Dyfed-Powys 2016Read more about Dyfed-Powys 2016
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Dyfed-Powys 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 requires improvement.
The extent to which the force is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The extent to which the force is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
I am concerned about many aspects of Dyfed-Powys Police’s overall performance. In view of this, I have been in regular contact with the chief constable.
I am pleased that the force is addressing the concerns that we have raised in our inspection reports, but I do not underestimate how much improvement is needed for the force to provide a consistently good service.
Since my assessment last year, the force has introduced a new approach to handling calls for assistance that incorporates an assessment of the circumstances of each incident in terms of the likely threat and risk of harm to those involved.
This has resulted in a welcome improvement in the initial response to incidents involving vulnerable people: for example, call handlers advise the caller on how to preserve the scene of the crime, and how to keep those involved safe.
However, the force has not adopted this approach in deciding who should then attend incidents: frontline officers are dispatched to investigate whenever a crime is recorded, even when the crime presents a low risk of harm. This means that the force may not be making best use of officers’ time.
Linked to this, I am also concerned that opportunities to support those who are more vulnerable may be missed: cases are allocated for investigation to whichever officer happens to be available rather than to investigators with the appropriate skills and experience. This means that some investigators may not be properly equipped to deal with all the cases they are allocated. A more structured approach to deploying officers would address this issue.
Dyfed-Powys has a good approach to preventing crime and has devoted sufficient resources to neighbourhood policing. It is good at tackling serious and organised crime, and it works with other public services to develop a sound understanding of serious threats. The force is also good at deterring people from becoming involved in serious and organised crime, and at actively managing repeat offenders.
The force draws on a wide range of information to inform its understanding of the current threats faced by the people of Dyfed-Powys. However, it needs to do more to understand less visible demands for its services, such as internet crime, and how demand might change in the future. At the time of our inspection, the force was seeking to develop its understanding of the demand for its services through its ‘spending wisely’ project.
Although Dyfed-Powys has a good track record of achieving financial savings, I am concerned that it still does not have a comprehensive understanding of the costs, or quality, of the service provided through its current operating model.
There was no evidence that its commitment to attend all recorded crimes had been evaluated, and so the force does not know the cost of this commitment, or whether it has had an impact on crime investigation, crime reduction or public confidence. The force also has a limited understanding of the success of previous change programmes in reducing costs and improving quality.
The force does not have a sound understanding of the skills and capabilities of its workforce. There are imbalanced workloads across the force: resources have been redeployed without evidence of any analysis of the demand facing different parts of the organisation, or of whether those redeployed have the appropriate skills.
I am satisfied that Dyfed-Powys has some understanding of threats to the integrity of the organisation and undertakes some assessment of potential corruption. However, there are some gaps in its understanding of the extent to which corruption is having an impact on the organisation, and of the extent to which officers may be abusing their authority for sexual gain (that is, taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime).
I was pleased that our inspectors found that the workforce understands the importance of treating people with fairness and respect. However, the force needs to improve the way it seeks feedback from the people it serves so that the focus shifts more towards understanding the issues that have the greatest impact on public perceptions of fairness and respect. This should inform the work the force is doing to improve its understanding of demand more broadly, and how it matches resources to that demand.
In view of these findings, I have been in regular contact with the chief constable. I do not underestimate how much improvement is needed for the force to provide a consistently good service to the people of Dyfed-Powys. I am sure that the force will be committed to making significant progress over the coming year.
Dyfed-Powys Police provides policing services to the areas of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys. Dyfed-Powys has a high level of poverty, although there are some more affluent areas. The force area is home to around 0.5 million people, who live in a predominantly rural setting. The area has distinct, small urban areas including the towns of Carmarthen, Llanelli, Milford Haven, and Aberystwyth.
The resident population is increased by university students and the very large numbers who visit or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes 500 miles of motorway and trunk roads and a major sea port.
The proportion of areas in Dyfed-Powys that are predicted (on the basis of detailed economic and demographic analysis) to present a very high challenge to the police is lower than the national average. The most challenging areas are generally characterised by a high concentration of people living, working, socialising, or travelling in the area.
Features which both cause and/or indicate a concentration of people include the number of commercial premises, including licensed premises and fast-food premises, public transport, and social deprivation. In some areas, these features are combined. The police force area is very large, relative to other forces in England and Wales, and it takes a comparatively long time to travel across the area by road, which increases the difficulty of providing police services.
Dyfed-Powys Police works as part of the all-Wales counter terrorism unit and has a joint firearms team with Gwent Police and South Wales Police.
It also has co-located services with the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service and constituent local authorities in Llandrindod Wells.
The Welsh Policing Estates collaboration is drawing up options for a joint estates service for policing in Wales, to reduce costs, enhance resilience and make service improvements.
A new chief constable and deputy chief constable have been appointed within the past year.
Looking ahead to 2017
In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how Dyfed-Powys Police responds to this assessment and to the areas for improvement that HMIC identified last year.
I will be particularly interested to see:
- how the force improves the way it allocates officers to investigations;
- how the force develops its understanding of demand through its ‘spending wisely’ project;
- how the force improves its understanding of the range of services it can provide, so that it can best match its resources to demand; and
- the direction in which the new chief constable leads the force.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Dyfed-Powys Police requires improvement in its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force prevents crime and tackles anti-social behaviour effectively, and it responds well to serious and organised crime. However, investigation standards need to improve, and there are weaknesses in the support and safeguarding provided to vulnerable people. The force has the necessary arrangements in place to ensure that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year, when we judged the force to require improvement in respect of effectiveness.
Overall, the effectiveness of Dyfed-Powys Police at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement. This is principally because of a weakness in the way that the force investigates crime and keeps victims safe.
The force has a good approach to preventing crime and has devoted sufficient resources to policing its communities well. It has a good understanding of the threats which are facing its local communities through its work within its communities and its work with other public service organisations.
Dyfed-Powys Police requires improvement at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. The initial investigation of crime is good at the first point of contact, and the use of a risk-based assessment method by call handlers is a welcome improvement. However, the crime allocation policy is based on the type of crime rather than the threat, harm and risk involved. This means that the force is not taking a victim-focused approach to the allocation of all crime.
Dyfed-Powys Police requires improvement at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and at supporting victims. Some investigations are still being allocated to officers and staff who do not have the necessary skills to deal with complex and high-risk investigations. This means that vulnerable victims are not receiving the right level of safeguarding and support.
The force is good at tackling serious and organised crime. It works with other public services to develop a sound understanding of serious threats. It is good at deterring people from becoming involved in serious and organised crime, and actively manages criminals to prevent them re-offending.
The force has the necessary arrangements in place to ensure that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities. It has assessed the threat of an attack which might require an armed response and has adequate arrangements in place for reviewing its firearms capability.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Dyfed-Powys Police has been assessed as requires improvement in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force has a good understanding of the current demand for its services but does not understand potential future demand. Its current allocation of resources matches financial requirements and meets most current demand and organisational requirements, but it does not have a full understanding of the costs and quality of the service levels provided through its current operating model. Dyfed-Powys Police does not have credible investment plans based on prudent assumptions but has undertaken some work to understand how it might need to change its service provision in the future.
Dyfed-Powys Police has a good understanding of the current demand for its services but does not understand potential future demand. The force’s current allocation of resources matches financial requirements and meets most current demand and organisational requirements, but it does not have a full understanding of the costs or quality of the service levels provided through its current operating model. The force has a good track record of achieving efficiencies, particularly in meeting reduction targets, while balancing its annual budget and accruing reserves through annual underspends.
Dyfed-Powys Police does not fully understand its current workforce skills and capabilities, relying on plans that are largely reactive and unsophisticated. This leads to inconsistencies in service provision. The force does not have a structured approach to working with others in order to manage the demand for its services better. However, it is involved in strategic alliances and collaborative initiatives designed to improve efficiency. Dyfed-Powys Police has a limited understanding of how changes made to improve efficiency have affected its ability to manage demand and is unable to demonstrate an understanding of the impact of previous change programmes.
Dyfed-Powys Police does not currently understand where it may need to make future reductions in workforce numbers. The force does not have credible investment plans in place based on prudent assumptions, but it has undertaken some work to understand how it might need to change its service provision in the future through the force workforce plans. Further, it has invested well in ICT.
Dyfed-Powys Police has a track record of achieving savings. It saves more money than it needs to and has therefore underspent each year by a considerable margin. HMIC did not see evidence that the force has developed joint working arrangements, whereby mixed teams from different organisations work together to realise efficiencies and improve the service to the public, other than under IOM arrangements. This means that it is not maximising the benefits of collaborative working.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Dyfed-Powys Police has been assessed as requires improvement 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 require improvement in respect of legitimacy.
The force understands the importance of treating people with fairness and respect, but it needs to improve the way it seeks feedback and understands the issues that affect public perceptions of police treatment. The force needs to improve the extent to which it ensures that its workforce is behaving ethically and lawfully, particularly in relation to vetting, understanding corruption threats and tackling abuse of authority for sexual gain. The force seeks feedback from its workforce and values the benefits of workforce wellbeing, but needs to improve its understanding of workforce wellbeing needs and the way it manages individual performance.
Dyfed-Powys Police understands the importance of treating people with fairness and respect. The force’s values are based on the Code of Ethics, and fairness and respect are intrinsic to the force’s own vision and values. The force seeks feedback and challenge from the people it serves, but the focus needs to shift more towards understanding the issues that have the greatest impact on public perceptions of fairness and respect than is currently the case.
The force vets applicants to ensure that it recruits officers, staff and volunteers with high standards of ethical behaviour and regularly clarifies and reinforces what is considered to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. It has an understanding of threats to the integrity of the organisation and undertakes some assessment of potential corruption. However, it does not yet have a full understanding of the extent to which corruption is having an impact on the organisation, or the extent to which officers may be abusing their authority for sexual gain. Dyfed-Powys Police communicates with the public and its workforce about the outcomes of misconduct and corruption cases.
The force offers various ways in which officers and staff can express opinions of fair and respectful treatment but does not understand the areas that have the greatest impact on workforce perceptions. The force recognises that it now needs to be more proactive in involving the workforce in everyday activity designed to encourage fair and respectful treatment. Dyfed-Powys Police understands and values the benefits of workforce wellbeing and has several ways in which it can identify the needs and concerns of its workforce, including taking early and preventative action to improve workforce wellbeing. Dyfed-Powys Police does not have an established fair or effective performance assessment process for officers and staff.
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.
Dyfed-Powys Police has set expectations in relation to what leadership means within the force. However, it has not conducted a survey of leadership capacity and capability to explore this, and so cannot say that it is fully aware of the strengths, weaknesses and gaps in this area. This problem is compounded when it comes to developing future leaders. The force does have plans to undertake a staff survey with full evaluation, which will provide it with some insights.
Although it has a number of development programmes, they are not co-ordinated or evaluated. Therefore, the force cannot say to what extent it is developing the right people in the right way. Selection processes for recruitment and promotion are similarly ineffective because they are not based on a clear understanding of what the force needs or on a full understanding of diversity. The force cannot therefore ensure that it is truly representative of the communities it serves and there is a serious risk that it may not be able to continue providing necessary levels of service to those communities.
That said, we found that the force was progressive in many ways and looked to identify new ideas and innovation, both from outside and within the force, and that it also fostered a culture in which this was encouraged.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Dyfed-Powys Police.