Avon and Somerset 2016Read more about Avon and Somerset 2016
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Avon and Somerset Constabulary. PEEL is designed to give the public information about how their local police force is performing in several important areas, in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year on year. The assessment is updated throughout the year with our inspection findings and reports.
The extent to which the constabulary is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The extent to which the constabulary is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The extent to which the constabulary is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy inspection findings are published below. My overall assessment of Avon and Somerset’s performance will be published in March 2017.
Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our findings this year are an improvement on last year’s findings assessment, in which we judged the force to require improvement in respect of effectiveness.
The force has a good understanding of the threat and risk of harm facing its communities, and has improved the quality of its investigations. It has effective processes to tackle serious and organised crime, and has the necessary arrangements in place to ensure that it can fulfil its responsibilities under the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR).
Overall Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. It understands the threat and risk of harm facing its communities and has dedicated teams working with partner agencies and communities to solve problems in a structured way and use intelligence effectively to direct patrols to take place in areas to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
The force has improved the quality of its investigations, particularly those involving vulnerable victims, and addressed both causes of concern HMIC identified during last year’s inspection by improving how it responds to missing children and domestic abuse. It is good at sharing information with partner agencies (such as local authorities, or health and education services) to assess risks and ensure safeguarding arrangements are made. The force’s processes to identify vulnerable people and allocate investigations to the most appropriately trained officers work well. Victims’ needs are considered throughout these processes and they are supported through effective partnership arrangements.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has good processes in place to assess the threat posed by serious and organised crime, which encompasses drug activity, modern slavery, organised immigration crime, child sexual exploitation and cyber-crime. It investigates organised crime groups effectively, and has initiatives that aim to prevent people from being drawn into this type of offending. However, the force could do more to implement a whole-force approach to tackling organised crime groups, for example by involving neighbourhood teams in local disruption.
The force is able to meet its responsibilities under the SPR, and it regularly tests plans for such emergencies. There are well-embedded collaborations with neighbouring forces that contribute to the response to threats posed by firearms attacks. These have been reviewed in light of recent terrorist attacks.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force has a comprehensive understanding of a full range of current demand and a good understanding of future demand. It makes decisions based on prioritisation of current and projected demand and has robust governance structures in place to manage how it operates. The force continues to seek savings by working with other forces and agencies across the south west region.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has a comprehensive understanding of its existing demand, based on a wide range of management information. Through new programmes, such as the Qlik Sense data visualisation app, the force is taking this understanding well beyond an analysis of the calls which the contact centre receives. The force is quick to identify and assess new and emerging demand and has restructured its workforce to provide the skills base and capacity which will meet future needs. It makes decisions based on prioritisation of current and projected demand and it has robust governance structures in place to manage the way it operates.
The force’s financial and workforce planning are closely aligned to deal with areas of high demand. For example, the force has increased its capacity to investigate child abuse and serious sexual offences. The force continues to exploit all methods of reducing costs. Its digital services programme will transform policing over the next four years, and will include remote working and real-time intelligence about current and trending demand. In addition, the force has a good track record of making savings by working closely with both neighbouring forces and other public services across the entire south west region.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our findings this year are consistent with last year’s findings, in which we judged the force to be good in this respect. The force has consulted with the communities it works with to understand their expectations and with its workforce to develop standards of service. It has systems in place to ensure its workforce behaves ethically and works hard to understand the views of its staff.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. The force consults with the communities it works with to understand their expectations of the service they receive from the police. It uses a number of methods to seek feedback and challenge from the public and has strategies to support this. The force engages with the public about the outcome of serious misconduct cases for officers only.
In 2015 we found that the force had made good progress in introducing the Code of Ethics and on this inspection we found that officers and staff had a good understanding of the Code and the need to treat people with fairness and respect. The force is good at identifying, understanding and managing risks to the integrity of the organisation and has a well established vetting process that complies with national guidance. It has developed a counter-corruption strategy and a process to assist it in identifying, understanding and managing risks to integrity. However, preventative work around identifying the risk of officers and staff abusing their authority for sexual gain is less developed.
The force works to improve areas that affect workforce perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. We identified a number of good initiatives to address workforce wellbeing. The force needs to improve its performance assessment process and has plans in place to do so.
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.
Police leadership is crucial in enabling a force to be effective, efficient and legitimate. This inspection focused on how a force understands, develops and displays leadership through its organisational development.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary demonstrates a good understanding of leadership expectations across all ranks and grades. Its recently introduced leadership strategy includes the College of Policing leadership review’s approach and recommendations. There is some understanding of how the force is led across most ranks and grades. The force has introduced a new promotion process whereby all candidates receive feedback to support career development. It has responded to gaps in leadership capability by developing a new leadership course. The force is working to improve diversity in its leadership, with more women now in senior leadership teams.
The force has a consistent approach to leadership development. It was an early adopter of the Direct Entry and Fast Track schemes, and works with local universities to improve its approach to police recruitment. In order to identify and nurture talented individuals consistently, the force could develop a more in-depth understanding of its leadership skills.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Avon and Somerset Constabulary.