Merseyside 2016Read more about Merseyside 2016
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Merseyside 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 is good.
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.
Michael Cunningham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
I am very pleased with all aspects of the performance of Merseyside Police. The force provides a consistently good service.
Merseyside Police is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. Neighbourhood teams have effective ways of connecting with the people of Merseyside.
The force has furthered its understanding of evidence-based practice, and is using this to improve its approaches. It continues to work well with partner organisations to prevent re-offending and manage the most dangerous offenders.
The force provides consistent protection to vulnerable people and has an effective victim care model that provides officers with guidance and links to a range of support agencies to which they can refer victims. It is good at investigating crime: officers are effective in their initial investigation of crime most of the time, although some early investigative opportunities are being missed.
I am pleased that the force has improved the promptness and consistency of how it allocates crimes to investigators. It makes good use of specialist officers to conduct complex and serious investigations, although there are some instances of officers without the correct level of training or experience investigating complex cases.
Since our inspection in 2014, the force has made some efforts to improve the accuracy with which it records crimes. However, I remain very concerned about the inaccuracies in the initial crime-recording decisions, and the force needs to improve how it supervises crime recording.
I continue to be impressed by Merseyside Police’s outstanding performance in tackling serious and organised crime. The force has a comprehensive understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime; the level of threat is assessed every day. This timely identification of the threats and risks from serious and organised crime in Merseyside allows the force to respond effectively.
Merseyside Police has an excellent understanding of the current demand for its services. I was particularly impressed with the force’s modelling of the cost and demand for its investigative services. The force bases its organisational plans on this understanding of demand, and has used it to inform the design of its new operating model.
The force collaborates with partner organisations to reduce costs and the demands for services; this includes working together to address the needs of people who repeatedly use one or more of their services.
Merseyside Police actively looks outside the force for new ideas, and welcomes innovative ideas from police officers and staff at all levels. The force has a strong ethical culture and is clear about how all officers and staff are expected to behave. The workforce understands what serious corruption is and how to report it. The force has rigorous methods for identifying and dealing with potential corruption and inappropriate behaviour, such as the abuse of authority for sexual gain (that is, taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime).
I am reassured that Merseyside Police regularly seeks feedback about how the public perceives their treatment by its officers and staff, and whether this is fair and respectful. The force works closely with people who have less confidence in the police, although it could do more to understand the perceptions of the wider public, particularly those who rarely come into contact with the police.
In summary, I commend the force on the service it is providing to the people of Merseyside.
Merseyside Police provides policing services to the metropolitan area of Merseyside. Merseyside has a high level of poverty, although there are some more affluent areas. The force area is home to around 1.4 million people who live in a predominantly urban setting. The force covers the conurbation that includes the city of Liverpool and surrounding towns.
The resident population is increased by very large numbers of university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, commute into, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes 44 miles of motorway and trunk roads, major rail stations, an airport and a major sea port.
The proportion of areas in Merseyside that are predicted (on the basis of detailed economic and demographic analysis) to present a very high challenge to the police is broadly in line with 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 that 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.
Merseyside Police works with other emergency services in the area. It has a joint command and control centre with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and continues to assess the feasibility of extending this collaboration to better manage demand, and incorporate similar services each organisation provides.
The force is working with Cheshire Constabulary and North Wales Police to improve the sharing of information through joint processes, facilitated by a shared IT platform. It is also finalising agreements with these forces on a shared forensics service.
Paramedic and mental health triage services are provided in collaboration with the North West Ambulance Service and Mersey Care NHS Trust to assist in assessing victims of crime who may require medical attention.
Looking ahead to 2017
In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how the force responds to this assessment and to the areas for improvement that HMIC identified last year.
I will be particularly interested to see:
- the impact of the force’s new operating model on its service to the public; and
- how it improves the way it records crime.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Merseyside Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force has an effective approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, investigating crime and reducing re-offending, protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims. It is outstanding at tackling serious and organised crime. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year, when we judged the force to be good in respect of effectiveness.
Merseyside Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. It is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. It has a structured approach to identifying threats, and a good understanding of the threats and risks that pose the greatest harm to local communities. Neighbourhood teams have effective ways of connecting with local communities both in their own environment, and through representatives. However, given the limitations of the formal engagement structure (which it recognises); the force could do more to involve local people in the setting of local priorities.
The force is good at investigating crime and supporting victims. It provides an initial investigative response in its assessment of calls from the public. A thorough assessment is completed, and in most cases, the force provides immediate advice on the preservation of evidence and crime prevention.
In HMIC’s 2015 effectiveness report, we found that the force responded well to vulnerable victims and this year we found that the force continues to provide the same level of support through consistent completion of risk assessments of vulnerable victims and appropriate safeguarding. Officers and staff understand how to identify vulnerable victims, and are doing so correctly and consistently, with access to a full range of information to inform their initial assessment. This means that vulnerable victims can be assured that the force will identify their vulnerability, ensure an appropriate response, and provide the necessary immediate support. The force continues to be outstanding in the way it tackles serious and organised crime. Merseyside Police has effective arrangements in place to ensure that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities. It has reviewed its response to each of the Strategic Policing Requirement threats in line with national standards and best practice.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Merseyside Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force has an excellent understanding of the current demand on its services, and a good understanding of potential future demand for services. It uses its resources well to meet demand and to plan for future demand and investment.
Merseyside Police is judged as being good, with elements of outstanding, in its ability to understand demand, use its resources well to meet that demand and plan for future demand and investment.
The force has an excellent understanding of the current demand on its services, bases all its organisational plans on this, and has used it to shape its new operating model. We were also impressed with the force’s business modelling of the demand on its services for investigative work. The force acknowledges that it could have a better understanding of demand that is less likely to be reported. It is continuing to improve the efficiency of its internal processes to reduce demand.
The force has a good understanding of the public’s expectations, and consequently has made a commitment to maintaining a neighbourhood presence. It uses its resources well to manage demand. It collaborates with partner agencies to reduce demand and costs, including by working with them to deal with the most frequent users of their services.
The force resources its digital activity appropriately, with further development planned, but it could understand more fully through which digital channels its communities want contact with the police. It works well with the emergency services in its area and collaborates with two other forces. Effective planning has enabled the force to make savings to meet existing demand, to invest for the future, and build up strong reserves.
The force aims to improve the way it manages demand on its services through its new operating model, which recognises potential demand for services and the impact of possible reductions in partner resources. It has ambitious plans to phase in the new operating model between 2017 and 2020, representing a radical transformation to the structure of Merseyside Police and how it operates.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Merseyside Police has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
Merseyside Police is good in the way it deals with the public, treats its workforce and how it promotes ethical and lawful behaviour among its workforce. It treats the people that it serves and its officers and staff with fairness and respect. The culture of the organisation reflects this through its fair and respectful treatment of people, and ethical, lawful approaches to integrity. The organisation’s fair and respectful treatment of its workforce and its concern for welfare and wellbeing of officers and staff also demonstrate this. Senior leaders actively promote the force’s values.
Merseyside Police continues successfully to reinforce messages to its workforce about how important it is to treat people with fairness and respect. The force regularly seeks feedback about how the public perceives that they are treated by its officers and staff and whether this is fair and respectful treatment. To do this, it has formal and well-established arrangements in place for independent advice and challenge. The force’s governance structure oversees and monitors whether officers and staff treat the public in a fair and respectful way. However, it could do more to understand how the wider public, particularly those of the public who do not come into contact with the police, perceives whether Merseyside Police officers and staff are treating people fairly and respectfully.
The force continues to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully.
The workforce understands what serious corruption is and how to report it. The force has effective methods to deal with potential corruption and continues to make sure that its IT systems are secure. The force monitors risks to the integrity of the organisation well through its comprehensive vetting of officers and staff. It identifies the early warning signs of corruption by sharing information appropriately, both internally and with other forces. The force deals robustly with cases of abuse of authority for sexual gain.
Merseyside Police understands well the importance of wellbeing for its workforce. It analyses its management information and has a good understanding of the wellbeing risks to the organisation. It uses this analysis to provide wellbeing services for its workforce and is making further investment in this area.
Merseyside Police is not able to demonstrate whether its individual performance assessment process is effective. Its process is based on the assumption that an officer or member of staff is competent, with the performance development process used mainly in the context of poor performance or when an officer or staff member is applying for promotion. We found some examples of good informal performance assessment, but we also found officers who had not had an assessment of their performance for three to four years.
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.
Merseyside Police has established what it expects from its leaders and communicates this so that the whole workforce is aware of and understands the force’s expectations. The overwhelming consensus in the workforce is that the force is open to challenge and that everyone can speak freely. We found that the force has developed its understanding of overall leadership by looking at and analysing the results of the force’s people survey. However, it still has more work to do to understand leadership capability, particularly below middle management level.
The force supports its leaders through leadership development programmes but it could do more to develop a force-wide talent management scheme, which it can use to identify and develop the skills of the officers and staff who have the highest potential. The force has used recruitment successfully in order to acquire the leadership skills and experience which it needs in the immediate term, and is now concentrating on recruiting and selecting the number of operational officers it needs for its new operating model in 2017. The recruitment and selection is weighted towards an assessment of operational competence and experience, which might limit the scope that the force has to build balanced and effective teams.
Merseyside Police actively looks outside the force for new ideas, learning from ‘what works’, and from other forces. It has created an open and innovative culture that welcomes new ideas from police officers and staff at all levels. It has progressed well with disseminating learning both internally, and to other forces. The force is aware of the need to reflect diversity in its leadership teams and has made some progress towards this. Its development of diverse leadership teams is limited, because it is based primarily on the protected characteristics and on operational skills and experience. The force is potentially missing opportunities to develop truly diverse leadership teams.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Merseyside Police.