HC Deb 12 May 2003 vol 405 cc72-3W
Mr. Ben Chapman

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which police issue lost property numbers rather than crime numbers to victims of theft. [111463]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth

Prior to 2001 lost property numbers, rather than crime numbers, were issued by the police to members of the public who perceived themselves to be victims of theft but where there was insufficient evidence to show that a crime had been committed. The lost property numbers were issued primarily for insurance purposes.

Since 2001 everyone who reports a theft to the police, whether real or perceived, should be issued with a crime number not a lost property number. This change occurred following a report from Her Majestys Inspectorate of Constabulary in July 2000 that set out the extent and causes of variations in police recording practices. One of the conclusions reached was that there was a need for all forces to have in place an accurate and ethical crime recording system.

Whilst allegations which clearly have no basis in fact are now weeded out of the published recorded crime statistics, they all require initial recording as a crime, and a written justification if the matter is not pursued.