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Thames Valley 2015

Read more about Thames Valley 2015

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

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

The extent to which Thames Valley 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 Thames Valley Police’s performance this year, including 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 am very pleased with the performance of Thames Valley Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime.

The force is good at tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, and I am encouraged by how neighbourhood officers work well in communities and with partners to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. The force investigates crime well and takes consistent action against organised crime groups, although more work is needed to prevent serious organised crime.

I welcome the commitment of the force to protecting vulnerable people, which is understood by officers and staff at all levels. This commitment is demonstrated through the force’s investment in training and resources to help the workforce protect the most vulnerable. I am reassured that the force is taking steps to invest more resource into child abuse investigations.

The force is well placed to achieve its future savings requirements. It is going through the next stage of its change programme, which includes a detailed examination of how it matches resources to the highest priorities. I am impressed by the robust processes followed by the force and its outstanding approach in ensuring that it has the resources to continue to provide an effective service to the public, while dealing with future financial constraints.

I am particularly impressed by the way the force engages with communities across the Thames Valley area. Neighbourhood officers and police community safety officers understand local communities; communicate with them well through a range of different means, including social media; and, importantly, act promptly to address community concerns.

The force is well led with a track record of successfully implementing change. The chief officer team has set out a clear vision for the organisation; it strongly promotes an ethical culture and an inclusive workforce.

Description of force area

Thames Valley Police provides policing services to the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. Although there are some areas of deprivation, Avon and Somerset is generally affluent. Around 2.3 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the city of Oxford and the towns of Milton Keynes, Reading, Aylesbury, Maidenhead and Slough. The resident population is ethnically diverse, with 15 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and 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.

The proportion of areas in Thames Valley that are predicted to present a very high challenge to the police is lower 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 size of the force area and the road network.

Working arrangements

The force works in partnership with Hampshire Constabulary, with one senior officer responsible for roads policing, firearms and public order capabilities for both forces. Similar plans to have joint control room and call-handling arrangements are well advanced, with some elements already in place.

During the past year, the chief constable left to take up the role as chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council. A new chief constable has been appointed.

Effectiveness

In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Thames Valley Police to be good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force has low crime levels and continues to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. The force investigates crime well and takes consistent action against organised crime groups, although more work is needed to prevent serious organised crime. It is good at identifying and supporting those who are most vulnerable, but, to address increased demand, the force needs to invest more resource into child abuse investigations. 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

Thames Valley Police is very well prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and understanding of current demand it is successfully making the savings required of it and is well placed to continue to do so, while maintaining a high-quality response to calls for service from the public. It has financial plans to achieve savings in this financial year and is developing robust processes to make future savings.

In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the previous spending review period, Thames Valley was judged to be good.

Legitimacy

The chief officer team has set out a clear vision of an ethical culture and inclusive workforce within Thames Valley Police. Neighbourhood officers and staff engage well with their communities and display a good understanding of local needs. The force is complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. The use of Taser by authorised officers 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

Thames Valley Police is well led and its chief officer team provides clear expectations of leaders. We found an effective approach to leadership development, including a force-wide programme to identify talented individuals and provide development opportunities to 30 officers and staff each year.

Insights from other inspections

HMIC undertakes other inspections in addition to the PEEL programme. Since the last PEEL assessment there have been three reports published on inspections that included Thames Valley 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.

I will be particularly interested to see:

  • how the next stage of the force’s ongoing change programme enables the force to continue to provide a good policing service to all the communities across the Thames Valley area; and
  • how the investment in child protection enables the force to continue to improve its services to children.

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

Thames Valley Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

The force has low crime levels and continues to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. The force investigates crime well and takes consistent action against organised crime groups, although more work is needed to prevent serious organised crime. It is good at identifying and supporting those who are most vulnerable, but HMIC found that to address increased demand the force needs to invest more resource into child abuse investigation. 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’s approach to prevention is clear and well understood by officers and staff who work well with other organisations to solve problems in neighbourhoods, including intervening early to stop them from escalating.

The force works well with partners to identify and address anti-social behaviour. It is increasing its capacity to use academic research and evidence-based practice to become more effective.

When a crime has occurred, the force acts quickly and carries out high quality investigations, including making sure victims are safe and keeping them informed about how their cases are progressing. It works well to identify, investigate and bring to justice repeat and dangerous offenders and to stop them re-offending.

Increasingly the force is focusing on so-called hidden crimes such as domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation with a view to protecting the most vulnerable members of the community.

HMIC found a commitment from the force to identify and protect victims who are vulnerable in some way. However the levels of resourcing dedicated to investigating reports of child abuse, have not kept pace with increased demand.

The force has a satisfactory understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime and has demonstrated consistent enforcement action against organised crime groups. Its work in this area can be enhanced by developing its approach to the prevention of serious and organised crime.

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.

 

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 Thames Valley Police is very well prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and understanding of current demand it is successfully making the savings required of it and is well placed to continue to do so, while maintaining a high quality response to calls for service from the public. It has financial plans to achieve savings in this financial year and is developing robust processes to make future savings. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Thames Valley was judged to be good.

HMIC judges Thames Valley Police to be good. It has a good understanding of the demand for its services from the public. The force has changed its workforce model to manage demand and looks at new methods of working to be more efficient and effective.

Thames Valley Police has a strong track record of effective financial management and has delivered savings of £58.9 million during the previous spending review. It is on track to deliver a further £12.8m of savings in 2015/16.

Police performance has remained strong, with one of the biggest reductions in recorded crime and anti-social behaviour incidents in England and Wales over this period. The force financial plans take into account the priorities set by the police and crime commissioner and there is a good joint understanding of current and future budget pressures.

Collaboration with Hampshire Constabulary has been well planned, and is achieving efficiencies and resilience in services with additional collaborative working opportunities being actively explored.

While the budget is balanced for 2015/16, the medium-term financial plan (MTFP) 2015/16 to 2017/18 identifies a required reduction in expenditure of £46m over these three years, of which the force has so far only identified savings of £24.1m. The force does not yet have clear plans in place to achieve all of the savings it anticipates will be needed over the next three years. However, HMIC is encouraged that it has developed a process of priority-based budgeting (PBB) to understand demand, use of resources, and what value that resource delivers in terms of their priorities.

 

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 chief officer team has set out a clear vision of an ethical culture and inclusive workforce within Thames Valley Police. Neighbourhood officers and staff engage well with their communities and display a good understanding of local needs. The force is complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. The use of Taser by authorised officers 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 chief constable has led activity and set expectations about ethical behaviour in Thames Valley Police. Communication about the Code of Ethics is effective and varied. The code sets out the standards and behaviour that the public can expect from officers and staff. The comprehensive and proactive approach that the force has taken to implementing the code is encouraging. Staff in some areas of the force told us about difficult working environments caused by volume of work. However, there are a range of methods in place to support staff and they generally hold a positive view about how the force cares about their wellbeing.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that the force undertakes wide-ranging activity at force and local levels to understand the views of the different communities it serves. As a result, we found that neighbourhood officers engage with the community through a wide range of channels to share information with different community groups.

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 that the police use them fairly and appropriately. Officers, generally, have a good understanding of the importance of exercising stop and search powers in a lawful, transparent and respectful manner. All officers trained to use Taser understand their responsibility to exercise good judgment when considering its use, and recording that rationale to allow public scrutiny of actions taken. The force is complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and Taser is used 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.

Thames Valley Police is well led and its chief officer team provides clear expectations of leaders. Some members of the senior team have been in place for a number of years so there is consistency in the team’s leadership, and it has successfully defined and communicated their expectations while continuing to build their understanding of the workforce’s perceptions of leadership.

We found an effective approach to leadership development, including a force-wide programme to identify talented individuals and provide development opportunities to 30 officers and staff each year, although the force could do more to ensure that its whole workforce is aware of the scheme.

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 Thames Valley Police.

View other reports

Key facts

Force Area

2,216 square miles

Population

2.34m people 10% local 10 yr change

Workforce

75% frontline 78% national level
3.2 per 1000 population 3.6 national level
5% change in local workforce since 2010 15% national change since 2010

Victim-based crimes

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

Cost

45p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

The force polices Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, serving a diverse population of urban and rural areas.

The force works with partners to prevent, disrupt and investigate the threats from organised crime groups, particularly those targeting vulnerable people.

Police and crime plan priorities

  1. Cut crime and reduce reoffending
  2. Protecting vulnerable people
  3. Put victims and witnesses at the heart of the CJS
  4. Ensure police are visible and act with integrity
  5. Reduce the public’s fear of crime.
  6. Protect the public from serious organised crime, terrorism and internet based crime