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Cheshire 2015

Read more about Cheshire 2015

This is HMIC’s second assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy with which Cheshire 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 Cheshire Constabulary is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.

The extent to which Cheshire Constabulary is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is outstanding.

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

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

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

Michael Cunningham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary

Read the transcript of the video

Contact Michael Cunningham

HMI’s observations

I would like to commend the force for its excellent performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime. I am extremely pleased with the progress Cheshire Constabulary has made in 2015.

The force has a good understanding of the demands on its services. It has processes in place to inform leaders on the resources and levels of service that will be needed across every part of the force. In 2015/16, in addition to making the required savings, the force was able to recruit 53 officers.

I was pleased to find that the force’s restructure in June 2015 has led to an improved service to the people of Cheshire. I was particularly impressed with the work carried out as part of the force restructure to make beat management and problem-solving a day-to-day part of the new local policing teams’ work.

The force engages and works well with the communities it serves. I was impressed by the different methods the force uses to understand people’s views and how the force then responds to these.

Description of force area

Cheshire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Cheshire. Although there are some areas of marked affluence, Cheshire is generally poor. Around 1 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the city of Chester and the towns of Warrington, Crewe and Macclesfield. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise, or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations.

The proportion of areas in Cheshire 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.

Exceptional events

The summer saw a number of high profile incidents which tested the force’s ability to respond after its recent restructuring. These included an explosion at a wood processing plant; a fatal aircraft crash during a display at a festival; and the explosion of a road tanker carrying fuel which caused the prolonged closure of a major motorway. The force effectively co-ordinated the multi-agency response to these incidents, without undue impact on providing wider policing services.

Working arrangements

The force leads shared service arrangements with Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire forces. The services provided to the forces through these arrangements include human resources, finance, and facilities management. The force is developing a way to work collaboratively with Cheshire Fire and Rescue service which could provide joint services in areas such as finance, technology and vehicle maintenance, as well as opportunities to share accommodation.

Effectiveness

In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Cheshire Constabulary to be good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force uses priority-based budgeting (a technique that allocates an organisation’s resources in line with its priorities and enables the organisation to identify opportunities to reduce costs) effectively to support its priorities and preventing crime and anti-social behaviour is its highest priority. It works well to protect and support vulnerable victims. The force has the necessary arrangements in place to ensure that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities but it needs to do more to improve its arrangements to tackle serious and organised crime. This is the first year that HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so a year-on-year comparison is not possible.

Efficiency

HMIC found that Cheshire Constabulary is exceptionally well prepared to face its future financial challenges. It has a good understanding of demand and has processes in place to make informed choices about resources and levels of service across every business area. Workforce and financial plans are detailed and closely aligned and the force has a strong track record of achieving savings. Together, these provide HMIC with confidence that this performance can be sustained through to 2019/20. In last year’s value for money inspection which considered how forces had met the challenges of the previous spending review period, Cheshire Constabulary was judged to be good.

Legitimacy

The chief constable and the chief officer team actively promote the values of the force and members of the workforce we spoke to were positive about the culture in Cheshire. Police officers and staff in Cheshire Constabulary are diligent and committed in their use of a comprehensive range of methods to engage and work closely with the people they serve, to discover their needs and then report to them the results they achieved.

However, too many of the stop and search records we examined did not contain sufficient reasonable grounds for conducting the search, and it was clear that Cheshire is not complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Taser is used fairly and appropriately.

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

Leadership

Cheshire Constabulary is a well led force and has a good understanding of the capacity and capability of its leadership at all levels. This understanding has been used to create a varied and comprehensive package of training and development opportunities.

The majority of police officers and staff HMIC spoke to during our inspection articulated a clear sense of the future plans and priorities of the force.

Insights from other inspections

HMIC undertakes other inspections in addition to the PEEL programme. Since the last PEEL assessment there have been four reports published on inspections that included Cheshire 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 the areas for improvement that HMIC has identified in the last year.

I will be particularly interested to see:

  • how changes the force is already making improve compliance with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme;
  • further work in the force’s approach to managing its response to serious and organised crime; and
  • how the force continues to progress the innovative collaboration with Cheshire Fire and Rescue service.

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
Good

Cheshire Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The constabulary uses priority-based budgeting effectively to support its priorities and preventing crime and anti-social behaviour is its highest priority. It works well to protect and support vulnerable victims. The constabulary has the necessary arrangements in place to ensure that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities but it needs to do more to improve its arrangements to tackle serious and organised crime. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so a year-on-year comparison is not possible.

Cheshire Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The constabulary is strongly committed to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and making a difference for communities. Its informed decision-making means that it allocates resources to reflect this commitment absolutely and staff understand that the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour is a priority. Staff use a range of tactics and work well with other organisations to solve problems in neighbourhoods, including intervening early to stop them from escalating.

When a crime has occurred, the constabulary carries out high-quality investigations. It has invested significantly in training staff, including special constables, in investigation skills and file preparation. Serious crimes such as rape are investigated to a very high standard. The force works well with other agencies to identify, investigate and bring to justice repeat and dangerous offenders and to stop them re-offending.

Cheshire Constabulary is effective in identifying at an early stage those victims who may be vulnerable and investigates crimes against vulnerable victims thoroughly. The constabulary responds effectively to reports of children who have gone missing and has made a good start at ensuring it is prepared to tackle the threat posed by the sexual exploitation of children. It provides an effective response to victims of domestic abuse, securing specialist support in appropriate cases and ensuring the victim’s safety is the priority.

Cheshire Constabulary has a good understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime. It regularly monitors the activity of organised crime groups and has good relationships with regional and national bodies, which can provide specialist skills and resources. However, the intelligence function needs to improve, and the knowledge and awareness of local officers about locally based information is inconsistent.

The constabulary has appropriate arrangements in place to ensure that it can respond to national threats.

 

View the four questions for effectiveness

Efficiency

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

Last updated 20/10/2015
Outstanding

HMIC found that Cheshire Constabulary is exceptionally well prepared to face its future financial challenges. It has a good understanding of demand and has processes in place to make informed choices about resources and levels of service across every business area. Workforce and financial plans are detailed and closely aligned and the constabulary has a strong track record of achieving savings. Together, these provide HMIC with confidence that this performance can be sustained through to 2019/20. In last year’s value for money inspection which considered how forces had met the challenges of the first spending review period, Cheshire Constabulary was judged to be good.

HMIC judges Cheshire Constabulary to be outstanding. Cheshire Constabulary has developed a good understanding of the demand it faces, both now and into the future. The constabulary used a priority-based budgeting process to identify existing demand and service levels, assess future demand, identify potential levels of service that could be provided and allocate resources. The constabulary identified 52 discrete service areas which made up the entirety of its operations. The process comprised three stages, each led by the deputy chief constable with the involvement of the office of the police and crime commissioner. Starting with a review in September 2015, the constabulary intends to run priority-based budgeting annually to monitor progress against its financial and workforce plans and the police and crime plan.

This process has allowed the chief officer team to make informed choices about resource allocation and levels of service across every business area, resulting in increased investment in frontline services and re-alignment of resources to priority and emerging areas. It has informed a new operating model for local policing which is rolling out across the constabulary area from July 2015.

The constabulary’s workforce planning is intrinsically linked with its financial planning and budget prioritisation. Plans are in place to ensure that the workforce has the skills and abilities necessary to provide services that meet the needs of the community.

Cheshire Constabulary has achieved a balanced budget throughout the spending review period and has planned a balanced budget for 2015/16 which is not reliant on the use of reserves. Cheshire’s savings tracker database provides a detailed understanding of where and when savings are achieved, along with projected future savings. The constabulary’s plans, strong financial management and record of achieving savings to date provide HMIC with confidence that this can be sustained through to 2019/20.

 

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 constable and the chief officer team actively promote the values of the constabulary and staff we spoke to are positive about the culture in Cheshire. We found that police officers and staff in Cheshire Constabulary are diligent and committed in their use of a comprehensive range of methods to engage with the people they serve, to discover their needs and then report to them the results they achieved. However, too many of the stop and search records we examined did not contain sufficient reasonable grounds for conducting the search, and it was clear that Cheshire is not complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Taser is used fairly and appropriately.

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

HMIC found that the chief constable and the chief officer team actively promote the Code of Ethics which builds on the established values of the constabulary, set out in the ‘SPICE’ standards, comprising service; professionalism; integrity; compassion; and equality and fairness. These standards are reinforced by the constabulary’s people strategy.

Staff we spoke to generally expressed confidence that recruitment and promotion selection processes were fair, transparent and free from bias.

HMIC found that the constabulary dealt with complaints and misconduct in a fair and appropriate way. When HMIC looked at how well the constabulary understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that police officers and staff in Cheshire Constabulary are diligent and committed in their use of a comprehensive range of methods to engage with the people they serve, to discover their needs and then report to them the results they achieved. The constabulary is well directed through the ‘We’re here’ commitments, which clearly set out the service the public can expect. It has introduced a structure based on local policing teams designed to meet those promises, and it scrutinises performance to ensure its service does so. HMIC is satisfied that Cheshire Constabulary understands and engages well with its communities.

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 too many of the stop and search records we examined, did not contain sufficient reasonable grounds for conducting the search. We are also concerned that the current supervisory efforts are insufficient when reviewing these forms. It is clear that Cheshire Constabulary is not complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.

However, HMIC found the constabulary does have effective processes to select and train officers in the use of Taser, and has robust procedures in place to ensure it is used fairly and appropriately.

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.

Cheshire Constabulary is a well led force and has a good understanding of the capacity and capability of its leadership at all levels. This understanding was developed by undertaking a comprehensive survey of leaders, and was used to create a varied and comprehensive package of training and developmental opportunities.

The majority of police officers and staff HMIC spoke with during our inspection articulated a clear sense of the future plans and priorities of the constabulary and reported that the visibility of senior leaders has improved over the last 12 months.

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 Cheshire Constabulary.

View other reports

Key facts

Force Area

905 square miles

Population

1.04m people 5% local 10 yr change

Workforce

74% frontline 78% national level
3.3 per 1000 population 3.6 national level
14% 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

47p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

Cheshire covers a large and diverse geographic area consisting of rural expanses, heavy industry and thriving commercial centres.

As well as areas of great affluence, the county includes pockets of major deprivation, and is bordered by two of the largest cities in the region.

Police and crime plan priorities

  • Enhance frontline policing to prevent and further drive down crime.
  • Protect Cheshire’s communities from harm.
  • Support victims and witnesses of crime and tackle reoffenders.
  • Build on the partnership between the police and the community.
  • Ensure the delivery of an efficient and effective police service, building on the use of technology.