HAMPSHIRE Constabulary is one of many police forces under the spotlight for wrongly cancelling reported crime records in relation to rape and sexual offences.

An analysis of the most recent inspection of the force’s recording of crime showed in a sample of cases reviewed, three of 19 reported rapes that had been cancelled had been done so incorrectly.

A report says the three incorrect decisions were due to “misinterpretation of true consent and intoxication”.

More than half of the cancelled sexual offence reports sampled, nine of 17, were incorrect.

Hampshire Constabulary’s most recent inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) in 2018 found the accuracy of its crime recording required improvement.

Charity Rape Crisis said the “failings” of police were “completely unacceptable”.

Katie Russell, national spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales: “Wide disparities between the way different police force areas handle rape and sexual offences, and the premature and inappropriate dropping of investigations into these extremely serious crimes, have long been issues of concern.

“This latest analysis of data from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary highlights that these issues are still very much current. This is part of a wider context in which our criminal justice system has been significantly failing victims and survivors of rape, sexual abuse and all forms of sexual violence for many years.”

“The majority of people subjected to these crimes still don’t have the confidence to report to the police, but despite increasing numbers who are choosing to come forward, charging, prosecution and convictions rates are at an all-time low, while the overwhelming majority of rapists and sexual offenders are walking free.

“Especially considering the wide-ranging, significant and often lifelong impacts of sexual violence and abuse on victims and survivors, these criminal justice failings are completely unacceptable. People who have been through such considerable trauma simply need and deserve better.

“It’s clear that a complete overhaul of our criminal justice system around sexual offences is long overdue and we sincerely hope the Government’s current review will lead to robust and urgent improvements.

“Specialist training and increased resourcing will inevitably have to form part of the solution but the approach must be radical and multi-faceted to achieve the kind of systemic change so clearly and desperately needed.”

In response to the analysis, carried out by the BBC Shared Data Unit, ACC Craig Dibdin, Hampshire Constabulary’s force lead on Crime Data Integrity, said: “HMICFRS has made clear the massive progress made by Hampshire Constabulary on crime recording. Most importantly, it affirms that our officers and staff are victim focused and we have the right leadership approach. The report also makes clear that in the vast majority of cases we are recording crime, safeguarding victims and investigating crime in the right way.

“The accurate recording of crime can be influenced by many factors which may not be clear at the beginning of an investigation. The transfer of cases from one force to another, or a different crime to the one reported being identified following an initial investigation, can impact on these figures and does not represent a recording failure.

“Additionally, it may become apparent that a crime never actually happened. In these cases, police will use the verifiable information they have obtained to justify closing a case, and will never close a case if they are merely unclear as to whether a crime happened or not.

“In general, we do not contest the findings of the HMICFRS and accept that mistakes were made. Since the report in 2018 we have made a number of changes to how cancellations are managed.

“For example, we have introduced better review policies for cancellations and only specially trained departments are authorised to cancel crime on behalf, and within the oversight of, the Force Crime Registrar.

“We also have retrained officers on cancelled crime, stepped up internal communications, and have regular audits of cancelled crime on the areas focussed on by HMICFRS.

“Since these steps have been implemented, our audits have shown compliance in all targeted areas has improved and shown an average of 97% compliance. Specifically, in the most recent audit on rape and robbery cancellations showed a 100% compliance rate.

“Overall the report includes a strong endorsement of our approach, recognising that we have made significant improvements to crime recording and the support we give to victims. I’d like to thank all of our officers and staff for their hard work.”