Watchdogs rate only one police force as 'excellent'

Government watchdogs have rated only one police force in England and Wales as "excellent", two separate reports have revealed.

Northumbria police force topped the Audit Commission's league table of the way 43 forces dealt with crime figures, based on data quality and management arrangements.

The Audit Commission report named Hampstead and Avon & Somerset as the worst police forces.

Northumbria was also rated excellent in a separate report by Wales Audit Office.

The Audit Commission report said that recording crimes accurately was "vital" if police were to have access to reliable and timely information to help them target resources effectively and put victims and witnesses first.

The Commission found that 35 police forces and authorities met the minimum crime recording requirement of 90% compliance with the standards to achieve a "good" or "excellent" rating, compared to 24 in 2004 and 12 in the first year of reviews.

The report also found that 29 forces were assessed as "good" or "excellent" for management arrangements in 2005, compared with eight in 2004 and four in 2003.

The report said that improvement had been "significant" but said that there were still areas of concern. The report also said that five forces relied on expensive and time consuming data checking techniques rather than getting the crime recorded right first time.

Audit Commission Chief Executive Steve Bundred said: "Accurate, timely and reliable data is vital in reducing crime and making communities safer.

"Improvement over the last three years has been significant with the vast majority of police forces and authorities now rated as good or excellent for data quality.

"But there is still work to be done. Only one force has achieved an excellent rating for its management arrangements and a small number of forces have failed to improve or even deteriorated since the last audit in 2004.

"Some forces are achieving a higher rating by checking data too much instead of making sure they record crime correctly first time."


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