Crime Recording and Scottish Government Counting Rules

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Position Statement

Subject: Crime Recording and Scottish Government Counting Rules

The Scottish Crime Recording Standard (SCRS) provides a national standard for the recording and counting of crimes and offences. The Association recognises the importance of a victim focussed crime recording process that is transparent and supports the performance of a division by providing an ethical picture of crime trends, which in turn informs the targeted use of resources to drive down crime. Members of the public can use this information to make informed decisions about the risk of crime to themselves as individuals and to come to a conclusion on how effective the police have been in tackling crime.

The Association supports the rationale that an incident will be recorded as a crime as soon as reasonably practicable and within a period of 72 hours from the time it is first notified, if:

  • The circumstances amount to a crime defined by Scots Law or an offence under statute; and
  • There is no credible evidence to the contrary.

The power of discretion should remain a viable option when dealing with instances of anti-social behaviour, minor acts of disorder and minor road traffic violations so long as the decision is appropriate to the circumstances and recorded on the incident.

Governance

  • SCRS formulation is achieved through joint consultation between Police Scotland, Scottish Government Justice Analytical Services and COPFS and a SCRS Manual of Guidance is published each April.
  • Responsibility for compliance falls within the portfolio of the Deputy Chief Constable (Designate).
  • DCS Robbie Allan oversees operational compliance, supported by the National Crime Registrar (C/I Fergus Byrne) and 3 regional Crime Registrars.
  • To ensure openness, transparency and independence in crime recording decisions the Crime Registrar cannot have direct responsible for performance/reducing crime or be answerable to a line manager who has such responsibility.
  • Each division has a Crime Manager who makes the daily decisions on local crime recording.
  • If there is uncertainty it is the regional Crime Registrar who determines whether a crime should be recorded and/or the appropriate crime classification.
  • Crime Manager Practitioner Groups, chaired by DCS Allan, provide a platform for Crime Registrars and Crime Managers to discuss problem areas and share best practice to improve standards.

 Scrutiny

  • Robust auditing of incident and crime records to test against a benchmark 95% compliance is carried out by way of:
    • Peer to peer reviews;
    • Crime Registrar Audits; and
    • HMICS Audits.
  • The 2014 HMICS Audit indicated a 92% compliance for incidents, 94% for crime counting, 96% for no crimes and 97% for timeliness. This closely reflected the results of the Crime Registrar Audits.
  • A pilot scheme took place in ‘G’ division in November 2014 whereby an ACR Inspector conducts daily dip sample Audits to identify incidents that appear non-compliant so that they could be reviewed by the Crime Manager and rectified within the 72 hour timeframe. A decision is awaited as to whether this will become common practice across the Force.

Concerns

  • Despite SCRS being in place since 2004, police officers may not understand its various nuances, especially in relation to the subsuming of crimes and there is often disparity between crimes recorded on a Crime Management system and crimes recorded on a SPR2. For example a house is broken into and car keys are taken which are then used to steal the complainer’s car which had been parked further down the street. The Theft of Motor Vehicle would be subsumed into the Housebreaking to comply with SCRS, whereas the SPR2 would record the Theft by Housebreaking and the Theft of Motor Vehicle separately.
  • There is also an issue with jurisdiction, Fraud is a good example of this. SCRS directs that the locus of a Fraud is primarily the police force area of the location of the fraudulent operation. So, for example, if someone in Essex is committing an internet Fraud by falsely advertising property for let in Glasgow and you have a victim who lives in Glasgow paying a deposit electronically to him, the crime should be recorded in Essex because this is where the Fraudster is operating from. However the court in Essex will not accept jurisdiction as the legal position (in both England and Scotland) is that the jurisdiction for Fraud lies where the crime took effect, i.e. Glasgow as this is where the victim is located, which essentially means the Fraudster won’t get prosecuted.
  • Although the Crime Registrars are removed from any link to performance targets, the Crime Managers are part of Crime Division and are held to account if the performance of the division is falling.

Reference / Source Documents:                                                                                                    

Scottish Crime Recording Standard Guidance Manual

HMICS Crime Audit 2014

Date : November 2014

Date of Next Review : April 2015 (after publication of the 2015 SCRS Guidance Manual)