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6 September 2023
Police forces in England and Wales, particularly chief officers and police and crime commissioners, are failing to address policing priorities of local communities because of poor recording of data on the ethnicity of victims of crime, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has found in a scathing new report.
In its report – Race and policing: A review of the police service’s leadership and governance arrangements for race-related matters, the HMICFRS reviewed crime data recorded during 2021-22 where a victim was identified. It found that in 61 per cent of cases the victim’s ethnicity was not recorded, in 26 per cent of cases their sex was not recorded, and in 27 per cent of cases their age was not recorded.
Reacting to the latest findings of the HMICFRS, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, Steve Hartshorn, said: “I agree with the HMICFRS that it is deeply regrettable that despite at least 30 different reports by the inspectorate since 2017, and the many recommendations made over the years, there appears to be no improvement in the situation.
“How can it be right that chief officers and police and crime commissioners, who set the direction and processes in forces, are failing to ensure that forces effectively undertake the basic task of maintaining an accurate record of the ethnicity of victims? The Government must mandate them to abide by the recommendations of the HMICFRS and the national Police Race Action Plan. Chief officers should be held accountable if the inspectorate finds them to be non-compliant.”
The HMICFRS report found that where forces recorded the data, there were stark discrepancies in the experiences of people from different ethnic backgrounds. For instance, the report stated, members of the public with an ethnic minority background “were less likely than white people to receive a caution in 16 out of the 17 forces that gave HMICFRS the data”. In another instance, the report found that “children from ethnic minority backgrounds are disproportionately represented in youth custody – and this disparity has been getting larger over the past decade”.
“It is vital that policing leaders, the Government, community groups and all other stakeholders have access to accurate information about how the police service is performing across all sections of the society. Only then policing decisions can be made fairly and consistently with our founding principles of policing by consent,” Mr Hartshorn added.
Based on these findings, the HMICFRS has warned that if the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing (CoP) fail to “jointly implement the technology solutions and training required” to record, analyse and share accurate data on ethnicity of victims, it will recommend to the Home Secretary to impose regulations on the police service to force improvements in this area. The HMICFRS has also expressed disappointment at the slow progress of the Police Race Action Plan and recommended that the NPCC and the CoP finalise and publish the plan as soon as possible, and that forces implement the plan without delay.