Crime up in the Thames Valley – and inadequate recording

The Strategic Independent Advisory Group (SIAG) to Thames Valley Police (TVP) met this evening. I asked TVP to explain the detail behind the news last week of a 9.7% increase in recorded crime in the Thames Valley, and that HM Inspectorate of Constabulary had rated TVP Inadequate for recording of crime.

Because of improvements in how crime was recorded by TVP, the proportion of calls received by TVP that were recorded as crimes had increased from 80% to 87%. This was driven by increases in violent crime from 69% to 79%, and sexual offences from 90% to 95%. This was part of a broader national trend.

TVP had taken action to improve crime recording. Cuts, a high turnover of staff, and slow recruitment had exacerbated the problem. They were confident that a new contact management system being introduced by the end of the year would make it easier to record crime and ensure officers had better information to investigate.

TVP had seen an increase in numbers of people contacting them, something they ascribed to pressures on other public services and the police being the service of last resort – especially in dealing with individuals with mental health needs or vulnerable individuals with safeguarding concerns. All crimes were attended to and vulnerable victims given the support needed.

I should note that other than crime recording, TVP had been rated as good or outstanding in all other areas. It performed highly, especially in the context of limited resources and pressures on other services.

The force needs to make £4.5m of savings over the coming year. Police numbers remain low, morale is low, and training new officers is at capacity.

I welcome the 20,000 extra officers the government has announced. It will go some way to improving the situation, but we need to look at reducing the bureaucratic burden of officers – and look carefully at the very complex interaction between pressures on public services and increasing levels of crime.