South Yorkshire Police failed to record 17,000 crimes in a year, the police watchdog has estimated.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services rated the force as ‘requires improvement’ for the way it records reported crimes, in its latest inspection report.
While the watchdog said South Yorkshire Police had improved its recording methods, inspectors estimated that in 10 per cent of crimes which were reported to officers, 17,000 incidents failed to be recorded.
They included reports of domestic abuse, assault and harassment.
The report said the force had made a concerted effort to record crime more accurately since the previous inspection in 2014.
“Despite these advances the force is still failing some victims of crime,” it said.
“Incorrect recording decisions are often the consequence of officers and staff not understanding the crime recording rules.
“We found that some do not understand well enough crime recording requirements for common assault, harassment, malicious communications and public order offences.”
HMICFRS found that 86 per cent of violent crimes reported were recorded, leaving 5,900 reported crimes unrecorded.
The inspection also stated 97 per cent of reported sex offences were recorded, with 130 incidents unrecorded.
The watchdog audited 1,374 crime reports between June and November 2017.
Among the findings, inspectors concluded five of 100 audited rape reports were classified incorrectly or unrecorded.
However, they rated the force as ‘good’ regarding the leadership and culture required to improve crime recording.
The report said: "We found an approach among most officers and staff that is victim-focused with a positive attitude to crime recording."
Assistant Chief Constable Tim Forber, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “We have welcomed the findings of HMICFRS over the past two years, which have reflected the rapid progress the force is making.
“We have been declared a ‘good’ force for our effectiveness at preventing, investigating and tackling crime, and our leadership and legitimacy – the way in which we treat our officers and staff.
“In a recent document published by HMICFRS, South Yorkshire was identified as the most improved force across England and Wales, which is incredibly positive.
“In the recent Crime and Data Integrity Inspection, HMICFRS again found South Yorkshire Police has made significant progress since 2014, and in particular highlighted a victim-focused approach to crime recording. The report found overall levels of crime recording were ‘good’, and both leadership and organisational culture in relation to crime recording were ‘good’.”
He added: “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.
“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.”
An example of a crime which was not recorded came after officers received a report of an elderly man with dementia causing a disturbance in a care home and assaulting a member of staff.
Police officers were informed that the matter would be dealt with ‘in house.’
In another case a crime of common assault was not recorded after officers dealt with a report of a 16-year-old being slapped by their mum following an argument about hoovering.
BY RALPH BLACKBURN, PA DATA REPORTER