Tuesday, July 17, 2007

National Crime Reporting Standards (ish)

Morning all

A shocker for you all today. Police don't always exactly comply with the ethos of the National Crime Reporting Standards, aka NCRS!!!

NCRS state "All reports of incidents, whether from victims, witnesses or third parties, and whether crime related or not, will result in the registration of an incident report / log by the police".

Then.... "Following initial registration, an incident will be recorded as a crime (notifiable offence) if on the balance of probability
a) The circumstances indicate a crime defined by law and requires recording in accordance with Home Office Counting Rules
b) There is no credible evidence to the contrary

Once recorded, a crime will remain unless evidence becomes available to disprove it has occurred" (click here for original source)

The first part is generally not a problem. Any time you call 999 a computer generated log is started. Its how the 999 call gets routed out to the officers on the street.

Its the second bit where corners are cut.

An example. Its a Friday night in urbantown. Someone calls in a fight on the high street. We despatch someone. However, these fights are normally over within 30 seconds, or the sight and sound of approaching blue lights dissuades the combatants to continue. One of two things frequently happens.

1) We never find any of the combatants.
2) We find them, and both parties swear nothing happened or refuse to tell us anything.

When this happens, (note- not including times when someone is actually injured and/or talks to us), particularly in the first case, then nothing more happens. No crime report is generated, even though we have a witness (and more often than not, cctv) of affray at the very least. Technically, that means we should generate a crime number. However, we tend not to, as it is "unnecessary" work. We cannot find a victim, and therefore no crime, right?

Well, not according to NCRS. We have a witness to a crime and on the balance of probabilities it has occurred. Therefore, we should generate a crime report until we can prove it didn't occur.

However, we don't. The balance of probabilities is magically weighted somehow to that it did not occur and so no crime report goes on. Everyone knows we are short enough on a weekend night and invariably have enough work to do with the more substantial fights and where people are injured and booze fuelled domestics to worry about the times when it was handbags.

Chiefs are happy to let this deviation from NCRS go, as it means there is less violent crime shown on the figures and less unsolved crime.

Myself and some of the other relief skippers were discussing this over the weekend. Normally we're happy for these things to go as too right we'd rather have people available for the genuine calls. But we're starting to come to the conclusion that perhaps we can be our own worst enemy. We always complain that we're too stretched, especially at the weekend. Minimum strengths are calculated by some formula I'm not told about but the volume of crime must be a factor in this calculation, especially violent crime.

So we're thinking (we haven't yet decided to properly go with it) maybe its time we really stuck to the rules regarding NCRS. Every time CCTV pick up a scrap, or someone on a passing bus says they've seen a scrap, then recorded as affray it shall be. It won't be investigated as we still don't have a victim, but on the books as violent crime it shall go.

The PC's aren't going to be too happy in the short term as yes, sorry, extra typing on the computers for reports that are going nowhere. But this could cause a stir and you never know, higher echelons of management might get a bit of pressure on, and we might even get some people out of their offices and doing some bleeding work when we're most stretched.