Metropolitan PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC judges that overall the Metropolitan Police Service requires improvement in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
It responds effectively to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour and works well with partners to keep most people safe, although it could improve the consistency of how it keeps safe vulnerable people, particularly children. The quality of some crime investigations and the implementation of integrated offender management requires improvement. The force is good at understanding and tackling serious and organised crime, including gangs. 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 Metropolitan Police Service is committed to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. Officers and staff throughout the force generally understand well this commitment, working well with partners to solve problems early to prevent escalation.
Delays in allocating crimes to officers for investigation, together with a shortage of trained detectives and some basic equipment for frontline officers, is undermining the force’s overall investigation performance. The force is managing the highest risk offenders effectively and preventing them re-offending. But the force’s management of volume crime offenders across London boroughs is inconsistent.
The force is good at tackling serious and organised crime. It has a well developed understanding of the threat and risks posed by it; and has in place plans and mechanisms to target the most harmful and dangerous crimes and offenders.
The force generally provides a good service in identifying vulnerable people and responds well to them, so the public can be confident that many victims are well supported. However, we found several areas where improvement is needed to ensure the service is consistent, and the force keeps vulnerable people safe, particularly children. The Metropolitan Police Service 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?
The Metropolitan Police Service is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe.
Force priorities reflect the commitment to crime prevention, partnership working and keeping people safe in London. This commitment is generally well understood throughout the force, particularly by officers in leadership roles. However for some front line officers who fulfil emergency response roles, crime prevention and tackling anti-social behaviour are not a priority.
The force has the right systems and processes in place at force and neighbourhood levels, alongside a range of powers and tactics, to work together with partner organisations to tackle anti-social behaviour and keep people safe.
While there is an issue that emergency response officers are not considering the importance of crime prevention routinely during their duties, the public can feel confident that the force overall is working effectively to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, and keep people safe.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and managing offenders?
The Metropolitan Police Service’s investigation and management of offenders requires improvement.
Delays in allocating crimes to officers for investigation, together with a shortage of trained detectives and basic equipment for front line officers, is undermining the force’s overall investigation performance. The force has restructured successfully its forensic services and works hard to meet the increased demand for digital forensic services; but we found that capacity is still limited and delays in producing evidence are occurring.
The force manages the highest risk offenders well and is effective at preventing them re-offending. However, its management of volume crime offenders across London boroughs is inconsistent because it has introduced new ways of working without clear central direction and control. We found little resilience for officers managing offenders in boroughs with a risk that avoidable re-offending will occur due to staff shortages.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it allocates all crimes promptly to investigators with the appropriate skills, accreditation and experience to investigate them to a high standard.
- The force should ensure that officers attending the scenes of crime are appropriately trained and equipped to record all available evidence.
- The force 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 force should ensure that its integrated offender management programme is implemented consistently across all areas.
How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?
HMIC found that the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) generally provides a good service in identifying vulnerable people and it responds well to them. But there are specific areas that the force must improve to provide a satisfactory service to protect some of the most vulnerable people.
The force uses a broad definition of vulnerability which means that a large number of victims are in the vulnerable category. This creates high demand and difficulties in prioritising the most vulnerable people. The force needs to ensure that it is satisfied that this is a definition that allows it to make decisions about how to prioritise according to levels of risk.
The force investigates crime committed against most vulnerable victims very well. However, HMIC found that whilst victim personal statements were being offered during the investigation they are not consistently offered at the time the incident is reported. As this in breach of the code the force should improve the compliance of investigating officers and police staff with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime in relation to victim personal statements.
MPS has a clear, structured and well-supervised process for responding to reports that children are missing or absent. However, training for both specialists and response staff could improve and there are intelligence gaps around repeat instances of missing and absent children. We found that the force does not have a full understanding of the nature and scale of the missing and absent challenge it faces, specifically in relation to persistent missing children. An up-to-date assessment of available data, including that of partner organisations would help the force to more fully understand this issue. Specialist staff need to receive appropriate training in relation to safeguarding and understanding how to prevent repeat instances of missing and absent children which could lead to harm.
The force has made a good start in ensuring it is prepared to tackle child sexual exploitation. An information-sharing agreement across London with partner organisations has provided some positive results.
Officers attending domestic abuse incidents have a good knowledge of how to assess risk and keep victims safe. All domestic abuse incidents are supervised by specialist trained officers.
Given the scale of the challenge in this area and the risk that is posed to some of the most vulnerable people, overall HMIC judges the force requires improvement.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its response to missing and absent children by ensuring that it develops its understanding of the nature and scale of the issue, specifically in relation to persistent missing children, through an up-to-date assessment of available data, including that of partner organisations. It should also ensure that specialist staff receive appropriate training in relation to safeguarding and understanding how to prevent repeat instances which could lead to harm.
- The force should improve its compliance with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime specifically in relation to victim personal statements.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
The Metropolitan Police Service is good at tackling serious organised crime (SOC) and is well prepared to meet 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.
The force has a well-developed understanding of the threat and risk posed by SOC. Specialist officers investigating gangs and organised crime groups (OCGs) provide the necessary insight on the threat and risk posed by SOC and the force has produced a pan-London profile to help target resource effectively in borough operational command units (BOCUs). The force’s understanding could be further enhanced by increasing the flow of intelligence from frontline uniformed officers.
This can be remedied by the issuing of a clear intelligence requirement and giving more tasks to BOCUs to disrupt OCGs.
We found effective mechanisms in place to prioritise investigations against the gangs and OCGs that cause the most harm to Londoners. Working with partners is rooted in the force’s approach to tackling SOC. The force measures its impact on SOC through monitoring the numbers of disruptions, arrests and seizures it makes.
The force should take more opportunities to communicate with the public about SOC than it currently does, to improve its awareness of the impact of SOC on London communities and the importance of tackling it.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its neighbourhood teams’ awareness of organised crime groups to ensure that they can reliably identify these groups, collect intelligence and disrupt their activity.
- The force should ensure that it re-assesses mapped organised crime groups at regular intervals, in line with national standards.
- The force should develop a better understanding of the impact of its activity on serious and organised crime, and ensure that it learns from experience to maximise the force’s disruptive effect.
- The force should ensure that it takes opportunities to communicate with the public about serious and organised crime, in particular to publicise successful operations, offer reassurance and provide advice to help people to protect themselves from serious and organised crime.