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More crimes than first thought may be overlooked

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Police forces across the UK could be leaving far more offences out of official statistics than had previously been thought, an influential think tank has claimed.

Only last month, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) estimated that as many as one in five crimes – 800,000 offences each year – are not properly recorded.

But now a report by Civitas suggests that, in actual fact, the number of crimes being wiped off official records may be even higher.

According to Rodger Patrick, the former senior police officer who authored the report, HMIC had failed to take into account crimes which were “filtered out” by forces at an early stage.

He said: “Closer examination of the methodology employed in this audit/inspection suggests that HMIC may have underestimated the extent of the under-recording.

“It would appear that only incidents initially logged as crime incidents have been checked to establish if they are subsequently recorded as crimes.

“This assumes control room staff and staff in other recording centres are correctly categorising the call they have received. The academic literature and the research behind this book suggest that this is a mistaken assumption.”

Mr Patrick has also spoken about how officers sometimes use a technique known as “cuffing” to manipulate crime data.

This involves officers recording offences as a “false report” or downgrading their seriousness, by omitting relevant information from the incident log.

A HMIC spokesman hit back at suggestions that the police watchdog may have underestimated the scale of the problem

“Our recent report into the recording of crime is the most extensive study of its kind ever carried out into crime-recording.

“We looked hardest in the places where crime was most likely to be reported and should have been recorded.”

At Lester Morrill, our criminal law team has a wealth of experience representing those charged with a range of offences. For more information about how our Leeds-based solicitors can help you, contact us today.