A police force has been told to take action after allegations of rape were wrongly filed as not crimes.
Bedfordshire Police failed to properly deal with nine offences of rape, instead recording them as ‘no-crime’.
The police watchdog – Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) – said the majority of these had insufficient additional information to justify the ‘no-crime’ decision.
A total of 23 allegations of rape were recorded as ‘no-crimes’ – when an incident that was initially recorded as a crime is later found to not be a crime based on additional information – by the force between November 2012 and October 2013. It is a decision that can only be made by detective chief inspector.
The watchdog recommended that immediate guidance should be given to the officers that make the decision.
The findings were part of the HMIC’s most extensive inspection and analysis of crime-recording ever carried out, which examined more than 8,000 reports of crime to the police.
In the audit period police forces across the country were found to be less likely to record violent and sexual offences as crimes than other crime types.
The inspection found that, nationally, more than a quarter of sexual offences and a third of violent crime reported to the police each year are not being recorded as crime.
In the audit of the Beds force, HMIC examined 63 incident records covering a variety of crimes and found that 55 of these should have been recorded but only 45 were. Of these, three were wrongly classified and two were recorded outside the 72-hour limit.
The report said: “This is of concern as it means that some victims’ crimes are not being recorded and they are not getting the service they deserve (for example, because certain victim support services are only triggered when a crime is recorded).”
A spokesman for Beds Police said: “We welcome the findings of the report and will take on the recommendations to ensure we improve our crime recording rates.
“However, it is worth noting that this review was from 2012/13. Since then we have put a number of measures in place and our own National Crime Recording Standards audits show we were 91 per cent compliant during September with a 92 per cent rate for violent crime and serious sexual offences.
“Victims remain at the heart of all we do, so any crime being incorrectly recorded is a concern.”