Quarter of sex crimes ‘unrecorded’

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More than a quarter of sex offences – including rape – are not recorded as crimes because of “unacceptable failings” by police, a highly critical new report has found.

Under-recording of sexual offences was at 26 per cent and the national rate of wrong decisions to cancel crime records for rape was 20 per cent, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said.

Total under-recording of crime by all 43 police forces in England and Wales was found to be at an “inexcusably poor and indefensible” 19 per cent, amounting to more than 800,000 crimes each year.

The inspection, which looked at over 8,000 reports of crime to the police between November 2012 and October 2013, discovered 37 cases of rape which were not recorded as crime.

And even when crimes were recorded correctly, many were removed or cancelled from the system as “no-crimes” – including 200 rapes and more than 250 violent crimes.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor said: “The position in the case of rape and other sexual offences is a matter of especially serious concern.

“It is particularly important that in cases as serious as rape, these shortcomings are put right as a matter of the greatest urgency. In some forces, action is already being taken in this respect. The police should immediately institutionalise the presumption that the victim is to be believed.”

Home Secretary Theresa May, who commissioned the report, said that it had found “utterly unacceptable failings” in crime recording.

Shadow policing minister Jack Dromey responded by calling for Mrs May to “get a grip on this and make urgent changes to the way the police record crime”.