Police record some crimes which are subsequently transferred or cancelled, where it is judged that a crime did not take place, or was recorded in error.
Number of offences initially recorded, recorded and transferred or cancelled by police force area 2014 to 2015
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Data on transferred or cancelled records are published in Chapter 5 of the ‘Crime Outcomes in England and Wales 2014 to 2015’ bulletin. The Office for National Statistics also publish some summary data in the User Guide to Crime Statistics.
More recent data is available as open data tables at ‘Police recorded crime and outcomes open data tables’.
The Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR) set out circumstances under which a crime report may be transferred or cancelled. These include situations where a crime is considered to have been recorded in error or where, having been recorded, additional verifiable information becomes available that determines that no crime was committed (for further information see the ‘general rules’ section of the HOCR).
Transferred or cancelled records relate to crimes already recorded and are therefore distinct from incident reports that are not ‘crimed’ in the first place.
Crime reports that are transferred or cancelled are removed from police crime data and thus from the police recorded crime statistics. The majority of decisions leading to a transferred/cancelled record are made by police forces before data are submitted to the Home Office, and although some revisions are made to published crime statistics as a result of transferrals or cancellations, these are typically small.
Great care is needed in interpreting these data. The proportion of transferred or cancelled records does not in itself infer high or low compliance with the overall requirements of the HOCR. Levels of transferral and cancellations are particularly susceptible to local recording practice and the IT systems in use. A police force having a high level of transferral or cancellations may be indicative of that force having a local recording process that captures all reports as crimes at the first point of contact and before any further investigation has taken place to consider the full facts. Equally a police force with a low level might be indicative of a recording practice by which reports are retained as incidents only until a fuller investigation has taken place.