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Devon and Cornwall 2015

Read more about Devon and Cornwall 2015

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

The extent to which Devon and Cornwall Police is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.

The extent to which Devon and Cornwall Police 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 Devon and Cornwall Police’s performance this year, including exceptional events and where I would like to see improvements next year.

Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary

Read the transcript of the video

Contact Wendy Williams

HMI’s observations

I am very pleased with the performance of Devon and Cornwall Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime.

I am impressed by the way that the force works with partners to tackle local problems, and by the widespread understanding of the importance of preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.

I recognise the challenge faced by the force in providing police services across the second largest policing area in England and Wales.

I am pleased that the force has maintained its good performance at reducing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour. While the force has worked hard to improve the service it provides to vulnerable people and the support it gives to victims, improvements are required in how the force responds to young people who are at risk of sexual abuse and missing children. The recent investment in a multi-agency victim care unit means that a bespoke service is now available to victims of crime.

The force has clear plans to manage its finances, maintaining the quality of services while reducing costs. These plans, which it is developing and implementing in stages, are centred on sharing services with Dorset Police.

The force has undertaken a detailed analysis to understand how the demands for its services vary throughout the year and is using this to inform the development of innovative new ways of working. This should inform the improvements that it needs to make in developing an affordable workforce model.

The force has a good understanding of its communities and local officers and staff engage well with their neighbourhoods to understand the issues affecting them.

Description of force area

Devon and Cornwall Police provides policing services to the counties of Devon and Cornwall including the Isles of Scilly. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Devon and Cornwall is generally affluent. Around 1.7 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. The area has distinct, relatively small urban areas that include the cities of Exeter and Plymouth, as well as the towns of Torquay, Newquay and St Ives. The resident population is increased by university students and the very large numbers who visit, socialise in, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure also includes major rail stations, and air and sea ports.

The proportion of areas in Devon and Cornwall that are predicted to present a very high challenge to the police is lower than the national average. These are characterised by social deprivation or a concentration of commercial premises (including licensed premises), and in some cases both. Providing services across the entirety of the force area is hindered by the size of the force and the road network.

Exceptional events

During the autumn of 2015, Devon and Cornwall hosted three Rugby World Cup matches.

Working arrangements

Devon and Cornwall works collaboratively with other police forces in the south west and is forming a strategic alliance with Dorset Police to provide a range of support and operational services. The force shares a high tech crime unit with Avon and Somerset Constabulary and is developing services for the recovery of digital evidence.

Effectiveness

In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Devon and Cornwall Police to be good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force is effective at preventing crime, and also sets high standards for investigations and the management of offenders. However, with regards to protecting the vulnerable, improvements are required in how the force responds to young people who are at risk of sexual abuse and missing children. There are good arrangements in place 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.

Efficiency

Devon and Cornwall Police is adequately prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and a commitment to continuous improvement, it has successfully reduced its spending over the last spending review period, and is effectively planning for future financial challenges. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the previous spending review period, Devon and Cornwall Police was judged to be good.

Legitimacy

Devon and Cornwall Police is striving to develop and maintain an ethical culture, and is working to ensure that the recently introduced mission statement, force standards and values are consistently understood by all. The force has a good understanding of its communities and local officers and staff engage well with their neighbourhoods to understand the issues affecting them.

Devon and Cornwall Police is compliant with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop Search scheme. Taser is used fairly, but the force must ensure that its records properly reflect officers’ decision-making.

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

Leadership

Chief officers in Devon and Cornwall Police have defined clearly what is expected from leaders and I am reassured that leaders across the force are receiving a clear and consistent message. The force understands the current status of its leadership at every level. The force leadership unit promotes leadership training programmes which include initiatives with partner agencies.

Insights from other inspections

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

I would like to draw attention to our inspection on child protection, where we were impressed by the increased investment of the force in its child protection teams. However, despite more staff being devoted to this work, we identified the need for the force to prioritise the way that it deals with children who go missing from home. The force also needs to ensure that its child protection staff are fully trained and supervised.

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:

  • improvements in how the investigation of cases involving vulnerable victims, specifically in relation to missing children and serious crime, are carried out and supervised;
  • improvements in the availability of staff with the appropriate professional skills and experience to investigate domestic abuse cases;
  • the development, with Avon and Somerset Constabulary, of the digital evidence recovery service; and
  • the progression of the strategic alliance with Dorset Police.

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

Overall, Devon and Cornwall Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. In terms of preventing crime, the force is effective; it also sets high standards for investigations and the management of offenders. However, when protecting the vulnerable, improvements are required in how the force responds to young people who are at risk of sexual abuse and missing children. Good arrangements are in place 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.

Devon and Cornwall Police is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. The force has a clear commitment to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, and officers and staff understand that prevention is everyone’s responsibility. The force ensures that neighbourhood teams are well resourced, many of them are co-located with partner agencies. These teams share information with partners effectively; this leads to productive joint working and the development of a broad range of tactics to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.

However, a better evaluation of tactics and the sharing of organisational learning with the workforce is an area where the force could do more.

Crime investigations are generally of a good standard and conducted in a timely manner, with effective supervision, direction and scrutiny. HMIC found that the force generally provides an effective service to victims at the point of initial contact and throughout the life of an investigation. The force has effective specialist units that deal with more serious and complex crime, and it can draw on regional investigative resource and expertise as required. The force has good arrangements to tackle repeat offenders and to manage those individuals who present a risk to the public.

The force effectively identifies vulnerable victims, and sexual offences and domestic abuse investigation teams provide a specialised service to victims. However, the teams are not yet fully resourced which means that some vulnerable victims do not receive this tailored support.

The force has taken steps to improve the service to vulnerable victims by introducing a victim care unit and specific victim’s needs assessments. However, HMIC’s inspection of vulnerability in 2015 found that improvements are required in assessing the needs of victims.

The force understands the threat and risk posed by organised crime and has effective processes in place to work with partner organisations to tackle organised crime groups. The force can draw on additional capacity and expertise from neighbouring forces when required. The force is also well prepared to fulfil its national policing responsibilities.

 

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 Devon and Cornwall Police is adequately prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and a commitment to continuous improvement, it has successfully reduced its spending over the last spending review period, and is effectively planning for future financial challenges. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Devon and Cornwall Police was judged to be good.

HMIC judges Devon and Cornwall Police to be good. The force understands its current demand and has robust arrangements for managing its finances and its plans for change. Its direction of travel is one of improvement as it has extensive plans for a strategic alliance with Dorset Police which are being developed and implemented over three phases through to 2018. For these reasons it is graded as good. It is too early to judge the impact of the work being undertaken on the strategic alliance and the force has yet to agree its revised operating model.

The force understands its current demand and uses this effectively to deploy its resources to respond to calls for service. This is based on detailed demand analysis which was initially carried out in 2013 and work within the control rooms to understand the nature of incidents arising from calls from the public better.

This analysis is informing the force change programme and the strategic alliance with Dorset Police and will inevitably lead to a significant change in how the force will provide policing services in the future. Although total workforce numbers have been projected for 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19, ongoing development of the future operating model means that distribution of workforce numbers across officers, staff and PCSOs has not been fully determined.

The force has a secure financial position for the short and medium term although not all savings have yet been identified for 2017/18 and 2018/19. Plans to achieve savings through to 2018/19 include development of a new operating model and the strategic alliance with Dorset Police. All budget plans are developed in consultation with and shared with the PCC. The nature of the working relationship provides reassurance that financial planning and workforce plans are aligned.

 

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

Devon and Cornwall Police is striving to develop and maintain an ethical culture, and the recently introduced mission statement, force standards and values are being provided to staff to ensure they are understood by all. The force has a good understanding of its communities and local officers and staff engage well with their neighbourhoods to understand the issues affecting them.

Devon and Cornwall Police is compliant with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop Search scheme, although the force is not yet publishing details of stop and search outcomes, and does not monitor the impact on young people.

Taser is used fairly, but the force must ensure that records properly reflect officers’ decision-making.

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

Devon and Cornwall Police is striving to develop and maintain an ethical culture, and the recently introduced mission statement, force standards and values are being delivered to staff to ensure they are consistently understood by all.

Staff wellbeing is a priority for the force, and there are a number of initiatives in place to advise and support the workforce. We found that officers and staff trust the force to investigate complaints and misconduct allegations fairly, but are concerned about not being kept updated regularly.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found that officers and staff work positively with the communities they serve. This enables them to understand the issues affecting local people and keep them informed of action taken to resolve problems. As a result, we are satisfied that Devon and Cornwall Police has a good understanding of the needs of its local communities and that most officers and staff treat people fairly and with respect.

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 Devon and Cornwall Police is compliant with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop Search scheme. Systems are in place to manage the deployment and use of Taser. However, the force must ensure that Taser-trained officers and supervisors properly understand and record their decisions using the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged), in accordance with the College of Policing training.

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.

Senior leaders in Devon and Cornwall Police have defined clearly what is expected from leaders and HMIC is reassured that leaders across the force are receiving a clear and consistent message. The force understands the current status of its leadership at every level, which includes an understanding of leadership capacity and capability.

The force leadership unit promotes leadership training programmes which include initiatives with partner agencies, a programme emulating the senior police national assessment centre programme and a shadow leadership group, which is only one element of the force’s overall approach in supporting its leadership strategy.

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 Devon and Cornwall Police.

View other reports

Key facts

Force Area

3,965 square miles

Population

1.71m people 6% local 10 yr change

Workforce

78% frontline 78% national level
3.0 per 1000 population 3.6 national level
16% change in local workforce since 2010 15% national change since 2010

Victim-based crimes

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

Cost

46p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

Devon and Cornwall covers an area of 3,961 square miles, with over 500 square miles of moorland, over 700 miles of coastline and 13,500 miles of roads.

The population significantly increases with millions of visitors each year, which increases the demand on services and infrastructure.

Police and crime plan priorities

To make our area a safer place to live, work and visit – reducing the likelihood that people will become victims of crime through a focus on alcohol misuse, improving victims care, ensuring value for money and enabling the public to play their part.