Cumbria PEEL 2014
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Cumbria Constabulary has made good progress since HMIC’s 2012 progress report, Revisiting Police Relationships, and the chief constable, supported by the chief officer team, demonstrates strong leadership with standards of professional behaviour understood by all staff. The professional standards department has a good level of ability and has put efficient and effective processes in place to manage investigations. However, its ability proactively to identify and minimise threats to the force is limited.
Further insights on legitimacy
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013) found that the proportion of respondents who that think that the force does an excellent/good job was greater than 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 was greater than 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 operators answering calls from the public were empathetic, polite and helpful in almost all of the incidents that were listened to during the audit. The domestic abuse inspection found that there were good systems to identify repeat callers. All officers in 24/7 response and neighbourhood policing teams had received training in the domestic abuse, stalking and harassment risk assessment process, but many lacked understanding regarding the reasons for certain questions being asked of the victim.
As a result of the crime data integrity inspection, HMIC is 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?
The force has made good progress in implementing a culture of ethical and professional behaviour. There is strong leadership from both the chief constable and the deputy chief constable. Staff interviewed by HMIC are aware of the standards required of them and feel confident to challenge and report wrongdoing. The force needs to ensure its plan on managing integrity and corruption issues is updated with clearer objectives, effective governance and the new Code of Ethics. Electronic monitoring systems are in place on the use of social media and the force has recently invested in new technology to allow for wider monitoring of the force’s computer systems. The force has provided a large amount of training to its staff on integrity-related issues and more is planned during 2014.
The professional standards department has effective systems in place to manage investigations with good record-keeping and explanation of decisions made. There is a good level of analysis completed; however, its ability to undertake proactive work to identify and respond to possible unknown threats and vulnerabilities across the organisation is limited. The force also needs to do more to protect investigations into organised crime groups from corruption.
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 Cumbria show that:
Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 68 percent of adults surveyed think that the police do an excellent/good job, which is greater than the figure across England and Wales of 61 percent.
- 66 percent of adults surveyed agree that the police deal with local concerns, which is greater than the England and Wales proportion of 60 percent.
Victim Satisfaction Survey (12 months to June 2014)
- 89.2 percent (± 2.8 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, and this had remained the same since 2010. During this time, the proportion of calls attended within these standards for urban ’emergency’ and ‘priority’ calls had improved.
The crime data integrity inspection found that call-handlers were empathetic with callers, and polite and helpful in almost all of the incidents that were listened to during the audit.
The domestic abuse inspection found that the force had good systems to identify repeat callers. Staff were trained to collect relevant information from callers to establish risk levels. They routinely researched police databases to help officers attending the incident to assess the threat of harm to a victim and their children. However, dispatchers were not always sending the nearest and most appropriate resource, and attending officers were not routinely being given sufficient background information. The force had defined what made a victim of domestic abuse a repeat or vulnerable victim. Call handlers used these definitions to identify vulnerable and repeat victims at the first point of contact, which informed how the call was managed, the initial risk assessment and the level of scrutiny given to the incident by supervisors. Training had been provided to most staff. However, there was a lack of understanding regarding the different types of abuse and potential psychological effects. Training had not been provided for staff working on the front enquiry desk in police stations. All officers in 24/7 response and neighbourhood policing teams had received training in the domestic abuse, stalking, harassment and honour-based violence (DASH) risk assessment process but many lacked understanding regarding the reasons for certain questions within the risk assessment being asked of the victim.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity inspection examined 101 incident records and found that 85 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 85 crimes that should have been recorded, 71 were. Of the 71, four were wrongly classified and six were recorded outside the 72-hour limit allowed under the Home Office Counting Rules. This is of concern as it means that some victims’ crimes are not being recorded and they are not getting the service they deserve (for example, because certain victim support services are only triggered when a crime is recorded).
The inspection also examined 46 no-crime records and found 38 records to be compliant with HOCR and National Crime Recording Standard. Seven of the nine no-crimes of rape were correct. Six of the seven no-crimes for robbery were correct and 25 of the 30 no-crimes for violence were correct. No-crime decision making was effective, albeit the process was resulting in undue delays and was inefficient.