Cleveland PEEL 2016
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Cleveland Police is good in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our overall judgment this year is an improvement on last year, when we judged the force to require improvement in respect of its overall effectiveness. The force has made good progress since HMIC’s 2015 effectiveness and vulnerability inspections. Cleveland Police now has an effective approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, investigating crime and supporting victims. It is also effective in tackling serious and organised crime, although the force needs to improve further the service it provides to vulnerable people.
Cleveland Police has made good progress since HMIC’s 2015 effectiveness and vulnerability inspections. In 2015, we judged that the force did not have the skills or abilities to deal with the breadth of change required. Now, two recommendations arising from our cause of concern have been addressed, as have seven of the nine areas for improvement.
The force is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. It has made considerable improvements to how it polices neighbourhoods. It has a good understanding of those threats and risks that pose the greatest harm to local communities, while recognising the limitations of its formal engagement structure.
Cleveland Police has made considerable progress in its initial identification of and response to vulnerable victims. In addition to changing its internal force structures and processes, it has, working with other organisations, established its first children’s safeguarding hub. This is a positive step. HMIC will continue to monitor this with interest.
The force responds to and safeguards vulnerable victims well in most cases. Although the force is able to identify repeat victims through its systems, its ability to draw on this data to inform its overall planning continues to develop. The force has made considerable progress in the way in which it responds to and investigates missing children, although we found that the force’s response to some children who are reported as absent could be improved.
Cleveland Police investigates crime well in most cases, particularly those cases involving vulnerable victims. The force has a good understanding of the risk and threat posed by serious and organised crime, and continues to tackle it effectively. It has effective arrangements to ensure that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Cleveland Police is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. The force has made considerable improvements to its neighbourhood policing model. In HMIC’s 2015 effectiveness report, we judged that the force’s neighbourhood policing model was not effective. In addition, there was no structured or consistent approach to problem-solving to enable neighbourhood teams to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour effectively. The force has responded well by creating the capacity required for neighbourhood teams to fulfil their role in preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. It has provided these teams with a structured approach to problem-solving, including enhanced information-sharing with partner organisations, although consistency of application could improve, along with the evaluation of tactics at local level.
The force has a good understanding of the threats and risks which pose the greatest harm to local communities. Although the limitations of the formal engagement structure are recognised by the force, we found that neighbourhood teams are connecting with local communities and are being informed of local concerns and problems through joint meetings with partner organisations. Neighbourhood teams have a good understanding of the local areas through comprehensive data, although the force could do more to involve local people in the setting of local priorities.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Cleveland Police is good at investigating crime. It is thorough in its assessment of calls requiring assistance. The force responds to most incidents appropriately, and allocates crimes appropriately for subsequent investigation. It has effective investigative support functions. It has improved its retrieval of digital evidence, and in most cases exploits forensic opportunities effectively and appropriately. Cleveland Police is successful in achieving a higher proportion of offences assigned a charged or summonsed outcome from its investigations when compared with other forces.
Cleveland Police continues to work well with partner organisations to reduce re-offending, although the force could do more to assure itself of the overall volume and prioritisation of wanted and outstanding named suspects. It ensures that the risk of criminality from individuals who are foreign nationals is identified and managed. There is a structured approach to selecting offenders for the dedicated integrated offender management (IOM) programme, with regular oversight and review, although it is narrow in scope, and this minimises the opportunity to reduce re-offending on a wider scale and protect people from harm. The force works well with partner organisations to manage the most dangerous sex offenders but could do more to assure itself of its ability to meet the standard required for visits consistently.
Areas for improvement
- The force should consider widening its approach to integrated offender management to maximise its impact on reducing threat, harm and risk. There should be clear measures of success which enable the force to evaluate how effectively it is protecting the public from prolific and harmful offenders.
- The force should ensure that the risks posed by registered sex offenders are managed effectively.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Cleveland Police requires improvement in the way in which it responds to some vulnerable victims. Although the force has made considerable progress since HMIC’s 2015 effectiveness (vulnerability) inspection, we have identified some further areas for improvement.
The force has made considerable improvements in its initial identification and response to vulnerable victims. In addition to changing its internal force structures and processes, it has established its first children’s hub with partner organisations, which is a significant step forward, with plans to expand further during 2017.
The force’s response to children who are reported as absent could be improved. Although we found that the force has made good progress in the way in which it responds to and investigates missing children, we found that the categorisation of absent children does not always consider the risk when the child’s whereabouts are known.
The force is generally good at investigating crimes and safeguarding vulnerable people, particularly victims of domestic abuse. Although the allocation of crimes to the appropriate units is effective, some investigations are allocated to officers within those units who have not been trained or accredited to the required level.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that officers and staff use the missing and absent categories appropriately in cases involving children.
- The force should ensure that referral of standard-risk domestic abuse victims for continuing safeguarding is made at the appropriate time.
- The force should ensure that where crimes are allocated to specialist investigators, they have the appropriate skills and accreditation to investigate them to a good standard.
- The force should continue to improve its strategic understanding of repeat victims.
- The force should take immediate steps to understand the reasons why such a high proportion of crimes related to domestic abuse fall into the outcome category ‘Evidential difficulties; victim does not support police action’, and rectify this to ensure that it is pursuing justice on behalf of victims. Cleveland Police is one of several forces that have been asked to review its use of this outcome category. It is recommended that by 1 May 2017 the force should produce and submit to HMIC an action plan that sets out how it will:
- undertake a comprehensive analysis of the use of this outcome across the force area to fully understand why the force is an outlier and produce an accompanying report for scrutiny by HMIC by 1 June 2017;
- review the extent to which the force’s use of this outcome category is appropriate; and
- take steps to reduce the force’s reliance on this outcome category and improve outcomes for victims.
This action plan and subsequent report will be reviewed by HMIC and may prompt additional inspection revisits during 2017 in order to assess the force’s progress in adopting a more effective response in pursuing justice on behalf of victims.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
Cleveland Police is good at tackling serious and organised crime. It has a good understanding of the risk and threat posed by serious and organised crime, which is informed by the completion of its serious and organised local profile. It is proactive in its disruption work, with good governance in place. Although we found that the force plans its work well, it could do more to plan across all of the areas of prevent, pursue, protect and prepare, and to understand the effect this work has in reducing organised crime, and the effect on the community.
Cleveland Police is limited in its engagement with those at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime, and is developing its approach through its serious and organised partnership board. The force manages existing offenders effectively through the use of ancillary and civil orders. Cleveland Police communicates well with the public about serious and organised crime, including what it does to disrupt organised crime. It also highlights the risks of organised crime to the public and explains how they can protect themselves. Cleveland Police has commenced its approach to lifetime offender management, working with partner organisations.
Areas for improvement
- The force should develop its plans, with partner organisations, to reflect activity across the 4Ps – prevent, pursue, protect and prepare – and assess the effect this activity has on organised crime, and whether this is having a positive effect on its communities.
- The force should take steps to identify those who are at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime, and ensure that preventative projects are put in place with partner organisations to deter offending.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Cleveland Police has effective arrangements in place to ensure that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities. It regularly tests its ability to respond to national threats with other forces and partner organisations. The force has reviewed its response to each of the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR) threats in line with national standards.
The force is well prepared to respond to an attack which requires an armed response. It collaborates on firearms unit capacity and capability with Durham Constabulary. A good governance process provides strong scrutiny of the force’s readiness for any existing and emerging threats. The force is quick to amend its plans and its responses to any new threats that may emerge.