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Dorset 2015

Read more about Dorset 2015

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

The extent to which Dorset Police is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.

The extent to which Dorset 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 Dorset 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 satisfied with most aspects of Dorset Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime, but there are some areas that need to be improved in order to provide a consistently good service.

I am impressed by the firm foundation of neighbourhood policing which underpins the force’s approach to crime reduction and community safety. I am also impressed by the strong evidence-based approach to policing that is a feature of crime prevention, investigation and tackling anti-social behaviour. The force conducts detailed analysis with partner organisations to understand the levels and patterns of demands. By combining this understanding with public consultation, the force identifies what really matters most to the communities of Dorset.

The force co-operates effectively with partners to support vulnerable victims, and is good at safeguarding vulnerable people. I am pleased that the force gives a high level of service to missing and absent children, and to victims of domestic abuse.

Having taken steps to improve its performance, the force is now good at managing offenders and investigating crime.

I have some concerns about the force’s long-term financial position and the difficulty it may have in sustaining effective policing. In light of this, I am pleased that the force is developing its strategic alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police and the commitment it is showing to making efficient use of shared resources. The force’s future savings are heavily dependent upon the success of this alliance.

Description of force area

Dorset Police provides policing services to the county of Dorset. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Dorset is generally affluent. Around 0.8 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. The area has a number of distinct urban areas, including the towns of Bournemouth, Poole, Weymouth and Dorchester. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure includes air and sea ports.

The proportion of areas in Dorset 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 badger cull operations within the county have placed particular pressure on local police resources, while attracting high levels of media attention.

Working arrangements

Dorset Police is forming a strategic alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police to provide a range of support and operational services.

It is part of the south west counter terrorism unit and regional organised crime intelligence unit. It also works collaboratively with other forces in the region to provide forensic science services.

In 2015, Dorset Police introduced an information technology-based records management system which improved the management of police information and intelligence, and enabled improvements to the services the force provides to the public.

Effectiveness

In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Dorset Police to be good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Crime reduction and community safety are central to all force activity and rest on a firm foundation of neighbourhood policing. Dorset Police works well with partners to support vulnerable victims, and its investigation of crime and management of offenders is good. The workforce understands organised crime groups and its role in combating them. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so a year-on-year comparison is not possible.

Efficiency

Dorset Police is partly prepared to face its future financial challenges, and its approach to providing efficient policing requires improvement overall. The force has achieved all of the savings required to date and is working hard to improve its position through an alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police. However, HMIC remains concerned that Dorset Police’s long-term financial position might increasingly make it difficult to sustain effective policing. For this reason, it cannot be judged as good. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the previous spending review period, Dorset was judged to be good.

Legitimacy

It is evident that the chief officer team takes seriously the need for an ethical and inclusive workforce, and that allegations against officers and staff are generally dealt with fairly and consistently.

It is clear that Dorset Police has invested a significant amount of effort in ensuring that officers understand the need for engaging with communities and treating them fairly and without bias.

The force is complying with almost all of the features of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Taser is being used fairly and appropriately by Dorset Police.

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

Leadership

Dorset Police’s overarching leadership strategy builds upon a structured leadership programme for officers and staff, and ensures its leaders clearly understand what is expected of them. The chief officer team has provided clear leadership regarding ethical behaviour and standards, and has set a comprehensive vision for the organisation, which the workforce supports.

Dorset Police understands how leadership is perceived across the workforce. The force has a focus on values, ethics and expectations and clarity about both strengths and weaknesses in the force’s leaders.

Insights from other inspections

HMIC undertakes other inspections in addition to the PEEL programme. Since the last PEEL assessment there have been three reports published on inspections that included Dorset Police. 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:

  • the next phase in the development of the strategic alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police;
  • the development of clear and realistic plans for making savings; and
  • the development of an operating model that sustains the effectiveness of the services provided to the communities of Dorset.

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

Dorset Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Crime reduction and community safety are central to all force activity and rest on a firm foundation of neighbourhood policing. Dorset Police works well with partners to support vulnerable victims, and its investigation of crime and management of offenders is good. Staff understand organised crime groups and their role in combating them. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so a year-on-year comparison is not possible.

Dorset Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour are priorities for the chief constable and the police and crime commissioner (PCC). Maintaining a visible presence in local communities is important to the force; constables and police and community support officers (PCSOs) on the front line draw on a broad range of preventative and investigative tactics to keep citizens safe.

When a crime occurs it is effectively allocated and investigated. Investigations are of a good standard and the skills and experience of officers are well matched to the cases they investigate. However the force needs to improve its procedures to retrieve digital evidence from smartphones, tablets and other devices. The force works well to protect the public from prolific and dangerous offenders.

Dorset Police is good at safeguarding specific vulnerable groups, in particular missing and absent children and victims of domestic abuse. The force is adept at understanding and assessing crime trends and patterns to identify potential vulnerable victims, which ensures it designs a tailored response for their needs. The force’s investigations into crimes and incidents involving these vulnerable groups were judged as good in an HMIC inspection published in December 2014.

Staff at all ranks across the force have a good knowledge of organised crime groups and the role they are expected to play to combat them. The force monitors organised crime groups (OCGs) effectively, using a range of tactics to disrupt their criminal activities. All forces are required to develop a serious and organised crime local profile that includes relevant data from partner organisations; Dorset Police is yet to complete this profile.

 

View the four questions for effectiveness

Efficiency

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

Last updated 20/10/2015
Requires improvement

HMIC found that Dorset Police is partly prepared to face its future financial challenges, and judges that its approach to providing efficient policing requires improvement overall. The force has achieved all of the savings required to date and is working hard to improve its position through an alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police. However, HMIC remains concerned that Dorset Police’s long-term financial position might increasingly make it difficult to sustain effective policing. For this reason, it cannot be judged as good. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Dorset was judged to be good.

HMIC judges Dorset Police to require improvement. Dorset Police has a good understanding of incident and call-related demand. It uses a variety of methods to assess demand for its services from the public, and to ensure that resources can be targeted at tackling priority areas. It works well with local partners in preventing and tackling local crime and anti-social behaviour hot spots.

The current workforce model has allowed the force to achieve the required savings to date, and is affordable and sustainable for the remainder of this financial year. However, the force has recognised that, as resources continue to reduce, changes to its direction and priorities might be required in order to meet future demand from the public. The force had previously made significant cuts ahead of the spending review in 2010. It was already a low spending force with fewer police officers per head than most other forces. However, further financial savings over the next three years are likely to require more reductions in police officer and staff numbers. HMIC is concerned that Dorset Police does not yet have clear plans in place to make these staffing cuts. Nor is it clear what impact this level of cuts will have on the force’s ability to continue to meet its demand in the future.

Dorset Police has demonstrated a keen commitment to working collaboratively with neighbouring Devon and Cornwall Police in order to make the most efficient use of joint resources. However, future savings are heavily dependent upon the successful implementation of this alliance, with significant savings required within a relatively short timeframe.

After making all the planned savings, the force is still facing an anticipated funding gap of £4.6m by 2018/19. This is a significant concern, given that there is a high degree of uncertainty in relation to future income and expenditure, and particular risks associated with the timing of savings from implementation of the strategic alliance.

 

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

We are satisfied that the chief officer team takes seriously the need for an ethical and inclusive workforce, and considers that allegations against officers and staff are generally dealt with fairly and consistently.

It is clear that Dorset Police had invested a significant amount of effort in ensuring that officers understood the need for engaging with communities and treating them fairly and without bias.

The force is complying with almost all of the features of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, although there is more to do on recording and publishing outcomes.

Taser is being used fairly and appropriately by Dorset Police.

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

HMIC found there is a recognised ethical culture within the force and the chief constable and her team have put a great deal of effort into publicising the force’s vision, values and the need for ethical behaviour. The force provides for the wellbeing of staff, and has also invested in a range of effective occupational health services. The force publicises and promotes the Code of Ethics, and we found evidence that it is well understood. The force uses a range of activities to ensure that complaints and misconduct allegations are managed fairly and proportionately.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found Dorset Police has dedicated a significant amount of effort in ensuring that officers understand the need to work closely with communities and treat them fairly and without bias. This has included personal presentations from senior officers, and training on the Code of Ethics and the National Decision Model.

The force runs a successful volunteers’ scheme to get the public involved in a wide range of policing activities. Overall the force engages well with the public, listens to public concerns and ensures that officers are appropriately trained.

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 the force is complying with almost all of the features in the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, although there is more to do on recording and publishing outcomes.

The force should ensure that stop and search records include sufficient reasonable grounds to justify the lawful use of the power, and that officers fully understand the grounds required to conduct stops and searches.

Overall we were satisfied that Taser is being used fairly and appropriately by Dorset Police.

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.

Dorset Police’s overarching leadership strategy builds upon a structured leadership programme for officers and staff, and ensures its leaders clearly understand what is expected of them. The chief officer team has provided leadership regarding ethical behaviour and standards, and has set a clear and concise vision for the organisation, which the workforce supports.

Dorset Police understands how leadership is perceived across the workforce. We found a focus on values and ethics, leadership, and expectations, with teams where analysis provides a picture of both strengths and weaknesses in leaders.

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 Dorset Police.

View other reports

Key facts

Force Area

1,024 square miles

Population

0.76m people 9% local 10 yr change

Workforce

73% frontline 78% national level
3.1 per 1000 population 3.6 national level
14% 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 National 5 year trend (no change)

Cost

45p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

Dorset is a largely rural county with no cities or motorways; a long coastline, three major ports and an international airport.

The economically and demographically diverse population is inflated each year by millions of visitors and university, college and school students.

Police and crime plan priorities

Police and Crime Plan Priorities:

  • Reduce the number of victims of crime and ASB;
  • Reduce the number of people seriously harmed;
  • Help protect the public from serious threats to their safety;
  • Reduce re-offending;
  • Increase people’s satisfaction with policing in Dorset Police;
  • Support neighbourhood policing that is appropriate for both rural and urban communities.