South Yorkshire PEEL 2014
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
The chief officers have engaged in effective communication to reinforce and develop a culture within South Yorkshire Police that increases the focus on integrity. Professional standards are understood by the workforce and there is willingness across the force to report wrongdoing.
Although the force has effective systems and a range of policies in place to manage and regulate behaviour to safeguard integrity, some of these need refreshing. The professional standards and counter-corruption units are directed efficiently. Misconduct is effectively investigated and the force has identified innovative areas for analysis but some further audit work, including checking existing systems and records to identify potentially corrupt links, is necessary. When unprofessional behaviour is found, the force is robust but ensures investigations and misconduct proceedings are managed fairly.
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 found that the proportion who agree that the force deals with local concerns was less than the figure for England and Wales. The force’s own victim satisfaction survey (12 months to June 2014) found that the proportion of victims who were satisfied with their experience was broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales.
The domestic abuse inspection found some key weaknesses in the response and initial action being taken to safeguard victims. The force did not make best use of the technology it had to locate the nearest officer, and victims were not getting as quick a response as they otherwise might. The force was planning to change its approach to risk. However, HMIC was concerned that there was no comprehensive training plan in place following this.
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): 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.
The child protection inspection found that performance information for child protection was under-developed, and the force needed to do more to understand and record outcomes for children to improve and further develop services.
To what extent does the force ensure that the workforce acts with integrity?
HMIC found clear leadership from both the chief constable and the deputy chief constable reinforcing a culture of ethical behaviour. The chief constable has emphasised important messages, including ‘supporting reporting’ (to encourage staff to report unethical behaviour), the ‘chief’s pledge’ (to support staff who act in good faith), as well as a clear message that the force will maintain the highest ethical standards when dealing with legacy issues like the Hillsborough inquiry. The force has launched an integrity programme that incorporates the national Code of Ethics and the force FIRST principles (fairness, integrity, respect, standards, and trust). HMIC found that officers and staff have a good awareness of professional boundaries.
HMIC found staff were aware of their responsibility to challenge and then report unprofessional behaviour and they feel supported when they do. HMIC also found that leaders, including first-line supervisors, lead by example and demonstrate their personal commitment to ethical behaviour. Training on ethical and professional behaviour is provided to staff and some knowledge checks are carried out.
The inspection found that some survey work is carried out to understand how integrity issues affect public trust.
The force has implemented a central register to record offers of gifts and hospitality. The force publishes details of the gifts and hospitality register along with details of chief and senior officers’ expenses but there is a need to develop more rigorous auditing of integrity registers. The force has improved the way it monitors business interests and notifiable associations.
The force has maintained an appropriate staffing level within the anti-corruption unit and has a positive programme of proactive work in place to identify misconduct, unprofessional behaviour and corruption.
The force has a number of ways to identify potential corruption risks. These include a strategic threat assessment that looks at known and potential threats. The force has recently carried out an operation to identify areas where vulnerable victims may potentially face exploitation. The force is working to identify vulnerability issues linked to older victims, which may also be useful for other forces.
The force uses random and ‘with cause’ drug testing, and intelligence-led integrity testing to identify corruption and the results are circulated to the workforce. The frequency of this testing has, however, reduced recently.
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 South Yorkshire Police show that:
Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 59 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.
- 54 percent of adults surveyed agree that the police deal with local concerns, which is less than the England and Wales proportion of 60 percent.
Victim Satisfaction Survey (12 months to June 2014)
- 85.2 percent (± 1.4 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience, which is broadly in line with 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 that South Yorkshire Police had set a clear performance standard for response times, and this 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 declined.
The crime data integrity inspection found that the force promoted and generally displayed a victim-centred approach to crime-recording, crime outcomes and no-crime decisions. However, the commitment to a victim-centred approach was not emphasised in the force’s crime-recording policies and strategies, and the working practices within some specialist areas of the force demonstrated that the victim was not always the central concern.
The domestic abuse inspection found that call handlers in the force communication centre dealt with the majority of requests for police help in dealing with domestic abuse. They were trained to use their professional judgement in risk assessing every incident and deciding on the appropriate police response. In addition to questioning the caller, they checked the police databases for any previous history of police involvement. However, HMIC found that the force did not make best use of the technology it had to locate the nearest officer, which meant the force did not make the most efficient use of its resources and, more importantly, that victims were not getting as quick a response as they otherwise might. HMIC found some key weaknesses in the response and initial action being taken to safeguard victims. Although the attending officer completed a form of risk assessment, they were not themselves required to evaluate the risk facing the victim. This meant that at the stage of this initial response the officer was required to take immediate action to safeguard the victim in the absence of a risk assessment. The force was planning to change its approach to risk assessment and was adopting the use of the nationally recognised domestic abuse, stalking and harassment risk assessment tool early in 2014. However, HMIC was concerned that there was no comprehensive training plan in place to ensure officers are equipped to undertake the risk assessments following their introduction.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity inspection examined 152 incident records and found that 117 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 117 crimes that should have been recorded, 89 were. Of the 89, three were wrongly classified and nine were recorded outside the 72-hour limit allowed under the Home Office Counting Rules. There was a serious need for improvement in the accuracy and timeliness of crime-recording decisions.
South Yorkshire Police also had a centralised crime management unit through which HMIC estimated that it recorded approximately 24 percent of the total of its recorded crime. This unit recorded reports of crime directly from members of the public, and which did not require the creation of an incident record. The inspection of this unit (a review of 19 calls from the public) found that of the 19 crimes that should have been recorded, all 19 were recorded and classified correctly. This was an effective approach to crime-recording for the force.
The inspection also reviewed 66 no-crime decisions in respect of offences of rape, robbery and violence. Here, 11 were found not to comply with the National Crime Recording Standard and the Home Office Counting Rules. The accuracy of some no-crime decisions was monitored as part of the force audit regime led by the force crime registrar with more comprehensive monitoring of high-risk crimes, including rape. Despite this, notable numbers of no-crime decisions did not comply with the requirements of the Home Office Counting Rules.
The child protection inspection found that performance information for child protection was under-developed. The inspection found that the force needed to do more to understand and record outcomes for children to improve and further develop services. There were cases where vital information had not been recorded. Inspectors also saw some examples of poor recording practice, and in some cases child protection systems were not updated with new information.