Hertfordshire PEEL 2015Read more about Hertfordshire
This is HMIC’s second assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy with which Hertfordshire 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 Hertfordshire Constabulary is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The extent to which Hertfordshire Constabulary is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The extent to which Hertfordshire 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 Hertfordshire Constabulary’s performance this year, including where I would like to see improvements next year.
I am very pleased with the performance of Hertfordshire Constabulary in keeping people safe and reducing crime. The improvements that the force has made this year are noteworthy.
I have been impressed by the dedication and commitment of the workforce to protecting some of the most vulnerable people. However, despite good work by the small specialist team, more needs to be done so that frontline officers fully understand their responsibilities towards missing children. I welcome the improved approach to domestic abuse, and the hub that has been set up with partner organisations to safeguard children better. The force generally investigates crime committed against the most vulnerable victims well.
The force works well to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, and its approach to investigating crime and managing offenders is also good.
I am reassured that the force is fully prepared to face its future financial challenges. It has achieved this through consistent and prudent planning and strong collaborative arrangements which the force is looking to develop further.
I am pleased by the strong culture within the force giving careful thought to ethical considerations. This is reflected in good examples of public engagement and an effective police response to issues that are important to the public.
Description of force area
Hertfordshire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Hertfordshire. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Hertfordshire is generally affluent. Around 1.2 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the city of St Albans, as well as the towns of Stevenage and Watford. The resident population is ethnically diverse, with 12 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure also includes a major rail station.
The proportion of areas in Hertfordshire 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.
The mature and successful collaboration with Bedfordshire Police and Cambridgeshire Constabulary provides specialist operational and support services. There are clear plans in place to develop further joint arrangements and the force recognises future opportunities in this strong alliance.
In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Hertfordshire Constabulary to be good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force works very well to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour and protects most victims well, but improvement is needed in the way vulnerable people are protected from harm. The force’s approach to investigating crime and managing offenders is also good. The force works well to tackle serious and organised crime.
This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.
Hertfordshire Constabulary is very well prepared overall to face its future financial challenges. It is providing good, efficient police services. The force has made outstanding efforts to manage and minimise the impact of the budget cuts on frontline policing and place itself in a sustainable financial position for both the short and the long term.
In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, the force was judged to be good.
The chief officer team takes seriously the need for an ethical and inclusive workforce. The force has a good understanding of its communities and engages positively with the public. Decision-making by Taser-trained officers is fair and appropriate. However, the force has more to do in order to comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
Hertfordshire Constabulary has strong leadership and has defined and communicated clearly what it expects from the workforce. The force has a strong programme of leadership training which motivates its workforce. However, there is no formal process to identify talent.
Although the force has taken some steps to communicate its future plans and priorities to its workforce, further work in this area is required.
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 Hertfordshire 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 to the areas for improvement that HMIC has identified in the last year.
I will be particularly interested to see:
- improvement in frontline officers’ understanding of their responsibilities towards missing and absent children; and
- how the force continues to develop its collaborative arrangements with Bedfordshire Police and Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
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.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC judges Hertfordshire Constabulary to be good overall in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The constabulary works very well to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour and protects most victims well, but improvement is needed in the way vulnerable people are protected from harm. The constabulary’s approach to investigating crime and managing offenders is also good. The constabulary works well to tackle serious and organised crime. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.
HMIC judges that overall Hertfordshire Constabulary is good in the way that it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
It is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. The constabulary is strongly committed to crime prevention, supporting victims, partnership working and keeping communities safe. Officers and staff work well with other organisations to solve problems in neighbourhoods, including intervening early to stop them from escalating.
While we found a few areas for improvement, including better use of out-of-court disposals the police can use to deal with anti-social behaviour and low-level crime, known as community resolutions, and how the force evaluates ‘what works’, the public can feel confident that the constabulary works well to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, and keep people safe. Hertfordshire has seen a slightly bigger reduction in police recorded crime over recent years than the average for England and Wales.
Hertfordshire Constabulary’s investigation of crime and the way in which it deals with offenders is generally good, although there are some inconsistencies in the quality and supervision of the constabulary’s initial crime investigations, which means that it may miss opportunities to gather the best evidence to bring offenders to justice at this important first stage. However, we did find that after the initial response, the quality of subsequent investigations is good because investigative staff are generally appropriately skilled and trained.
Hertfordshire Constabulary is generally good at identifying vulnerable people and often responds well initially to meet the needs of victims who are vulnerable. However, there are important areas where improvement is needed to ensure the service is consistent and that vulnerable people, particularly missing children, are kept safe.
The constabulary has a good understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime, and is good at disrupting the activity of organised crime groups operating in its area. Investigators of serious and organised crime are highly skilled and experienced, and the constabulary also benefits from additional specialist capacity provided through the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) which is a unit made up of specialist officers from all five forces in the region.
The leadership has strong oversight of the force’s ability to respond to national threats, such as terrorism, serious cyber-crime incidents and child sexual abuse. Its own arrangements for ensuring it can meet its national obligations in this regard (such as planning, testing and exercising) are good.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that Hertfordshire Constabulary is very well prepared overall to face its future financial challenges. It is providing good, efficient police services. The constabulary has made outstanding efforts to manage and minimise the impact of the budget cuts on frontline policing and place itself in a sustainable financial position for both the short and the long term. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, the force was judged to be good.
HMIC judges Hertfordshire Constabulary to be good overall. Through good leadership and management the constabulary is in a strong financial position for both the short and the long term. It has a good track record in achieving savings. It uses its resources well to meet its demand.
Hertfordshire has seen an increase in crime since last year (higher than the average for England and Wales) but satisfaction with police services remains higher in Hertfordshire than the average for England and Wales.
The constabulary reduced spending on local policing much earlier than other forces. It acted quickly to restructure its policing in 2010 to make it more affordable, moving to a single local policing command serving the whole county, which enabled more flexibility in using resources. It has worked hard to protect frontline policing from cuts and has seen below average reductions in police officer numbers. The collaboration with other regional police forces and particularly the joint working with Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire has further enhanced efficient working.
Hertfordshire Constabulary is developing options to refine further the way it delivers policing through the development of a new police operating model. The anticipated reductions in workforce by 2018 are modest in comparison with the average for England and Wales.
The constabulary’s strong financial position means that it can use some of its reserves to invest in change and improvement, for example investing in new technology and training to ensure its workforce is skilled and efficient.
The collaboration with Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire is a pivotal element in the future savings beyond 2015/16, and there remains some uncertainty and risk around the achievement of these savings. However, Hertfordshire Constabulary is aware of the risks and has devised contingency plans.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
The chief officer team takes seriously the need for an ethical and inclusive workforce; the constabulary has a good understanding of its communities and engages positively with the public. Decision-making by Taser-trained officers is fair and appropriate, however, the constabulary has more to do in order to comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Overall Hertfordshire Constabulary meets the public expectation that a force should be legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
In Hertfordshire Constabulary, the chief officer team takes seriously the need for an ethical and inclusive workforce and has an effective approach to developing an ethical culture. The principles of the College of Policing’s Code of Ethics, which sets out the standards of behaviour that the public can expect from officers and staff, is widely understood by officers and staff.
The constabulary understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves. There are examples where local officers engage well with their communities, including with ethnically diverse groups. The constabulary uses a wide range of methods to communicate with the public. Some of this good work is done with other local agencies and includes use of social media and online communication, allowing the involvement of a wide range of people.
This helps police and partners better understand their local communities and prioritise work to support them. The constabulary has a good understanding of the needs and concerns of the public.
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 Taser officers are well trained and the use of Taser fair and proportionate. Training on the use of stop and search powers was last delivered in 2013. Not all officers use the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) when deciding to conduct stops and searches and this is important as the model is a framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged.
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 2015 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.
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.
Hertfordshire Constabulary has strong leadership and has defined and communicated clearly what it expects from the workforce. The constabulary has a strong programme of leadership training which motivates its staff, however, there is no formal process to identify talent, which is an area that it could improve.
The constabulary has taken some effective steps to communicate its future plans and priorities, however requires further work in this area to ensure that its workforce has a clearer understanding of the constabulary’s vision for local policing. The constabulary has clearly communicated to its workforce information about collaboration with other forces.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Hertfordshire Constabulary.