Kent PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Kent Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
The force has an effective approach to crime and anti-social behaviour prevention and it works well with others to keep people safe and protect victims, although improvements are needed in the important areas of protecting vulnerable people. The quality of crime investigation is good and the force works well to stop re-offending. The force is good at disrupting the activity of organised crime groups and it is improving its capability to do this even more. 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 force is committed to and is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. This approach is well understood by officers and staff across the force.
When a crime occurs, the force acts quickly and carries out high quality investigations. The force works well to identify, investigate and bring to justice repeat and dangerous offenders and to stop them re-offending. The forensic investigation service is effective but there are backlogs in forensic submissions.
Increasingly the force has invested more resources in tackling domestic abuse, missing persons and child sexual exploitation, and is working to improve its services. In particular, the force needs to improve its service to children at risk from sexual exploitation as knowledge of how to identify the risk factors associated with child sexual exploitation among frontline officers and police staff is limited.
The force has a good understanding of the threat posed by high-level serious and organised crime, and it is good at disrupting this threat. Local policing areas are conducting a range of operations with partners to disrupt organised crime groups but more could be done to increase understanding of serious and organised crime by officers at the frontline.
The force leadership has strong oversight of its response to national threats, such as terrorism, serious cyber-crime incidents and child sexual abuse. Its own arrangements for ensuring it can meet its national obligations in this regard (such as planning, testing and exercising) are good.
How effective is the force at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe?
Kent Police is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. HMIC’s crime inspection in 2014 also found the force to be good at reducing crime and preventing offending.
The force priorities reflect clear commitments to supporting victims, working with partners, keeping people safe from crime and anti-social behaviour and ensuring that visible, community policing is at the heart of policing in Kent. The importance of preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe is generally well understood throughout the whole force. Well-trained staff work within the community support teams and provide an effective service to the public.
The force works closely with partner agencies and communities and uses a wide range of tactics to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, and has won awards for its work. Senior community safety partners speak positively about working together with the force and of the information sharing arrangements at strategic and operational levels.
While there are some areas for improvement, including how the force captures, evaluates, understands, and shares good practice, the public can feel confident that the force is working well to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, and keep people safe.
Areas for improvement
- The force should use evidence of ‘what works’ drawn from other forces, academics and partners to continually improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour. There should be routine evaluation of tactics and sharing of effective practice.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and managing offenders?
Kent Police’s approach to investigating crime and managing offenders is good. This is consistent with HMIC’s crime inspection in 2014, when the force was also judged as good at investigating crime.
The force responds well to reports of crime and attending officers understand their role as the initial investigator and the need to undertake primary crime prevention work. Crime allocation is effective with some few exceptions. The quality of investigations is good, investigation plans are thorough and well documented, following approved practice for investigations, and there is clear evidence of effective support and review by experienced supervisors.
Victims are generally kept well informed as investigations progress, assisted by the force’s priority of ‘putting victims and witnesses at the heart of everything they do’ which includes compliance with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.
The forensic science service is effective for both volume and major crime, but there are some backlogs in forensic submissions.
The force identifies vulnerable offenders and makes efforts to divert them from further offending. While there are a few areas for improvement, the force’s processes for working with partner organisations to identify, monitor and work with repeat and dangerous offenders to stop them re-offending work well.
How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?
Kent Police is committed to protecting from harm those people who are vulnerable. It has established processes to identify repeat and vulnerable victims. The protecting vulnerable people board is an essential element in the force’s plans to improve services, drawing together all the main strands of work into one meeting.
HMIC found that the force’s initial response to support vulnerable victims of domestic abuse and anti-social behaviour, as well as missing children, is good. However, frontline constables and police staff’s knowledge of child sexual exploitation is limited. This needs to improve.
Kent Police has the lowest charge rate in England and Wales for domestic abuse offences. The force needs to continue to monitor and assess this area to ensure that it fully understands the reasons and to ensure the outcomes of these cases are appropriate.
The central referral unit provides multi-agency support to vulnerable people and ensures that immediate steps are taken to ensure that victims are safe.
Kent Police has invested in tackling domestic abuse, missing persons and child sexual exploitation and continues to try to provide improvements to its services, including working with academic institutions. Frontline officers are given tasks to target high risk offenders. This demonstrates that protecting vulnerable people has become the focus of everyday policing activity.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its response to victims of domestic abuse by ensuring officers and staff who investigate and safeguard victims assessed as at high risk are appropriately trained, specifically in relation to preventive measures such as domestic violence protection orders and the domestic violence disclosure scheme.
- The force should improve compliance with the code of practice for victims of crime specifically in relation to victim personal statements.
- The force should continue to monitor and assess outcome data for domestic abuse to ensure that it has a full understanding as to why it currently has such a low charge rate, and consider what appropriate steps it might take to bring more offenders to justice through the criminal justice system.
- The force should improve its response to children at risk of sexual exploitation by ensuring it understands the nature and scale of child sexual exploitation, and that frontline staff have an appropriate level of knowledge of the factors to identify cases and understand how to respond.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
Kent Police is good at identifying and tackling serious and organised crime. 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.
The force has a well-developed understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime, and is developing an effective multi-agency response to it, including work to prevent people from becoming involved.
Kent Police and Essex Police tackle high level serious and organised crime in collaboration, through the joint serious crime directorate (SCD). The SCD is good at assessing the threat posed by serious and organised crime and provides well-managed investigations and disruptions of high-level organised crime groups (OCGs) using a range of tactics.
At a local policing level the force is conducting a range of operations with partners to disrupt OCGs, but more could be done to ensure the understanding of serious and organised crime among frontline officers.
The force communicates well with the public about serious and organised crime. Information is published on the website, social media sites, and within the local press.
The force has robust arrangements and chief officer oversight to provide its national policing responsibilities, and good arrangements to test its response are in place.
Areas for improvement
- The force should 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.