Northamptonshire 2016Read more about Northamptonshire 2016
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Northamptonshire 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 Northamptonshire’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?
Northamptonshire Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. It is taking steps to understand current and future demand better and is developing tools to allow effective monitoring of changes in demand. The force is developing its understanding of hidden demand. While it sets great store on the opportunities for savings and efficiencies from the use of information communication technology (ICT) and closer collaboration with other forces, its future planning needs to be strengthened.
Northamptonshire Police has improved the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime since HMIC’s 2015 inspection, although its planning for demand in the future requires improvement. The force has a good understanding of its current demand based on a range of data and a detailed policing model capable of providing relatively complex analysis. In collaboration with forces in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire, and working with the College of Policing and academia, the force is developing tools to allow effective monitoring of changes in demand. It is developing its understanding of crime less likely to be reported, and has identified domestic violence and child abuse as concerns in the region. The force has done a great deal of work with partners to understand how the community is changing and to manage demand collectively with partners. It realises that it also needs to engage with harder-to-reach groups to prepare for changes in demand.
The force is good at using its resources to manage current demand. It has revised its service delivery model to focus on demand and has taken the opportunity of the redesign to try and identify inefficient processes. Good analytical tools are in place to help identify where costs can be reduced and to model the impact of any changes to its processes. The force has good processes in place to ensure benefits are realised from change programmes, and that potential negative impacts are identified and limited. It makes sensible decisions about how to deploy resources. For example, its demand model showed that cyber-crime was creating more demand than could be resourced so the force moved staff from other areas, and also used suitably qualified and vetted volunteers with specialist skills, to bolster its capability. The force has undertaken a skills audit and analysed every role in its workforce so it can map the impact of changes. However, it could do more to understand the non-operational skills in its workforce. The force collaborates effectively to reduce costs and improve efficiency. It has good joint working arrangements with other forces in the region, collaborating over armed response, roads policing and dogs services with three other forces and sharing an ICT governance board with four other forces. It works very closely with the fire service, especially on public safety and in arson investigations, and shares premises at several locations. It also works closely with local authorities in Northamptonshire, sharing a safeguarding lead on issues such as female genital mutilation, interpersonal violence and modern slavery.
Northamptonshire Police’s plans for demand in the future require improvement. The force’s budget is based on assumptions it expects to change. Although it is developing an ICT strategy as part of a collaboration with the forces in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire and it has some individual ICT projects (such as agile working, body-worn video, hand-held devices and video calling), it has no clear ICT strategy of its own. There is no clear link between ICT and workforce plans. The force does not have a clear investment strategy and decisions have been made without a clear overall aim.
During our inspection some concerns were raised with HMIC about the arrangements for a move to a new police headquarters. HMIC is looking further into the circumstances relating to this matter and will return to consider it in future PEEL inspections.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Northamptonshire 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 has a good understanding of the importance of treating the people it serves and its workforce with fairness and respect. It has an effective workforce vetting process, and the workforce can use range of ways to report corruption. The force seeks feedback from the workforce about their perceptions of fairness, and aims to identify their wellbeing needs.
Northamptonshire Police understands treating people with fairness and respect is important and this is a central part of the force’s vision and values. The force has made good progress in communicating its vision and values to the workforce, but does recognise it has more to do to ensure that they are understood across the whole workforce. It seeks feedback and challenge from the public, including through independent advisory groups and an independent monitoring group for custody suites. However, it could do more to ensure that the public are informed about the action it has taken in response to their feedback.
The force has an effective vetting process and a dedicated vetting unit, which works closely with the HR team and the counter-corruption unit (CCU). There are effective channels for reporting corruption. However, the force would benefit from a specific counter-corruption strategy to target resources to areas that pose the greatest threat to the force.
Abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) is treated as serious corruption and is the main priority for the CCU. At present, the force has insufficient resources to monitor systematically the use of force ICT systems to identify and respond to potential misuse, despite having the software to do this.
Northamptonshire Police seeks to understand the areas that have greatest effect on the workforce’s perception of fairness. It undertakes staff surveys and conducts exit interviews for those officers or staff leaving the force. The force also seeks to identify the workforce’s wellbeing needs. The force is addressing delays in accessing support services and concerns regarding the quality of some of those services, such as counselling. It is also improving the performance assessment process.
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.
Northamptonshire Police has engaged with its workforce to create a clear set of leadership expectations that are well recognised and understood across the workforce, although some additional communication is now needed. The force has a number of ways of understanding its leadership capabilities, but it could broaden its use for example by including a greater focus on police staff. The force recognises these gaps and it is looking to address them.
The force has focused its leadership development effort on senior officers, particular groups (such as female officers) and newly promoted officers, and good systems are in place to support them. However, more could be done to offer leadership development to the wider workforce.
The force thinks innovatively about how to identify prospective new leaders and has good mechanisms in place to identify and respond to leadership concerns. However, it has no formal programme to identify talent and because staff are unclear about how to access what leadership development opportunities are available, the force could be preventing strong prospective leaders from reaching their potential.
The force has sought new ideas and working practices from across the police service and has adopted innovative ideas suggested by staff. It is using a variety of media to communicate new approaches across the workforce and is developing a centralised E-services proposal that, if successful, could be very beneficial to the public.
The force’s understanding of diversity extends beyond age, race and gender. The make-up of leadership teams in certain areas is now looked at in terms of personality types and working preferences.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Northamptonshire Police.