Lincolnshire PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Lincolnshire Police requires improvement in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
The force needs to improve the quality of its crime investigation and how it works with partners to stop re-offending. There is considerable commitment to put resources into the areas identified in HMIC’s 2014 crime inspection but there has been very limited progress in some areas. The force works well with others and has an effective approach to crime prevention and tackling anti-social behaviour. The force can fulfil its national policing responsibilities and works with other regional forces to disrupt the activity of organised crime groups.
The force is committed to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. It has a clear approach to prevention that is generally well understood throughout the force. However, the force still does not systematically learn from experiences or have a way to retain and share effective practice.
The way the force is investigating crime is changing. It has improved the time taken to allocate crimes for investigation and it has plans in place to improve the quality of investigations.
Where computers and phones need to be examined as part of an investigation there are significant backlogs which affect the time taken to bring offenders to justice.
The force uses restorative justice extensively and appropriately as a way of resolving selected investigations.
However, there needs to be greater integration with partners, improved prioritisation of those causing most harm and evaluation to define what success looks for the integrated offender management (IOM) scheme.
Staff throughout the organisation show a positive attitude towards protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and safeguarding victims. However, there is no co-ordinated or consistently well-supervised way of responding to reports of children who are missing or absent. In addition, the force’s understanding of the scale and nature of child sexual exploitation is not yet fully developed. Frontline staff do not yet have a good level of knowledge of the factors to identify cases and understand how to respond.
The force has an in-depth understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime, supported by highly skilled and experienced staff and a good relationship with the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, which provides specialist skills and resources. The force is good at disrupting the activity of organised crime groups.
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 effective is the force at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe?
Lincolnshire Police is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. This is consistent with HMIC’s 2014 crime inspection where the force was judged to be good at reducing crime and preventing offending.
Force priorities reflect a commitment to crime prevention, supporting victims, partnership working and keeping people safe. This commitment is generally well understood throughout the force.
There are systems and ways of working in place alongside a range of powers and tactics, to enable the force to work together with partner organisations to tackle anti-social behaviour and keep people safe. However, effective partnership working at a local level is sometimes hampered by the lack of availability of neighbourhood staff, although those actions which have been taken with partners generally lead to positive outcomes.
The force still does not systematically learn from experiences or have a way to retain and share effective practice. Neighbourhood practitioners are not brought together to share experiences to understand, evaluate and share ‘what works’.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that its focus on crime prevention is not undermined by the redeployment of neighbourhood officers and staff to undertake reactive duties. The force should use evidence of ‘what works’ drawn from other forces, academics and partners to continually improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour. There should be routine evaluation of tactics and sharing of effective practice.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and managing offenders?
Lincolnshire Police’s approach to investigating crime and managing offenders requires improvement. This is consistent with HMIC’s crime inspection in 2014 when the force was judged as ‘requires improvement’ at investigating offending. Although there has been some improvement since 2014, the force still needs to improve the quality and consistency of its approaches to investigating crime and managing offenders.
Processes for the initial investigation of incidents are based on threat, risk and harm and the allocation of complex and non-complex crimes generally works well. Reported crime has continued to fall which compares favourably with most other forces. The approach taken to investigate crime is improving but there are still inconsistencies across the force. Similarly, there is an absence of well-documented reviews and consistent practices for assessing case workloads.
Progress in other areas, specifically the backlog in phone and computer examinations and an effective offender management scheme, remains under-developed. An additional concern is the backlog in the completion of assessments on sex offenders, which have been temporarily suspended on low-risk sex offenders while officers complete statutory visits on other registered sex offenders.
There are a number of effective activities to divert young and vulnerable offenders away from crime. However, greater integration with partners, improved prioritisation of those causing most harm and evaluation to define what success looks like for the integrated offender management scheme means that the ability to prevent
re-offending is reduced.
Areas for improvement
- The force should take steps to ensure that all available evidence is recorded at scenes of crime, and that there is regular and active supervision of investigations to check quality and progress.
- The force should introduce a clear process to ensure that those who are circulated as wanted on the police national computer, those who fail to appear on police bail and named suspects identified through forensic evidence are swiftly arrested, and that the risks posed by registered sex offenders are managed effectively.
- The force should improve its ability to retrieve digital evidence from mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices quickly enough to ensure that investigations are not delayed.
- The force should work with partner organisations to develop its approach to integrated offender management (IOM) in line with the Home Office IOM principles.
How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?
Lincolnshire Police generally provides a good service in identifying vulnerable people and responds well to them. However, there are several areas where improvement is needed.
The force generally investigates well crime committed against the most vulnerable victims. However, HMIC is concerned that the force does not always involve the right number of specialists and right level of specialist expertise in complex cases involving domestic abuse and serious sexual offences. The force also needs to improve its supervision and prioritisation of workloads.
Officers attending domestic abuse incidents have a good knowledge of how to assess risk and keep victims safe. HMIC found a robust system of recording domestic abuse offences in Lincolnshire.
The force does not have a co-ordinated or consistently well-supervised process for responding to reports that children are missing or absent. Although it has made a start in improving its response to how it investigates and safeguards missing and absent children, it still needs to do more.
Work between professionals, including those from partner organisations, in the safe team and the central referral unit helps keep children safe, providing effective responses to cases involving increased levels of risk. The force has made a fairly good start in ensuring it is well-prepared to tackle child sexual exploitation but it must now build on this to ensure that this ambition translates into consistent operational practice.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its investigation of cases involving vulnerable victims, specifically in relation to cases involving victims of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences, to ensure appropriately-skilled and experienced staff conduct the investigation and there is effective supervision and prioritisation of workloads.
- The force should improve its compliance with the duties under the code of practice for victims of crime specifically in relation to victim personal statements.
- The force should improve its response to missing children by developing its understanding of the scale and nature of the issue. In persistent cases the force should ensure its uses information from previous missing episodes to develop a co-ordinated and prioritised response. The force should also ensure that frontline staff and supervisors understand how to identify the risk factors associated with missing children and the potential links to child sexual exploitation, understand their roles and responsibilities for investigating and safeguarding, and use effectively systems designed to support the management of cases.
- The force should improve its response to children at risk of sexual exploitation by ensuring it develops its understanding of the scale and nature of the issue, and that its frontline staff have an appropriate level of knowledge of the factors to identify cases and understand how to respond.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
Lincolnshire Police is good at tackling serious and organised crime. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their effectiveness at tackling serious and organised crime, including a force’s arrangements to ensure it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
The force has a well-developed understanding of the threats it faces and there are mature, collaborative ways of working in place to manage this threat across a large area. The force effectively shares intelligence with partners to tackle serious and organised crime groups and continues to develop a multi-agency response.
There is access to an extensive range of specialist policing capabilities provided by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit. Although this unit is predominantly targeted at the highest harm groups, it also provides support to supplement the effective work of neighbourhood teams who are targeting lower priority criminal groups to disrupt their operations.
The force has robust arrangements in place to satisfy itself that it is fulfilling its national policing responsibilities.