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Northumbria 2015

Read more about Northumbria 2015

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

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

The extent to which Northumbria Police is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.

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 Northumbria Police 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 am satisfied with most aspects of Northumbria Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime, but there are some areas that need to be improved in order to provide a consistently good service.

The force is effective in preventing crime and the service provided to victims is reliable. The standards of investigation are generally high and there are good arrangements in place to tackle serious and organised crime. I welcome the strong focus on managing offenders to reduce offending.

Overall, the force provides a good response to and safeguards missing children and victims of domestic abuse, and is well prepared to tackle child sexual exploitation. The force has effective arrangements in place with partner agencies to keep vulnerable people safe. The force has a strong commitment to protect vulnerable victims with training supporting this approach along with clear and consistently-applied processes to identify repeat and vulnerable victims to ensure an appropriate and timely response.

I was reassured that the force achieved its saving requirements for the spending review period while continuing to protect local policing. It has set a balanced budget for 2015/16 and has a strong understanding of its likely financial position up to 2018 and its workforce numbers until 2020.

I am concerned that the force does not comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. At the time of our inspection, there were a number of concerns about the force’s efforts to instil a culture which promoted innovation and a willingness to challenge. I welcome the ethos of being ‘proud to protect’ the communities served by Northumbria Police that is being advocated by the new chief constable.

Description of force area

Northumbria Police provides policing services to the counties of Northumberland and Tyne and Wear. Although there are some affluent areas, Northumbria has a high level of poverty. Around 1.4 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the cities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Sunderland, as well as a number of smaller towns on the coast. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations, air and sea ports.

The proportion of areas in Northumbria that are predicted to present a very high challenge to the police is higher 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

St James’ Park in Newcastle hosted the Magic Weekend, when 12 Rugby Super League teams played six matches over two days in May, attracting significant numbers of supporters to the city.

In October, the same venue hosted three matches as part of Rugby World Cup 2015, with Northumbria Police facilitating an Official Fanzone and other events taking place in and around Newcastle.

Working arrangements

Forensic services are now provided through collaboration with the other forces in the north east, Yorkshire and Humber region. The force is currently exploring opportunities with Cleveland Police and Durham Constabulary to co-locate public order training and police dog facilities.

A new chief constable has been appointed this year.

Effectiveness

In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Northumbria Police to be good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force investigates crime well and maintains a strong focus on managing offenders to reduce offending. Officers and staff focus on protecting and supporting vulnerable victims and have been trained accordingly. The force has well-established partnership arrangements with other agencies to improve its understanding of serious and organised criminality and to respond effectively. 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

Northumbria Police is well prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force has successfully reduced its spending over the last spending review period while working hard to protect local policing. For these reasons the force is graded as good. The force’s understanding of demand and the costs involved in providing all of its various services is not yet sufficiently detailed. This is needed to inform the new operating model the force must adopt to meet its budget requirements beyond 2017/18. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the previous spending review period, Northumbria was judged to be good.

Legitimacy

At the time of our inspection, there were a number of concerns about the force’s efforts to instil a culture which promoted innovation and willingness to challenge. This is something the new chief constable is aware of and is addressing.

Local police teams have a good understanding of their neighbourhoods and engage positively with the public. This commitment is reflected in the level of public satisfaction with the services they receive.

Decisions made by Taser-trained officers are generally fair and appropriate and oversight of the use of Taser is strong. 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.

Leadership

Northumbria Police has a number of areas which would benefit from stronger leadership. The force cannot consistently identify strengths and areas for development among its leaders individually, or as a team. The force does not have a formal system for identifying and nurturing talent.

The force supports neighbourhood policing and is committed to maintaining and improving support to victims. As a result it has continually high levels of public satisfaction.

Insights from other inspections

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

I will be particularly interested to see:

  • further development of an organisational culture that is ‘proud to protect’;
  • improvements in the wellbeing of the workforce;
  • improvements in how the force responds to complaints from the public and how it ensures that complainants have their concerns properly recorded and addressed;
  • how the planned additional analytical support will help to tailor interventions to provide greater support and protection for vulnerable people;
  • how changes the force is already making improve compliance with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme; and
  • the work to improve the level of understanding of the evidence base in the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour by drawing from other forces, academics and partners.

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

HMIC judges Northumbria Police to be good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe.

The force investigates crime well and maintains a strong focus on managing offenders to reduce offending. Officers and staff focus on protecting and supporting vulnerable victims and have been trained accordingly. The force has well-established partnership arrangements with other agencies to improve its understanding of serious and organised criminality and to respond effectively. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.

Northumbria Police is good at tackling anti-social behaviour and managing offenders and has good systems in place to ensure it investigates crime effectively at all levels.

The force has a commitment to attend all crime incidents and most other incidents reported by the public. This may contribute to the relatively high levels of public satisfaction, as well as to its performance in bringing offenders to justice, which is better than in most other forces.

The force has good arrangements to tackle repeat offenders and to manage, with partners, those individuals who present a risk to the public. However, the force should improve how it manages offenders, using integrated offender management, and how it monitors registered sex offenders across the force.

Protecting vulnerable people is a priority for the force and good systems are in place to provide appropriate care and support for victims of crime. Staff have been trained in understanding vulnerability and the force has good arrangements with partner services to support vulnerable victims.

The force manages serious and organised crime well and is building on current relationships with other agencies and partners to improve its understanding even further. A cohesive approach to tackling organised crime groups draws on the full resources available to the force. The force is able to test its ability to fulfil its national policing responsibilities.

 

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 Northumbria Police is well prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force has successfully reduced its spending over the last spending review period while working hard to protect local policing. For these reasons the force is graded as good. The force’s understanding of demand and the costs involved in providing all of its various services is not yet sufficiently detailed. This is needed to inform the new operating model the force must adopt to meet its budget beyond 2017/18. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Northumbria was judged to be good.

HMIC judges Northumbria Police to be good. The force understands the financial challenges it faces and is using new ways of working to reduce its spending while maintaining a high quality of service to its communities.

The force has a good understanding of the demand on its services from the public and has used this to align more staff and other resources to where need and risks are greatest.

The force is working to improve its overall understanding of demand by using information from various sources including incidents related to mental health. This is helping it assess current and future demand. However, it has yet to conduct more detailed analysis to identify and reduce demand such as the additional work created by callers who are dissatisfied with the services provided and request a re-visit or make a complaint.

On the whole, the force’s current workforce model matches demand and organisational and financial requirements. Evidence for this is its victim satisfaction rating which is above the national average for England and Wales.

The force recognises that the current workforce model cannot be sustained beyond 2017/18. The force has introduced different ways of working to ensure it can meet demand with a reduced workforce. As changes are implemented and the impact of these are assessed the force is planning to use the opportunity to decide its future operating model.

The force achieved its saving requirements for the spending review period. It has set a balanced budget for 2015/16, which includes the use of £9.2m of reserves to bridge the funding gap. The force has a strong understanding of its likely financial position up to 2018 and its workforce numbers until 2020. Plans up to 2017/18 rely on the use of reserves and the sale of surplus and unsuitable buildings to meet financial challenges. Longer-term saving plans are less certain and depend on collaborative working with local organisations and neighbouring forces.

 

View the three questions for efficiency

Legitimacy

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

Last updated 11/02/2016
Requires improvement

At the time of our inspection, there were a number of concerns about the force’s efforts to instil a culture which promoted innovation and willingness to challenge. This is something the new chief constable is aware of and addressing.

Local police teams have a good understanding of their neighbourhoods and engage positively with the public. This commitment is reflected in good public satisfaction rates.

Decisions made by Taser-trained officers are generally fair and appropriate and oversight of the use of Taser is strong. The force has more to do in order to comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and ensure that reasonable grounds for the use of stop and search powers are recorded and supervised properly.

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

HMIC found that staff within Northumbria Police are clearly aware of the importance of ethical behaviour. They appear willing to challenge wrongdoing, and feel they would be supported if they did so.

However, senior managers reported that previous behaviours have discouraged innovation and challenge, often leaving them feeling undermined and disempowered.

Our grading reflects the findings in spring 2015. The new chief constable and the chief officer team are aware of many of the cultural issues identified by HMIC, and are planning to address them.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that most officers and staff that we spoke to understand clearly the relationship between doing a good professional job and increased public confidence in the police. The force’s engagement with communities is tailored to their needs, as shown by the good work of area engagement teams. The force has recently used social media to provide further opportunities for public engagement and involvement.

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 Northumbria Police is not compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and should introduce a ‘community trigger’ policy and publish data that comply with the scheme’s requirements. The force should also do more to understand the impact of stop and search on members of the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community and young people, albeit the force intends to commission work in this area in the near future. The force uses Tasers 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.

Northumbria Police has a number of areas which would benefit from stronger leadership. The force cannot consistently identify strengths and areas for development among its leaders individually, or as a team, and we found a limited understanding of the workforce’s perception of senior leaders. The force does not have a formal system which transparently identifies talent.

The force demonstrates leadership in its support for neighbourhood policing and its commitment to maintaining and improving support to victims. As a result it has continually high levels of public satisfaction.

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 Northumbria Police.

View other reports

Key facts

Force Area

2,144 square miles

Population

1.43m people 3% local 10 yr change

Workforce

75% frontline 78% national level
3.6 per 1000 population 3.6 national level
22% 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 (no change) National 5 year trend (no change)

Cost

53p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

The Northumbria Police area includes two cities, three heavily populated urban areas and extensive rural landscapes.

The force is committed to protecting the vulnerable, ensuring victims have confidence that the police will listen and take action to support them.

Police and crime plan priorities

Over 5000 local residents helped decide the Police & Crime Plan Priorities for Northumbria. These are –

  • Putting Victims First
  • Dealing with Anti Social Behaviour
  • Domestic and Sexual Abuse
  • Reducing Crime
  • Community Confidence.

The Commissioner meets regularly with the Chief Constable to ensure these priorities are delivered by Northumbria Police.