious violence, often require substantial support. This support should come not only from the reporting and investigating officers, but from other appropriate agencies, such as Supporting Victims – the NYP in-house team which supports victims of crime. In these circumstances, crime-recording is even more important because failing to record a violent crime may mean that Supporting Victims is not notified that a person has become a victim of violent crime and so cannot offer victims the support they need and deserve.

The NYP response 

NYP issued a statement to journalists, which was selectively quoted in the local and national press.

  • Yorkshire Post report here.
  • Scarborough News report here.
  • York Press report here.
  • Guardian report here.
  • Independent report here.

No public statement has been made or published on the NYP website. The full NYP statement is below:

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service published its Crime Data Integrity Inspection Report for North Yorkshire Police. Whilst the Force was found to have made good progress against a national action plan to improve crime recording by police forces, its overall rating was inadequate. 

Commenting on the HMICFRS’s report findings, Deputy Chief Constable Lisa Winward of North Yorkshire Police said: “Based on its inspection last year, HMICFRS found that although our officers and staff are focused on the needs of victims, our administration is letting us down, and we are not recording all crimes as we should. That must change, and we have already started to make improvements. 

“It’s important to remember that every call we answer is logged; nothing is ignored. In every case where there was a vulnerable victim, we sent an officer and provided the service. However we have not recorded everything properly on the system, and we need to do much better. 

“Crime recording is a complex field. All but one of the Forces inspected by HMICFRS have been told to make improvements, so this is a national issue that we all need to tackle. At North Yorkshire Police we have already put a group in place to drive the necessary changes, we have issued additional guidance to officers and staff, and we have altered the way we work in the Force Control Room to improve our crime recording. We also have plans for a “peer review”, where we will invite another Force to come in, share their expertise with us, and learn from their experience.

“As a Force we have always focused on providing a service to victims first and foremost, but getting the administration right is also very important. HMICFRS have made recommendations for improvement, and we are putting those into action.”

The statement downplays the importance of this failure by implying the service to victims was unaffected and that this was only an administrative failure. In fact, HMIC audit testing established the following:

  • Of a total of 1,711 reports of crime that were audited, 327 crimes were assessed to be related to domestic abuse. Of these 327 crimes, NYP had recorded 243. The 84 offences not recorded included 60 violent crimes, a sexual offence and several criminal damage, malicious communications and public order offences. An estimated 19.9% (9,200) of reported crimes are not recorded.
  • An estimated 25.1% (3,300) of violent crimes are not recorded.
  • An estimated 10.5% (170) of sex offences are not recorded.
  • Of 103 reports of rape that should have been recorded, 9 (8.7%) were not accurately recorded.
  • Of 75 vulnerable victim records 44 crimes should have been recorded, of which 30 had been. The unrecorded crimes (31.8%) involved crimes committed against both vulnerable adults and children and included one case of child neglect, two assaults and one sexual assault. All relevant safeguarding was undertaken, however only half of these cases were investigated.
  • Home Office standards require that reports of crime are recorded within 24 hours of receipt of the report. HMICFRS found that of the reports of crime that had been recorded by NYP, only 74 out of 94 reports of rape, 335 out 448 reports of violent crime, 184 out of 257 sexual offences (excluding rape) and 536 out of 634 other offences had been recorded within 24 hours of receipt of the report.
  • Crime cancellation decisions are the responsibility of designated staff, known as the Force Crime and Incident Registrar (FCIR) and Designated Decision-Makers (DDMs). Two out of a sample of 22 (9.0%) rape crimes had been incorrectly cancelled by the FCIR. The DDMs had incorrectly cancelled 4 out of 22 (18.1%) sexual offences and 2 out of 22 (9.0%) violence offences.
  • In 15 reported incidents of modern slavery, 8 were recorded as crimes. The 7 unrecorded crimes included one of modern slavery and a separate incident in which 6 offences of sexual activity with a child were not recorded.

These are clearly major operational failures, which impacted on many victims, some of whom were vulnerable persons requiring safeguarding.

HMICFRS issue additional press comment on the above NYP and OPCC statements

I provided copies of the above two statements to HMICFRS and raised concerns that the findings of the HMICFRS Inspection had been misrepresented in them. In response to these concerns An HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services spokesperson said:

“Throughout our inspection programme we have found occasions where crimes are not correctly recorded, but forces do indeed offer support to victims.  

However, if a report of crime has not been correctly recorded, we have also found some victims not getting the service they deserve. This is both in terms of the support available to them, and the closure from the offender not being brought to justice.  

“This is not simply an administrative exercise: it is vitally important that victims receive the service they deserve and that forces have a complete picture of the nature of criminality in their communities. Without that, they cannot support the public, and plan how to use their resources accordingly. As part of this programme, we carry out unannounced revisits of forces, in order to inform the public on the progress made against our recommendations.”

Winners and Losers 

In this story, there are a number of very clear winners and losers. They are as follows:

Winner: HMICFRS. The HMICFRS report into a complex wide ranging area has successfully identified failures in intelligence, manning, leadership, supervision, training, processes, investigations, safeguarding of vulnerable persons and communication across a wide range of crimes, (excluding fraud). Its independent inspection has revealed fundamental, performance, cultural, recording and prioritisation issues that have been present for many years, but were ignored by senior officers. HMICFRS has executed its statutory duties admirably and performed an enormous service for North Yorkshire Police and the people of North Yorkshire. There is no doubt that the report and the associated follow up, will lead to a major shakeup and an improvement in performance.

Winners: Force Crime and Incident Registrar (FCIR) staff, Police Officers in the Force Control Room and elsewhere, that are involved in crime recording. As a result of the HMICFRS inspection, Force Control Room staff and others involved in crime recording will now receive the training they need to perform their duties properly. The Deputy FCIR posts have now been filled. Supervisors will receive additional training to ensure they can perform their duties properly. Separately, an additional thirty two staff are to be recruited to the Force Control Room and additional IT equipment procured. This indicates just how woefully understaffed and underequipped they must have been prior to the publication of the report. I hope this will reduce the strain they must all surely feel from performing a difficult and stressful role with inadequate manning, training, technological support and supervision.

NYP Force Control Room

Losers: Those Police Officers from NYP who historically have ignored these issues. As a result of the HMICFRS inspection, the collective failure of senior officers to address these failures and ensure adequate manning and training has been revealed. The corrective action they should have implemented years ago has now been forced on NYP by HMICFRS. I have no doubt that this will be embarrassing to NYP as a force and to the officers concerned. However nevertheless, it is in the public interest for the full truth about police performance to be exposed by journalists, so corrective action can be taken.

Losers: The NYP and OPCC PR Wonk Squads. The OPCC and PCC Corporate Communications Teams (to give them their formal titles) have a combined staff of twelve or thirteen Corporate Communications Officers. Both teams have issued press statements that are so misleading, that HMICFRS have issued a statement to the press that contradicts both of them. I am unaware of any similar incident and this appears to me to be unprecedented in the history of the British police service, although I am open to correction on this.

Winner: The North Yorks Enquirer: The NYE has been raising some of the issues identified by HMICFRS for some time. Particularly in respect of vulnerable persons that require safeguarding and the ability of NYP to collect, collate, assess and disseminate criminal intelligence. It is essential that local CID have an accurate picture across the full range of a criminal’s offending, if they are to be able to properly investigate his crimes. It is crucial that this information is also available to the courts to ensure appropriate sentencing.  In my first article on the HMICFRS Inspection I stated that the failure to record crime accurately “completely undermines the ability of the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) to maintain accurate intelligence on active criminals across all types of offending, or to accurately identify trends and patterns in offending”.

Now HMICFRS has confirmed thatit is vitally important that victims receive the service they deserve and that forces have a complete picture of the nature of criminality in their communities”. Thereby vindicating the concerns about Safeguarding and intelligence raised by the NYE.

As a result of the NYE’s citizen journalism, the true facts of this report have now been revealed publicly, despite misleading press comment. Only the detailed analysis provided by the NYE exposed the full extent of NYP’s failure in crime reporting and its impact on victims. Yet again, this verifies the need for independent in depth analysis from citizen journalists, to exercise oversight over public bodies.

Winners: The NYP and OPCC Corporate Communications Teams. Hopefully the knowledge that press statements are subject to scrutiny by journalists will deter them from issuing statements to the press and public like the ones above. Being optimistic about things, this should lead to an improvement in the accuracy of NYP and OPCC communications. We shall see.

Winners: Victims and the people of North Yorkshire. HMICFRS has specified a full programme of corrective measures and directed NYP to implement it within six months. Such are the “serious causes of concern” discovered during this inspection that HMICFRS is to re-visit NYP to ensure that the force is implementing its recommendations. This gives me some confidence that having been ignored by senior officers for years, these issues will now be fully addressed. I feel confident that this will lead to an improvement in crime recording and the collation of NYP force intelligence.

Most important of all, it will improve the service to victims.

The role of Police & Crime Commissioner

This is not a problem across all forces. According to the CDI summary on the HMICFRS website, twenty out of the forty three territorial forces in England and Wales have completed CDI Inspections. Of these, five (Durham, South Wales, Wiltshire, Staffordshire and Sussex Police) have all had ratings of “Good”. Press comment on the Durham inspection from the Northern Echo here: Durham Police rated good at recording crimes while North Yorkshire counterparts are rated inadequate.

So why can’t the people of North Yorkshire have the same quality of service as those in Durham?

Police and Crime Commissioner are elected officials in England and Wales charged with securing efficient and effective policing of a police area. Nick Herbert the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice when PCCs were introduced in 2012 was quoted as saying:

Although police and crime commissioners may stand for a political party, the public will expect them to represent all the people in their area impartially, without fear or favour.

An oath will also underline the particular importance of even-handedness in an office which holds to account the local chief constable and police force who themselves are bound to serve impartially.

The oath PCC Mulligan swore is below

I, Julia Rosemary Mulligan of Skipton in the County of North Yorkshire, do hereby declare that I accept the office of Police and Crime Commissioner for the North Yorkshire Police Area.  

In making this declaration, I solemnly and sincerely promise that during my term of office: I will serve all the people of the North Yorkshire in the office of Police and Crime Commissioner. 

I will act with integrity and diligence in my role and, to the best of my ability, will execute the duties of my office to ensure that the police are able to cut crime and protect the public. 

I will give a voice to the public, especially victims of crime, and work with other services to ensure the safety of the community and effective criminal justice. 

I will take all steps within my power to ensure transparency of my decisions, so that I may be properly held to account by the public. 

I will not interfere with the operational independence of police officers.

Three Key Questions for PCC Mulligan.  

One of the major reasons for the inadequate rating is that NYP did not have an adequately trained or experienced Force Crime and Incident Registrar (FCIR), responsible for oversight of crime-recording arrangements. The NYP FCIR had only recently completed a National College of Policing course for FCIRs and become fully accredited for the role. The FCIR was supposed to be supported by two deputies. However, both Deputy FCIR posts were vacant.

In August 2013, PCC Mulligan authorised the expenditure of £34,200 on a report into North Yorkshire Police’s Communications by the communications consultancy, Finn Communications. She was quoted in York Press at the time as stating: “having two separate communications teams would be unnecessarily expensive and therefore not in the interests of the public”. Yet, when the Finn Communications report was published, the recommendation from to merge the separate Corporate Communications Teams at NYP and the OPCC was rejected. PCC Mulligan preferred to leave NYP and her OPCC with two separately established PR Wonk Platoons, lavishly manned with thirteen people.

Question 1: How can PCC Mulligan justify this solution, which she had previously identified as profligate and contrary to the public interest. When at the same time, NYP did not man critically important operational roles in the Force Control Room and crime recording, or invest in FCIR training?

In her statement above, PCC Mulligan stated: “the report does state clearly that the service to victims was not impacted”.  

That is a lie. The report does not state this and it cannot be construed to mean or imply this. The HMICFRS CDI Report is explicit that victims are let down when crimes are not recorded and in response to PCC Mulligan’s statement, HMICFRS have taken the highly unusual step of publicly contradicting Mrs Mulligan.

Question 2: How can Police and Crime Commissioner Mulligan credibly hold out she is giving victims a voice, acting with integrity and holding the Chief Constable to account, when she has lied in a press statement to conceal operational failings that resulted in victims being let down?

PCC Mulligan was provided with a draft of this article and asked to comment. So far no response. Mrs Mulligan appears to have maintained her right to silence. A classic PR strategy for dealing with bad news.

Question 3: How can this be consistent with her duty to “take all steps within my power to ensure transparency of my decisions, so that I may be properly held to account by the public.”?

This obviously represents a catastrophic failure by Mrs Mulligan to execute her duties and comply with multiple responsibilities contained within her oath of office. This is particularly concerning, given that this “Inadequate” rating follows an Overall Efficiency Assessment of “Requires Improvement” in November 2017, deterioration from the previous year’s position when NYP was assessed as “Good”.

The conclusion is inescapable that Mrs Mulligan is out of her depth in her role as Police & Crime Commissioner when faced with a major policing issue.

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