Crime recording changes impact on year end figures (16 Jul 2015)

Crime in West Yorkshire remains low, despite national crime recording changes which have seen some recorded offences rise significantly.

As West Yorkshire Police revealed in April, crime to the end of March 2015, is at a 31 year low, with 1,635 fewer victims compared with the same period the previous year. However, figures for the early part of 2015 show recorded crime beginning to increase.

This is largely due to stricter adherence to the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS), which means that all reported crime is now recorded, unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary.

"This is all about believing and supporting victims," said West Yorkshire Police Temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins.

"Ethical and accurate recording is essential, though what it will mean in practical terms is that many more crimes will be recorded initially, even though we may find on further investigation that no actual crime has occurred, or the crime is different to that initially reported."

Closer adherence to the NCRS also brings recorded crime more closely in line with the Crime Survey for England and Wales, which reflects people's own experiences and supports the view that crime has been declining for many years.

West Yorkshire Police has studied recent crime increases and estimates that, of the 16.5% increase, between January and April 2015, 15.4% is due to this "NCRS effect"

"We openly admit that in the past we haven't quite got it right as far as crime recording is concerned, which reflects the national picture. In future, the data will more accurately reflect people's experiences.

The changes mean that some recorded categories have risen, while actual calls for service during 2014/15 - where people need the police's help - have fallen. The number of calls for service relating to violent offences fell by 12.7%, but recorded violent crime offences increased by over 24%, a reflection of the changes in recording practice.

Recorded sexual offences have risen by almost 50% compared to the previous year, almost a quarter relating to historic offences that occurred over a year previously. Increased confidence in reporting is also likely to have had an impact.

"The changes under NCRS give a partial explanation, not an excuse, as to why some figures have increased. But on top of this, we have also seen a slight actual rise in crime after a sustained period of crime reduction lasting many years," said TCC Collins.

"Whilst this is concerning, it must be put in the context of that long term downward trend.

"West Yorkshire Police officers and staff work incredibly hard to serve and protect the public, but as our resources and those of our partner agencies continue to diminish, that job becomes increasingly difficult.

"Never the less, we are continuing to develop smarter ways of working, embracing new technology which ensures our officers spend more time in communities and less time on paperwork.

"We remain totally committed to the neighbourhood focused problem solving policing that has served our communities so well and will look to develop this approach with partners in the years ahead."

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "It is reassuring to see that overall crime across West Yorkshire has continued to fall over 12 months, and with severe government cuts to policing and community safety these figures demonstrate the commitment of West Yorkshire Police and other partners who work hard to help bring down crime.

"Given the challenges we all continue to face it is really positive that there are decreases across many crime types, including domestic burglary, drug offences, theft from motor vehicles, theft and shoplifting over the 12 month period in question.

"However, it is important to highlight crime recording issues. Victims must come first and I will continue to closely monitor the work of West Yorkshire Police in addressing the recording issues but also the outcomes of this work.

"It is indeed concerning that the number of recorded violent crimes and sexual offences have increased considerably and, although increases can be accounted for in part by historic offences and increased confidence in reporting, I have already raised this with the Temporary Chief Constable to discuss what more can be done to improve confidence in accurate crime recording, but also what measures can be put in place by the police and others to bring these figures down.

"I consider the emerging data such as this on a timely basis to ensure issues are identified quickly and acted upon. I have been working with the police and other partners throughout the year to tackle crime and the causes of crime where increases continue, to ensure that both officers and community partners are working together to reduce crime wherever possible."

 

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