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Cambridgeshire 2016

Read more about Cambridgeshire 2016

This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Cambridgeshire 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: not yet graded.

The extent to which the constabulary is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.

The extent to which the constabulary is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is: good.

The efficiency and legitimacy inspection findings are published below. My overall assessment of Cambridgeshire’s performance will be published in spring 2017.

Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary

Contact Zoë Billingham


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

To be graded

PEEL assessments are updated throughout the year, as the results of the different inspections and data collections become available. The graded judgments for effectiveness will be published in March 2017. See last year’s assessment of the force’s effectiveness.

View the five questions for effectiveness


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

Last updated 03/11/2016
Requires improvement

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has been assessed as requires improvement in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.

The force recognises it needs to improve its understanding of demand on its services and is already taking appropriate action. It is good at using its resources to meet demand and works well with other forces and partner organisations to improve efficiency and make savings. However, overall it needs to do more to fully understand demand and to plan for demand in the future. The force is already taking the right steps to address these issues. In last year’s efficiency inspection, Cambridgeshire Constabulary was judged to be good.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary requires improvement in its understanding of current and likely future demand on its services and it recognises that it needs to improve in this area. The force has explored good practice nationally and worked with the College of Policing to improve its approach. HMIC has seen some positive progress, but more work is needed.

The force acknowledges it could do more to understand where inefficient internal processes are leading to unnecessary demand on police time and resources. It is reviewing its governance processes to identify how it can reduce this unnecessary internal demand. It is also making progress in better understanding those demands that are less likely to be reported. The force is at an early stage in developing its understanding of likely future demand. In a strategic alliance with Hertfordshire Constabulary and Bedfordshire Police, the tri-force ‘futures team’ has undertaken research to explore options for effective policing in the future. There are some good examples of Cambridgeshire Constabulary working with local partner organisations to co-ordinate joint planning and activity in order to understand and manage both current and likely future demands.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at using its resources to manage current demand. It has recently invested additional resources in areas of increasing demand, such as the public protection directorate, to increase its capacity to investigate serious sexual offences and safeguard vulnerable children and adults.

The force has a strong commitment to joint working, which is clearly demonstrated by its mature and well-established collaborative work with Hertfordshire Constabulary and Bedfordshire Police. Cambridgeshire, together with its strategic alliance partners, has a very strong track record of joint working arrangements that bring about efficiencies. It has considered a range of collaborative approaches to maximise purchasing power, increase ICT inter-operability and share systems and infrastructure. The forces in this strategic alliance have an ambitious and innovative plan to work collaboratively in up to 50 percent of all policing functions, excluding local policing, by 2017. Further collaborative working is planned with four other forces and Cambridgeshire is also developing strategic partnerships with other emergency services and local government organisations to share resources and manage future demand together.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary requires improvement in the way it is planning for demand in the future. The lack of a comprehensive understanding of future demand and workforce capabilities limits its ability to plan for the future. The force does make prudent assumptions about future income and costs. It also has a successful track record over recent years of managing change and making the savings required. However, despite better than anticipated government grant for policing in 2016/17, the force still faces shortfalls in its budget every year until 2019/20. The force does not yet have detailed plans in place to assure itself that sufficient sustainable savings can be found.

It has given some consideration to how its future workforce and ICT capabilities will integrate. However, the ICT strategy for collaborative working is not yet aligned with workforce and service plans. Therefore, while HMIC found evidence that it is enabling the force to both do things it is already doing more efficiently and to improve the way it provides a service, this is not yet clearly understood by the force.

Overall, this means that the force is not in the position it was in 2015, when HMIC assessed its efficiency at keeping people safe and reducing crime as good, and it now requires improvement.

View the three questions for efficiency


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

Last updated 08/12/2016

Cambridgeshire 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 respect of legitimacy.

The force treats the people it serves, and its workforce, with fairness and respect. It seeks and acts on feedback to improve the services it provides and listens to the views of its workforce. It does good work on identifying and enforcing standards of behaviour. However, HMIC has concerns about the force’s ability to ensure that its entire workforce behaves ethically and fairly because of limited capacity in its anti-corruption and vetting unit (ACU).

Cambridgeshire Constabulary and its workforce have a good understanding of the importance of treating the people they serve with fairness and respect. The force has a new communications strategy and also records and analyses information about police treatment of the public, so that it can act on feedback and learning to improve how it treats all the people it serves. The force could improve its identification and understanding of the issues that have the greatest effect on public perceptions of fair and respectful treatment and to address this it is developing its independent advisory group.

Although the force is doing some good work on identifying and enforcing standards of behaviour, HMIC has concerns about the force’s ability to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and fairly. Its ability to identify, monitor and understand risks to the integrity of the organisation is limited by a lack of capacity in the ACU.

The force is in an alliance with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary. The alliance’s joint professional standards department (PSD), which includes the ACU, is implementing an improvement plan, drawn up after a serious gross misconduct court case collapsed over concerns about the quality of the investigation. The plan affects all three forces in the alliance. The force and alliance need to ensure that there are enough staff with the capability, with additional support, both to implement the new PSD/ACU improvement plan successfully and to handle daily business effectively.

During our inspection we found that the force had implemented too few of the recommendations we made in our police integrity and corruption report in 2014, which included recommendations for improving the capacity and capability of these units.

The force needs to communicate effectively to the whole workforce how serious an offence it is for officers and staff to abuse their position for sexual gain (taking advantage of their position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime). The alliance realises that a proactive approach to gathering intelligence is needed and it is planning to introduce a prevention strategy.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary treats its workforce with fairness and respect. It has an open culture in which the workforce can express their views. The force listens to feedback and consults staff associations and networks to understand the workforce’s needs. It manages individual performance well and supports workforce wellbeing, particularly through its preventative and early action in response to wellbeing concerns. The force needs to ensure that its acting and temporary ranks receive the training and support they need to deal with sickness management effectively. At the time of our inspection, the alliance was aiming to conduct an all-staff survey in June 2016, which should improve the force’s understanding of how the workforce feels it is treated.

View the three 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.


Last updated 08/12/2016

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.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has worked effectively with its workforce to refresh and redefine what it expects from its leaders, promoting a leadership style that trusts officers and staff to make decisions. This has continued under its new chief officer team. The force has taken the decision to move to a ‘trust and check’ approach; encouraging a more inclusive style of management. This display of trust emphasises the force’s leadership expectations. This encourages officers and staff to challenge senior leaders and to feel comfortable in doing so. The new chief officer team is working hard to ensure that officers and staff have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in terms of the refreshed leadership expectations.

The force uses a broad range of techniques to develop leadership skills, although it could perhaps do more to understand the skills, experience and background of its workforce, including implementing a formal management process to identify and develop talented officers and staff. The force has a strong focus on increasing the diversity of its leadership team, with positive results. The force would benefit from reviewing and evaluating this work regularly.

We found that the force is highly innovative and has a culture of working with academia. This is particularly evident in how it develops its information and communications technology, and in research commissioned from Cambridge University. Officers and staff are able to make suggestions and influence positive change throughout the force, the strategic alliance (a collaboration between Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary) and nationally. We found that the force evaluates some of its programmes, projects and initiatives well and makes this learning available to others.

View the three questions for leadership

Other reports

This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

View other reports

Key facts

Force Area

1,309 square miles


0.83m people 13% local 10 yr change


76% frontline 78% national level
2.8 per 1000 population 3.6 national level
17% 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)


43p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

Find out more about the area policed by this force.

Police and crime plan priorities

The police and crime plan, as well as other information about the PCC, can be found on their website.