Skip to content

Durham 2015

Read more about Durham 2015

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

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

The extent to which Durham 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. The assessment has led to a narrative rather than graded judgment, which is summarised below.

Read more about my assessment of Durham Constabulary’s performance this year, including 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 congratulate Durham Constabulary for building further on its excellent performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime.

The chief officer team has a clear and compelling sense of direction for the future of the organisation, which is being implemented through comprehensive and realistic plans.

I have been very impressed by the force’s ability to continue developing problem-solving approaches to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. The force has good arrangements with partner agencies to manage serious and organised crime and to keep vulnerable people safe. The management of offenders under the innovative integrated offender management programme is very impressive and is exemplified by the Checkpoint scheme which takes a groundbreaking approach to dealing with new offenders.

The force has a strong track record of robust financial management and I am pleased to see that the force has detailed financial plans in place to achieve the savings required through to 2018/19. It has a comprehensive understanding of the demand for its services, especially from the public, and this enables its resources to be deployed effectively. The force continues to benefit from its information technology innovations and excellent use of information.

Senior leaders in the force show visible and approachable leadership, consistently engaging with the workforce to provide regular and consistent messages to reinforce their standards and expectations.

I am very impressed by the commitment shown by the force’s officers and staff in looking to improve services to the communities of Durham still further.

Description of force area

Durham Constabulary provides policing services to the areas of County Durham and Darlington. Although there are some highly affluent areas, Durham has a high level of poverty. Around 0.6 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. The area includes the city of Durham and the town of Darlington as well as several smaller towns. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit or travel through the area each year.

The proportion of areas in Durham that are predicted to present a very high challenge to the police is broadly in line with 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

Durham Constabulary has an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of historic sexual and physical abuse perpetrated by staff against detainees at Medomsley Detention Centre near Consett, County Durham. The force is investigating crimes alleged to have taken place over several decades. The enquiry team has now interviewed and supported more than 1,250 former inmates at Medomsley.

Working arrangements

Durham Constabulary’s police dog, traffic services and firearms support are now provided jointly with Cleveland Police through a special operations unit. The force is part of a regional agreement which will manage the response to chemical or nuclear incidents.

The force has signed a statement of intent to work more closely with County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue service in order to enhance services and reduce costs.

Effectiveness

In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Durham Constabulary to be outstanding at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Its approach to preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour is innovative and based on finding long-term sustainable solutions. Crime is investigated thoroughly and considerable effort is placed on reducing re-offending. Vulnerable people are protected well and officers know the importance of reassuring victims. The force understands the threat from serious and organised crime and tackles it as a priority at all levels. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.

Efficiency

Durham Constabulary is exceptionally well prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force has a comprehensive understanding of the demand for its services and is using innovative ways of working to manage demand, with evidence of widespread joint problem-solving with other local organisations. The force has an impressive track record of robust financial management, accurate budgeting and achieving planned savings. This provides significant confidence that the force can achieve the savings required through to 2018/19. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the previous spending review period, the force was judged to be good.

Legitimacy

The chief constable and chief officer team actively promote the vision and values of the force to develop and maintain an ethical culture, and it is clear that significant efforts had been made to ensure the workforce feels valued and engaged in decisions which affected them. Engagement with the public is at the heart of the policing model in Durham Constabulary.

The force is complying with almost all the requirements of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and we are satisfied that 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

The chief officer team has a clear understanding of leadership capability and capacity across Durham Constabulary and regularly communicates its expectations to ensure leaders at all levels know what is required of them. The chief officer team has a clear sense of direction for the future of the organisation. The workforce understands the force’s plans for the short to medium term, although they are less clear about its long-term plans.
The force provides an extensive range of leadership and development opportunities to its workforce and the force is good at using technology to improve its overall capability.

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 Durham 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 the force continues to improve further the outstanding policing service it provides to the communities of Durham;
  • the work being undertaken by the force and its partners to divert offenders away from a life of crime through the Checkpoint scheme;
  • how the force continues to build on its well-developed approach to problem-solving with partner agencies and local communities;
  • improvements in the oversight of firearms licensing; and
  • development of the working arrangements with County Durham and Darlington 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
Outstanding

Durham Constabulary is outstanding at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

Its approach to preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour is innovative and based on finding long-term sustainable solutions. Crime is investigated thoroughly and considerable effort is placed on reducing re-offending. Vulnerable people are protected well and officers know the importance of reassuring victims. The constabulary understands the threat from serious and organised crime and tackles it as a priority at all levels.
This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.

Durham Constabulary places considerable emphasis on providing long-term solutions to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. Officers and staff take time to understand issues and adopt a problem-solving approach, using partner agencies when necessary, to provide sustainable solutions.

The constabulary attends all reports of crime and most other incidents and enjoys good levels of public satisfaction. The rates for positive conclusions, or outcomes, as a result of investigating crimes are among the highest in England and Wales, and recorded crime is lower than it was during the first year of the spending review.

Neighbourhood policing remains central to the way in which policing is delivered and the constabulary has excellent relationships with other public service partners. It has developed new and innovative methods to communicate with the public to understand what concerns them most and to feed back the results of police and partner action.

Officers are appropriately trained to investigate crime and anti-social behaviour and do so to a good standard. Investigators can draw on additional support from specialist departments to assist them in identifying offenders and developing investigations. Arresting suspects is treated as a priority.

The management of offenders is good. Officers work with partners to understand why offenders commit crime and then encourage each offender to follow a suitable route out of offending. The constabulary applies effective scrutiny to the most problematical offenders, both to support them to live better lives and to monitor their offending behaviour.

Vulnerable people are protected by the constabulary. Officers have received a significant level of training to enable them to support vulnerable victims appropriately.

Considerable efforts are made by all departments to build intelligence and use innovative approaches to disrupt organised crime groups. The continued support and investment made by partners has been particularly noteworthy in allowing the constabulary to have a comprehensive understanding of serious and organised crime and to have a broad range of interventions at its disposal to tackle it.

Overall, Durham Constabulary is outstanding at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

 

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 Durham Constabulary is exceptionally well prepared to face its future financial challenges. HMIC found that the constabulary has a comprehensive understanding of the demand for its services and is using innovative ways of working to manage demand, with evidence of widespread problem-solving jointly with other local organisations. The constabulary has an impressive track record of robust financial management, accurate budgeting and achieving planned savings. This provides significant confidence that the constabulary can achieve the savings required through to 2018/19. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, the constabulary was judged to be good.

HMIC judges Durham Constabulary to be outstanding. It has a comprehensive understanding of the demand for its services, especially from the public and this enables its resources to be deployed effectively. The use of innovative ways of working to manage and reduce demand is widespread, and is often achieved by working together with other organisations. Change processes are well understood, and it uses various methodologies to review the way the constabulary provides services to the public while achieving value for money.

The constabulary is using information technology (IT) to bring about greater efficiencies and effectiveness with realistic plans for future improvements. It works with many other organisations, with each opportunity assessed to check it provides added value and reduces costs.

The constabulary’s operating model matches current demand, organisational needs and financial requirements. There is a good understanding of the level of skills and capability required to ensure the constabulary can meet current and future demand and it is continuing to make a significant investment in training its workforce.

There are detailed financial plans in place that provide confidence that the constabulary can achieve the savings required through to 2018/19.The constabulary has an impressive track record of robust financial management, accurate budgeting and achieving planned savings. The constabulary regularly reviews costs and spending, and invests in areas that will lead to reductions in demand, increase problem solving and improve workforce skills.

The constabulary is harnessing opportunities for additional funding and income generation which are contributing to its financial viability and improving how it manages demand. It has strong financial controls, a good understanding of current and future risks and is taking action to mitigate and reduce these risks. The constabulary’s current saving plans prioritise expenditure on the objectives in the police and crime plan and are not reliant on the use of reserves.

 

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 chief officer team actively promote the vision and values of the constabulary to develop and maintain an ethical culture, and it is clear that significant efforts had been made to ensure the workforce feels valued and engaged in decisions which affect them. We found that engagement with the public is at the heart of the policing model in Durham Constabulary.

HMIC was concerned to see that 33 percent of the stop and search records we reviewed did not contain sufficient reasonable grounds for carrying out the search. However, the constabulary is complying with almost all the requirements of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and we are satisfied that 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 Durham Constabulary’s chief constable and chief officer team actively promotes its vision and values to develop and maintain an ethical culture. Significant efforts are being made to ensure the workforce feels valued and engaged in decisions which affect them. A culture exists where misconduct and unprofessional behaviour are challenged and reported, and where those who do so are supported.

When HMIC looked at how well the constabulary understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found that engagement is at the heart of the policing model in Durham Constabulary. It is both innovative and comprehensive, providing a thorough understanding of the issues affecting the community. The importance of engagement is understood at all levels of the organisation and the leadership of the chief constable in this area of business is impressive. As a result, we believe that engagement in Durham Constabulary is both sustainable and effective.

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 was concerned to see that 33 percent of the stop and search records we reviewed did not contain sufficient reasonable grounds for carrying out the search. However, the constabulary is complying with almost all the requirements of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. It still has more to do in recording and publishing outcomes, and explaining to communities how the powers are being used following a “community complaint”.

We are satisfied that Taser 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.

The chief officer teamhas a clear understanding of leadership capability and capacity across Durham Constabulary and regularly communicate their expectations to ensure leaders at all levels know what is required of them. The chief officer team has a clear sense of direction for the future of the organisation. The workforce understands the constabulary’s plans for the short to medium term, although they are less clear about its long term plans.

The constabulary provides an extensive range of leadership and development opportunities to its workforce and the constabulary is good at using technology to improve its overall capability.

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 Durham Constabulary.

View other reports

Key facts

Force Area

936 square miles

Population

0.62m people 5% local 10 yr change

Workforce

73% frontline 78% national level
3.4 per 1000 population 3.6 national level
18% 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 (no change) National 5 year trend (no change)

Cost

51p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

The force varies greatly, with larger industrial and commercial towns, some with significant deprivation issues; and rural, sparsely populated areas.

The force is the national lead for Checkpoint (reducing reoffending), Mutual Gain (citizens in policing) and Staff Survey (attitudes and behaviours).

Police and crime plan priorities

To achieve excellence in local policing and the highest levels of public confidence; and to work alongside partners to:

  • Reduce the impact of domestic abuse, particularly violence against women and girls
  • Reduce the impact of hate crime.
  • Tackle anti-social behaviour.
  • Tackle harm caused by alcohol and drugs.
  • Improve road safety.