Bedfordshire PEEL 2014
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Bedfordshire Police, working with both Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary, has developed a joint professional standards department that has been in place for 18 months. The three forces are continuing to develop their joint policies and procedures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of how they jointly, manage and respond to, incidents of unprofessional behaviour, misconduct and corruption. However, there is currently insufficient capacity to prevent, reduce and investigate corruption matters effectively.
Further insights on legitimacy
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013) found that the proportion of respondents who think that the force does an excellent/good job was broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales. The same survey over the same period also found that the proportion that agrees that the force deals with local concerns was broadly in line with the figure for England and Wales. The force’s own victim satisfaction survey (12 months to June 2014) found that the proportion of victims that were satisfied with their experience was less than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that frontline staff, including call-takers, understood the importance of meeting the needs of the victim when considering crime-recording and investigation. The domestic abuse inspection found that there were risks and significant room for improvement in the way Bedfordshire identified victims of domestic violence. There was an inconsistent and sometimes limited approach to establishing risk, safeguarding and vulnerability of the victim at the first point of contact. Following HMIC’s reinspection, training had been given to control room staff to address this. A further domestic abuse inspection in October 2014 found that there are now domestic abuse advisors in the force control room to help ensure victims get the right police response from the outset.
As a result of the crime data integrity inspection, HMIC is concerned that a notable proportion of reports of crime are not being recorded, and this means that victims of crime are not receiving the service they should when they first report a crime.
HMIC is also concerned with the accuracy of the decisions taken by the force when making no-crime decisions (cancelling a recorded crime) as too many of these are incorrect. The force needs to take action to improve, serve the victims of these crimes and provide the public with confidence in the force’s crime data.
To what extent does the force ensure that the workforce acts with integrity?
There was clear leadership from the chief constable and individuals have a good awareness of the boundaries of professional and unprofessional behaviour. Police officers and staff are aware of their responsibility to challenge unprofessional behaviour. The force adopted the Code of Ethics early and has an implementation plan. Bedfordshire incorporates ethical and professional behaviour into policies and procedures. There is a need to ensure consistent auditing. Training on ethical and professional behaviour is provided to staff, but infrequently. There is a need to develop an overarching plan to provide integrity training to staff and ensure knowledge is complete.
While the force has a clear procedure for disseminating the lessons it has learned from misconduct procedures and referring issues to the responsible managers, it should improve how it tracks any action taken to see that this has been completed. The professional standards department and anti-corruption unit have police officers and police staff with appropriate skills and experience for the roles they perform. They are selected from across all three forces in the strategic alliance, but there was little evidence of any structured succession planning (to make sure that the right staff are in place if someone leaves).
The force needs to develop improved tasking and co-ordinating processes for the anti-corruption unit with better analysis and research that proactively identifies misconduct and corruption risks.
What are the public perceptions of the force?
HMIC considers that there are two sources of data that give an insight into the public’s perceptions of their police force: the Crime Survey for England and Wales, and the Victim Satisfaction Survey.
The data for Bedfordshire Police show that:
Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 58 percent of adults surveyed think that the police do an excellent/good job, which is broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales of 61 percent.
- 58 percent of adults surveyed agree that the police deal with local concerns, which is broadly in line with the England and Wales proportion of 60 percent.
Victim Satisfaction Survey (12 months to June 2014)
- 83.3 percent (± 0.2 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience which is less than the figure across England and Wales of 85.0 percent (± 0.2 percent).
To what extent does the force respond to calls for service appropriately?
The value for money inspection found the force had set a clear performance standard for response times, and this had remained the same since 2010. The inspection found that the proportion of calls attended within these standards had declined significantly.
The crime data integrity inspection found that frontline staff, including call-takers, understood the importance of meeting the needs of the victim when considering crime-recording and investigation; they were consistently polite, professional and helpful.
The domestic abuse inspection found that there were risks and significant room for improvement in the way Bedfordshire Police identified victims of domestic violence. In some cases, call-handlers were not getting the full picture of risk from the victim, taking only sufficient detail from a caller to enable an officer to be sent. There was an inconsistent, and sometimes limited approach to establishing risk, safeguarding and the vulnerability of the victim at the first point of contact. Following HMIC’s re-inspection, training had been given to control room staff to address this. The force’s information on vulnerability was held on a number of different systems, which took time to research thoroughly. Consequently, it was not done consistently, and responding officers may not have had all the information that they needed for a reasonable picture of the case’s history. A further domestic abuse inspection in October 2014 found that there are now domestic abuse advisors in the force control room to help ensure victims get the right police response from the outset.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity inspection examined 63 incident records and found that 55 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 55 crimes that should have been recorded, 45 were. This was of concern as it meant that some victims’ crimes were not being recorded and they were not getting the service they deserved (e.g., because certain victim support services are only triggered when a crime is recorded).
The force also had a centralised crime-recording bureau (CRB) through which it was estimated that it records approximately 42 percent of all the crimes that are reported to the force directly from the public. The CRB records reports of crime directly from members of the public which do not require the creation of an incident record. HMIC audited 29 calls from the public and found that of the 30 crimes that should have been recorded, 30 were recorded correctly. This element represented an effective approach to crime-recording for the force.
The inspection also examined 74 no-crime records and found 55 records to be compliant with HOCR and NCRS. As the no-crime records, HMIC reviewed related to offences of rape, robbery and violence this was a matter of serious concern. In particular, of the 23 rape offences recorded as no-crime that HMIC found, nine should have remained as a recorded crime. The majority of failures had insufficient additional verifiable information to justify the no-crime decision.