Nottinghamshire 2014Read more about Nottinghamshire 2014
This is the first PEEL assessment of Nottinghamshire 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, and is good at tackling anti-social behaviour. However, it requires improvement in the way it investigates offending. I have some specific concerns about its approach to domestic abuse and child protection;
the efficiency with which the force carries out its responsibilities requires improvement. However, there has been a notable improvement in the force’s approach since the initial inspection; and
the force is acting to achieve fairness and legitimacy in most of the practices that were examined this year.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
In making this first PEEL assessment of Nottinghamshire Police I have taken into account the challenges in policing the area.
Nottinghamshire has a culturally and ethnically diverse population with a significant proportion of the total population living in the city. This number is further increased by a large number of university students. While the county’s economy features major companies, unemployment is above the national average and there are areas of severe social deprivation.
I have been impressed by the way the force works in strong partnership with others, such as local councils, to prevent crime. In particular the force works well with its partners in identifying and working with repeat offenders to prevent them from continuing to commit crime.
The force has good links with its communities and works well with them to understand local priorities. It takes joint action to identify and prevent the escalation of anti-social behaviour. It has also made good progress in reinforcing ethical and professional behaviour across the force.
However, I do have concerns about weaknesses in the way the force investigates offending. It cannot be confident that investigations are consistently carried out to the required standard. The force requires improvement in the way it gathers evidence and supervises investigations. Some staff investigating crimes do not have the appropriate levels of professional training. I am particularly concerned by the lack of capacity and investigative capability in the force’s public protection team, which deals with child protection and domestic abuse. The force has recently agreed a plan to increase the number of staff working in this vitally important area.
The efficiency of the force requires improvement. Earlier this year I found that the way in which the force was configured was increasingly unaffordable in the face of further cost reductions. I am now encouraged that the force has a plan for introducing an affordable and sustainable model of policing. However, I am concerned that if Nottinghamshire Police does not implement its plans without slippage, it will not be able to achieve future savings. This may have an adverse effect on the service the force provides to the public.
I also have concerns about the force’s approach to crime-recording, which is not as accurate as it should be.
The force is part of the successful East Midlands collaboration which provides a range of policing and support services including major crime, special branch, forensics and serious and organised crime. The collaboration aims to promote a more cost-effective provision of these important policing services through forces working together. At a local level, the force is innovative in how it works with the city council. It jointly manages council employees, officers and police staff to tackle anti-social behaviour and prevent crime.
Our intention is to examine leadership specifically as part of future PEEL Assessments, once criteria have been established. This will allow HMIC 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 build on its understanding of the changing demands for police services.
Over the past 12 months, there have been a number of inspections made of the force that have suggested that the capacity and capability of the public protection team who are responsible for domestic abuse and child protection is a recurrent issue.
I will be particularly interested to see how the force implements its new and affordable model of policing, and how well it responds to the other areas HMIC has identified for improvement in the next 12 months.
How well the force tackles crime
Nottinghamshire Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending, and is good at tackling anti-social behaviour. However, it requires improvement in the way it investigates offending.
Crime in Nottinghamshire has reduced over the last four years, with rates now much closer to those seen across England and Wales as a whole. Nottinghamshire Police has a strong focus in on reducing offending and supporting victims.
The force has excellent partnership arrangements in place. These bring together local organisations to work jointly to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour and reduce the types of offending that cause most harm within communities.
However, HMIC is concerned that there are some important weaknesses in the way the force investigates offending. This means that the force cannot be confident that investigations are consistently carried out to the required standard. HMIC found a lack of proper supervision. Some staff do not have an adequate level of professional training. Of particular concern is the current lack of capacity in the public protection team which deals with child protection and domestic abuse. The force needs to address this with some urgency.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that Nottinghamshire’s approach to tackling domestic abuse was effective in some areas, but there were important aspects of the service the force provides to victims that required further improvement. The crime inspection found evidence that Nottinghamshire had made domestic abuse a priority with some evidence of an improvement in its performance.
The crime inspection found positive and highly regarded partnership work with a range of effective outcomes, e.g. work within schools towards reducing gang and youth violence as well as spotting the early signs of organised crime group activity.
The Strategic Policing Requirement inspection found that Nottinghamshire had, or had access to through collaboration with other regional forces, 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
Nottinghamshire Police is implementing its plans for a new and affordable operating model for policing the county and the city. If Nottinghamshire does not implement its plans without slippage, it will not be able to achieve future savings. This may have an adverse effect on the service the force provides to the public.
Nottinghamshire is on track to achieve its required savings of £47.0m over this spending review period. After the first three years of the spending review the force has identified £34.3m of the savings required. It has achieved this through restructuring policing and support functions and by collaborating with other forces. It has also made savings from estates, procurement and by not replacing staff as they leave the force.
The force has plans to meet the £12.7m savings requirement in 2014/15. A further £8.2m of savings are required in 2015/16 and Nottinghamshire has outline plans to achieve this.
The value for money inspection commented that the force must urgently implement an operating model to provide the people of Nottinghamshire with an effective and affordable service as the way the force was configured to provide policing was becoming unaffordable and would have been unsustainable in 2015/16 and beyond. The force had recognised this for some time.
HMIC re-inspected the force in October and found that the force now has a clear plan for how an affordable and sustainable model of policing can be provided and some initial changes have already been implemented. The force now needs to implement the full model without slippage and carefully manage the changes in the force.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Nottinghamshire Police has invested in a range of measures to promote and instil ethical and professional behaviour. It is effective in protecting the organisation from threats such as corruption and analysts identify potential vulnerability and trends. There is ongoing scrutiny of all investigations by senior managers within the professional standards department although more robust recording of rationale in case files would be beneficial.
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 less than the figure across England and Wales. The same survey over the same period also found that the proportion that agree the force deals with local concerns was less than the figure 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 was greater than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that frontline officers and staff, including call-takers, understood the importance of meeting the needs of the victim when considering crime-recording and investigation. The domestic abuse inspection found that those dealing with domestic abuse victims were competent, confident and empathetic. Control room staff were trained to gather relevant information from the caller and carry out checks for any previous police involvement; this enabled them to assess the risk and send the right level of response. Staff understood the importance of identifying repeat victims although they sometimes relied on force computer systems rather than asking the caller. Domestic abuse incidents were given priority response and would either be attended as an emergency or within an hour depending of the threat of harm to the victim.
As a result of the crime data integrity inspection, HMIC is concerned that a notable proportion of reports of crime are not being recorded by the force. This means that victims of crime are not receiving the service they should when they first report a crime. However, the accuracy of the decisions taken by the force when making no-crime decisions (cancelling a recorded crime) is generally acceptable.