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Gloucestershire 2015

Read more about Gloucestershire 2015

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

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

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

My annual assessment of the force’s performance – which brings together all inspection findings into an overall narrative judgment – will be published on 25 February 2016.

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 the performance of Gloucestershire Constabulary in keeping people safe and reducing crime. However, I have concerns about some aspects of the service provided by the force.

The force is generally effective in preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and it works closely with partner organisations in doing this. I am pleased the force has productively invested resources into operations to investigate child sexual exploitation offences. However, I am concerned about the standard of its crime investigations. The force also needs a more consistent response to incidents involving the most vulnerable people, including domestic abuse victims and children. I consider that improvements are required in respect of the force’s understanding of, and response to, organised criminality.

I have been encouraged by the new ways of working that the force is developing, including the use of vulnerability mapping software to identify demand better in major areas of risk, such as anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse.

The force is reshaping its operating model based on a comprehensive understanding of demand for its services. I am reassured these changes will be supported by a strong performance management structure and clear direction from the chief officer team. I have been particularly impressed by the financial management of the force, and I am confident that the force is very well prepared to face its future financial challenges.

Description of force area

Gloucestershire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Gloucestershire. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Gloucestershire is generally affluent. Around 0.6 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. Its urban areas include the city of Gloucester, and the towns of Cheltenham, Tewskesbury and Cirencester. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year.

The proportion of areas in Gloucestershire 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.

Exceptional events

Gloucestershire Constabulary investigated seven new homicide cases in 2015. For a rural force, with a relatively low homicide rate, these events have had a significant impact on force resources and have the potential to affect public confidence. The investigation resulted in eight people linked to organised crime groups being charged with murder.

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

Working arrangements

The force is involved in a number of collaborations within the south west. These include working with Wiltshire Police and Avon and Somerset Constabulary to investigate major crime and provide operational policing, with regards to roads firearms and police dogs. These collaborations complement the regional intelligence and serious organised crime arrangements, which cover all of the south west forces.

Effectiveness

In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Gloucestershire Constabulary to require improvement in the way in which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Working closely with partner organisations, the force is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. However, standards of investigation require improvement, expectations are not clear, supervision is poor for some crime types and the service to victims is inconsistent. Improvements are also needed to protect the vulnerable properly, including domestic abuse victims and missing children. Additionally, more needs to be done to understand and respond effectively to 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

Gloucestershire Constabulary is very well prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force has a strong understanding and management of its current demand and its finances. It is developing new methods of working to improve services and manage demand efficiently. For this reason it is graded as good. It is in the process of introducing a new structure (operating model) to deliver policing services within its budget. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the previous spending review period, Gloucestershire was judged to be good.

Legitimacy

The chief constable and chief officer team has put a significant amount of work into developing and maintaining an ethical culture across the organisation. The force values and promotes positive engagement as a way of improving legitimacy.

The force does not comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and a high proportion of the records we checked did not sufficiently demonstrate that reasonable grounds existed to undertake a lawful stop and search. However, 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

Gloucestershire Constabulary has elements of strong leadership. Through leaders’ events, the force expends considerable time ensuring that its leaders understand what is expected of them. Members of the workforce we spoke to during our inspection confirmed that the force’s messages about its future priorities are clear and easily understood. However, we found no evidence that the force identifies talented individuals in a structured way.

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 Gloucestershire 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 causes of concern and areas for improvement that HMIC has identified in the last year.

I will be particularly interested to see:

  • improvement in the consistency and quality of the force’s response to victims of domestic abuse;
  • improvements in its assessment of, and response to, children who go missing. This includes the quality of investigation and how information from ‘safe and well’ checks is subsequently used to ensure vulnerable children are kept safe;
  • the use and benefits of the innovative mapping software to identify demand better in major areas of risk, such as anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse;
  • compliance with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme; and
  • development of the force’s understanding of and response to serious and organised crime.

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

Overall Gloucestershire Constabulary is judged to require improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Working closely with partner organisations, the constabulary is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. However, standards of investigation require improvement; expectations of staff are not clear, supervision is poor for some crime types and the service to victims is inconsistent. Improvements are also needed to protect the vulnerable properly, including domestic abuse victims and missing children. Additionally, more needs to be done to understand and respond effectively to 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.

Overall Gloucestershire Constabulary is judged to require improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The service it provides with partner organisations to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour is good. The constabulary understands the public demand for its services and has recently reshaped its operating model; the new model ensures that the commitment to early interventions and the prevention of crime in communities will remain at the fore of the constabulary’s activities. HMIC found a well-motivated and experienced workforce working hard to prevent crime, manage anti-social behaviour and keep people safe.

Despite evidence that significant efforts are being made to raise standards, Gloucestershire Constabulary’s approach to investigating crime requires improvement. Shortcomings in the required service are evident with no clear understanding in the way crimes are allocated and some officers investigating crimes that they believe lie beyond their level of experience and training. Documented supervision and records showing contact with victims need to be more consistent. These areas have been highlighted in previous HMIC inspections and while the constabulary recognises the importance of providing a good service to victims, it needs to maintain its focus in this area.

The constabulary works with partner organisations in a joint safeguarding hub to protect the vulnerable and provide a better service to victims. The constabulary’s contribution to this joint venture is highly regarded by practitioners but some of the constabulary’s internal procedures are sub-standard. Assessments of the risks faced by domestic abuse victims are not completed consistently and there are delays in referring victims to the safeguarding hub. Improvements are required in this area.

The constabulary would also benefit from an improved understanding and ‘whole force’ response to tackling serious and organised crime. It is in the early stages of completing a serious and organised local crime profile, and is currently researching opportunities with partners for multi-agency problem solving and oversight. Successful implementation and increased scrutiny would provide the constabulary with a more complete understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime, and strengthen its ability to limit its proliferation.

If the constabulary continues to improve its understanding of threats from serious and organised crime it will be able to demonstrate that it is well prepared to counter all six of the national threats articulated in The Strategic Policing Requirement. In particular, the constabulary has invested heavily in its ability to understand and respond to cyber-crime putting it in a strong position to tackle this emerging threat.

 

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 Gloucestershire Constabulary is very well prepared to face its future financial challenges. The constabulary has a strong understanding and management of its current demand and its finances. It is developing new methods of working to improve services and manage demand efficiently. For this reason it is graded as good. It is in the process of introducing a new structure (operating model) to deliver policing services within its budget. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Gloucestershire was judged to be good.

HMIC judges Gloucestershire Constabulary to be good. The constabulary has an effective understanding of demand on its services and the current workforce model matches the demand it faces from the public. This is supported by a strong performance management structure and processes. The current workforce model is aligned to constabulary financial plans and savings. The constabulary has reduced its workforce while still maintaining its ability to meet the demand from the public.

The constabulary has conducted a detailed and comprehensive assessment of the current demand on its service. This understanding has been used to design and shape its new operating model.

It has developed an understanding of how new ways of managing and operating its services should match demand and financial requirements. This new operating model should provide increased flexibility in responding to public demand. This will bring about significant changes for operational staff across the organisation.

The constabulary has achieved the required savings and has balanced the budget for the spending review period 2014/15. There are clear structures and governance in place for good financial management.

Costs and spending are under constant review and opportunities for investment in areas which may increase efficiency through technology, improved processes or working better with partner organisations are explored regularly.

The constabulary has produced a balanced budget for 2015/16 and has a good understanding of the likely financial position through to 2018/19. The current financial position indicates a track record of strong financial management and accurate budgeting in achieving planned savings.

It has clearly identified the core financial risks over the spending review period and has a comprehensive understanding of future budget risks. The current financial position indicates a track record of strong financial management and accurate budgeting to achieve the planned savings.

 

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

Gloucestershire Constabulary’s chief officer team has put a significant amount of work into developing and maintaining an ethical culture across the organisation. The constabulary values and promotes positive engagement as a way of improving legitimacy.

The constabulary does not comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and we had concerns that a high proportion of the records we checked did not sufficiently demonstrate that reasonable grounds existed to undertake a lawful stop and search. 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.

In Gloucestershire Constabulary, HMIC found evidence that the chief officer team has put a significant amount of work into developing and maintaining an ethical culture across the organisation. Staff have a good understanding of the constabulary’s values and ethics, are encouraged to challenge processes or decisions, and are confident to report inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.

We found evidence that there is inconsistent support for staff who had dealt with dangerous or traumatic incidents, with some staff reporting they had not received any support following their attendance at such incidents.

We are disappointed that misconduct information between police staff and police officers is treated differently, and that the constabulary has made little effort to ensure that decisions are made fairly.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found the constabulary values and promotes positive engagement with the public as a way of improving legitimacy. The continuous improvement team works alongside the training and communications and engagement team to promote knowledge and understanding of successful individual interactions and their importance in contributing to public confidence.

During the fieldwork there was a consistent finding that front office counter staff are courteous and helpful to their customers. HMIC is satisfied that officers and staff behave fairly and with respect when they engage with their 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. The constabulary does not comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and we had concerns that a high proportion of the records we checked did not sufficiently demonstrate that reasonable grounds existed to undertake a lawful stop and search. Taser officers in Gloucestershire Constabulary are suitably trained and we did not find any evidence of inappropriate use of Taser.

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.

Gloucestershire Constabulary has elements of strong leadership, though it could make improvements in some areas. Through leaders’ events, the constabulary expends considerable time ensuring that its leaders understand what is expected of them. Members of the workforce we spoke to during our inspection confirmed that the constabulary’s messages about its future priorities are clear and easily understood.

The recent staff survey suggested high levels of workforce satisfaction, though some we spoke to during our inspection expressed concern about the effectiveness of the constabulary’s performance and development processes. HMIC found evidence that the workforce’s knowledge of the mentoring scheme is inconsistent, and we found no evidence that the constabulary identifies talented individuals in a structured way.

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 Gloucestershire Constabulary.

View other reports

Key facts

Force Area

1,024 square miles

Population

0.61m people 7% local 10 yr change

Workforce

76% 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

48p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

The force is largely rural with an elderly population; its urban centres are diverse, supporting an active night-time economy and growing ICT sector.

The county has high-risk locations, is a site for badger culls, and hosts several major events.

Police and crime plan priorities

The aim of the Police and Crime plan is to make Gloucestershire a safer and more peaceful place to live and work. It can be summarised as – less crime, more peace and good order and puts the victims at the heart of all we do.