Cambridgeshire PEEL 2014
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.
To what extent does the force ensure that the workforce acts with integrity?
There is clear leadership from the chief constable and individuals have a good awareness of the boundaries of professional and unprofessional behaviour. Police officers and staff are aware of their responsibility to challenge unprofessional behaviour, with confidence that supervisors, managers and the professional standards department would respond appropriately to issues. The force has introduced the Code of Ethics and has an associated implementation plan. The force incorporates ethical and professional behaviour into policies and procedures. In particular, the force has worked with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary in a strategic alliance to agree and put in place common policies and procedures that apply to integrity, professional behaviour and standards. There is, however, some lack of understanding on the part of individuals as to their personal responsibilities and there exists, in addition a need to ensure consistent auditing and publication of key registers such as the business interests register. Training on ethical and professional behaviour is provided to staff but there is a need to provide integrity training and to ensure knowledge is sufficient.
While the force has a clear procedure for disseminating the lessons it has learned from misconduct procedures and referring issues to the responsible managers, it should improve how it tracks any action taken to see that these have been completed. The professional standards department (PSD) and anti-corruption unit have police officers and police staff with appropriate skills and experience for the roles they perform. They are selected from across all three forces in the strategic alliance, but there was little evidence of any structured succession planning (to make sure that the right staff are in place if someone leaves).
The force needs to develop improved tasking and co-ordinating processes for the anti-corruption unit with better analysis and research that proactively identifies misconduct and corruption risks. The force does respond as effectively to corruption issues as it should, and reacts to reports of misconduct; it does not, however, have the capacity to take active steps to identify misconduct and corruption itself.
What are the public perceptions of the force?
HMIC considers that there are two sources of data that give an insight into the public’s perceptions of their police force: the Crime Survey for England and Wales, and the Victim Satisfaction Survey.
The data for Cambridgeshire Constabulary show that:
Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 61 percent of adults surveyed think that the police do an excellent/good job, which is broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales of 61 percent.
- 59 percent of adults surveyed agree that the police deal with local concerns, which is broadly in line with the England and Wales proportion of 60 percent.
Victim Satisfaction Survey (12 months to June 2014)
- 88.1 percent (± 1.3 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience which is greater than the figure across England and Wales of 85.0 percent (± 0.2 percent).
To what extent does the force respond to calls for service appropriately?
The value for money inspection found the force had set a clear performance standard for response times in 2010, and the standard for ’emergency’ calls changed in 2013. The inspection found that since 2010 the proportion of calls attended within these standards for both ’emergency’ and ‘priority’ calls had declined.
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; they were polite, professional and helpful.
The domestic abuse initial inspection 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. The initial inspection also found that officers did not attend all incidents of domestic abuse. However, following the revisit, there was greater consideration given to those victims who have experienced domestic abuse before; this meant that there was a greater likelihood that officers will be sent to an incident and identify less obvious forms of domestic abuse. 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.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity inspection examined 75 incident records and found that 58 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 58 crimes that should have been recorded, only 41 were. This was of serious concern as it meant that some victims’ crimes were not being recorded and they were not getting the service they deserved (e.g., because certain victim support services are only triggered when a crime is recorded).
The force also had a police service centre through which HMIC estimated that the force recorded approximately 21 percent of the total of its recorded crime. This unit recorded reports of crime directly from members of the public which did not require the creation of an incident record. Our inspection of this unit (a review of 13 calls from the public) found that of the 13 crimes that should have been recorded, all 13 were recorded correctly. This was an effective approach to crime-recording for the force.
The inspection also examined 58 no-crime records and found 50 records to be compliant with Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR) and National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS). The force’s approach to no-criming is a matter of concern.