Thames Valley 2016Read more about Thames Valley 2016
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Thames Valley. 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 Thames Valley’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?
Thames Valley Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. It has a comprehensive understanding of demand for its services and uses its resources to manage this demand well. The force has sound financial plans that are likely to achieve further savings while improving efficiency. In last year’s inspection, Thames Valley was also judged to be good.
Since HMIC’s 2015 inspection, Thames Valley Police has continued to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. It has a good understanding of current demand. By reviewing and analysing response demand, protective demand and investigative demand, the force aims to determine the source of demand, the time taken to deal with it and the average cost it involves. The force has taken action to uncover hidden demand such as child sexual exploitation, honour-based violence and hate crime by raising staff awareness, and recording of incidents has increased as a result. It is refining its understanding of both current and hidden demand by making better use of data held by partner organisations such as the fire service and local authority. The force has a strategic threat assessment that considers how demand may change over the next few years and it is looking at the potential impact on demand of reducing resources in its partner organisations.
The force is good at using its resources to manage current demand. It prioritises resources based on its assessment of threat, harm and risk and uses priority-based budgeting to align resources to the areas of greatest need. The force has a very good understanding of its workforce’s skills, which are logged in a database so that skills profiles can be monitored and gaps can be identified and addressed. It has increased specialist detectives to address a substantial increase in reported cases of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences, and is addressing the changes in skills needed to deal with cyber-crime and the threat of terrorism. The force has a good track record of joint working with other police forces to improve efficiency and reduce costs, for example in a shared contact centre, ICT and vehicle fleet management. It also works with other emergency services to agree the most appropriate service to respond to particular demand, and has a well-regarded mental health triage scheme.
Thames Valley Police is good at planning for demand in the future. The force has ambitious and transformational plans to use ICT more effectively in collaboration with Hampshire Constabulary. It is already making use of body-worn video cameras, smartphones and tablets. The force uses external expertise when necessary, for example to improve financial planning and to assure ICT plans for technical viability and value. Its projected workforce model and planned use of assets match its organisational priorities and financial requirements. It has a strong track record in meeting its savings requirements and it plans to increase its collaboration with other forces in its drive for efficiency and saving money. The force’s financial plans are practical and credible and should achieve comprehensive change and savings.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Thames Valley 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 treating people with fairness and respect and it seeks and responds to feedback about the service it provides. Although it has good processes to ensure ethical behaviour, it could be more proactive in how it gathers information about potential corruption. The force supports workforce wellbeing and has an effective individual performance assessment process.
Thames Valley Police is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. It actively seeks feedback and challenge; for example, through its website, independent advisory groups and a complaints integrity and ethics panel that includes members of the public. It also monitors trending issues on social and traditional media and has an analyst within the professional standards department (PSD) who is responsible for identifying and analysing complaints data. The force acts on the feedback it receives and uses lessons learnt to improve the way it treats the public.
The force is improving its engagement with the communities it serves. Good examples include its work with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and awareness training for staff.
Thames Valley Police is committed to the highest standards of behaviour; the workforce is generally aware of acceptable standards of behaviour and reports suspected wrongdoing to the PSD.
Although the force has effective initial vetting processes in place for new staff joining the organisation, it has decided not to complete routine re-vetting and therefore is not complying with current national vetting guidelines.
We have identified that the force needs to improve in some areas this is largely because its systems need to improve; this is not a comment about the force’s overall approach and commitment to tackling corruption or its ethos.
All staff have received specific training in the Code of Ethics, and a professional decision-making course is being run that includes discussion about ethical dilemmas. The workforce are generally aware of acceptable standards of behaviour and report suspected wrongdoing. Gross misconduct hearings are held in public and the results are published, but the force could do more to communicate more regularly with its workforce about actions taken.
The force and its workforce clearly recognise abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) as serious corruption. However, the force could be more proactive in identifying potential corruption by monitoring its IT systems and seeking intelligence from outside the organisation.
Thames Valley Police is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. It understands and values the benefits of workforce wellbeing and provides support for both mental and physical wellbeing through its occupational health team. The force makes good use of a staff survey and analyses its data on sickness absence and rest days in lieu outstanding to understand areas of wellbeing concern. The force also takes a preventative approach to workforce wellbeing. For example, firearms officers and those in teams concerned with protecting vulnerable people have regular occupational health, welfare and psychological screening. Officers and staff feel that the force is aware of wellbeing needs and tackles them effectively.
The force has a good process in place for individual performance assessment, although it needs to do more to convince officers and staff of the value of the 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.
Thames Valley Police has clear expectations of leadership, linked to the Code of Ethics. It is quite apparent that there is a well-known style of leadership within the force, which has been reinforced and discussed with officers and staff. The force has a robust performance and development process, which means that police officers in a supervisory rank understand the specific expectations placed on them.
The force has the ability to develop a good mix of skills within local leadership teams and oversees leadership skills across the organisation. The force is aware that it needs to support women and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) officers to progress towards, and within, leadership positions, and can point to the developmental work it has done with both of these groups to support such progression.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Thames Valley.