Exclusive: Another NYP Crime Recording Scandal
by TIM HICKS
Background: The HMICFRS PEEL Assessment
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services has issued its “PEEL Assessment” for Effectiveness on North Yorkshire Police (NYP) for 2017.
What is a PEEL Assessment?
To quote the HMICFRS website:
“PEEL is an annual assessment of police forces in England and Wales. Forces are assessed on their effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy. They are judged as outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate on these categories (or pillars) based on inspection findings, analysis and Her Majesty’s Inspectors’ (HMIs) professional judgment across the year.
The pillars each comprise three or four questions that focus on core areas of the work of the police. Judgments are also applied to these questions.
At the end of the PEEL year (in March), HMIs bring together all the judgments made throughout the year together with other findings and information to produce a rounded annual assessment of each force.
HMICFRS inspection staff visit all 43 forces in England and Wales to gather information for the PEEL assessments. As part of each inspection they speak to police officers and staff, hold focus groups and interviews with other interested parties, carry out document reviews and collect data.
The inspections take place throughout the year. The findings are analysed and moderated, and then published – pillar by pillar. The individual police force’s PEEL assessments are updated on the website as new information becomes available, and detailed reports for each police force are published.”
This is clearly an important annual event for each force, assessing its performance across all of its activity and comparing it to the performance of other forces.
Please see below the three individual HMICFRS 2017 PEEL Reports for North Yorkshire, for the three PEEL pillars, which make up the overall PEEL Annual Assessment:
- HMICFRS Efficiency Report 2017 North Yorkshire November 2017
- HMICFRS Legitimacy Report 2017 North Yorkshire December 2017
- HMICFRS Effectiveness Report 2017 North Yorkshire March 2018
With the publication of the final effectiveness report in March, HMICFRS was able to issue the overall HMICFRS PEEL Annual Assessments and national policing report.
So how did NYP do?
The statements put out by the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire (PCCNY)
I was impressed to read the following statement from the PCCNY, Mrs Julia Mulligan:
Issued in suitably gushing terms and obviously drafted by one of the PR Wonks Mrs Mulligan employs on our behalf to project her image in a better light. However, knowing Julia as I do, it was obvious that some independent oversight and checking by citizen journalists was necessary……….
The HMICFRS Assessment: The facts.
Please see below a summary of the HMICFRS PEEL Annual Assessments for 2015, 2016 and 2017, which incorporate all three Efficiency, Effectiveness and Legitimacy reports.
Source: HMICFRS Website. HMICFRS PEEL Annual Assessments
It appears that the above statement from PCC Mulligan refers to the Effectiveness Report issued in March 2018 and conveniently ignores the 2017 Efficiency Report (NYP Comment here, PCC Comment here) and the 2017 Legitimacy Report (NYP Comment here PCC Comment here).
The 2017 PEEL Annual Assessment (which is the overall assessment of the force incorporating all three pillars) is not mentioned in Mrs Mulligan’s statement, or revealed on the Police & Crime Commissioner’s website. Although the 2016 PEEL Annual Assessment North Yorkshire Police was published on the website when Mrs Mulligan’s statement was issued. This may be because in 2015 and 2016 NYP were rated “Good” in all three pillars, but in 2017 NYP was rated “Good” in two pillars and “Requires Improvement” in one. The implication being that there was a serious decline in performance in 2017 compared to previous years.
Regular readers of the NYE will know that NYP recently failed an HMICFRS Crime Data Integrity (CDI) Inspection which tested the accuracy of NYP’s Crime Recording (NYE Report here). To quote the inspection report:
- “As it stands today, we estimate almost 1 in 5 crimes in North Yorkshire are not properly recorded. This is simply inexcusable.”
Unabashed, PCC Julia Mulligan then issued a misleading report on the impact of the HMICFRS Inspection. She asserted that the HMICFRS CDI Inspection had found “that the service to victims was not impacted”: That was a lie.
The report does not state this and it cannot be construed to mean or imply this. The HMICFRS CDI Report was explicit that victims are let down by NYP. In response to Mrs Mulligan’s statement, HMICFRS took the highly unusual step of issuing a statement to the NYE that contradicted Mrs Mulligan.
NYP investigation here.
A few comments comparing the publicity put out by PCC Mulligan and the facts of the HMICFRS 2017 Effectiveness Report
- “The report is excellent news and can give people confidence that North Yorkshire Police is good at what it’s here to do—keeping people safe”.
Comment 1: There are five questions in the Effectiveness pillar, four are rated “Good”, one is not rated. It is not the case that NYP is rated good for effectiveness across all five Effectiveness questions.
Comment 2: In fact the full PEEL Assessment all three pillars shows an overall decline on previous years, with four questions rated “Requires Improvement” instead of one in 2016 and two in 2015.
Comment 3: For the first time, instead of being rated as “Good” across all three pillars, NYP is rated “Good” in two pillars and “Requires Improvement” in one. In 2016 and 2015 it was rated good in all three pillars, so this is a serious decline in performance.
- “It is also reassuring after the crime recording report a few weeks ago that highlighted a range of issues. Whilst those specific concerns are serious, this report clearly demonstrates that North Yorkshire Police is officially in ‘good’ shape.”
Comment 4: The Peel Assessment does not include the impact of NYP’s failure to record 20% of crimes. HMICFRS does not adjust previous inspections based on more recent findings. On this occasion the NYP CDI inspection (Report here) was completed two months after the NYP effectiveness inspection was completed, so the impact wasn’t included in the above PEEL Effectiveness Report. Had the inspection findings for CDI been finalised prior to the effectiveness inspection, then they would have been considered under the “Preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour” question.
Comment 5: Had the PEEL Report been adjusted for the shocking failures in crime recording revealed by the HMICFRS CDI Inspection, it would have had a dramatic impact. I estimate that the “Preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour” question would have had to be rated at “Requires improvement” or “Inadequate”, probably reducing the overall Peel Assessment to “Requires improvement”.
Comment 6: It is clear that when all the facts including the CDI inspection is taken into account, NYP is not “officially in Good shape”.
Comment 7: HMICFRS do not make any statement that NYP is not “officially in Good shape” or any statement that could be construed as meaning that in the Effectiveness Report. The comments in the report relate only to one pillar of PEEL and are not an overview. PCC Mulligan has again misrepresented HMICFRS’s findings.
Comment 8: Far from stating that NYP is “officially in Good shape”, the overall PEEL Assessment states that NYP is inefficient, or more particularly requires improvement in all three questions in the Efficiency Pillar. As shown above, there has been an overall decline in performance compared to 2016 and 2015.
- “They (NYP) effectively assess and respond to incidents and investigate crimes, victims are provided with good care and investigations are conducted effectively”.
Comment 8: The PEEL Assessment was written before the HMICFRS CDI Report was issued and has not been adjusted for it. The HMICFRS CDI Report states that:
- ….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.
- “We examined 75 vulnerable victim records. Of these, we found that 44 crimes should have been recorded, of which 30 had been. The unrecorded crimes involved crimes committed against both vulnerable adults and children and included one case of child neglect, two assaults and one sexual assault. We were pleased to find that all relevant safeguarding was undertaken, however only half of these cases were investigated.”
Taking the HMICFRS CDI comments into account, under these circumstances it is clearly not accurate to state that NYP “effectively assess and respond to incidents and investigate crimes, victims are provided with good care and investigations are conducted effectively”.
Police crime statistics and the impression given by the PEEL Annual Assessments are important indicators in Chief Police Officers performance assessments.
I am currently working on a book review of “Catching a Serial Killer” by former Detective Superintendent Stephen Fulcher. I will leave the final word on this to him (Page 56):
“To my mind the most senior echelons in policing today weren’t police officers at all, they were merely puppets blowing with the prevailing political wind. The saying goes that there are lies, damn lies and police statistics, and in our modern-day performance-measurement mind-set you could do quite well for yourself if you played the game”.
The PEEL Annual Assessment is an overall integrated process aimed at giving an overview of a force based on all three pillars. It appears that PCC Mulligan has chosen selectively from one of the three PEEL Pillar Reports, whilst ignoring the other two and the CDI Inspection – thereby presenting a misleading picture overall of NYP that is more positive than was assessed by HMICFRS.
The overall decline in performance of NYP is not mentioned anywhere.
The 2017 HMICFRS PEEL Annual Assessment has not been published on the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire’s website or commented on, probably because it shows a serious decline in performance compared to previous years.
In my opinion, it is wrong to choose selectively from one constituent report and hold out it applies overall, without revealing the consolidated view.
Previously, only the detailed analysis provided by the NYE exposed the full extent of NYP’s failure in crime reporting and its impact on victims. When we revealed that the press comment from PCC Mulligan on the CDI Inspection had misrepresented Its findings, Mrs Mulligan was asked to comment on this by the NYE, but declined to respond.
This is now the second time in three weeks that Police & Crime Commissioner Mulligan has been caught out by the NYE misrepresenting the outcome of HMICFRS inspections. Following this latest pronouncement by PCC Mulligan, she was provided with a draft of this article and invited to provide a comment for publication. But none was received.
It has again taken citizen journalism to reveal the true facts. Yet again, this verifies the need for independent in depth analysis from citizen journalists, to exercise oversight over public bodies. This is now the second time that having issued a misleading statement to her electorate she has had this brought to her attention and has failed to withdraw the statement.
Maybe someone can explain to me how this is consistent with her oath of office, 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.”?