South Wales PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
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.
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.
How effective is the force at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe?
South Wales Police is good at preventing crime, 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.
This work ethic is directed firmly towards these priorities and they are explicit themes in the police and crime commissioner’s police and crime reduction plan and the chief constable’s delivery plan. The chief constable’s delivery plan is prominent on notice boards, easily accessible on the force’s intranet and officers and staff we spoke to are conversant with their expected contribution in relation to them.
The force can demonstrate a firm commitment to working in partnership to broaden and deepen the impact of its operational services. Effective partnerships operate at a number of different levels; they can either be strategically driven by senior officers or develop organically at grass roots level. A good example is the development of the identification and referral to improve safety (IRIS) programme, this brings domestic abuse practitioners closer together to provide better support to victims. In localised crime and disorder hotspots, close ties with the retail and the entertainment sector mean the force is making inroads into problems associated with late-night entertainment venues and theft from stores.
The force uses recognised problem-solving models in the community safety partnerships to tackle localised problems. Furthermore, the force is developing an ambitious partnership with Cardiff University to use predictive analysis to forecast patterns of offending and victimisation. It is envisaged that this will bring greater precision in the force’s ability to align resources with emerging threats and provide a better service to victims.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and managing offenders?
South Wales Police’s approach to investigating crime and managing offenders is good. Our findings in 2015 are consistent with HMIC’s inspection of crime in 2014 when we judged the force to be good at investigating offending. This continues to be the case although HMIC’s inspection of vulnerability in 2015 highlighted the need to more accurately assess the level of the harm to which victims are likely to be exposed when they first make contact with the force. This potentially has an adverse effect on the early stages of investigations, particularly in how they are prioritised.
Once crime has been allocated to investigators, investigations are completed to a high standard. How enquiries are carried out is determined by investigation plans, supervisors know what is expected of them to maintain and improve standards, and the service to victims is consistent.
The force has worked hard to understand exactly what victims expect as a service from the force. This has helped inform service expectations which are well understood by the workforce; victims consistently report higher levels of satisfaction with the service they receive than elsewhere in England and Wales.
The force has solid arrangements in place with partner organisations to manage persistent offenders, registered sex offenders and other individuals who present harm to communities. Joint specialist teams manage this risk; they are well supported by local officers who are well acquainted with high risk-offenders. The teams and local officers are knowledgeable regarding their contribution to containment of the threat presented by these offenders.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that all crimes are allocated promptly to investigators with the appropriate skills, accreditation and support to investigate them to a good standard.
How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?
South Wales Police identifies and supports vulnerable victims effectively. Domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation are priorities for the force. Staff are clear that the victim’s needs are paramount and demonstrate this in their daily activity. The force generally provides vulnerable victims with a good service when investigating offences. The force has well-developed partnerships, focused on providing services for vulnerable victims to meet the needs of victims.
South Wales Police has a good understanding of local crime trends and patterns of offending. The force’s control strategy, which gives an overview of the current and long-term issues affecting or likely to affect communities, highlights vulnerability as a priority. The force is developing a vulnerability tool kit to map the locations of victims and perpetrators and to identify vulnerable children who may become victims of child sexual exploitation.
The force provides a good level of service to high-risk victims of domestic abuse, but less so for standard and medium-risk victims. Domestic abuse is very clearly a priority for the force and is seen as important to frontline staff. The force does not fully understand the nature and scale of missing persons. The force is working on its preparedness to tackle child sexual exploitation.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its initial response to incidents by ensuring that call handlers complete assessments of threat, risk and harm to appropriate standards and consistently record them on force systems.
- The force should improve its investigations of cases involving vulnerable victims, specifically victims of domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation, by ensuring that cases are allocated to officers with the appropriate professional skills and expertise to carry out such investigations and these are effectively supervised.
- The force should improve its response to persistent and repeat missing children and those children at risk of sexual exploitation by developing its understanding of the scale and nature of the issue, and ensuring effective oversight of safeguarding activity.
- The force should improve its response to domestic abuse by ensuring that it provides victims of cases assessed at standard and medium risk with an effective and consistent safeguarding service. The force should further review its domestic abuse policy and the interpretation of it by frontline officers, to ensure that appropriate action is taken against perpetrators of domestic abuse. The force should also ensure that it has processes in place to assess and refer public protection notifications in a timely manner.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
South Wales Police is good at identifying and tackling serious and organised crime groups. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their effectiveness at tackling serious and organised crime, including a force’s arrangements for ensuring that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities, as a consequence no year-on-year comparison is possible.
South Wales Police has a good understanding of serious and organised crime. This is informed by a regional assessment completed by the regional organised crime unit, and local profiles, developed in each of the force’s policing areas. Where shortfalls in the force’s understanding of particular organised crime groups exist, regional intelligence meetings are an important mechanism to gather further intelligence.
Serious and organised crime is subject to firm governance in South Wales. An assistant chief officer is the nominated responsible officer for the force. She is also the strategic lead for the regional organised crime unit. The force’s management of organised crime groups is modelled on best practice guidance in England and Wales.
It is encouraging that the development of local serious and organised crime profiles has included data and information from partner organisations. However more could be done to align the contribution of other service providers explicitly to serious and organised crime. Isolated examples of good joint working are apparent but the invaluable support that South Wales enjoys from partner organisations in other areas of law enforcement needs to be translated to areas where organised crime groups operate.
South Wales provides support to other Welsh forces, giving them access to a wider range of specialist resources and tactics. These arrangements provide resilience should a large scale emergency emerge in the region. South Wales Police is influential with partner organisations and works with other law enforcement agencies in the region to test capabilities and preparedness for the high level threats articulated in The Strategic Policing Requirement.
Areas for improvement
- The force should engage routinely with partner organisations in order to increase its ability to disrupt and investigate serious and organised crime.
- The force should take steps to identify those at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime, and ensure that preventative initiatives are put in place with partner organisations to deter them from offending.