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South Wales 2015

Read more about South Wales 2015

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

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

The extent to which South Wales Police 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 South Wales Police’s performance this year, including where I would like to see improvements next year.

Os hoffech chi ddarllen hwn trwy’r Gymraeg

HMI’s observations

I am very pleased with the performance of South Wales Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime.

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. However, I do have some concerns about how call-handlers assess and record the vulnerability of callers when they first make contact with the force.

I am impressed by the force’s comprehensive understanding of the communities that it serves. The innovation and energy used by the force to work closely and engage with people in some of its most difficult areas to police is commendable. Working in partnership with the local authority in the Cwmaman area, ‘Project 446’ successfully improved community conditions and gave the police a greater understanding of community needs.

This extensive engagement with communities of South Wales has allowed the force to develop a good understanding of the demands for its services. The force is outstanding at using its resources to meet the demand for its services, while also reducing costs and improving service.

Description of force area

South Wales Police provides policing services to the areas of South, West and Mid-Glamorgan. Although there are some more affluent areas, South Wales has a high level of poverty. Around 1.3 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the cities of Cardiff and Swansea as well as smaller towns. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, commute into, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations, air and sea ports.

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

Working arrangements

The force has a number of collaborative working arrangements through the All Wales Policing Group, including joint firearms and scientific support capability and the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit.

Effectiveness

In our effectiveness inspection, we judged South Wales Police to be good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. In terms of preventing crime the force is effective and standards of investigation are generally high. Furthermore, the service provided to victims is reliable. However, in terms of protecting the vulnerable, call handlers do not always fully record the risks of 999 and 101 callers and the force needs to improve the service it provides to child victims. There are good arrangements in place to tackle 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

South Wales Police is very well prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and a commitment to continuous improvement, it has successfully reduced its spending over the last spending review period, and is effectively planning for future financial challenges. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the previous spending review period, South Wales Police was judged to be good.

Legitimacy

The ethical culture of the force is strong with significant efforts being made by the chief constable and senior team to lead by example. The force engages well with communities in South Wales and treats people with fairness and respect.

The use of Taser in South Wales Police is fair and appropriate, with robust oversight and accountability. The force does not comply with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, however, and I have concerns over the recording of reasonable grounds and the lack of supervisory arrangements. However, the force has recognised this and has clear plans in place to address it.

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

Leadership

South Wales Police is well led with a clear and motivating future direction that is linked to its organisational strategy. Its mission statement and vision are well understood by the workforce. The force is clear about the standards that are expected from its leaders and there is a well-established culture of focusing on quality of service. There is an understanding of the capability and capacity of the workforce.

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 South Wales Police. More detail on some of these inspections can be found under the Other inspections section.

I would draw particular attention to the child protection inspection which was conducted earlier this year. The inspection highlighted the need for the force to improve its handling of child protection cases and made various recommendations for the force to improve its overall service.

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:

  • improvement in the service offered to medium and low-risk victims of domestic abuse;
  • improvement in understanding the nature and scale of missing people and the handling of child abuse investigations; and
  • compliance with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.

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

Overall South Wales Police is judged to be good at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

In terms of preventing crime the force is effective and standards of investigation are generally high. Furthermore the service provided to victims is reliable. However in terms of protecting the vulnerable, call-handlers do not always fully record the risks of 999 and 101 callers. This is an area that requires improvement. There are good arrangements in place to tackle 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.

Os hoffech chi ddarllen hwn trwy’r Gymraeg

Operational policing measures are effective at preventing the escalation of crime and anti-social behaviour. Force priorities reflect a commitment to prevent crime, to support victims and work in partnership. This commitment is generally well understood throughout the force; well-informed police officers and community support officers are assigned to local neighbourhoods, here they work with other service providers to provide early interventions and stop problems from escalating. The force has well-established and comprehensive joint working arrangements; they are based on a solid platform of information sharing and engagement with communities to tackle issues of local concern.

It is encouraging that South Wales Police is working closely with Cardiff University to understand more about the impact of how it uses its resources. This structured approach to organisational learning will mean the force can make the best use of its resources to respond to any given situation.

South Wales Police’s approach to investigating crime and managing offenders is generally good. This builds on HMIC’s investigation of crime in 2014 when the force was also judged to be good in this area. The force continues to investigate crime well; supervisors know what is expected of them to maintain or improve standards and a reliable service is provided to victims. However, in HMIC’s inspection of vulnerability in 2015, there were occasions when HMIC noted certain more serious crimes being investigated by officers without the requisite experience. This contrasts with more frequently occurring, less complex crime which is investigated to a high standard.

Additionally in HMIC’s inspection of vulnerability, some inconsistencies were found in how call-handlers assess vulnerability when callers first make contact with the force. As this is so crucial for the early stages of an investigation to be successful, it was identified as an area for improvement.

South Wales Police responds effectively to serious and organised crime and good governance structures exist to support this. The force is aware that more could be done with partner organisations to enhance its operational impact and plans exist to address this.

 

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 South Wales Police is very well prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and a commitment to continuous improvement, it has successfully reduced its spending over the last spending review period, and is effectively planning for future financial challenges. In last year’s value for money inspection programme, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, South Wales Police was judged to be good.

Os hoffech chi ddarllen hwn trwy’r Gymraeg

HMIC judges South Wales Police to be good. South Wales Police has an extensive understanding of both its current demand and projected demand on its services. The force recognises that maintaining the current operating model with 2,800 police officers poses financial risks if expected savings are not realised, but it has undertaken scenario planning and has plans in place to alleviate these risks.

South Wales Police’s arrangements for matching resources to demand are impressive, and the force has made a significant investment in assessing the demands placed upon it. This has allowed the force to reduce costs whilst improving the service it delivers to the public, as evidenced by its excellent victim satisfaction results.

The force’s current operating model, implemented in 2010, has worked very well. Investments in new technology allowed it to reduce the numbers of basic command units (BCUs) from six to four, and neighbourhood teams from 30 to 19. These efficiency gains have allowed the force to reduce police officer numbers from 3,100 to 2,800.This was achieved against savings of £33m, or about 11 percent of the 2010/11 annual gross revenue budget, in the four years to 2014/15.

The force has a strong track record in financial management and is well positioned to tackle both the current and future financial demands placed upon it. The force has set balanced budgets and achieved its savings target for the four years up to 2014/15. It has balanced the budget for 2015/16, based on prudent assumptions which do not rely on reducing it reserves. Savings have already been realised and plans for delivering the remainder of these savings are well developed.

South Wales Police is vigorously pursuing all opportunities for additional funding, and has been highly successful in doing so. For example, for the years 2014/15 and 2015/16 the force has made successful Police Innovation Fund bids, totalling nearly £5m.

 

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

The ethical culture of the force is strong with significant efforts being made by the chief constable and senior team to lead by example. The force engages well with communities in South Wales and treats people with fairness and respect.

The use of Taser in South Wales Police is fair and appropriate, with robust oversight and accountability.

The force does not comply with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and HMIC has concerns over the recording of reasonable grounds and the lack of supervisory arrangements. However, the force has recognised this and has clear plans in place to address it.

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

Os hoffech chi ddarllen hwn trwy’r Gymraeg

The ethical culture of the force is strong with significant efforts being made by the chief constable and senior team to lead by example. The force places a strong emphasis on the wellbeing and pastoral care of the workforce. It is in the process of making sure staff understand the Code of Ethics, however, the force has not established whether its values align with the code.

The force deals with complaints and misconduct in a fair and consistent way and staff have a positive view of the professional standards department. We are concerned with the timeliness of investigations and monitoring of ethnicity information.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully engages and works with all the people it serves, we found that there is a detailed level of knowledge about the local communities and the force is making use of a wide range of methods to engage effectively, including with hard-to-reach groups. As a result, the force is able to respond to community concerns and understands the impact that problems have on 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. HMIC found that Taser is being used fairly and appropriately. However, South Wales Police does not comply with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. There is limited understanding of the scheme among staff, and any monitoring that does occur is based on minimal data. There is no publication of data on either the force website or the police.uk website. HMIC is also concerned that reasonable grounds for the use of stop and search powers are not being recorded properly, and that there is no supervision or oversight of these powers. While South Wales Police has clear plans to address the concerns, it does not comply with almost all aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.

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.

South Wales Police is well led and can show that it understands the skills, capability and capacity of its workforce. The force is clear about the standards that are expected from its leaders and there is a well-established culture of focusing on quality of service.

The force has communicated a clear, realistic and motivating sense of the future direction of the force which is linked to its organisational strategy. Its mission statement: ‘Keeping South Wales Safe’ and its vision, ‘To be the best at understanding and responding to our communities’ needs’ is well understood by the workforce.

Os hoffech chi ddarllen hwn trwy’r Gymraeg

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 South Wales Police.

View other reports

Key facts

Force Area

803 square miles

Population

1.30m people 7% local 10 yr change

Workforce

76% frontline 78% national level
3.9 per 1000 population 3.6 national level
4% 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

57p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

1.3 million people live in the area, almost half of the population of Wales. It includes the capital city and many of the most deprived Welsh communities.

The force manages around half of the crime in Wales, policing many major events and is one of the busiest forces in England and Wales.

Police and crime plan priorities

Priorities of the Police & Crime Commissioner for South Wales – Rt Hon Alun Michael.

My fundamental principle is to be “tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime”.  We’ll be professional, proud and positive even in tough times, with quick, effective policing responses,  evidence-based partnership working to cut crime, an improved local criminal justice system and long-term strategies for meeting new challenges.