Great Britain

Police forces slammed for wrongly cancelling crime reports and not telling victims

JUSTICE has gone unserved to hundreds of people across the country after an investigation into crime records revealed forces are falsely cancelling reports of rape, sexual offences, and burglary.

In several of those cases the victim who reported the offence was then never told of their local constabulary’s decision to drop the investigation, meaning victims of serious crimes never had their cases resolved.

However the data for Lancashire Constabulary shows the force has among the best records for crime keeping in the country, with no reports of rape or burglaries incorrectly cancelled.

Meanwhile of the sample of cancelled crimes reviewed by inspectors at HMRFS, one victim of a sexual offence out of 20 and a further one victim of a violent offence out of 20 had their case wrongly dropped by the force.

Despite the constabulary’s positive efforts in crime recording, the inspectorate’s report did reveal a ‘disappointing’ number of people were never informed when the crime they had reported was cancelled – with 40 per cent of victims never finding out this was the case.

The report read: “Of the 15 victims the force should have told about its decision to cancel their crime, it had informed only nine. In some cases, there was no auditable record confirming that it had informed the victims. As we highlighted this issue as needing improvement in our 2017 inspection, this is disappointing. However, the new Connect crime-recording system contains safeguards to make sure victims are updated when the force makes such decisions. So we are confident that this problem will improve. This is welcome.”

BBC analysis conducted in conjunction with Newsquest has revealed that at least 19 forces wrongly cancelled reports of rape, 38 incorrectly cancelled at least one record of a sexual offence and dozens never informed victims of their decision to cancel the crime.

Katie Russell, from the charity Rape Crisis, said the “premature and inappropriate dropping of investigations” had been a longstanding concern.

“This latest analysis... highlights that these issues are still very much current,” she said.

“Especially considering the wide-ranging, significant and often lifelong impacts of sexual violence and abuse on victims and survivors, these criminal justice failings are completely unacceptable.”

A police spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting victims and witnesses of crime and providing the best possible service at all times.

“Lancashire Victim Services (LVS) has been established by Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw to provide support to victims and witnesses of crime across the county.

“If you have been a victim or have witnessed a crime, even if you haven’t reported it, the service is here to support you. LVS provide emotional support, information and practical help to anyone who needs it. Visit lancashirevictimservices.org to find out more.”

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