Nottinghamshire 2016Read more about Nottinghamshire 2016
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Nottinghamshire Police. PEEL is designed to give the public information about how their local police force is performing in several important areas, in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year on year. The assessment is updated throughout the year with our inspection findings and reports.
The extent to which the force is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The extent to which the force is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The extent to which the force is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
While I am satisfied with parts of Nottinghamshire Police’s overall performance, there are several areas of concern to me, including its deterioration in performance since last year.
I am pleased that Nottinghamshire Police is good at investigating crime and reducing reoffending. Investigations are generally completed to a good standard and, in partnership with other local agencies, it has a well-structured scheme for preventing those offenders who pose a risk to the public from reoffending.
The force is also working well to protect the public from serious and organised crime and to prevent young people from becoming involved in it.
I am disappointed, however, that Nottinghamshire Police’s approach to preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour has deteriorated since last year. The force has a limited understanding of the risks faced by the people it serves and their local priorities. Neighbourhood police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) are often taken away from core preventative policing activities to respond to emergencies and to investigate crimes.
As a result we have seen in Nottinghamshire signs of erosion in neighbourhood policing, the cornerstone of British policing, and this is concerning. Despite these problems I have seen how, day in, day out, hardworking police officers, PCSOs and staff are doing their best, often under pressure, to keep the public safe. I am encouraged that the force now has a new chief constable who acknowledges the problems and is determined to oversee improvement.
Nottinghamshire Police has a good understanding of the broad spectrum of demand it currently needs to meet in order to prevent and fight crime, and protect the diverse communities of Nottinghamshire. The force is also developing its understanding of likely future demands for its services. However, while the force has recognised that the way it is organised and provides services – its operating model – is not affordable, I am concerned that it does not fully understand the impact on the public of reducing the number of police officers and staff.
I am also concerned about the force’s financial management. Inadequacies in its financial controls have led to the force needing to make rapid reductions in the size and cost of its workforce over a shorter time than planned. However, its new plans have reassured me that the force is adopting measures that will achieve efficiencies while protecting the service it is able to provide to the public. I will continue to monitor the progress the force closely makes over the coming months.
It is troubling that the force is inadequate in the way it protects from harm those who are most vulnerable. We found significant failings in how it identifies and responds to vulnerable people when they first contact the police through the control room. During busy periods some response officers do not always have the time to get to victims quickly enough and a backlog builds up, too often putting people who are already vulnerable at greater risk of harm.
However, when we brought our concerns to the attention of the force during the inspection, it responded immediately, putting into action a practical response to address the large number of high-risk domestic abuse victims waiting to receive a police response.
I was impressed with the force’s approach to responding to complaints. It encourages people who have grievances to complain, recognising that this presents an opportunity for it to address any problems the public may have with the service it offers.
The force has a culture of ethical and lawful behaviour, and has good systems for preventing corruption in the first place, which is not always the case in other forces. It also recognises the abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) as serious corruption.
I would like to see the force improve the treatment of its workforce. Despite a good understanding of well-being and the support it offers staff, it needs to address some concern that it doesn’t operate fairly.
There has been a great deal of flux in the force’s leadership team over the year, with some principal posts being filled on a temporary basis for unnecessarily long periods. This has caused some uncertainty among the workforce. I anticipate that the new chief constable will bring increased stability and will continue to progress, at pace, measures to improve the service provided to the people of Nottinghamshire, and in particular to some high-risk victims.
Nottinghamshire Police provides policing services to the county of Nottinghamshire. Nottinghamshire has a high level of poverty, although there are some more affluent areas. The force area is home to around 1.1 million people, who mainly live in the city of Nottingham, as well as the towns of Mansfield and Newark-on-Trent.
The population is ethnically diverse, with 11 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by university students and the large number who visit, socialise in, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes 105 miles of motorway and trunk roads, and major rail stations.
The proportion of areas in Nottinghamshire that are predicted (on the basis of detailed economic and demographic analysis) to present a very high challenge to the police is lower than the national average. The most challenging areas are generally characterised by a high concentration of people living, working, socialising, or travelling in the area.
Features that both cause and/or indicate a concentration of people include the number of commercial premises including licensed premises and fast-food premises, public transport, and social deprivation. In some areas, these features are combined.
Nottinghamshire Police participates in the East Midlands operations support service, a collaboration with three other forces in the region that provides armed response, search, roads policing and dog services. The force also shares a technology governance board with four other forces in the region.
Nottinghamshire Police works with other forces within the East Midlands and is part of a collaboration that provides policing and support services, such as major crime, special branch and serious and organised crime and forensics.
Nottinghamshire Police, Cheshire Constabulary, Northamptonshire Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary share human resources, finance and payroll services.
A new chief constable has been appointed within the past year.
Looking ahead to 2017
In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how Nottinghamshire Police responds to this assessment and to the areas for improvement that HMIC identified last year.
I will be particularly interested to see:
- an action plan to improve the force’s response to, and support for, vulnerable people; and
- credible and achievable financial plans that are aligned with workforce plans and overseen by strong governance and financial controls.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Nottinghamshire Police has been assessed as requires improvement in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our overall judgment is a deterioration on last year, when we judged the force to be good. There are weaknesses in the way the force prevents crime and tackles anti-social behaviour. The force’s response to vulnerable people is inadequate because of unacceptable delays in responding to some high-risk incidents. However, the force is good at investigating crime and tackling serious and organised crime.
Nottinghamshire Police’s effectiveness at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe requires improvement. The force’s understanding of the communities it serves, the risks they face and their priorities is limited. We found that there are inconsistent local arrangements to meet with communities. Local teams still do not have sufficient information to enable them to improve their understanding of local communities.
The force makes good use of a wide range of police powers to tackle anti-social behaviour. Problem-solving with partner organisations, including community safety partnerships, is well structured across the force area and there is effective joint working. However, although neighbourhood officers attend incidents of anti-social behaviour and emergency incidents in their area they are also often taken away, on a pre-planned basis, to support response teams in other areas. This affects their ability to work with partner organisations on longer-term problem-solving and crime prevention.
The force does not evaluate operations consistently and does not always identify and share good practice across the force or with partner organisations; doing so would help it improve its approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
Nottinghamshire Police is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. Offences are investigated to a good standard by officers and staff with the right skills whose workloads are manageable.
The force has a well-structured integrated offender management scheme that, with partner organisations, actively manages those offenders who pose a risk to the public. It is successful in reducing re-offending and deterring people from becoming involved in organised crime. The force is adequately prepared to manage the risk posed by dangerous and sexual offenders.
Nottinghamshire Police’s effectiveness at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims is inadequate. The force is failing to support some victims and to protect some vulnerable people from harm. It continues to demonstrate an insufficient understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability and does not work well enough with partner organisations to share information to prevent crime and protect vulnerable victims.
The use of risk assessments in the control room at initial contact and the recording of the rationale for attendance are inconsistent. When the control room and response teams are busy, how quickly the police respond is too often determined by the availability of response officers rather than the risks faced by victims. This weakness is compounded by the force’s current shortcomings in recording crime properly. The force cannot be confident that all victims are getting the service they need when they need it.
Nottinghamshire Police is good at tackling serious and organised crime. Frontline officers and staff now have a better awareness of organised crime group activity in their local areas and the force’s activity is having a positive effect. The force works well with partner organisations to reduce re-offending and prevent people from becoming involved in serious and organised crime.
Nottinghamshire Police has effective specialist capabilities and is generally well prepared to deal with the threats identified in the Strategic Policing Requirement, such as terrorism and civil emergencies. The force tests and exercises its response to these threats on a regular basis with other emergency services and partner organisations, such as the fire and rescue service and the military.
The force is part of the East Midlands operational support services collaboration, which has adequately assessed the threat of an attack requiring an armed response. Plans are in place to increase the force’s firearms capability by March 2017.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Nottinghamshire Police has been assessed as requires improvement in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
Its understanding of current demand is good and it is developing its understanding of potential future demand for services. It has a good understanding of the extent to which internal inefficiencies create demand and continues to remove inefficient ways of working from its internal processes. However, there are significant concerns about the way in which the force has managed its finances and HMIC concludes that the force is at serious financial risk. The force missed its own efficiency savings target by a sizeable margin. HMIC has limited confidence that future savings can be achieved at the pace and scale required while maintaining a good service to the communities of Nottinghamshire. In last year’s efficiency inspection, Nottinghamshire Police was judged to be good.
Nottinghamshire Police’s understanding of current demand is good and it is developing its understanding of potential future demand for services. It has a good understanding of the extent to which internal inefficiencies create demand and it continues to remove waste from its internal processes. The force does not fully understand its current workforce capabilities and skill gaps, although it acknowledges it needs people with financial investigator and digital skills. The force is only beginning to assess what will be required in its future operating model.
The force recognises its operating model – how it is currently organised and provides services – is not sustainable and this situation has not improved since HMIC’s 2015 inspection. Its £12m efficiency programme for 2016/17 places additional reliance on the assurances needed from budget monitoring. Plans to cut the size of the workforce to affordable levels by 2019 are not advanced enough for the force to be able to understand fully the impact that reducing police officer and staff numbers will have on frontline policing for Nottinghamshire. The force’s future operating model means that the present structure, in which there is a separate command team for Nottingham City and the county of Nottinghamshire, will change. Although the force told partners about intended changes to the policing model, some city council partners feel that they were not properly involved or informed. This culminated in a public disagreement between the city council and the force that does little to bolster public confidence in policing. HMIC has limited confidence that future savings can be achieved at the pace and scale required while also maintaining a good service to the communities of Nottinghamshire.
The force is involved in a wide range of collaborative activity and demonstrates that this reduces cost and improves resilience. It works well with other forces to manage demand for services and continues to consider other options for further collaboration.
Nottinghamshire Police is at serious financial risk, which is a change from its apparently secure financial position in 2015. Its financial management has been inadequate because it did not have appropriate financial controls in place and failed to notice that substantial costs had been left out of its budgets until September 2015. These significant weaknesses in the force’s financial management present a risk to its future plans. Although this situation is now improving, it is too early to be sure that new financial leadership has stabilised the situation. The force also missed its efficiencies savings target by a sizeable margin and its very recent track record in achieving savings is disappointing. It used £9.4m of reserves to meet the budget gap and as a result it now has depleted reserves. The force has had to make significant and unplanned further reductions to its workforce because of its failure to close the funding gap.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Nottinghamshire Police has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our findings this year are consistent with last year’s findings, in which we judged the force to be good in respect of legitimacy.
The force continues to reinforce the importance of treating people with fairness and respect and to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It values workforce wellbeing and identifies and understands those issues that have the greatest impact on workforce perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. However, it is not able to demonstrate whether its performance assessment process is fair or effective.
Nottinghamshire Police is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect and its importance is understood by the workforce. The force seeks feedback and challenge from the people it serves, including those who have less trust and confidence in the police or are less likely to complain. It conducts victim surveys and surveys of those who have made complaints and also works with an independent advisory group (IAG) and a stop and search scrutiny board that include members of the public from diverse groups. However, although the force acts on learning and feedback, it does not always demonstrate clearly what action it has taken.
The force makes good use of social media and its website, which is easily accessible to those people whose first language is not English because it can display text in over 150 different languages. It has also considered the needs of people with sight or hearing problems, or dyslexia.
Nottinghamshire Police continues to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully, although there are gaps in its vetting processes to ensure that designated posts are vetted to a specific standard. The force has an ethical culture and the workforce understands what serious corruption is and how to report it. Staff and officers are aware of the gifts and hospitality register and notifiable associations procedure.
The force clarifies and reinforces unacceptable behaviour effectively. The force intranet contains very good reference material, and the Integrity matters newsletter provides real-life examples linked to the Code of Ethics. Officers and staff, including volunteers, have a good understanding of these standards. The force proactively and effectively identifies and manages the threat, risk and harm from corruption. It also identifies early warning signs of potential risks to integrity and corruption and shares information internally and with other forces.
Nottinghamshire Police recognises abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) as serious corruption. The workforce are clear that this behaviour is unacceptable. The force deals with it robustly by dismissing officers or staff and prosecuting them in court.
The force publicises misconduct hearings on its public website, including information about how to attend open hearings. The outcomes from gross misconduct and misconduct findings are also publicised on the force’s intranet and include the names of those involved.
Nottinghamshire Police needs to improve how it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. It is good at using a variety of methods to understand workforce perceptions, including: a people survey, a suggestion scheme, a people board, meetings with unions, the police federation, staff associations and staff networks, and exit interviews with those leaving the force. In addition, it conducts interview sessions with under-represented groups to better understand their views. However, the force needs to improve how it shares information about the actions it takes in response to workforce concerns.
The force actively monitors workforce diversity, complaints, misconduct and grievances, but we found that staff sometimes feel grievances are not dealt with effectively, with no action taken or no formal response provided.
The force’s understanding of the wellbeing needs of its workforce is generally good and is improving, although its provision is more reactive than preventative. It provides gyms and a sports and social club as well as a website called ‘Working well for East Midlands forces’, which covers dietary advice, fitness and other health-related matters. It is working to improve measures to support mental health.
Nottinghamshire Police is not able to demonstrate whether its performance assessment process is fair or effective. From April 2016 it became an online ‘self-service’ procedure and the force had provided no guidance or support for supervisors on how to manage the new process, apart from a link to a guidance document on the intranet. The force is not able to measure the outcomes of its performance assessment process, apart from when people are referred for unsatisfactory performance. The workforce do not value the PDR process and do not believe that it is fair or effective.
How well has the force performed in our other inspections?
In addition to the three core PEEL pillars, HMICFRS carries out inspections of a wide range of policing activity throughout the year. Some of these are conducted alongside the PEEL inspections (for instance, our 2016 leadership assessment); others are joint inspections.
Findings from these inspections are published separately to the main PEEL reports, but are taken into account when producing the rounded assessment of each force's performance.
Police leadership is crucial in enabling a force to be effective, efficient and legitimate. This inspection focused on how a force understands, develops and displays leadership through its organisational development.
Nottinghamshire Police’s chief officer team understands the importance of having strong, ethical leaders and the force is trying to ensure that everyone understands what the force expects from its leaders. However, more could be done. We found there is only a limited understanding throughout the force of what is expected of effective leaders.
No systematic approach is in place to identify leadership capacity and capabilities across the organisation. The force is led by a chief constable and an assistant chief constable whose ranks are temporary. A decision made not to advertise immediately for a new chief constable means the arrangement will continue until the new postholder takes up the role by 1 April 2017 – ten months after the previous chief constable left. This could lead to a period of significant uncertainly and lack of direction for the force at a time when it faces some significant performance challenges. The lack of a settled leadership team is of considerable concern to HMIC. The interim arrangement is also causing uncertainty among the workforce; this, together with the potential for the new chief constable to review the force structure, may have an impact on the force’s effectiveness.
The force recognises that identifying and responding to the gaps in leadership capability will be important to implement new ways of working. A future workforce plan aims to identify the forces’ leadership requirements. The force uses a broad range of approaches and techniques to understand the relative strengths of its leadership. This understanding could be made more effective by ensuring the leadership development programmes address the gaps identified in leadership capability.
The force seeks out new ideas, approaches and working practices from across the police service and further afield. It has forged good links with local academic institutions and learns from and regularly evaluates new innovations and working practices in other forces. The force has a good understanding of diversity, including how diverse leadership styles can help build effective and complementary teams. It evaluates the diversity, background and skills of its senior management teams and works positively to encourage those from under-represented groups to develop and progress.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Nottinghamshire Police.