This is the official blog of Sgt Ellie Bloggs, a real live police sergeant on the front line of England. It's not the official opinion of my police force, but all the facts I recount are true, and are not secrets. If they don't want me blogging about it, they shouldn't do it. PS If you don't pay tax, you don't pay my salary.


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Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Truth About NCRS

A few days ago I talked about National Crime Recording Standards and how they directly affect the work I do each day. If the phrase NCRS is new to you, it is the government ruling that if someone phones up to report a crime, we are obliged to record that crime in line with strict rules, however trivial or whether we think it actually happened or not. It was brought in to counter claims that police officers were deliberately under-recording crime to make them look better, or because they couldn't be bothered.

For those of you who like statistics,
here's a report produced in 2001 predicting the effects of NCRS. The bit that interests me is here: "Assuming the effect of NCRS to be an increase of between 10% and 20%... a 10% increase in crime recording amounts to an additional 80,000 hours or 3333 days of police resource time." Let's be clear, this statistic is based only on the INPUTTING of crime - ie the time spent on the phone to the crime inputters. It takes no account of the extra investigation or prosections which will ensue.

A police officer works approximately 1920 hours per year, not allowing for overtime. Therefore the introduction of NCRS requires 40 extra police officers to do the same job. When the government boasted about all the extra police officers they have employed, they never boasted that 40 of them would be on the phone recording crime every hour of the day.

But I don't think these figures show the true picture. The fact is that a good half of these "extra 10%" crime reports will end up being investigated, because if they sit undetected they count as negative statistics for the force. Most will have suspects who could be arrested, because the type of crime that used to go unrecorded were the petty "he said/she said/he hit me/she stole from me" squabbles. Using the 107,000 extra estimated recorded crimes from the above report, and assuming that half of these have suspects to prosecute, it doesn't take long to realise that NCRS could result in as many as 530,000 extra police hours, and most will never result in a useful prosecution because they weren't useful crime reports to start with (for the breakdown in how long it takes to deal with a suspect, see Wasting Police Time). **

My question is, if the government knew this in 2001 before NCRS swept the nation, where are the extra 300 police officers needed to cover the impact of NCRS, let alone the hundreds more required to do actual police work?

Of course, what it means in reality is that the few of us who are left spend more of our time on less important jobs, and aren't able to deal with a large chunk of important work that we would have been before. Cue slews of unhappy victims and a police force in ruin.

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'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in all good bookstores and online.

** If you're wondering where my estimate of hours has come from, I have used my own team as a sample and worked out how many offences we are investigating that we would not have investigated pre-NCRS, and half of these have required an arrest or prosecution. Here's the breakdown:


Between five of us (yes, my team has dwindled somewhat since the book), we have the following ongoing investigations:
These are all jobs with suspects that need arresting. Knowing the details of all of them, pre-NCRS, neither of the harassments would have been recorded, nor 2 of the thefts, 2 of the assaults, the racist incident nor the perverting the course of justice, nor 2 of the dog bites. That's a third, 33.3333% (note how this is not 10%, nor 20%).

I've applied these figures conservatively (halved them) to produce the estimate of 530,000 hours nationwide. Yes, it's just a snapshot of one week, but I reckon you could pick any week at random on any team in any town in any force, and the figures would be similar.

24 Comments:

Blogger blueknight said...

I agree. There were eight (Beat Officers) in our team and we were all running with between 15 and 35crimes on our accounts at any one time. Most were L.O.B.but needed investigation to prove this actually was the case. Between us we always had at least 10 prisoners lined up for arrest.
These are the figures for 'violence against the person' in a little seaside town.
2000-1 1309
2005-6 1834
An increase of 24%

05 May, 2008 00:08

 
Blogger uniform said...

The crime on your teams list which will surely astound people is the dog bite one, a crime is recorded for a dog bite! The owner could be fingerprinted DNA’d etc...

The real reason we have NCR is that the Home Office were convinced that we needed to be ethical in the recording of crime, this stemmed from the oft reported difference between official police figures and the crime survey, where people were supposedly really honest about the crime that affected them. No false fraudulent criminal damage/theft reports, lying about be harassed in poxy harassment cases then

They decided that everything should be recorded and investigated.

This included, as you say, all the pathetic texting harassments (juveniles on juveniles etcc), cases of the commonest of assaults, a push, no marks or scars, just a hurty feeling inside, that we used to direct to a solicitor for a civil remedy.

Offender and victim not there crimes, a thought that there has been a crime.

Never mind that NCR allowed the” yeah but no but” time burgling unwashed to tie up significant resources , or that we would be wasting taxpayers money on back room staff to record and marshal theses bogus crimes ,defeating money from employing real Police officers to stop feral youths from kicking to death working citizens ..All that mattered was that it was ethical...Yeah right

05 May, 2008 09:10

 
Blogger uniform said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

05 May, 2008 09:12

 
Blogger uniform said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

05 May, 2008 09:12

 
Anonymous notellin said...

I would agree with you Bloggsy and even state that its proportionally higher depending on where you live with at least 30% if not up to 50% of the crimes recorded being total and utter bull shit.

NCRS has removed any sense of proportionality and discretion in Police response. Now, regardless of evidence, wishes of the aggrieved, or nature of the event a crime will get recorded and the full, overstretched, weight of the Police will drop on someone.

So many people have been criminalised due to NCRS that we are loosing the support of the public and its not even helped make a just and ordered society.

At best we have created a new generation of "Victims" who actually aren't and "Criminals" who shouldn't be.

At worst lead to a massive rise in actual crime and by actual crime i don't mean the dross NCRS has created out of thin air.

Countless cases could be worked out with a few words of advice or leaving it up to schools to enforce discipline.

NCRS is not ethical, is not effective, is not flexible, is a cure to problem that didn't exist and is only upsetting the Public and taking resources away from stopping the real criminals of this world.

NCRS needs changing and changing quickly so that many offences are no longer automatically recorded, so that discretion and proportionality are restored and so attention can be diverted to actual crime.

05 May, 2008 15:17

 
Anonymous pzgirl said...

Hey don't knock it - the extra money I earn in the "Inputting LOB Crimes" department is helping to cover the cost of the government holding back the pay rise I'm owed!

05 May, 2008 16:36

 
Anonymous Roland said...

Well I have had a quick refresher look at my crime list and was wondering why you are arresting for a dog bite or recording it as a crime, unless the dog owner really egged the dog on to the attack I suppose.

Otherwise it would be a report for the owner and summons to Court later on.

Wonderful thing for many offences, the summons, especially if like me you are miles away from your Custody Station.

05 May, 2008 17:05

 
Anonymous Angry Rozzer said...

Bloggsy, good post.

NCRS is sh*te. It's done nothing but cause grief & stress all-round.

Goes to show, Job's F***ed.

Decade & a half to retirement, not sure I'm going to last.

*Sigh*.

05 May, 2008 17:53

 
Blogger blueknight said...

Roland, the modern 1991? Dangerous Dogs Act is fine if you have a killer pit bull, but most bites are the result of getting nipped by a normally docile pet dog that is cting out of character. I used to use the 1871 Dogs Act, which is the canine equivlent of being bound over to keep the peace. If the dog breches the order, destruction is an option but not a foregone conclusion.The only quirk is the victim should identify the dog by pointing it out to an Officer.

05 May, 2008 21:02

 
Anonymous Shame_on_me said...

I understand the difficulties as they are a explained here, but as a "consumer of police services" (i.e. MOP), I have observed that in my inner city location the local Mets have been keen in the past to 'manage down' the reporting of crime by naming and shaming the reporter in his neighbourhood and also by refusing to do anything about obvious criminality. One might say the police have bought NCRS upon themselves.

06 May, 2008 09:06

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame_on_me is correct that SOME of the police brought NCRS on the police. To the list of causers we can add liberals (who hate the police) and conservatives (who think not enough is being done) and the whinging members of the public.

But what is NCRS but another box ticking exercise? It makes liberals and conservatives happy albeit in different ways. It allows the government to pretend that something is being done.

Like all box ticking exercises it really is about arse covering. It doesnt do much to deal with the problem, eats up lots of time, but allows management and the government to say "we are dealing with the problem(s)".

But having brought the insanity of NCRS and the requirement of detections, we get to the next stage of trying to manage the reported number down. Then eventually someone with more than one brain cell will go "well NCRS and detection rates are bad because it means a dog bite and a murder count for the same." Down this path leads madness - weighting the crime and ever more specific targets (No Promotion for the SMT if they cannot clear 5 homicides - oh, there arent any homicides. Want to bet they reclassify some deaths as homicides?) NO, NO, what you really want is to bin the bloody thing. Beef up the inspection and police complaints - use some common sense. This deals with S_O_M's point.

But using people to deal with quality control means that someone is to blame, or in the bad old days no one was to blame, now NCRS means

1) PC Bloggs is to blame for not having the required detections
2) Sgt N is to blame for not encouraging 1) enough
3) Inspector G is to blame for 1) and 2) above
4) SMT is kind of to blame for 1),2, 3). But happily the blame is spread... thinly.

Or alternatively PC Bloggs can make her detections by arresting many biting dogs and their owners. (Who are then given a police caution.)

06 May, 2008 10:05

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So - a confused constituent of mine rings in and says that when she left home that morning she had 5 bananas in a bowl in her kitchen and they had turned brown. When she got home they were yellow. Cue civilian recorder - created as a 'burglary dwelling', crime no allocated and sent for resourcing. Cue overworked officer negotiating to get it no crimed. It goes down as a 'crime related incident' because a crime ref no had been created. There was no crime, there never had been a crime. The only crime was the intiial lack of questioning and not getting contact number for neighbour or age concern to help the lady. Arggghhhh!!!!

06 May, 2008 11:45

 
Anonymous shame_on_me said...

Some points from the penultimate Anonymous (come on guys, make up some names).

Firstly, liberals don't hate the police, they fear them. This is largely because they're frightened they will get found out in their drug taking and in the bad behaviour of their children. Hate and fear nearly the same, I guess.

Secondly, am I right in thinking the "Bobbies on the Beat" chorus know nothing about modern policing? Or is that where you all want to be? I remember the stories about total policing in the old days of the City Police. At night there were literally policemen on every street corner. Still plenty of crime, I understand.

Lastly, HMIC conduct their activities out of sight, and Police Complaints are a sledgehammer to catch a rat. No answer in either of those, I think.

06 May, 2008 15:56

 
Anonymous weepeecee said...

I have one of those thefts that probably isn't really and would have been got rid of ages ago in the olden days.
Just to make it even more enjoyable to work on the victim is hideous and I have yet to speak to him without him shouting at me and hanging up.
Rubbish.

06 May, 2008 20:12

 
Anonymous goodjudge said...

So which is it? Blogging coppers, the tabloid- and tabloid-reading masses and the Tories (OK, there's a pretty high correlation between those 3 groups) all say crime is up, up, up.

But this post shows - in language that even David Cameron could understand - that although 'recorded indcidents' are up, up, up, actual crime is not.

I'm not denying it might be higher than pre NCRS, but how can we truly make any sort of empirical judgement, given that we're comparing apples with oranges? And as it's scientifically impossible to measure the stats on 'would / would not have been crimed pre-NCRS', how will we ever know?

One third of PC Bloggs' 'crimes' are not actually so - but most of those discarded would come under the tabloids' 'violent crimes' heading. I've always believed that fear of crime is much higher than actual risk and these figures (as unscientific as they may be) bear that out.

06 May, 2008 21:00

 
Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

That's not enough Racist Incidents - get it sorted for goodness sake Bloggsy!!

06 May, 2008 21:11

 
Anonymous Inspector Gadget said...

What I mean is; you are obviously NOT doing enough to encourage the reporting of Racist Incidents. You have a target for this, but also a target for reducing Racist crimes. Geddit?

06 May, 2008 21:14

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame_on_me, the point is that NCRS is much more of a sledgehammer to deal with possibly a few cops who do bad things like understate crime figures and who dont deal with "racist" incidents than having a proper inspection system and a complaints procedure.
We need some way to deal with crime underreporting - I think we all prefer a few HMIC/IPCC bods more and less form filling.

Of course, NCRS also allows the management to "target" certain crimes and claim "action" is being taken. Bad idea since it always means someone has set a "target" ignoring the knock on effect of such targets.

06 May, 2008 21:38

 
Blogger staghounds said...

Once again, our thanks in the United States to our British exemplars. We're heading toward the NCRS sort of system as quickly as we can.

It is as though there is a powerful group within the C"J"S who will only be satisfied when no one is actually charged with an offence, because every single police officer will be fully occupied in recording crimes and analysing statistics.

(And every prosecutor will be fully occupied reviewing files and demanding more investigation to be sure cases are stronger in the face of ever higher evidentiary requirements.)

07 May, 2008 12:56

 
Blogger Bitseach said...

Just thinking about the resourcing implications, when I'm looking at calculating my overtime budgets I work on £20-£25 ph taking everything into account. Even the lower rate would give a cost of £1.6M for those 80,000 hours, if this figure is correct. Even taking a PCSO o/t rate of about £15 we're looking at £1.2M.

Even if this were always "black time" (x1) pay it represents between £1.2M and £1.5M for police officers to waste these 80,000 hours. Sensible?

10 May, 2008 14:41

 
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Anonymous Surreptitious Evil said...

Your chinese readers are clearly enthused by NCRS :)

19 August, 2009 15:02

 

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