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Cambridgeshire 2015

Read more about Cambridgeshire 2015

This is HMIC’s second assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy with which Cambridgeshire Constabulary keeps people safe and reduces crime. PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) gives you information about how your local police force is performing in several important areas. It does this in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year-on-year.

The extent to which Cambridgeshire Constabulary is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.

The extent to which Cambridgeshire Constabulary is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.

The extent to which Cambridgeshire Constabulary is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.

This year, for the first time, we have assessed the leadership across the force at every level. The assessment has led to a narrative rather than graded judgment, which is summarised below.

Read more about my assessment of Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s performance this year, including any exceptional events and where I would like to see improvements next year.

Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary

Read the transcript of the video

Contact Zoë Billingham

HMI’s observations

I am satisfied with most aspects of Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime. However, I have concerns about some parts of the service provided by the force.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary works well to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, and there are good arrangements in place to disrupt the most serious criminality. However, although I have seen undoubted improvements in the service that the force provides to victims of domestic abuse since last year, there is still considerable room for improvement. While officers assess risk and protect victims there is a lack of positive action – for example, arresting the perpetrator. The approach to collecting evidence using body-worn video cameras is inconsistent, which means that the service to vulnerable victims is not as good as it should be. The force also needs to improve the consistency of its crime investigations.

I am reassured that Cambridgeshire Constabulary is fully prepared to face its future financial challenges. It has achieved this through consistent and careful planning. The force recognises the scale of the future challenges and has strong collaborative arrangements with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary to achieve further efficiencies.

There is a strong culture within the force to give careful thought to ethical considerations. This is reflected in good examples of public engagement and an effective police response to issues that are of most importance to the communities of Cambridgeshire.

Description of force area

Cambridgeshire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Cambridgeshire. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Cambridgeshire is generally affluent. Around 0.8 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the cities of Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough. This resident population is ethnically diverse, with 10 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year.

The proportion of areas in Cambridgeshire that are predicted to present a very high challenge to the police is higher than the national average. These are characterised by social deprivation or a concentration of commercial premises (including licensed premises), and in some cases both.

Working arrangements

Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s mature and successful collaboration with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary brings efficiencies across specialist operational and support services. There are clear plans in place to develop further joint arrangements and the force recognises future opportunities in this strong alliance.

A new chief constable (previously the deputy chief constable) and deputy chief constable have been appointed within the past year.

Effectiveness

In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Cambridgeshire Constabulary to require improvement in the way in which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force works well to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour and protects most victims well, but improvement is needed to ensure the services are consistent and vulnerable people are properly supported. There are good arrangements in place to keep communities safe and tackle the most serious crimes. However, the force needs to improve its approach to ensuring that crime investigations are of a consistently good quality so that it can effectively fight crime and bring more offenders to justice. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so a year-on-year comparison is not possible.

Efficiency

Cambridgeshire Constabulary is well prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force has achieved greater levels of savings than it needed to since 2010 and has built up financial reserves, which it plans to use to smooth the impact of budget cuts over the next few years until anticipated savings are achieved. The force has plans in place to make all the expected savings needed through to 2019. It has worked hard to minimise the impact of budget cuts on frontline policing through working jointly with other forces to save money, and an ambitious approach to using new technology to improve police efficiency. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the previous spending review period, Cambridgeshire was judged to be good.

Legitimacy

The chief officer team takes seriously the need for an ethical and inclusive workforce and there is an effective approach to improving wellbeing. Local teams have a good understanding of their neighbourhoods and engage positively with the public and decision-making by Taser-trained officers is fair and appropriate. The force has more to do in order to comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.

Leadership

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has strong leadership and the senior officer team has set a clear direction, which is understood by police officers and staff across the force. HMIC found good communication with the workforce at all levels of the organisation. This is illustrated by a series of staff surveys conducted by the force, with improvements having been made as a result of the findings.

Insights from other inspections

HMIC undertakes other inspections in addition to the PEEL programme. Since the last PEEL assessment there have been five reports published on inspections that included Cambridgeshire Constabulary. More detail on some of these inspections can be found under the Other inspections section.

Looking ahead to PEEL 2016

In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how the force responds to this assessment, and to the cause of concern and areas for improvement and that HMIC has identified in the last year.

I will be particularly interested to see:

  • improvements in the services to vulnerable victims, particularly victims of domestic abuse;
  • compliance with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme;
  • how the force continues to develop its collaboration arrangements with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary; and
  • how the new chief constable’s plans for improvement lead to better police services for the people of Cambridgeshire.

In May 2016, like the majority of forces in England and Wales, the force will see the second elections for its police and crime commissioner.

Effectiveness

How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 18/02/2016
Requires improvement

HMIC judges that overall Cambridgeshire Constabulary requires improvement in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The constabulary works very well to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour and protects most victims well, but improvement is needed to ensure the services are consistent and vulnerable people are properly supported. There are good arrangements in place to keep communities safe and tackle the most serious crimes. However, the constabulary needs to improve its approach to ensuring that crime investigations are of a consistently good quality so that it can effectively fight crime and bring more offenders to justice. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so a year-on-year comparison is not possible.

HMIC judges that overall Cambridgeshire Constabulary requires improvement in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime. It is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. The constabulary is strongly committed to crime prevention, supporting victims, partnership working and keeping communities safe. Officers and staff work well with other organisations to solve problems in neighbourhoods, including intervening early to stop them from escalating. While there are a few areas for improvement, including better use of community resolutions and how the constabulary evaluates ‘what works’, the public can feel confident that the constabulary is working well to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, and keep people safe.

In HMIC’s crime inspection in 2014 we recommended that improvement was needed in the quality and consistency of crime investigations. In this inspection we found that there are still the same areas for improvement. There are inconsistencies in the quality and supervision of initial investigations, which means there is a risk that opportunities to gather the best evidence to bring offenders to justice may be missed. It is disappointing not to see more progress in improving the standard of these initial investigations. However we did find that after the initial response, the quality of subsequent investigations is adequate and the constabulary is good at managing those offenders causing most harm.

Although Cambridgeshire Constabulary generally provides a good service in identifying vulnerable people and responds well to them, there is room for improvement. For example the response to the investigation and safeguarding of domestic abuse victims is a cause of concern to HMIC. The constabulary may not be consistently dealing with domestic abuse offenders in the most appropriate way, to prevent reoffending and protect victims.

The constabulary has a good understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime, and is good at disrupting the activity of organised crime groups. Staff responsible for investigating serious and organised crime are highly skilled and experienced, and the constabulary works alongside the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, which provides specialist skills and resources.

The leadership has strong oversight of the force’s ability to respond to national threats, such as terrorism, national cyber-crime incidents and child sexual abuse.

Its own arrangements for ensuring it can meet its national obligations in this regard (such as planning, testing and exercising) are good.

 

View the four questions for effectiveness

Efficiency

How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 20/10/2015
Good

HMIC found that Cambridgeshire Constabulary is well prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force has achieved greater levels of savings than it needed to since 2010 and has built up financial reserves, which it plans to use to smooth the impact of budget cuts over the next few years until anticipated savings are achieved. The constabulary has plans in place to make all the expected savings needed through to 2019. It has worked hard to minimise the impact of budget cuts on frontline policing through working jointly with other forces to save money, and an ambitious approach to using new technology to improve police efficiency. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Cambridgeshire was judged to be good.

HMIC judges Cambridgeshire Constabulary to be good. It has a good track record in reducing its costs while maintaining its police officer numbers. It has plans in place to meet its entire anticipated future savings until 2019/20, with a lower than average reduction in police officer numbers. It has focused on improving efficiency by using technology to make best use of police resources and through collaborating with other police forces. It has also sought to protect frontline services by reducing the numbers in senior ranks where possible.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has carried out a comprehensive assessment of the principal threats and risks across the county and has improved its understanding of the current demands on its services. The constabulary does not yet have a full understanding of all areas of current demand, particularly demand generated by other public sector organisations. While it has some long-term projections of demand, there is a potential medium-term gap in its assessment, which is likely to impact on its ability to develop the skills and capability of its workforce over the next spending review period.

The collaboration with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary is a pivotal element in the future savings beyond 2015/16, and there remains some uncertainty and risk around the achievement of these savings. However, Cambridgeshire is aware of the risks and has devised contingency plans.

The constabulary is leading the development of innovative approaches to using information technology to improve efficiency on behalf of the tri-force collaboration. It has made impressive progress in enabling police officers to work more efficiently using the latest mobile data technology, making significantly better progress in this area than the majority of police forces in England and Wales.

Cambridgeshire is in a good financial position to face the future, having made prudent savings assumptions, and built reserves over previous years to support the collaboration and change programmes.

 

View the three questions for efficiency

Legitimacy

How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 11/02/2016
Good

The chief officer team takes seriously the need for an ethical and inclusive workforce and there is an effective approach to improving the wellbeing of its staff. Local teams have a good understanding of their neighbourhoods and engage positively with the public and decision-making by Taser-trained officers is fair and appropriate. The constabulary has more to do in order to comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.

This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.

In Cambridgeshire Constabulary, chief officers have set a clear vision and values for the organisation and staff support these and feel that they are trusted to do the right things. The constabulary has made sufficient effort to establish the Code of Ethics, and has incorporated it into its own statement of vision and values. The Code of Ethics was launched in April 2014, and set out nine policing principles that should be applied by all officers and staff: Accountability; Integrity; Openness; Fairness; Leadership; Respect; Honesty; Objectivity; and Selflessness. These principles should be used to underpin the decisions and actions taken by officers and staff.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that the constabulary understands the importance of engagement with its communities and uses a broad range of methods to communicate with the public. There are good examples of officers listening to and understanding local concerns and responding to them appropriately. Officers and staff generally treat people fairly and with respect. Also, the constabulary supports the wellbeing of the workforce effectively.

Stop and search and Taser are two ways that the police can prevent crime and protect the public. However, they can be intrusive and forceful methods, and it is therefore vital the police use them fairly and appropriately. HMIC found that Taser use is generally appropriate and scrutiny of its use is good. However, the constabulary needs to satisfy itself that it has the right number of Taser-trained officers in the right places.

The constabulary does not comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and has more to do to ensure officers and supervisors understand the grounds by which people can be stopped and searched.

View the four questions for legitimacy

Other inspections

How well has the force performed in our other inspections?

In addition to the three core PEEL pillars, HMIC carries out inspections of a wide range of policing activity throughout the year. Some of these are conducted alongside the PEEL inspections (for instance, our 2016 leadership assessment); others are joint inspections.

Findings from these inspections are published separately to the main PEEL reports, but are taken into account when producing the rounded assessment of each force's performance.

Leadership

Last updated 25/02/2016

As part of HMIC’s annual all-force inspections into police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) in 2015, HMIC assessed how well led forces are at every rank and grade of the organisation and across all areas inspected in PEEL. We reviewed how well a force understands and is developing its leaders; whether it has set a clear and compelling future direction; and how well it motivates and engages the workforce.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has strong leadership and the senior officer team has set a clear direction, which is understood by police officers and staff across the constabulary. The constabulary promotes values including recognition and development of leadership at all levels, active participation by all officers and staff, mutual respect and receptive listening.

We found good communication with the workforce at all levels of the organisation and the force has conducted a series of staff surveys, taking action and making improvements as a result of the findings.

View the four questions for leadership

Other reports

Last updated 22/02/2016

This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

View other reports

Key facts

Force Area

1,309 square miles

Population

0.83m people 13% local 10 yr change

Workforce

76% frontline 78% national level
2.8 per 1000 population 3.6 national level
17% change in local workforce since 2010 15% national change since 2010

Victim-based crimes

0.05 per person 0.05 national level
Local 5 year trend National 5 year trend (no change)

Cost

43p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

The force prioritises activity where harm is greatest. There is an emphasis on protecting the vulnerable by targeting those criminals who prey on them.

The population is one of the fastest growing nationally. It is culturally and economically diverse with extremes of affluence and deprivation.

Police and crime plan priorities

  1. Maintain local police performance: effective local policing
  2. Deliver policing within the available budget: reducing costs and improving efficiency
  3. Continue to tackle crime and disorder: reducing crime and disorder
  4. Keeping people safe: protecting those most at risk
  5. Maintain the resilience of protective services: protecting the public