Thames Valley PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Thames Valley Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
The force has low crime levels and continues to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. The force investigates crime well and takes consistent action against organised crime groups, although more work is needed to prevent serious organised crime. It is good at identifying and supporting those who are most vulnerable, but HMIC found that to address increased demand the force needs to invest more resource into child abuse investigation. 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’s approach to prevention is clear and well understood by officers and staff who work well with other organisations to solve problems in neighbourhoods, including intervening early to stop them from escalating.
The force works well with partners to identify and address anti-social behaviour. It is increasing its capacity to use academic research and evidence-based practice to become more effective.
When a crime has occurred, the force acts quickly and carries out high quality investigations, including making sure victims are safe and keeping them informed about how their cases are progressing. It works well to identify, investigate and bring to justice repeat and dangerous offenders and to stop them re-offending.
Increasingly the force is focusing on so-called hidden crimes such as domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation with a view to protecting the most vulnerable members of the community.
HMIC found a commitment from the force to identify and protect victims who are vulnerable in some way. However the levels of resourcing dedicated to investigating reports of child abuse, have not kept pace with increased demand.
The force has a satisfactory understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime and has demonstrated consistent enforcement action against organised crime groups. Its work in this area can be enhanced by developing its approach to the prevention of serious and organised crime.
The leadership has strong oversight of the force’s ability to respond 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?
Thames Valley Police is good at preventing crime, anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. This is consistent with HMIC’s assessment in 2014 when the force was also judged to be good in this area.
It has continued to reduce both crime and anti-social behaviour, and is increasingly using evidence-based practice in its planning processes.
Preventing crime and anti-social behaviour is clearly important for Thames Valley Police. It features as a priority in the police and crime plan and senior police leaders work with other organisations, to develop a joint approach to tackle crime, anti-social behaviour and community concerns. HMIC is encouraged to see that Thames Valley Police is prioritising further reductions, making the link between reduction in crime and overall demand reduction.
The force has allocated dedicated staff to local police areas whose primary responsibilities include preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. HMIC found good evidence of staff using a wide range of tactics to effectively prevent crime and reduce anti-social behaviour. The force is improving how it evaluates what works, and shares learning and good practice.
However there is still more it can do to ensure that operational activity is consistently based on an evidence-based approach and systematically reviewed.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and managing offenders?
Thames Valley Police’s approach to investigating crime and managing offenders is good. This is consistent with HMIC’s 2014 crime inspection, in which the force was judged as good at investigating offending.
Processes for the initial investigation and allocation of complex and non-complex crime are well-understood and generally work well. The quality of subsequent investigations is good; there are clear standards in place, appropriate supervision and compliance with the code of practice for victims of crime.
The force has a wide range of accredited specialists to support more complex investigations and processes in place to learn from organisational performance.
Forensic and digital specialists are used effectively to support investigations, and the force is working to improve the timeliness of computer examinations.
The force has some provision in place to identify and divert vulnerable offenders. Its processes for working with partner organisations to identify, monitor and work with repeat and dangerous offenders to stop them re-offending, generally work well.
How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?
Thames Valley Police provides a good service in identifying vulnerable people and generally responds well to them. The force has made good progress since last year and has improved how it tackles domestic abuse. It is working hard to set up multi-agency safeguarding hubs covering the whole force area to provide more effective joined-up services with partner organisations to better safeguard children and vulnerable adults.
We found a strong commitment in Thames Valley to improving its services to protect vulnerable people and police officers and staff understand and share this commitment. The force has invested extra resource in its specialist services that identify and support those who are vulnerable and keep them safe. However we found some lack of capacity in the child abuse investigation team which means that the force may not be able to continue to provide the quality of service it aspires to for this very vulnerable group of victims.
The force has made a good start in ensuring that it is well-prepared to tackle child sexual exploitation and is building on this initial approach with its partners.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
Thames Valley Police is good at identifying and tackling serious and organised crime groups (OCGs) in its 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 it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
The force has a clear process for the identification and mapping OCGs which has been enhanced by the creation of a dedicated OCG manager post. It can demonstrate consistent activity in the disruption of OCGs and of work with partners. There is clear ownership of OCGs along with appropriate chief officer oversight.
Thames Valley Police has sufficient resource within the force to pursue OCGs, but less activity is dedicated to preventative measures, results analysis and to raising public awareness of the threat from serious and organised crime. It needs to address these in order to be more effective and efficient in how it tackles serious and organised crime.
The force has robust arrangements and chief officer oversight to provide its national policing responsibilities, and satisfactory arrangements to test its response are in place.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it is exploiting the full range of intelligence sources and preventative tactics to provide the best possible response to serious and organised crime.
- The force should improve the awareness of organised crime groups among neighbourhood teams to ensure that they can identify these groups, collect intelligence and disrupt their activity.