Northumbria 2014Read more about Northumbria 2014
This is the first PEEL Assessment of Northumbria Police. In making this assessment I have used my professional judgment to consider the evidence available from inspections undertaken in the past 12 months.
The available evidence indicates that:
in terms of its effectiveness, in general, the force is good at reducing crime and preventing offending, it is good at investigating offending and is outstanding at tackling anti-social behaviour;
the efficiency with which the force carries out its responsibilities is good; and
the force is acting to achieve fairness and legitimacy in most of the practices that were examined this year.
Michael Cunningham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
In making this first PEEL Assessment of Northumbria I have taken into account the challenges to policing the area.
The Northumbria area includes two cities, three heavily populated urban areas and extensive rural landscapes. The area has three universities, many large retail areas and leisure facilities, and a vibrant night-time economy. During the summer months there is a large increase in population.
I have been impressed by the way in which neighbourhood policing remains the bedrock of policing in Northumbria. Neighbourhood policing teams use a range of effective tactics to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, while ensuring that the most vulnerable are protected. Northumbria has seen bigger reductions in crime over recent years than across England and Wales as a whole, and victim satisfaction with policing services is among the highest in England and Wales.
I was also impressed by the force’s approach to anti-social behaviour, which is a clear priority for the force, recognised by staff and partners alike, with good work taking place in the neighbourhood teams to tackle anti-social behaviour. However, the force could do more to learn from what works in crime fighting and crime prevention.
The force understands the issues facing it, and has a comprehensive and well-managed change programme in place to achieve the savings required and to protect frontline and visible roles. I was reassured by the level of detail that underpins Northumbria’s savings plan. The force is achieving the savings required today while planning for the future.
I have serious concerns about the force’s approach to crime-recording, which is not as accurate as it should be.
Our intention is to examine leadership specifically as part of future PEEL Assessments, once criteria have been established. This will allow us to take account of the College of Policing review of leadership that is currently underway.
In common with other forces, there is a need to develop a better understanding of the changing demands for police services.
I am interested to see how the force responds to the areas HMIC has identified for improvement over the next 12 months, in particular, the positive steps already taken to address the recommendations from the crime data integrity inspection report.
How well the force tackles crime
Northumbria Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force is good at investigating offending. It is outstanding at tackling anti-social behaviour.
Northumbria has seen bigger reductions in crime over the last four years than across England and Wales as a whole. The police work well with partners to prevent crime and reduce reoffending.
Neighbourhood policing remains the bedrock of policing in Northumbria. Neighbourhood policing teams use a range of effective tactics to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, while ensuring that the most vulnerable are protected. Victim satisfaction with policing services in Northumbria is among the highest in England and Wales.
Tackling anti-social behaviour is a clear priority for the force, recognised by staff and partners alike, with good work taking place in the neighbourhood teams to tackle anti-social behaviour. However, the force could do more to learn from what works in crime fighting and crime prevention.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that tackling domestic abuse was a clear priority and staff had received training commensurate with their needs. However, it recommended that a review of the recent changes in the use of risk assessment should be undertaken to understand whether victims were still being properly risk assessed. The crime inspection found evidence that Northumbria had made good progress to improve their response to domestic abuse. The custody inspection found that some improvements were necessary. Individual detainee and officer interaction was respectful and sensitive in most cases but risk assessments were routine and mechanistic and handovers could be subject to incorrect recording of risk information.
The crime inspection found clear oversight and co-ordination for tackling organised crime by senior managers and the force has existing regional arrangements in place for serious and organised crime, which have achieved improvements in service.
The Strategic Policing Requirement inspection found that Northumbria had, or had access to through collaboration with other forces regionally, the necessary capability to tackle terrorism, civil emergency, serious organised crime and public disorder but not a large-scale cyber incident.
How well the force delivers value for money
Northumbria Police has faced one of the highest savings requirements of any force in England and Wales, and it has achieved this while continuing to reduce crime and maintain high levels of victim satisfaction.
Northumbria has identified that it needs to save £91.9m over the four years of the spending review. The force is on track to meet this savings requirement and also that for the year beyond, 2015/16.
Overall, the force understands the issues facing it, and has a comprehensive and well-managed change programme in place to achieve the savings required and to protect frontline and visible roles. HMIC was reassured by the level of detail that underpins Northumbria’s saving plans and by the leadership’s ability and determination to make changes while fighting crime and keeping its communities safe.
HMIC’s assessment is that the force is achieving the savings required today while planning for the future.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
HMIC found both strong and visible leadership in Northumbria from the chief constable and relevant chief officer team members. The deputy chief constable is actively engaged with the professional standards department. HMIC found Northumbria Police to be well set up to prevent, identify and investigate corruption. The force uses nationally recognised methods of strategic assessment, risk mitigation and monitoring for the professional standards department and counter-corruption unit. There is a positive and constructive relationship with the police and crime commissioner, who has introduced a small team of staff to act as first point of contact following receipt of a complaint.
Further insights on legitimacy
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013) found that the proportion of respondents who think that the force does an excellent/good job was greater than the figure across England and Wales. The same survey over the same period also found that the proportion who agree that the force deals with local concerns was greater than for England and Wales. The force’s own victim satisfaction survey (12 months to June 2014) found that the proportion of victims that were satisfied with their experience which was greater than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that operators answering calls from the public were polite and professional but could have displayed more empathy with victims. The inspection on domestic abuse found that the force had good systems to identify repeat and vulnerable callers. Staff researched police databases to gather available information about a caller, perpetrator, family or address to help officers attending the incident to assess the threat of harm to a victim and their children.
However, as a result of the crime data integrity inspection, HMIC is seriously concerned that a notable proportion of reports of crime are not being recorded, and this means that victims of crime are not receiving the service they should when they first report a crime. HMIC is also concerned with the accuracy of the decisions taken by the force when making no-crime decisions (cancelling a recorded crime) as too many of these are incorrect. The force needs to take action to improve, serve the victims of these crimes and provide the public with confidence in the force’s crime data.