Dyfed-Powys PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Overall Dyfed-Powys Police is judged to require improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
The force is considered to be good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. However, in terms of investigations suitably trained investigators are not always available. The force strives to protect the vulnerable but the risks faced by emergency and non-emergency callers are not always understood by call-handlers. There are good arrangements in place to tackle serious and organised crime. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.
The priority to prevent crime, anti-social behaviour and to keep people safe is commonly understood across the whole force. The force can demonstrate that it works effectively with partners in achieving these aims; joint working with Barnardo’s to support runaway children is a good example.
Dyfed-Powys Police’s approach to investigating crimes has some shortcomings. The allocation of individual crimes to investigators is based on the type of offence that has been alleged and insufficient attention is paid to the vulnerability of the victim. This means that victims may not receive the service they need.
Additionally, the availability of experienced detectives lacks resilience. A lack of coverage out of hours potentially means that vulnerable victims are not being provided with full support and the necessary expertise.
Dyfed-Powys Police has a strong ethic to protect the vulnerable. However, this is overshadowed by difficulties that call-handlers have in identifying vulnerability at the first point of contact. Additionally, the service to some domestic abuse victims falls short of acceptable standards.
More positively, the force has three integrated offender management (IOM) units. HMIC found these to be well managed and their staff are highly motivated and their systems and ways of working are effective at curbing the offending behaviour of the most prolific offenders in Dyfed-Powys.
The force’s response to serious and organised crime is characterised by a good understanding of organised crime groups operating in Dyfed Powys. These groups are mapped and scored in accordance with best practice; when operational interventions have been completed, organised crime groups are re-scored to reflect the threat that they continue to pose to communities. However, the force could work more closely with partner organisations to develop a joint response to this type of offending.
The force is assessed to be in a good state of readiness to counter the national threats articulated in The Strategic Policing Requirement.
How effective is the force at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe?
Dyfed-Powys Police is good at preventing crime anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe. Through the use of effective tasking and co-ordination groups, daily management meetings and an IT demand management tool the force is adept at aligning resources to these priorities.
Inspectors found evidence of a well-motivated and experienced workforce working with partners to prevent crime and promote community safety. For example, joint work with the community mental health team means that those suffering from mental health have direct access to treatment pathways; this avoids them being detained in police cells while awaiting medical assessment.
HMIC found examples of ‘evidence-based policing’, an assurance that police tactics have been evaluated as being effective. For example, following spikes in crime and incidents in hospitals, police patrols have now been extended into NHS facilities. Analysis of their impact shows that they have a positive deterrent effect.
While there are a few areas where the force could do more, including how the force shares best practice and promotes ‘what works’ among the workforce, the public can be confident that the force is working well to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and managing offenders?
Dyfed-Powys Police’s approach to investigating crimes requires improvement.
The workforce undeniably shows a commitment to victims, however, in the areas of the identification of vulnerability and the allocation of crime for investigation improvements are needed.
The identification of vulnerability at the first point of contact with the force is not assured. Furthermore, there is no systematic policy to allocate crime based on the vulnerability of the victim. These shortcomings may mean that the response to victims is not adequately prioritised and the service to them falls short of required standards.
Most crime is well investigated and properly supervised; nevertheless, some complex crimes and sexual offences are being investigated by officers without the requisite level of training. Typically this occurs when complex crimes are investigated by neighbourhood or response officers because detectives are not available. A similar concern arises when victims of sexual offences or high-risk domestic abuse are assigned to investigators who do not have specialist training. When this occurs, a detective is allocated to the case but they are not equipped with the enhanced skills and expertise specific to these types of crime.
HMIC also found that some frontline officers lack confidence in their proficiency to retrieve forensic evidence at crime scenes. This may mean that forensic opportunities are being lost to the detriment of prosecutions.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that all crimes are allocated to investigators with the appropriate skills, accreditation and experience to investigate them to a high standard.
- The force should take steps to ensure that all available evidence is recorded at scenes of crime.
How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?
Dyfed-Powys Police has a strong ethic to protect vulnerable people, which is led by a hands-on approach from the top of the force and with good support from partners.
However, we identified areas for improvement in 999 or 101 call-handling procedures and a lack of professional expertise in the investigation of some domestic abuse cases. For these reasons, the force’s performance is judged to require improvement.
The force needs to review its recent training of call handlers to understand why staff are not using new procedures to identify risk at the first point of contact with the force.
The force is investing more in specialist investigators. It envisages that its accredited detectives will be able to provide a service to more vulnerable victims than is currently the case.
In a wider context, the force has made sustainable improvements. Notably, risk assessments completed by emergency response officers are now more consistent and a greater force focus on offenders has led to more perpetrators being prosecuted.
The force subscribes to ‘All Wales’ protocols for standards of investigations in relations to missing children and those who are susceptible to child sexual abuse. Dyfed-Powys Police works in a strong alliance with Barnardo’s and other partner organisations to ensure that effective safeguarding measures are put in place for the most vulnerable.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its initial assessment and response to incidents involving vulnerable people by ensuring that staff working in call handling understand and apply the THRIVE decision-making model, and are supervised effectively. The force should also review its approach to not consistently making a record of contact when cases have been resolved at initial contact, specifically the impact this can have on the force’s understanding of and response to repeat victims.
- The force should improve its investigation of cases involving vulnerable victims specifically in relation to investigations conducted by non-specialist staff and the recording of supervision.
- The force should improve its compliance with the duties under the code of practice for victims of crime specifically in relation to victim personal statements and the use of special measures.
- The force should improve its investigation of domestic abuse cases by ensuring officers and staff with the appropriate professional skills and experience investigate cases, specifically complex cases, and that these investigations are supervised effectively.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
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. Nevertheless, Dyfed-Powys Police is currently judged to be good at tackling serious and organised crime.
The force effectively assesses the threat which organised crime groups present; they are mapped in accordance with national standards and the force retains a serious and organised crime team to combat them. The force recognises it has more work to do to use information held by partner organisations to deepen its understanding of serious and organised crime.
The serious and organised crime team has historically focused on drug-related crime and it is encouraging that operations are now being re-prioritised to represent a wider spectrum of offending in Dyfed-Powys. The force engages well with local communities about serious and organised crime; this helps it to understand the problem from the public’s perspective and the effectiveness of operations to tackle organised criminal groups.
The force works closely with local journalists and uses a range of social media to raise awareness of this type of offending, it also publicises successful prosecutions of prominent criminals.
The force is assessed to be in a good state of readiness to fulfil its national policing responsibilities.
Areas for improvement
- The force should add relevant data from partner agencies to its serious and organised crime local profile, and engage routinely with partner organisations in order to increase its ability to disrupt and investigate serious and organised crime.