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Kent 2015

Read more about Kent 2015

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

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

The extent to which Kent Police is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is outstanding.

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 Kent Police’s performance this year, including exceptional events and where I would like to see improvements next year.

Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary

Read the transcript of the video

Contact Zoë Billingham

HMI’s observations

I congratulate Kent Police on its performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime.

The force works well with partner organisations to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. The quality of crime investigation is good and the force works well to stop re-offending. The force is good at disrupting organised criminality, and I welcome the steps it is taking to improve its capability further.

The force has demonstrated robust financial management and has responded well to the financial challenges it has faced. It understands demand on its services and matches resources to meet demand. I am particularly pleased by the force’s commitment to continuous improvement, demonstrated through its approach to reducing demand and the development of the Kent Operating Model. The new operating model has successfully reduced spending and is enabling effective planning.

I commend the way in which the chief officers have created an organisational culture that is extremely positive and supports the legitimacy of the force. The care given to the wellbeing of the workforce is evident. Members of the workforce feel empowered to challenge decisions perceived to be unethical; and complaints and misconduct allegations are dealt with robustly and fairly. The strength of the culture within the organisation is reflected in the outstanding way in which the force engages with the people of Kent. It uses a variety of means of communication to aid its understanding of communities’ priorities.

Kent Police has demonstrated commitment to protecting the most vulnerable people in its communities. However, frontline officers’ knowledge of child sexual exploitation should be improved. The force also needs to take steps to understand and address its very low charge rate for domestic abuse cases, ensuring more perpetrators are brought to justice. I am encouraged by the force’s recognition of these issues and the hard work that is already being undertaken to address them.

Description of force area

Kent Police provides policing services to the areas of Kent and Medway. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Kent is generally affluent. Around 1.8 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the city of Canterbury as well as the towns of Maidstone, Gravesend, Ashford, Margate, Dartford and Folkestone. The resident population is increased by university students and the very large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure also includes major rail stations, the channel tunnel, and major sea ports.

The proportion of areas in Kent 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. Providing services across the entirety of the force area is hindered by the road network.

Exceptional events

The force’s response to a number of cases of congestion on the approach routes to the channel ports, known as Operation Stack, is noteworthy. Working closely with partner agencies, the force’s professional and effective response to significant incidents in France helped to reduce the impact on the public and minimise disruption to cross-channel travel.

Working arrangements

I am pleased that the force’s collaborative arrangements with Essex Police continue to develop. This collaboration has led to continued financial benefits and increased capacity and resilience for both forces. More recently, the focus for the development of the collaboration has been on information technology.

Effectiveness

In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Kent Police to be good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force has an effective approach to crime and anti-social behaviour prevention and it works well with others to keep people safe and protect victims, although improvements are needed in the important areas of protecting vulnerable people. The quality of crime investigation is good and the force works well to stop re-offending. The force is good at disrupting the activity of organised crime groups and it is improving its capability to do this even more. 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

Kent Police is well prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and a commitment to continuous improvement, it has continued successfully to reduce its spending and is planning effectively for future financial challenges. It understands demand on its services and matches resources to meet demand. In last year’s value for money inspection programme, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the previous spending review period, Kent was judged to be good.

Legitimacy

The force has successfully established the Code of Ethics, which sets and defines the exemplary standards of behaviour for everyone who works in policing. The wellbeing of the workforce is thoroughly understood and provided for and complaints and misconduct allegations are dealt with robustly and fairly.

The force engages positively with communities. It has adopted the principles of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and its use of Taser is fair and appropriate.

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

Leadership

Kent Police is a well led force. Its chief officers have communicated a clear and compelling sense of the force’s future plans and priorities that the workforce understands. We found that Kent Police understands the current state of its leadership at senior and middle levels, with work ongoing to better understand that at lower levels.

Insights from other inspections

HMIC undertakes other inspections in addition to the PEEL programme. Since the last PEEL assessment there have been seven reports published on inspections that included Kent 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 to the areas for improvement that HMIC has identified in the last year.

I will be particularly interested to see:

  • how Kent Police improves its response to child sexual exploitation;
  • how the force improves its understanding of the crime outcomes of domestic abuse cases to ensure that they are appropriate; and
  • the effectiveness of the force’s decision to move from the South Eastern region of forces to the Eastern region by 2017, and the way in which a smooth transition is achieved.

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

Kent Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

The force has an effective approach to crime and anti-social behaviour prevention and it works well with others to keep people safe and protect victims, although improvements are needed in the important areas of protecting vulnerable people. The quality of crime investigation is good and the force works well to stop re-offending. The force is good at disrupting the activity of organised crime groups and it is improving its capability to do this even more. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.

The force is committed to and is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. This approach is well understood by officers and staff across the force.

When a crime occurs, the force acts quickly and carries out high quality investigations. The force works well to identify, investigate and bring to justice repeat and dangerous offenders and to stop them re-offending. The forensic investigation service is effective but there are backlogs in forensic submissions.

Increasingly the force has invested more resources in tackling domestic abuse, missing persons and child sexual exploitation, and is working to improve its services. In particular, the force needs to improve its service to children at risk from sexual exploitation as knowledge of how to identify the risk factors associated with child sexual exploitation among frontline officers and police staff is limited.

The force has a good understanding of the threat posed by high-level serious and organised crime, and it is good at disrupting this threat. Local policing areas are conducting a range of operations with partners to disrupt organised crime groups but more could be done to increase understanding of serious and organised crime by officers at the frontline.

The force leadership has strong oversight of its response 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.

 

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 Kent Police is well prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and a commitment to continuous improvement, it has continued successfully to reduce its spending and is planning effectively for future financial challenges. It understands demand on its services and matches resources to meet demand. In last year’s value for money inspection programme, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Kent was judged to be good.

HMIC judges Kent Police to be good. The force is well prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and a commitment to continuous improvement, it has successfully reduced its spending by £49.4m over the last spending review period, balanced its budgets and maintained its services.

Kent has an extensive understanding of demand. It is using this understanding to ensure that it matches resources to demand. There has been some notable work done to review how the force responds to demand and ensures that resources can be consistently targeted at areas of greatest risk to communities.

Kent has developed an operating model known as the Kent Policing Model. This places resources into frontline community policing and is well aligned with current financial and organisational requirements. It enables resources to be directed at meeting the main priorities in the police and crime plan and to respond well to the demands made by the public. Importantly, it is capable of continuing to operate effectively as resources reduce in the short and medium term.

In the long term as the workforce continues to reduce in size, the model will be reliant on the success of the force’s approach to reducing and managing demand in order to continue to police effectively with fewer officers and staff.

The force has a good understanding of, and is planning for, further financial challenges.

 

View the three questions for efficiency

Legitimacy

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

Last updated 11/02/2016
Outstanding

The force has successfully established the Code of Ethics; which sets and defines the exemplary standards of behaviour for everyone who works in policing. The wellbeing of staff is thoroughly understood, considered and provided for and complaints and misconduct allegations were dealt with robustly and fairly.

The force engages positively with communities. The force’s use of Taser is fair and appropriate.

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

The force has worked hard to develop an ethical culture and establish the Code of Ethics, and this is clearly demonstrated at all levels of the force. It has ensured that all staff have been trained and understand the code. Officers feel empowered to challenge decisions perceived to be unethical. Encouragingly, the force provides for the wellbeing of staff and continues to seek opportunities to improve these services. It deals robustly and fairly with complaints and misconduct allegations.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that the force uses an effective and robust range of methods to ensure meaningful engagement. Officers clearly understand their local communities, and neighbourhood crime profiles help to share this knowledge. As a result, we found the force understands its communities and provides effective means through which priorities and concerns can be raised for action by officers.

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 has adopted the principles of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and has complied with most but not all of the elements. The force provides training on the principles of the scheme but officers and their supervisors do not always record the grounds for stopping and searching a person.

We found monitoring of Taser use at a senior level and that qualified staff conduct reviews of Taser usage.

We consider that Kent Police’s use of Taser is fair and appropriate.

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.

Kent Police is a well led force. Its chief officers have communicated a clear and compelling sense of the force’s future plans and priorities that the workforce understands. We found that Kent Police understands the current state of leadership at senior and middle levels, with work ongoing to better understand the current state of lower levels of leadership.

The force is developing leadership across all levels, motivating its workforce and encouraging engagement. The force’s performance systems are clear and it manages them effectively.

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 Kent Police.

View other reports

Key facts

Force Area

1,443 square miles

Population

1.78m people 11% local 10 yr change

Workforce

73% frontline 78% national level
3.1 per 1000 population 3.6 national level
18% change in local workforce since 2010 15% national change since 2010

Victim-based crimes

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

Cost

42p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

The area has a complex transport infrastructure with millions of passengers and freight movements each year. This includes migrants and asylum seekers.

The force is challenged by transient crimes including smuggling, terrorism, drugs importation, people trafficking and slavery.

Police and crime plan priorities

  • Cutting crime, catching criminals and dealing with anti-social behaviour.
  • Ensuring visible community policing is at the heart of Kent’s Policing Model.
  • Providing a professional service, putting victims and witnesses first.
  • Protecting the public from serious harm.
  • Meeting national commitments for policing.
  • Delivering value for money.
  • Developing and supporting our workforce.