HC Deb 07 May 2002 vol 385 cc134-5W
Mr. Andrew Turner

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the police have discretion whether to record a reported crime; and whether a complainant may be requested to attend a police station if the crime is to be recorded. [52335]

Mr. Denham

[holding answer 25 April 2002]: Under the National Crime Recording Standard, introduced in all forces in England and Wales from April 2002, all reports of incidents, whether from victims, witnesses or third parties, and whether crime-related or not, will result in the registration of an incident report by the police. Following the initial registration, an incident will be recorded as a crime (notifiable offence) if the circumstances as reported amount to a crime defined by law and if there is no credible evidence to the contrary.

Police officers will determine, on the balance of probabilities, whether an incident amounts to a crime, based on their knowledge of the law and of Home Office counting rules. In most cases, a belief by the victim (or person reasonably assumed to be acting on behalf of the victim) that a crime has occurred will be sufficient to justify its recording as a crime. Once recorded, a crime would remain recorded unless there was credible evidence to disprove that a crime had occurred. A complainant could be requested to attend a police station in the normal course of police inquiries, but this would not be a pre-condition of an incident being recorded as a crime.

In several forces "assault clinics" have been set up in order to improve the level of service provided to victims of minor assault and/or harassment. An initial report of an incident leads to a victim being given an appointment at the clinic, where the victim's statement is taken and the crime is recorded. A review by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) of the system in one force found that in some cases the victim did not subsequently attend the assaults clinic, leading to the incident not being recorded as a crime. The force is now changing its processes to ensure that this no longer occurs, and other forces have been advised accordingly.