Dorset 2016Read more about Dorset 2016
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Dorset Police. 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 force is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime: not yet graded.
The extent to which the force is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is: good.
The extent to which the force is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is: good.
The efficiency and legitimacy inspection findings are published below. My overall assessment of Dorset’s performance will be published in spring 2017.
Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
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.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Dorset Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. This compares favourably with the 2015 efficiency assessment, in which Dorset Police was judged to require improvement.
Dorset Police has a comprehensive understanding of the full range of the current demand for its services and the force’s evaluation of likely future demand is extensive. It has identified a number of areas of growing demand including child sexual exploitation, and paedophile and online investigation. A specialist unit to investigate cyber-crime has been set up. The force regularly surveys local residents to assess their level of satisfaction with policing services. Staffing levels are monitored and the number of officers who specifically investigate domestic abuse has increased. Dorset Police is continuing to collaborate with Devon and Cornwall Police, sharing services and reducing costs. This should continue to make its services more efficient. The force has improved the management of its finances since 2015 and future investment plans are designed to achieve greater efficiency and service improvement.
Dorset Police has a comprehensive understanding of current demand and local priorities, and the force’s evaluation of likely future demand is extensive. The force predicts an increase in reported offences, such as child sexual exploitation, paedophile and online investigation, and missing person reports. These predictions inform the force’s assessments of whether it has the capacity and capability to meet this demand, and influence workforce planning and investments in priority areas such as domestic abuse investigation.
The force gauges public expectations through surveys questioning residents, and the results enable the force to clarify what aspects of its service the public are happy with, what concerns they have and how it should provide policing services. Staffing levels are regularly monitored. However some difficulties exist. An incident resolution team (IRT) has been established and the number of officers who specifically investigate domestic abuse has increased. There is an innovative plan to include responding to the top ten individuals or organisations that generate demand. Calls handled by the control room are prioritised but there is a risk that vulnerable people may not be given priority at times of high demand. The force has set up a dedicated unit to address the issue of cyber-crime and is taking measures to give more support to frontline officers and staff who are experiencing pressure. It is working with local mental health services to meet the needs of vulnerable people more effectively by avoiding the use of custody units as places of safety.
In our 2015 inspection, we noted that Dorset Police did not have clear plans in place to meet the spending cuts required. This situation has now improved because the force is building on its collaboration with Devon and Cornwall Police in a ‘strategic alliance’. This is a formal agreement to share certain services and thereby reduce costs, rather than a merger, and the collaborative work is an emerging strength, with effective systems already in place. The alliance is projected to produce savings of up to £15m. Dorset Police has made investments in information and communications technology (ICT), which will bring efficiency benefits, and the two forces have a joint strategy to converge ICT. This is mostly proving effective. However, some mobile technology has not been introduced in an efficient way by Dorset Police and this has reduced the confidence of some of the workforce in future ICT developments.
The force’s financial position has improved since the 2015 inspection and this will allow it to meet future requirements. It is reliant on realising savings from its strategic alliance. Savings are currently being exceeded. These efficiencies should enable the force to continue to provide improving services. Dorset Police adopts a traditional approach to assessing crime levels, outcomes and victim satisfaction. However, it also examines quality of service. We look forward to learning what effect this will have on the quality of its services and the demands faced by the force’s frontline officers and staff.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Dorset Police 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 understands the importance of fair and respectful treatment, and takes measures to seek public feedback. However, more could be done to bring vetting procedures into line with national standards, and ensure that the resources are in place to tackle corruption.
The importance of treating people with fairness and respect is reflected strongly in Dorset Police’s vision and values. The widespread understanding of this among the workforce should positively influence attitudes and behaviours, and the public’s perception of the force.
Different methods are used to identify the issues that affect the public’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. The force is working to obtain views from communities that might not have confidence in the police, or that want to engage with the force in different ways. More extensive contact with support networks should enable the force to increase its understanding of how it treats vulnerable people.
The force vets applicants effectively. However, HMIC could not find evidence of positive action being taken during the vetting process to support the recruitment of a diverse workforce.
Dorset Police clarifies and reinforces acceptable and unacceptable standards of behaviour, and initiates integrity-related investigations based on intelligence. However, the capacity of the anti-corruption unit appears limited.
The force is consistently proactive in publicising the outcomes of misconduct cases. Chief officers reiterate the importance of the standards of professional behaviour and the consequences of not adhering to them. The force understands well the importance of taking action to encourage fair and respectful treatment across its workforce. However, it is not always clear how the force informs staff about the action it takes.
The force understands strongly and values highly the benefits of workforce wellbeing. It works with public and private healthcare partners to provide support, analyses data relating to the welfare of its workforce, and has taken positive steps to address mental health wellbeing.
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.
Dorset Police engages effectively with its workforce to ensure there is a clear understanding of leadership at all levels. We found that there is a good understanding of leadership values across the workforce. However, we also found evidence that some staff have mixed views about the relative importance of the values and how consistently they are applied.
Dorset Police uses different approaches to understand the leadership strengths across its workforce and has a well-developed understanding of its leadership capability. HMIC noted that it has effective processes to address leadership gaps. We welcome the force’s recognition of the importance of leadership development and its commitment to improve its capability; however, talent development for police staff appears more limited than it does for officers. Although the force promotes its leadership programmes, it could improve its appraisal of how effectively its programmes have addressed leadership shortcomings, supported development and secured participation from police staff and officers from under-represented groups.
Dorset Police and Devon and Cornwall Police show a strong commitment to working collaboratively, which allows them to exploit opportunities to share good practice and help promote a culture of innovation. HMIC is pleased that Dorset Police has explored working practices in other forces to understand the services it will deliver in future and hopes to see this approach shared more widely.
Dorset Police’s understanding of diversity extends beyond protected characteristics, and recognises how individual diversity in experience and skills strengthens teams and improves leadership. The senior leadership team maintains oversight of the deployment of officers and staff, and takes skills and experience into account to achieve balance across teams.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Dorset Police.