Victims of crime are not being consulted by police in cases where softer punishments are handed out to criminals, a new report has claimed.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) warned Lancashire Police need to ensure victims are properly consulted before offenders are issued with cautions or fines.
Investigators reviewed a sample of cases and found 12 cautions were issued where police should have consulted the victim first, a step that was taken on only four occasions.
For all 11 penalty notices reviewed where there was a victim to consult, there was no record of that happening.
The report recommends that “with immediate effect” the force should revise its approach to cautions, cannabis warnings and penalty notices to ensure the implications are properly explained to offenders and, where appropriate, victims are consulted first.
On the accuracy of the force’s crime data, it found 155 of 208 incident records viewed should have been recorded as crimes. Of those, 142 were, although eight were wrongly classified.
The report praised Lancashire Police for how accurately crimes are recorded and for prioritising victim focus.
The report adds: “This is a good result and demonstrates effectiveness in the approach adopted by the force to secure the integrity of crime data.”
The watchdog’s report was scathing in its criticism of other forces around the country for under-recording crimes but found 91.6 per cent of offences in the county were being properly dealt with – compared to the national average of just 82 per cent.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “A victim focused approach to crime recording is a priority for the force and the report recognises that we have moved further towards providing a high quality of service and victim focused outcomes.
“Accurate crime recording is essential if the public are to have confidence in the police service and we have already started work on the areas identified for improvement in the report to ensure the people of Lancashire can remain confident in the integrity of our crime recording figures.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “What the HMIC report shows is in Lancashire, in contrast to the national picture, quality and victim focus is the priority.
“That said, the force does need to act on the recommendations and I will continue to scrutinise performance through our regular meetings.”