The damning assessment by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), concluded that shortcomings at West Midlands Police could put victims more at more risk of harm.
It found that only 83.8% of reported offences were recorded by the force, meaning the West Midlands is not recording at least 38,800 reports of crime each year, by the watchdog’s estimates.
The 16.2% of reported crimes that go unrecorded included sexual offences, domestic abuse and rape.
The report highlighted the recording rate for violent crime, which was 77.9%, as a particular cause of concern, adding: “This means that on too many occasions, the force is failing victims of crime.”
HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said: “I am very disappointed with the result of our recent inspection into how West Midlands Police records crime.
“We estimate that the force fails to record over 38,800 crimes every year. This is not just low-level crime: it includes sexual offences and violent crime.
“Not only does this mean the force cannot fully understand the demand it faces to plan accordingly, but it also means that victims could potentially be at more risk of harm, without the required support.”
She said the force needs to improve how it manages domestic abuse cases, saying the inspectorate found a large number of cases where safeguarding requirements for victims had not been considered or recorded, and for which no investigation had been carried out.
West Midlands deputy chief constable Louisa Rolfe hit back at the report, saying: “While we broadly accept the data underpinning the report, it is certainly not accurate to claim 38,000 crimes have occurred and not been recorded.
“A significant number of these incidents were recorded on our systems but just not classified correctly.”
She said the force takes the concerns about safeguarding “very seriously”, adding: “It is important to understand the context: in many of these cases the missed crime was found when inspectors trawled through case histories and would not have affected an ongoing prosecution or safeguarding.”