Cambridgeshire 2014Read more about Cambridgeshire 2014
This is the first PEEL Assessment of Cambridgeshire Constabulary. In making this assessment I have used my professional judgment to consider the evidence available from inspections undertaken in the past 12 months.
The available evidence indicates that:
in terms of its effectiveness, in general, the force is good at reducing crime and preventing offending, good at investigating crime and good at tackling anti-social behaviour. Although I had some specific concerns about its approach to domestic abuse, there have been improvements since the initial inspection;
the efficiency with which the force carries out its responsibilities is good; and
the force is acting to achieve fairness and legitimacy in some of its practices that were examined this year.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
In making this first PEEL Assessment of Cambridgeshire I have taken into account the challenges in the area.
Cambridgeshire’s population has expanded rapidly in recent years, largely due to an increase in migrant workers from Eastern Europe. People of more that 90 different nationalities live in Cambridge and Peterborough, where both wealthy and socially deprived communities live in close proximity. Cambridge has a significant student population and attracts millions of visitors each year.
I have been impressed that Cambridgeshire Constabulary has developed sophisticated joint working arrangements with partners, such as local councils to support victims of crime and anti-social behaviour who are repeatedly targeted or vulnerable (this could be because of their age for example). The force works well with partners to deal with those offenders most likely to cause harm in communities and criminals who are most likely to reoffend. Through a strong focus on the needs of victims the force is making Cambridgeshire a safer place.
I have also been impressed that the force is meeting its funding challenge and is planning sensibly for the future, while retaining high levels of victim satisfaction. It has bold and ambitious plans to make the further savings required, while protecting frontline posts through the use of new technology to enhance significantly police officers’ ability to do their jobs.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s well-established joint working arrangements with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary are impressive. The force is very well placed to be able to continue to provide an effective service to the public while reducing its costs further. The force is also working to improve understanding of the demand it faces, and plans to manage this through collaboration with the other forces.
Despite these positives, I have serious concerns about the force’s approach to crime-recording, which is not as accurate as it should be.
I also had serious concerns about the force’s approach to domestic abuse following our inspection earlier in the year. However, the force took immediate remedial action which has resulted in substantial improvements in the service to victims of domestic abuse, although there is still more to do.
Our intention is to examine leadership specifically as part of future PEEL Assessments, once criteria have been established. This will allow us to take account of the College of Policing review of leadership that is currently underway.
Over the past 12 months, there have been a number of inspections made of Cambridgeshire that have suggested a number of recurrent issues, including the need for better supervision and training of staff and officers.
I will be particularly interested to see how the force responds to the areas HMIC has identified for improvement over the next 12 months. In particular, I will be monitoring how successful the force is in improving the accuracy of its crime-recording practices.
How well the force tackles crime
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at reducing crime and preventing offending; good at investigating crime and good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
Cambridgeshire has seen crime reduce in the county over the last four years with a greater reduction than the England and Wales rate. Cambridgeshire has comparatively low levels of anti-social behaviour.
In the fight against crime, the force is collaborating with Hertfordshire Constabulary and Bedfordshire Police to be more efficient and to meet austerity measures. Nevertheless, the bedrock of policing rests firmly with safer neighbourhood teams in six policing districts, which retain a strong identity and relationship with the county and its communities.
The force has developed sophisticated joint working arrangements with the county council, district councils and the unitary authority to support victims who are vulnerable or repeatedly targeted. A range of other service providers also work closely with the force to manage offenders who are the most likely to cause harm in communities and criminals who are most likely to reoffend.
Through strong focus on the most vulnerable and individuals with a propensity to cause most harm in society, the force is making Cambridgeshire a safer place.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection identified significant concerns about the ability of Cambridgeshire to deal consistently and appropriately with victims of domestic abuse, and to reduce the risk of harm to them. Immediate remedial action was taken by the force and a reinspection found that although the force has made substantial improvements, there was still much to do. The crime inspection found evidence that Cambridgeshire had improved its approach to investigating domestic abuse and protecting victims.
The crime inspection found that opportunities were exploited to disrupt organised crime groups by arresting criminals for offences which were secondary to their mainstream activity.
The Strategic Policing Requirement inspection found that Cambridgeshire Police had, or had access to through collaboration with other forces regionally, the necessary capability to tackle terrorism, civil emergency, serious organised crime and public disorder, but not a large-scale cyber incident.
How well the force delivers value for money
Cambridgeshire Constabulary has impressive and well-established joint working arrangements with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary. The force has bold ambitions to extend this collaboration even further into its IT arrangements. The force is well placed to be able to continue to provide an effective service to the public while reducing its costs further.
Cambridgeshire is on track to achieve its required savings of £19.8m over this spending review period, and to meet its further financial challenge in 2015/16. The force is already planning how it can achieve savings beyond the next financial year.
The force understands the issues facing it, and has change programmes in place that will lead to increased collaboration with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. Through the tri-force IT change programme known as Metis, the forces plan to make further savings and protect frontline posts as new technology and streamlined processes improve appreciably the productivity of police officers and staff.
The force is working to improve understanding of the demand it faces, and plans to manage this demand through the collaboration of its control room, custody and criminal justice functions (operational support), and its human resources, finance and IT functions (organisational support), supported by the work of Programme Metis.
The force is achieving the savings required and is planning sensibly for the future, while continuing to reduce crime and retaining high levels of victim satisfaction.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Cambridgeshire Constabulary, working with both Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary, has developed a joint professional standards department (PSD) that has been in place for 18 months. The three forces are continuing to develop their joint policies and procedures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of how they jointly manage and respond to unprofessional behaviour, misconduct and corruption. However, there is currently insufficient capacity to prevent, reduce and investigate corruption matters effectively.
Further insights on legitimacy
The Crime Survey of England and Wales (12 months to March 2013) found that the proportion of respondents who think that the force does an excellent / good job is broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales. The same survey over the same period also found that the proportion that agrees the force deals with local concerns is broadly in line with the figure for England and Wales. The force’s own victim satisfaction survey (12 months to June 2014) found that the proportion of victims that were satisfied with their experience was greater than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that frontline staff, including call-takers, understood the importance of meeting the needs of the victim when considering crime-recording and investigation. The inspection on domestic abuse initially found that call-handlers in the control room had not received sufficient training to understand the full spectrum of domestic abuse. However, the revisit found that the force had delivered enhanced training, improving understanding of all types of domestic abuse and vulnerability. Officers did not complete a domestic abuse, stalking, and honour-based violence (DASH) risk assessment where there had been no previous incidents and no crime had been committed. This was a concern as high-risk victims may not have been identified at the earliest possible opportunity and necessary safety measures may not have been put in place.
As a result of the crime data integrity inspection, HMIC is seriously concerned that a notable proportion of reports of crime are not being recorded, and this means that victims of crime are not receiving the service they should when they first report a crime.
HMIC is also concerned with the accuracy of the decisions taken by the force when making no-crime decisions (cancelling a recorded crime) as too many of these are incorrect. The force needs to take action to improve, serve the victims of these crimes and provide the public with confidence in the force’s crime data.