Over 800,000 – or one in five – of all crimes reported to the police are not being recorded, a report suggests.
The problem is greatest for victims of violent crime, with a third going unrecorded. Of sexual offences, 26% are not recorded.
An HM Inspectorate of Constabulary report looked at more than 8,000 reports of crime in England and Wales.
The watchdog said the failure to record crime properly was “indefensible”.
Home Secretary Theresa May described the findings as “utterly unacceptable”, but police representatives said the situation had improved since the study.
The Association of Chief Police Officers said workload pressures, target culture and inadequate supervision all contributed to under-recording.
An unrecorded crime is classed as one that is reported to the police but not recorded as an offence. It means an investigation into the alleged crime is unlikely to happen.
The audit reviewed reports of crime between November 2012 and October 2013 across all 43 forces in England and Wales.
It found that:
– Among the sample, 37 rape allegations were not recorded as a crime
– For 3,842 reported crimes, offenders were given a caution or a penalty notice – but inspectors believe 500 of those should have been charged or given a heavier penalty
– 3,246 of those offences that were recorded were then deemed to be “no crimes” – but inspectors believe 20% of those decisions were wrong and a crime had been committed
– The incidents recorded as “no-crimes” including 200 reports of rape and 250 of violent crime
– More than 800 of the victims were not told of the decision to “no-crime” their report