Cumbria PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Overall Cumbria Constabulary requires improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The constabulary is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. Neighbourhood teams work well with partner organisations to resolve local problems. The constabulary should improve its investigation of crime. How it manages offenders is inconsistent. The training of staff to respond professionally to vulnerable victims is not having the desired impact; and the constabulary’s understanding of serious and organised crime has limitations. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.
Neighbourhood teams in Cumbria tackle crime and anti-social behaviour effectively; they work closely with partner organisations to prevent local problems escalating and provide solutions. The constabulary could improve how it evaluates the impact of its tactics to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. The constabulary has good schemes to divert young people away from crime. These include the ‘it’s your choice’ scheme and a ‘prevent and deter’ panel, which help young people to learn from their mistakes and use rehabilitation as an alternative to appearing in court.
Complex crime investigations are of a good standard and detailed investigation plans help direct investigations to positive outcomes. By contrast, the investigation of crime that is less complex, but that occurs more frequently, is less assured. HMIC established that investigators of these crimes receive training on joining the constabulary; however, there is nothing in place to maintain and improve standards.
HMIC has concerns over how the constabulary obtains and shares intelligence in relation to vulnerable people. The effectiveness of training provided to officers and staff to keep vulnerable people safe is also uncertain.
There is scope to involve the workforce more actively in preventing and disrupting serious and organised crime. The constabulary’s standards of offender management fall short of Home Office best practice and require improvement. The risks presented by registered sex offenders are not always managed effectively.
The constabulary is fulfilling its commitment to national policing responsibilities and has recently conducted an exercise with other regional services to test preparedness for a major incident.
Overall Cumbria Constabulary requires improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
How effective is the force at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe?
Cumbria Constabulary has a strong focus on tackling crime and anti-social behaviour at neighbourhood level. Neighbourhood policing teams (NPTs) take responsibility for resolving local issues, supported by other partner agencies. Few other frontline staff believe they have a significant part to play in long-term problem-solving. While there are effective countywide partnerships in place, such as through the multi-agency risk evaluation meetings and for road safety, partnership working is most effective at neighbourhood level.
NPTs are effective at problem-solving and providing solutions for community issues. However, little evaluation is done of problem-solving activity across the constabulary.
Face-to-face contact with the public is important to the constabulary; ‘street safe’, a community engagement initiative, and community access points in supermarkets and other public spaces are important features of this.
The constabulary is also expanding the use of online methods to obtain feedback and understand more about how crime and anti-social behaviour affects local residents.
A number of well-established ‘watch’ schemes are in place. These help the constabulary to tackle criminality by raising awareness of a number of different types of crimes, watch groups also promote safer driving in rural locations.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should use evidence of ‘what works’ drawn from other constabularies, academics and partners to continually improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour. There needs to be routine evaluation of tactics and sharing of effective practice.
- The constabulary should adopt a structured and consistent problem solving process to enable it to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour more effectively.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and managing offenders?
The standards of investigation of crime in Cumbria are mixed.
The best examples are in the investigation of complex crime which is undertaken by specialist teams. Enquiries are comprehensive and lines of enquiry are systematically followed to bring about prosecutions or other positive outcomes.
However the investigation of less complex crime has shortcomings; prosecution case files are sub-standard, workloads are unmanageable and the retrieval of digital evidence from computers is causing unnecessary delays.
The constabulary’s arrangements for managing persistent offenders have a number of shortcomings. The integrated offender management (IOM) scheme is understaffed, the commitment from partner organisations could be stronger and offender management plans are unstructured.
The IOM scheme in Cumbria was the subject of criticism in HMIC’s crime inspection in 2014. More should have been done to address these areas for improvement.
The constabulary should also improve its use of criminal records background checks for foreign nationals who are arrested. Knowledge of offences they have committed in other countries is important in determining how investigations are best managed.
Good schemes are in place to divert young offenders away from crime through the ‘prevent and deter’ panels and the ‘It’s your choice’ programme.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should ensure that all investigations are completed to a consistently good standard.
- The constabulary should ensure that there is regular and active supervision of investigations to check quality and progress.
- The constabulary should improve its ability to retrieve digital evidence from mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices quickly enough to ensure that investigations are not delayed.
- The constabulary should work with partner organisations to develop its approach to integrated offender management in line with the Home Office integrated offender management principles.
- The constabulary should ensure that the risks posed by registered sex offenders are managed effectively.
- The constabulary should ensure that checks are routinely conducted to verify the identity, nationality and overseas convictions of arrested foreign nationals.
How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?
Cumbria Constabulary requires improvement in the service it provides to vulnerable people. The constabulary should improve its response to vulnerable victims by ensuring that all staff understand how to identify, assess, respond to and safeguard vulnerable victims. HMIC found inconsistencies in the understanding that some staff have of a range of vulnerability issues. The constabulary’s work with partners to improve services and share information is good.
The training of staff is a concern to us. Some training has been provided to improve the workforce’s understanding of vulnerability and child sexual exploitation. But it has made little impact on the staff we spoke to.
We found that the constabulary keeps victims updated about the progress of their case well. However, HMIC found that not all victims in Cumbria were offered the opportunity to make a victim statement at the appropriate time.
Work between professionals in the children’s safeguarding hub is good and the safety of children is prioritised. However, the constabulary needs to ensure the safeguarding hub has sufficient appropriately skilled police staff to manage referrals and any required safeguarding activity.
The collection and management of intelligence from vulnerable missing people can be improved. Currently this is not being inputted onto constabulary IT systems.
The constabulary is well prepared to respond to child sexual exploitation on an individual, case-by-case basis, once a victim has been identified. Cumbria needs to do much more to improve the quality of information available to increase its understanding of child sexual exploitation across the county and understand the risks better.
Officers attending domestic abuse incidents know how to assess risk and keep victims safe. They understand that safeguarding the victim is paramount. However, frontline staff and supervisors are not always aware of the immediate options available to keep the victim safe and where they can obtain specialist advice although longer term safeguarding issues and support are good.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should improve its response to vulnerable victims by ensuring that all staff understand how to identify, assess, respond to and safeguard vulnerable victims. HMIC found inconsistencies in the understanding that some staff have of a range of vulnerability issues, such as:
- the national decision-making model with control room staff;
- the immediate and longer term measures that can be provided to victims of domestic abuse to keep them safe; and
- identification of the risks associated with child sexual exploitation.
- The constabulary should improve its safeguarding of vulnerable people, specifically children and victims of domestic abuse, by ensuring the safeguarding hub has sufficient appropriately-skilled police staff to manage referrals and any required safeguarding activity.
- The constabulary should ensure that it complies with the national crime recording standard for referrals from partner organisations regarding criminal offences involving children and other vulnerable people.
- The constabulary should improve its compliance with the code of practice for victims of crime specifically in ensuring victim personal statements are obtained and of good quality.
- The constabulary should improve its response to persistent and repeat missing children and those children at risk of sexual exploitation. It should do this by ensuring that it uses information from previous missing episodes to develop a co-ordinated and prioritised response, and that it uses effectively systems designed to support the management of information and cases.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
Staff working in the serious and organised crime unit and on drugs units have a good understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime.
Knowledge and awareness of organised crime groups was not as comprehensive amongst front line staff. There was no routine use of officers and police and community support officers to gather intelligence and disrupt organised crime groups as part of an orchestrated, longer term plan to dismantle them.
While there are regular meetings within the constabulary to discuss how organised crime groups will be managed, there is no meaningful non-police partnership involvement. However, the constabulary has effective relationships with other law enforcement agencies such as the regional organised crime unit and the national crime agency.
The constabulary is fulfilling its commitment to national policing responsibilities and has recently conducted an exercise with other regional services to test preparedness for a major incident. Further similar exercises are planned in the future to enhance the constabulary’s capability in this area.
This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their effectiveness at tackling serious and organised crime, including a force’s arrangements for ensuring that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
Areas for improvement
- The force should add relevant data from partner agencies to its serious and organised crime local profile, and ensure that it has a local partnership structure in place with responsibility for tackling serious and organised crime.
- The constabulary needs to improve the awareness of organised crime groups among neighbourhood teams to ensure that they can reliably identify these groups, collect intelligence and disrupt their activity.
- The constabulary should engage routinely with partner organisations in order to increase its ability to disrupt and investigate serious and organised crime.
- The constabulary should take steps to identify those at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime, and ensure that preventative initiatives are put in place with partner organisations to deter them from offending.