Merseyside PEEL 2014
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
There was clear evidence in Merseyside Police that senior officers of the force take the issues of police integrity and corruption very seriously. Senior officers of the force have been proactive in taking important messages to the workforce and in developing a climate in which professional behaviour is encouraged and valued. HMIC found there to be effective and efficient governance structures, including an integrity and anti-corruption board. The professional standards department works proactively to understand potential as well as actual threats and presents regular updates to the anti-corruption board.
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 of those that agree 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 greater than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that operators answering calls from the public were almost always polite, professional and helpful. The domestic abuse inspection found good systems within the control room to identify repeat callers although call handlers found it less easy to identify a victim’s vulnerability. HMIC found some risks in the initial attendance at incidents and there were weaknesses in the process for undertaking a risk assessment and subsequent safety planning for victims.
HMIC is concerned that, although there have been improvements in the force’s crime-recording practices, 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): 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?
HMIC found that in Merseyside Police there is clear leadership from the chief constable. He has made a significant commitment in terms of time and effort to leading a series of road shows, and the effective ‘Just Trilogy’ (‘Just Talk’, ‘Just Think’, ‘Just Lead’) presentations.
HMIC found there to be effective and efficient governance structures, including an integrity and anti-corruption board. There is clear evidence of regular engagement between senior officers and the police and crime commissioner.
The professional standards department (PSD) works proactively to understand potential as well as actual threats and presents regular updates to the monthly integrity and anticorruption board meetings.
The force has well developed vetting processes in place, protecting both staff and the wider organisation. The force operates a confidential reporting system known as Safecall. There is a general impression that staff fully understand the message from their senior officers, that they have a responsibility to report wrongdoing, and that they will be supported if they do so.
HMIC found in Merseyside a well-resourced, trained and equipped anti-corruption unit.
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 Merseyside Police show that:
Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 62 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.
- 59 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)
- 85.3 percent (± 0.1 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience which is greater 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 these had remained the same since 2010. The inspection found that during this time the proportion of calls attended within these standards for both ‘immediate’ and ‘priority’ calls had improved.
The crime data integrity inspection found that operators were almost always polite, professional and helpful in calls listened to in the audit.
The domestic abuse inspection found that control room staff were well-trained and skilled in dealing with domestic abuse. The force had good systems within the control room to identify repeat callers and to highlight previous incidents. However, the inspection found that call handlers found it less easy to identify a victim’s vulnerability, even where this had been previously assessed. Not all operators had access to all databases, limiting their ability to gather and pass on information about the victim, perpetrator or any children potentially present. HMIC found some risks in the initial attendance at incidents and there were weaknesses in the process for undertaking a risk assessment and subsequent safety planning for victims. Attending officers did not themselves undertake the formal risk assessment at the scene. The specialist team who carried out the risk assessments did not work at evenings or weekends and therefore there could have been a delay in putting in place the necessary safety plans, which could have placed victims at greater risk.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity inspection, in the supplementary audit, examined 427 incident records and found that 280 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 280 crimes that should have been recorded, the force recorded 247 crimes. This is of concern as it means that some victims’ crimes are not being recorded and that these victims are not receiving the service they deserve (because, for example, certain victim support services are only triggered once a crime is recorded). Of the 247 crimes recorded during the supplementary audit, only three were incorrectly classified against National Crime Recording Standard and the Home Office Counting Rules and nine were recorded outside the 72-hour limit.
In the supplementary audit HMIC found that out of the 55 no-crime files examined, 49 were deemed to be correct. This was broken down as follows; 10 out of 10 no-crimes for rape were correct, eight out of 10 no-crimes for robbery were correct and 31 out of 35 no-crimes for violence were correct. This is a noticeable improvement on the original audit results. However, further improvement is required.