In response to scrutiny, police forces up and down the country have been improving how they record crime, which is good news for victims. In Kent, we have seen improvement from 84% accuracy to the mid 90s.
That’s tens of thousands of offences potentially being recorded now that wouldn’t have been two years ago.
Once you add changes to the way they are recorded, you get further issues with comparison. A fight outside a pub involving four people might have in the past been one crime. Now it would be five crimes for one incident. You also have to consider new offences being added to the statute books such as modern slavery and stalking, and greater confidence of victims to report.
A knock-on effect of improved recording practices and the changes noted above is that published raw data is then difficult to compare with past data. In truth, the Police Recorded Crime figures and the Crime Survey for England and Wales are both flawed as absolute measures of police performance.
But we are not complacent. Instead, every local Police and Crime Commissioner holds their own Chief Constable to account by understanding the various demands their own force faces – around 80% of which is non-crime related – and by assessing how effective and efficient their force is at meeting those demands.
And where there are concerns around specific issues, PCCs are helping to find solutions as I have been doing with my Violence Reduction Challenge in Kent, for example, and boosting Police numbers.
For the best, honest commentary on this issue, always read www.ons.gov.uk.