POLICE in Edinburgh have been rapped over the way they record crime amid concerns that as many as one in ten incidents in Scotland are being wrongly classified.
A report by HM Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland (HMICS) singled out the Capital as one of four police divisions where improvements were needed. It said across the country 11 per cent of 1200 audited sexual incidents were not recorded correctly along with eight per cent of 2238 violent offences.
HMICS examined more than 8000 incidents involving 4500 crimes – more than five times higher than in previous audits – following “serious concern” about the accuracy of figures in England and Wales.
In one test, 11 per cent of crimes in Edinburgh were not properly recorded and in another it was seven per cent – both figures being above the Scottish average.
HMICS Derek Penman said: “Most incident and crime recording decisions by Police Scotland are good. A few divisions fell below the standard we would expect and Police Scotland should ensure these divisions develop improvement plans to address their crime-recording practice.”
The report also highlighted concerns about “no criming” – the procedure where incidents originally recorded as crimes are later reclassified.
Edinburgh’s Tory group leader, former policeman Cameron Rose said: “We need confidence the decision to no-crime a report is only done on the basis on evidence, and not a result of pressure to reduce figures. The report sample shows Edinburgh police failed to follow the no-crime rules in eight per cent of cases where this classification was adopted. They could do better.”
Councillor Rose noted Edinburgh’s performance on accurate classification and recording of crimes was towards the lower end compared with other divisions however, and added: “Edinburgh needs to improve so we can have confidence in the crime figures reported. But I am always mindful that bean counting is not as important as catching criminals and suppressing crime.”
Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said recording of crime was kept under constant scrutiny. She said: “It is important to stress a technical crime recording issue, which can happen by not updating an incident or crime record with a sufficiency of information, is by no means a reflection on the level of investigation or quality of service to victims or witnesses.
“Many of the issues identified by HMICS are already the subject of improvement activity.”