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Hampshire fails on crime recording

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The county's police force has blamed its poor ranking by official auditors on IT problems.

A joint report, Crime Recording 2005, by the Audit Commission and Wales Audit Office has labelled Hampshire as one of just two police forces that are performing poorly on recording crime.

Hampshire ranked "poor" and "fair" in two key areas of crime recording, meaning among other things, officers were failing in supporting victims of crime by not providing follow up calls and visits. Avon and Somerset was also branded for a poor performance.

Hampshire police chiefs have accepted the findings, blaming difficulties with the installation of a new IT system.

Deputy chief constable of Hampshire Ian Readhead said: "During the period covered by this report, this force undertook the most radical IT change in its history. We have openly acknowledged the poor quality data recording in this period."

Only one police force, Northumbria, has been judged as 'excellent' for both data quality and management arrangements.

Overall, the report says the majority of forces in England and Wales have met crime recording standards but very few have adequate management arrangements in place to maintain and improve compliance.

Thirty-five out of 43 police forces and authorities met the minimum crime recording requirement of 90 per cent with the standards to achieve a "good" or "excellent" rating. This compares with 24 forces in 2004 and 12 in 2003, the first year of reviews.

Since 2003 most police authorities and forces "have done a great deal" to improve compliance with national standards for crime recording, says the report.

"They have integrated their processes and systems to ensure that compliance with national data quality standards is built into all force activity and not treated as an add-on."

However, five forces still rely on "expensive" and time consuming data checking techniques rather than getting the crime recorded right in the first place.

The commissions also found data quality is more "consistent" between or within forces at the local police basic command unit (BCU) level.

This is down to more centralised recording of crime through forces' call centres and better systems and processes, says the report.

However, the report warns: "When forces are merging, plans need to be in place to assess systems, make decisions on supporting processes and identify how to maintain and improve data quality standards for the merged force."

The commissions reviewed police forces and authorities against the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) and Home Office counting rules.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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