Cambridgeshire PEEL 2016
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Cambridgeshire Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our overall judgment is an improvement on last year, when we judged the force to require improvement. The force has an effective approach to preventing and tacking anti-social behaviour and serious and organised crime. It has improved the service it provides to vulnerable victims. However, improvements are required in how it investigates crime.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. It has a good understanding of its communities and the threats they face. The force’s crime prevention activity is good, although community police officers are sometimes taken away from their core role to support response teams, which limits their ability to prevent crime and tackle anti-social behaviour.
The force works closely with partner organisations to reduce the threat from all types of crime. However, the force recognises that it could improve its analytical capacity and make better use of partnership data. It does not evaluate or assess all problem-solving operations to identify good practice and share this across the force area, but it has created a new team to focus on this work.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s effectiveness at investigating crime and reducing re-offending requires improvement. Although the force assesses incidents consistently, there are not always enough officers and staff available to respond to demand and the force is reviewing its resource allocation approach. The force needs to improve the quality of initial investigation and ensure that there is effective supervision. Although investigations are allocated to appropriately skilled investigators, they are not always carried out thoroughly, and often lack consistency, planning and supervision. However, those attending crime scenes generally exploit the forensic opportunities well.
The force needs to provide victims with a more consistent service and timely updates, as well as the opportunity to complete a victim personal statement.
The force does not manage ‘outstanding’ suspects successfully; it should use a broader range of options to do so. However, it participates in a well-structured integrated offender management scheme which has had success in reducing re-offending and diverting people from involvement in organised crime. Its handling of dangerous and sexual offenders is adequate, but more active enforcement would enhance its approach. Local police teams would benefit from greater awareness of the registered sex offenders in their communities.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims. It has a good understanding of vulnerable people in its area, and control room staff undertake effective risk assessment. Frontline staff are knowledgeable about domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation, and follow a clear procedure. The force discusses referrals promptly with partner agencies and contributes effectively to multi-agency safeguarding.
Support for victims of domestic abuse is generally good, although investigations into stalking and harassment are less effective. However, the force needs to understand the reasons why there are problems with evidential difficulties preventing further action in many cases where domestic abuse victims support police action.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at tackling serious and organised crime, working well with local and national partner organisations and other forces in the region to disrupt organised crime groups.
The force is doing some good work with schools to identify vulnerable young people who may be at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime. It shares success stories to reassure the public that it is tackling serious and organised crime effectively.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s specialist capabilities are effective. The force has good plans for ensuring that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities. It regularly tests its public order, firearms and civil emergencies response across the region and with partner organisations. The force is well prepared to respond to a firearms attack and is increasing its firearms capacity and capability to provide resilience and to support the national response.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
The force has a good understanding of the communities it serves and works closely with partner organisations to assess complex, emerging and hidden crimes. It recognises that greater analytical capacity and improved partnership data would improve its understanding. It deploys various methods to engage with communities, including successful use of Facebook and Twitter. While it routinely seeks the views of the public to understand their priorities and acts on this feedback, it does so in different ways, and it needs to improve its broader view across all six districts. It is currently developing this corporate understanding.
The force has a structured, collaborative partnership approach to problem solving that is well established in some areas. However, police community support officers (PCSOs) are routinely taken away from their core role, which means that they cannot dedicate enough time to active preventative policing. The force uses a wide range of interventions to prevent crime and tackle anti-social behaviour and routinely shares information with partner organisations to tackle long-term problems. It does not evaluate or assess all problem-solving operations to identify good practice and share this across the force area. Encouragingly, however, it has created a new team which will be responsible for developing this approach.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that local policing teams routinely engage with local communities, and undertake structured problem solving alongside partner organisations in order to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.
- The force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and externally with partner organisations, with the aim of continually improving its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s approach to investigating crime and managing offenders requires improvement. The force’s performance in this area is consistent with last year. The force needs to improve its attendance times and the quality and supervision of its investigations. It has clear plans in place to achieve this improvement.
The force needs to improve the quality of initial investigation and ensure that there is effective supervision. Investigations are allocated to appropriately skilled investigators, but not always carried out thoroughly, and often lack consistency, planning and supervision. The force gives effective consideration to digital investigation methods and deploys good techniques to examine digital devices.
The force needs to ensure that victims receive a more consistent service and offer a victim personal statement, and provide more timely victim updates. The force does not manage outstanding suspects effectively, and it needs to make use of more intrusive management, as well as a broader range of options (such as regional assets and technical support), to arrest high-risk suspects.
A well-structured integrated offender management scheme actively manages, with partner organisations, offenders who pose a risk to the public. It has had some success in reducing re-offending and diverting people from involvement in organised crime.
The force is adequately prepared to manage the risk from dangerous and sexual offenders, although more active enforcement of additional orders would enhance its operations. Local police teams need a greater awareness of the identities of registered sex offenders so that they know who constitutes a risk in their communities.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it has sufficient resources available to respond to prompt calls for service.
- The force should ensure that there is regular and active supervision of investigations to improve quality and progress.
- The force should ensure that those who are circulated as wanted on the Police National Computer, those who fail to appear on police bail, named and outstanding suspects – including domestic abuse suspects – and suspects identified through forensic evidence are swiftly located and arrested.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Cambridgeshire Constabulary has a good understanding of vulnerability in its local areas. Staff in the control room have recently been trained to use the THRIIVES risk-assessment tool and also use bespoke question sets to address risk and vulnerability. The force discusses referrals promptly with partner agencies, and contributes effectively to multi-agency safeguarding.
Local neighbourhood teams manage the safeguarding of standard-risk and some medium-risk domestic abuse victims, and dedicated officers give bespoke advice to victims.
Support for victims is generally good. However, our review of stalking and harassment cases found that these investigations were less effective than those for other offences. The force has recently decided not to use PINs, having identified a risk to victims in this process.
Frontline staff have a good knowledge of domestic abuse, coercion and control, and child sexual exploitation links to missing children. Most have received training on the subject or are due to have it shortly. Offences are investigated to a good standard by people with the right skills, and workloads are manageable. However, the force needs to understand better the causes of the attrition rate for offences where the victim supports the prosecution, but problems with the evidence prevent further action.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that there is a quality assurance process in place to ensure victims of domestic abuse cases assessed as a standard risk receive the right support.
- The force should improve its understanding of the evidential problems that lead to no further action in cases where domestic abuse victims support police action.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at identifying and tackling serious and organised crime. It is working well with local and national partner organisations and other forces in the region to prevent serious and organised crime. The force has a good understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime across Cambridgeshire and it is developing its analysis of serious and organised crime at district level. The force is part of an effective multi-agency response to serious and organised crime, including work to prevent people from becoming involved in it. It has access to an extensive range of specialist capabilities provided by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, to help it tackle serious and organised crime.
The force has a well co-ordinated and effective method for managing organised crime groups, as well as good processes to identify the activities of these criminal groups. It needs to do more to evaluate how effectively it has disrupted and dismantled serious and organised crime groups. It is doing some good work with schools to identify vulnerable young people who may be at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime. The force is good at sharing success stories to reassure the public that it is tackling serious and organised crime effectively.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its 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 on this activity.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Cambridgeshire Constabulary has good plans to mobilise specialist resources in response to the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR) threats. It tests these plans on a regular basis and makes amendments to them in response to the lessons learned from such tests. The force is well prepared to respond to a firearms attack. It has recently reviewed its assessment of threat, risk and harm, which explicitly includes the threats posed by marauding terrorists at multiple sites. The force, together with its strategic alliance partners Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary, is increasing its firearms capacity and capability and it is making good progress in doing so.
Areas for improvement
- The forces in the strategic alliance should ensure that:
- question prompts for call takers are sufficient to support them in the event of a marauding terrorist firearms attack;
- control room staff take part in local and regional exercises to test the control room response; and
- control room inspectors have access to more concise instructions and memorandums.