Norfolk police and crime panel told police figures are monitored closely

Stephen Bett. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY Stephen Bett. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Friday, February 14, 2014
6:51 AM

An auditor has assured Norfolk’s police and crime panel that every crime recorded in the county is monitored to ensure it has been done so correctly.

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The panel met yesterday to hold Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner Stephen Bett to account about the progress he has had made since being elected to the post in November 2012.

During the meeting, held yesterday at County Hall, Mr Bett was asked about the reliability of recorded crime figures after police statistics were stripped of the official quality assurance mark by the statistics watchdog after claims that they are massaged.

The commissioner invited Bernard Docherty, crime registrar of protective services at the constabulary, to tell the panel the role he plays in ensuring Norfolk’s figures - which currently show that crime in the county was down 3.6pc in 2013 - are accurate.

Mr Docherty said: “Me and my team monitor crime recorded within the county. I have the authority and power of the Home Office to overrule anyone in the force, including the chief constable when it comes to whether a crime should be recorded. I’m the final arbiter.”

Mr Docherty, who has a deputy and three auditors who scrutinise the figures along with other members of the control room on a monthly basis, said they went through every crime to make sure they were recorded correctly.

He said although it could not be said that 100pc every time police get it right as “every police officer is trying to use a 400 page manual which him or her how to record crime or when to record crime” so “mistakes do happen”.

But he insisted that as far as Norfolk was concerned measures were put in place to ensure “we monitor as best we can” the crimes recorded.

Mr Bett told the panel that his three big successes in his first year in office were the appointments of a domestic violence coordinator, a rehabilitation coordinator and the addition of a mental health worker in the force control room to ensure they are taking the appropriate action when it comes to certain cases.

Domestic violence has been highlighted as one of the major problems in the county by Mr Bett who has looked to develop it as a key priority in his new role and last year appointed a domestic abuse and sexual violence coordinator to help him improve services for victims.

The panel were also told how the “Savile effect” created by the publicity from the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal and the subsequent high profile celebrity sex cases, had resulted in an increase in reporting of some sexual offences, including historic sexual abuse.

Simon Bailey, Norfolk’s chief constable, who was invited to speak about the issue at the meeting by Mr Bett, said he was encouraged by the increase in reporting of these sorts of offences as it showed victims had the confidence to come forward and speak to police.

Mr Bett told the panel he would like to hold future meetings in the same way, with the chief constable and other key partners able to answer questions directly about areas of their own particular expertise.

Yesterday’s meeting was postponed from December when Mr Bett was unable to attend.

Have you got a crime story? Call crime correspondent Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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