HER Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has criticised Greater Manchester Police (GMP) for failing victims of crime.
It cites GMP failing to record more than 80,000 crimes that were reported in a 12-month period.
The report found that the service provided to victims of crime by GMP, particularly vulnerable victims of crime, is a serious cause of concern.
The inspection was carried out to establish whether GMP provides a good service to victims of crime by examining the whole journey from first call through to the conclusion of the investigation.
Inspectors found that the force:
- Generally responds well to calls from the public and deploys the right resources to help
- Has markedly improved how accurately it records sexual offences and in particular crimes of rape.
However, the force:
- Failed to record more than one in every five crimes reported by the public and more than one in every four violent crimes
- Did not record an estimated 80,100 crimes reported to it between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. This amounts to approximately 220 crimes a day where victims may be denied the opportunity to get the justice they deserve
- Failed to record a high proportion of violent crime including domestic abuse and behavioural crimes, such as harassment, stalking and coercive controlling behaviour
- Had taken some steps to improve the response to non-emergency 101 calls, but was still not answering around one in five that came into the system
- Failed to make sure all investigations were conducted effectively, with investigation plans not completed to an acceptable standard and no appropriate levels of review and supervision, applied.
The force wrongly and prematurely closed some investigations, including those where the victim was vulnerable. A proportion of these were domestic abuse cases, where although a suspect was identified, the victim did not support, or withdrew support for police action. In too many cases, inspectors found no evidence to confirm the victim’s wishes had been properly considered before the investigation was closed. Without this evidence, inspectors could not be sure that victims were properly safeguarded and provided with the right service or support.
Inspectors estimated that the force recorded 77.7 per cent (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.2 per cent) of reported crimes. This drop of 11.3 per cent is a significant deterioration in recording standards since HMICFRS’s 2018 crime recording inspection, when we reported the force was recording around 89 per cent.
The force is investing in resources and new infrastructure to redevelop its Operational Communications Branch (OCB) and to centralise its crime recording function.
It is also introducing a new assessment framework to ensure more vulnerable victims are identified at the first point of contact and are directed to the right support. These measures are not fully implemented but are part of a long-term sustainability plan which is intended to improve the service the force provides to victims of crime. However, it is too early to assess the effectiveness or impact of this work.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham said: “Victims of crime are too often being let down by Greater Manchester Police. The service provided to victims, particularly those who are most vulnerable, is a serious cause of concern.
“This is extremely disappointing given that HMICFRS has been urging Greater Manchester Police to improve in this area since 2016.
“Around one in five of all crimes reported by the public are not making it onto the books. The position is worse when it comes to recording violence against the person; more than a quarter of these crimes are not being recorded.
“Domestic abuse often lies behind these types of crimes of violence, meaning that the victims are especially vulnerable. Failure to record crimes potentially prevents victims from receiving the justice and support they need.
“The supervision of crime investigations by the police in Greater Manchester is also not good enough.
“I am deeply troubled about how frequently the force is closing cases without a full investigation, giving the reason that the victim did not support police action. In too many of these cases the force didn’t properly record evidence that the victim supported this decision – particularly in cases of domestic abuse, where seven in 10 are closed on this basis.
“Without a clear and accurate audit trail, we cannot be certain that victims are not being placed at further risk.
“While it is simply not good enough that these concerns have not been addressed for over four years, I acknowledge that the force is taking action to address these deficiencies. Senior leaders in the force are demonstrating their intent to improve the service to victims through investment in the force control room and other infrastructure projects. The force’s recent marked improvement in its recording of serious sexual offences and rapes shows that it can get this vitally important aspect of policing right – but it now needs to do so across the board. I expect the force to make a concerted effort to quickly address the significant failings that we have identified as this situation cannot continue.
“HMICFRS will be following up on this inspection within six months and I expect to see considerable and sustainable improvements.”
Deputy Chief Constable Ian Pilling said: “We welcome inspection and scrutiny as we are committed to providing victims of crime with the highest standards of service. We are obviously disappointed by some of the findings in the report, particularly where we have let victims down.
“However, I want to reassure the public that we treat this matter very seriously. We have a long-term strategic plan in place to address these issues and that we are determined to make whatever other short-term improvements we need to make and to make them as quickly as possible.
“Although we acknowledge there has been a deterioration in some elements of recording since the last inspection, we have made huge improvements in some elements including rape, sexual offences and many areas of volume crime which are now recorded by our centralised unit.
“These improvements are part of our long-term strategy which has seen the implementation of our new computer system and the significant progress towards centralisation of the control room and crime recording function. It is only by centralising these functions that we can truly deal with these issues in a sustainable and affordable way.
“We would like to highlight that this inspection examined calls, incidents and crimes recorded in spring, whilst the force was in the middle of making and embedding many of these strategic changes including the centralising of elements of crime recording and the control rooms.
“The force was also facing the unprecedented and changing challenges posed by the first Covid lockdown. This meant that we were unable to recruit and train the additional staff we required to progress the centralised crime recording function in the timescales we would have wished.
“Since spring, there is strong evidence of improved crime recording rates in many relevant areas, so progress has already been made. For example, since June 2020, GMP has increased crime recording rates for domestic abuse by 18 per cent, stalking and harassment by 33 per cent and coercion and control by 30 per cent. We would also like to highlight other findings in the report, which are extremely positive – including our crime recording rates for rape and sexual offences, which have increased.
“The force has also significantly reduced the amount of time taken to answer 101 calls and, subsequently, the abandonment rate – this is despite of the impact Covid has had on resources and staffing. Around half of these unanswered non-emergency calls can be attributed to callers hanging up and electing to make use of the force’s online reporting. This is actively encouraged by a recorded message and represents effective call and demand management.
“I can reassure the public that the issues identified in the report have been treated very seriously and reflected upon and we have robust plans to implement any outstanding learning and secure the best possible outcomes for victims going forward. This will be supported by robust governance and strategic leadership oversight.
“The safety and wellbeing of the public, as well as maintaining their confidence, under pins all that the force does.”