Hertfordshire 2016Read more about Hertfordshire 2016
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Hertfordshire 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 is: good.
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 Hertfordshire’s performance will be published in spring 2017.
Zoë Billingham, 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?
Hertfordshire Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force needs to do more to fully understand both current and likely future demand for its services. It is good at using its resources to meet demand, and works well with other forces and organisations to improve efficiency and save money. The force is in a strong financial position to plan for the future. In last year’s efficiency inspection, Hertfordshire Constabulary was judged to be good.
As in HMIC’s 2015 inspection, this year Hertfordshire Constabulary has been assessed as good at working efficiently to keep people safe and reduce crime. However, it requires improvement in its understanding of all the sources of current demand and of likely future demand for its services. It recognises that this understanding requires improvement and that more work is needed to enable it to reduce demand, increase productivity and effectively plan for the future. The force has explored good practice nationally and worked with the College of Policing to improve its approach. It is at an early stage in developing its understanding of likely future demand. In a strategic alliance with Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Bedfordshire Police, the tri-force ‘futures team’ has undertaken research to explore options for effective policing in the future.
The force uses its resources to respond to clear priorities; for example, it recognised growth in demand for protecting vulnerable people and has invested extra resources for domestic abuse and sexual offence investigations. However, it makes higher than average use of overtime and significant numbers of police officers are unable to use all their annual leave, suggesting that it is not always accurately matching its resources to the needs of the force. The force is seeking to increase workforce productivity using both external expertise and introducing new software to carry out demand assessment. It is also carefully monitoring the skills and composition of its workforce and has redistributed staff to better match demand following the reduction of custody centres.
The force has developed strong collaborative working arrangements, through the strategic alliance with Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Bedfordshire Police. The forces in this strategic alliance have an ambitious and innovative plan to work collaboratively in all policing functions, except local policing, by 2017. Further partnership working is planned with a total of seven forces, and Hertfordshire is also developing strategic partnerships with other emergency services and local government organisations to share resources and manage future demand together. While Hertfordshire Constabulary can demonstrate how collaboration and joint working is improving outcomes for the public, reducing costs and building resilience, it does not yet have a comprehensive understanding of costed outcomes.
The force is in a strong financial position to plan well for future demand, although the lack of a comprehensive understanding of future demand and workforce capabilities limits its ability to plan for the future. It has a track record of careful financial management and achieving savings targets. The force has large financial reserves, some of which will be used in the next four years to support the revenue budget and ease immediate financial pressures. It will continue to meet savings requirements by increasing efficiency through collaboration and agile working, while also making a broad range of investments, improving ICT capabilities and increasing the size of teams that protect vulnerable people and assist victims of crime.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Hertfordshire 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).
Hertfordshire Constabulary and its workforce have a good understanding of the importance of treating people they serve with fairness and respect. The force’s values are set out in a code of practice and they are understood and put into practice by the workforce.
The force seeks feedback using a range of methods, including meetings, surveys and engagement activities, and through its website. We found several examples of the force responding effectively to feedback; for example, it has improved its recording of incidents where members of the public are stopped and searched. However, the force could benefit from more emphasis on analysing feedback to identify areas for improvement.
Although the force is doing some good work on identifying and enforcing standards of behaviour, HMIC has concerns that 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 Cambridgeshire 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 recognises the abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) as serious corruption and has taken action to communicate this to its workforce. To reassure the public and other organisations of the robust stance taken by the force, it organised briefings for the media to explain how it is handling a series of nine unconnected misconduct cases involving sexual impropriety and/or abuse of authority by members of the workforce.
Hertfordshire Constabulary is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. It uses a wide range of methods to identify and understand the issues that affect the workforce, including surveys, regular engagement with staff representative groups and online messaging. The force has an open culture and staff representative groups told us that they felt informed and engaged. It is improving and expanding its workforce wellbeing services, but some people we spoke with expressed concerns that high workloads, combined with a lack of opportunity to take leave, were leading to stress-related conditions.
The force manages individual performance through performance assessments (known as PDRs), which have to be completed every year. Although PDRs were generally completed, the members of the workforce we spoke with did not value the process. In addition, the force does not systematically assess the contents of all PDRs for effectiveness and fairness.
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.
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.
Hertfordshire Constabulary has a good understanding of leadership and communicates the expectations of its leaders clearly throughout the organisation. It involved the whole workforce in developing ‘The Herts Way’ (its statement of how it will police the county), which contains a specific focus on leadership. The force provides officers and staff at all levels with extensive opportunities to develop their leadership skills and looks for new ideas by exchanging information with other forces and by commissioning research.
Although the senior team in Hertfordshire Constabulary has a clear understanding of diversity in the context of protected characteristics, such as age, disability, or gender reassignment, there are not enough black and minority ethnic (BME) people in the workforce, particularly in middle and senior management roles. In contrast, the gender balance at these levels is good. The force would benefit from adopting a wider definition of diversity, to include background, skills, experience, and personality types, to support the creation of more effective leadership teams.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Hertfordshire Constabulary.