The police force responsible for overseeing investigations into the Hillsborough disaster and the Rotherham abuse scandal has been accused of failing victims of crime, after a watchdog revealed that more than one in 10 offences reported to officers goes unrecorded.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found South Yorkshire Police failed to record 10.5% of crimes reported between 1 June and 30 November 2017 – the equivalent of more than 17,000 a year.
In a report published on Tuesday, inspectors said that while the force’s recording of sexual offences was “highly accurate”, victims of domestic abuse and violent crime were being left vulnerable.
During the six month HMIC inspection, there were 290 cases of domestic abuse, but just 228 were recorded. The 62 undocumented offences included 47 violent crimes, one of which was a serious assault.
According to the report, the probe uncovered “no clear evidence or rationale why they were not recorded as crimes”, with inspectors warning that the force must improve its documentation in order to build confidence among domestic abuse victims in the area.
“We saw evidence that officers and staff simply did not understand the Home Office’s crime recording rules, particularly in cases involving domestic abuse and vulnerable victims,” said HMI Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr.
“Early support can be crucial for victims of crime, and these delays are preventing victims accessing the support they need.”
Meanwhile, HMIC believes violent crimes make up around 5,900 of South Yorkshire Police’s 17,000 unrecorded annual offences, meaning that officers record just 86.4% of incidents.
The watchdog concluded that while the force had made “concerted efforts” to improve the accuracy of its records and that its overall crime-recording rate could be considered “good”, it still “requires improvement”
HMIC inspectors called for the improved training of officers and a greater degree of supervision to tackle the issue.
Tim Forber, assistant chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, said: “We do recognise there is further work to do to eliminate some identified administrative failings.
“In those highlighted within the report, such as the sexual offence crimes, the majority of these are where a second crime has occurred, but not recorded.
“Where vulnerable victim crimes were not recorded, safeguarding was still undertaken in all appropriate cases.”
He added: “South Yorkshire Police has made a commitment to a victim-focused service and we take these recommendations seriously. A programme of work has already been implemented to deliver improvements we look forward to demonstrate our continued progress at the next inspection.”
The report comes as part of a rolling inspection by HMIC of every police force in England and Wales. Figures published in July revealed that Lincolnshire Police officers were failing to record almost one in five reported offences.