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Northumbria PEEL 2014

Legitimacy

Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?

Last updated 12/11/2014
Ungraded

 

HMIC found both strong and visible leadership in Northumbria from the chief constable and relevant chief officer team members. The deputy chief constable is actively engaged with the professional standards department. HMIC found Northumbria Police to be well set up to prevent, identify and investigate corruption. The force uses nationally recognised methods of strategic assessment, risk mitigation and monitoring for the professional standards department and counter-corruption unit. There is a positive and constructive relationship with the police and crime commissioner, who has introduced a small team of staff to act as first point of contact following receipt of a complaint.

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 greater than the figure across England and Wales. The same survey over the same period also found that the proportion who agree that the force deals with local concerns was greater than 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 which was greater than the figure across England and Wales.

The crime data integrity inspection found that operators answering calls from the public were polite and professional but could have displayed more empathy with victims. The inspection on domestic abuse found that the force had good systems to identify repeat and vulnerable callers. Staff researched police databases to gather available information about a caller, perpetrator, family or address to help officers attending the incident to assess the threat of harm to a victim and their children.

However, as a result of the crime data integrity inspection, HMIC is seriously 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.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

To what extent does the force ensure that the workforce acts with integrity?

HMIC found both strong and visible leadership in Northumbria from the chief constable and relevant chief officer team members. The deputy chief constable is actively engaged with the professional standards department. There is a positive and constructive relationship with the police and crime commissioner, who has introduced a small team of staff to act as first point of contact following receipt of a complaint.

There seems to be generally low reporting rates in relation to the gifts and hospitality register. While details of some incidences where gifts and hospitality were not accepted have been entered, not all staff fully understand the need to record incidents where gifts and hospitality have been declined.

HMIC found Northumbria Police to be well set up to prevent, identify and investigate corruption. The force uses nationally recognised methods of strategic assessment, risk mitigation and monitoring for the professional standards department and counter-corruption unit. It has dedicated analytical capability primarily tasked with intelligence analysis and research rather than routine performance measurement tasks. The force leadership has already identified a need for improved proactive protective monitoring for IT systems and steps are being taken to acquire appropriate system protection.

Ungraded
2

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 Northumbria Police show that:

Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)

  • 67 percent of adults surveyed think that the police do an excellent/good job, which is greater than the figure across England and Wales of 61 percent.
  • 65 percent of adults surveyed agree that the police deal with local concerns, which is greater than the England and Wales proportion of 60 percent.

Victim Satisfaction Survey (12 months to June 2014)

  • 90.5 percent (± 1.2 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).

Ungraded
3

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 ’emergency’ and ‘priority’ calls had increased.

The crime data integrity inspection found that call-takers were polite and professional. However, it was felt they could have displayed more empathy with victims.

The domestic abuse inspection found that the force had good systems to identify repeat and vulnerable callers. The force had defined what makes a victim of domestic abuse a repeat or vulnerable victim. Call-takers used these definitions to identify vulnerable and repeat victims at the first point of contact. HMIC found that staff researched police databases to gather available information about a caller, perpetrator, family or address to help officers attending the incident to assess the threat of harm to a victim and their children. This information was routinely passed to attending officers which helped to inform their risk assessment. Front desk enquiry staff at police stations had not received domestic abuse training so could fail to identify victims at the earliest opportunity. All officers in 24/7 response and neighbourhood policing teams had received training in the domestic abuse, stalking and harassment risk assessment process and were aware of their responsibilities in safeguarding victims.

Ungraded
4

To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?

The crime data integrity inspection examined 170 incident records and found that 115 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 115 crimes that should have been recorded, 83 were. Of the 83, four were wrongly classified, one was over recorded and five were recorded outside the 72-hour limit allowed under the Home Office Counting Rules. This was of serious concern as it meant that some victims’ crimes were not being recorded and that these victims were not receiving the service they deserved (because, for example, certain victim support services are only triggered once a crime is recorded).

HMIC found incidents that had been opened with a crime code but closed as ‘suspicious circumstances’ and further examination revealed crimes that should have been recorded. The inspection also found incident logs opened and closed as ‘concern for safety’ which also included crimes that should have been recorded. The force was aware of this issue and was putting measures in place. Nevertheless, this is an area of risk in terms of accurate crime-recording and a rigorous audit should be undertaken at the earliest opportunity to establish the scale of the problem.

The inspection also examined 73 no-crime records and found 49 records to be compliant with Home Office Counting Rules and the National Crime Recording Standard. The inspection found that 11 out of 13 no-crime decisions for robbery were correct, 21 out of 30 no-crimes for violent crime were correct but only 17 out of 30 no-crimes for rape were correct. The audit identified a lack of understanding of additional verifiable information, the use of the balance of probability to determine a no-crime and a number of inappropriate retraction statements.

Ungraded