HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS)
Greater Manchester Police’s service to victims of crime is “a serious cause of concern”
HMICFRS has found that the service provided to victims of crime by Greater Manchester Police (GMP), particularly vulnerable victims of crime, is a serious cause of concern.
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This inspection was carried out to establish whether GMP provides a good service to victims of crime by examining the whole journey from first call through to the conclusion of the investigation.
Inspectors found that the force:
- generally responds well to calls from the public and deploys the right resources to help; and
- has markedly improved how accurately it records sexual offences and in particular crimes of rape.
However, the force:
- failed to record more than one in every five crimes reported by the public and more than one in every four violent crimes;
- did not record an estimated 80,100 crimes reported to it between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020. This amounts to approximately 220 crimes a day where victims may be denied the opportunity to get the justice they deserve;
- failed to record a high proportion of violent crime including domestic abuse and behavioural crimes, such as harassment, stalking and coercive controlling behaviour;
- had taken some steps to improve the response to non-emergency 101 calls, but was still not answering around one in five that came into the system; and
- failed to make sure all investigations were conducted effectively, with investigation plans not completed to an acceptable standard and no appropriate levels of review and supervision, applied.
The force wrongly and prematurely closed some investigations, including those where the victim was vulnerable. A proportion of these were domestic abuse cases, where although a suspect was identified, the victim did not support, or withdrew support for police action. In too many cases, inspectors found no evidence to confirm the victim’s wishes had been properly considered before the investigation was closed. Without this evidence, inspectors could not be sure that victims were properly safeguarded and provided with the right service or support.
Inspectors estimated that the force recorded 77.7 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.2 percent) of reported crimes. This drop of 11.3% is a significant deterioration in recording standards since HMICFRS’s 2018 crime recording inspection, when we reported the force was recording around 89 percent.
The force is investing in resources and new infrastructure to redevelop its Operational Communications Branch (OCB) and to centralise its crime recording function. It is also introducing a new assessment framework to ensure more vulnerable victims are identified at the first point of contact and are directed to the right support. These measures are not fully implemented but are part of a long-term sustainability plan which is intended to improve the service the force provides to victims of crime. However, it is too early to assess the effectiveness or impact of this work.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham yesterday said:
“Victims of crime are too often being let down by Greater Manchester Police. The service provided to victims, particularly those who are most vulnerable, is a serious cause of concern. This is extremely disappointing given that HMICFRS has been urging Greater Manchester Police to improve in this area since 2016.
“Around one in five of all crimes reported by the public are not making it onto the books. The position is worse when it comes to recording violence against the person; more than a quarter of these crimes are not being recorded. Domestic abuse often lies behind these types of crimes of violence, meaning that the victims are especially vulnerable. Failure to record crimes potentially prevents victims from receiving the justice and support they need.
“The supervision of crime investigations by the police in Greater Manchester is also not good enough. I am deeply troubled about how frequently the force is closing cases without a full investigation, giving the reason that the victim did not support police action. In too many of these cases the force didn’t properly record evidence that the victim supported this decision – particularly in cases of domestic abuse, where seven in ten are closed on this basis. Without a clear and accurate audit trail, we cannot be certain that victims are not being placed at further risk.
“While it is simply not good enough that these concerns have not been addressed for over four years, I acknowledge that the force is taking action to address these deficiencies. Senior leaders in the force are demonstrating their intent to improve the service to victims through investment in the force control room and other infrastructure projects. The force’s recent marked improvement in its recording of serious sexual offences and rapes shows that it can get this vitally important aspect of policing right – but it now needs to do so across the board. I expect the force to make a concerted effort to quickly address the significant failings that we have identified as this situation cannot continue.
“HMICFRS will be following up on this inspection within six months and I expect to see considerable and sustainable improvements.”
Get the report
- This assessment focuses on the experience of the service provided by Greater Manchester Police to victims of crime. This is known as a victim service assessment (VSA). The VSA has been designed as part of HMICFRS updated annual PEEL programme that assesses the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy of police forces in England and Wales.
- For further information, HMICFRS’s press office can be contacted from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 07836 217729.
- HMICFRS’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.
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