Devon and Cornwall PEEL 2014
How well the force tackles crime
Devon and Cornwall Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force is good at investigating offending. It is good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
Devon and Cornwall has clear strategic priorities in relation to crime prevention and anti-social behaviour. They are consistent with the priorities set by the police and crime commissioner, and by the Peninsula Partnership, an umbrella body which includes all of the statutory partners within Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Partnership working is strong with evidence of effective joint working at all levels; this is especially so across neighbourhoods. The co-location of resources with partners is widespread and has led to better information sharing and action to resolve community issues. This is particularly prominent in relation to anti-social behaviour where joint working is aimed at addressing vulnerability, repeat incidents and safeguarding issues.
Investigations were generally of a good standard and conducted in a timely manner, with robust supervision, direction and scrutiny. A ‘victim-centred service’ is a stated aim of the force; initial contact with victims is good but HMIC found that the service was variable at latter stages of investigations.
Force leaders set and drive clear strategic priorities to reduce crime and prevent reoffending. Investigations of crime are of a good standard and victims generally receive an effective service. The force has made significant progress in clamping down on anti-social behaviour which has improved the quality of life for local people.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that there were some significant risks in the way the force tackles domestic abuse. High-risk cases were found to be generally dealt with well, but there was less consistency with medium and standard-risk cases. The joint inspection of police custody suites found that police custody was generally positive and detainees were commendably well cared for.
The crime inspection found that the force could do more to establish a systematic approach to disrupt and deter the activity of organised crime groups; this lacked structure and a shared understanding of responsibilities and expected outcomes.
How effective is the force at reducing crime and preventing offending?
Effective processes are in place to ensure operational activity is aligned to the priorities set in the police and crime plan.
Crime reduction and the prevention of reoffending are at the heart of police business in Devon and Cornwall.
A victim-centred approach is a stated priority for the force and this is routinely translated into operational activity.
The force could do more to establish a systematic approach to disrupt and deter the activity of organised crime groups.
The force works well with partners. Through the sharing of information, joint analysis and case management, there is clear focus to prevent crime and protect the vulnerable.
How effective is the force at investigating offending?
Investigators’ initial contact with victims is responsive and informative. However, in later stages of investigations there is less assurance that standards are maintained.
The force works well with other agencies to manage ‘prolific’ and ‘high harm’ offenders and reduce reoffending.
Investigations are generally of a good standard and conducted in a timely manner with strong supervisory oversight.
Organisational learning is underdeveloped. It requires a more structured approach to ensure that a culture of continuous improvement becomes widespread in the force.
HMIC expresses concern about the capacity of the force to manage the volume of domestic abuse victim referrals.
How effective is the force at tackling anti-social behaviour?
There are effective arrangements to identify repeat incidents of anti-social behaviour.
Neighbourhood beat managers and PCSOs have a sound appreciation of vulnerable victims in communities, and the safeguarding provisions that are available to protect them.
There are effective arrangements in place to share information and provide early intervention to prevent the escalation of anti-social behaviour.
How effective is the force at protecting those at greatest risk of harm?
The domestic abuse inspection found that there were some significant risks in the way that Devon and Cornwall tackles domestic abuse. High-risk cases of domestic abuse were found generally to be dealt with well, but there was less consistency with medium and standard-risk cases. The inspection identified a need to clarify roles and responsibilities of all staff, particularly in relation to safeguarding victims.
The custody inspection found that the treatment of detainees in police custody in Devon and Cornwall was generally positive and detainees were commendably well cared for. Inspectors were pleased to find that custody staff were competent to assess and manage detainee risks which were identified early. However, inspectors were concerned to find that it had become accepted practice to detain people in custody for their own safety under section 136 of the Mental Health Act.
The crime inspection found that while domestic abuse was a clear priority for the force and PCC, services to victims were inconsistent and there were significant risks in the way the force operated. There was evidence that Devon and Cornwall had responded to previous concerns raised by HMIC; however, some staff and partners felt that in certain areas, service to victims had not improved. The force intends to provide a better service to victims through the establishment of the sexual offences and domestic abuse investigation teams (SODAIT). However, the SODAIT project drew some adverse comment from officers and partner service providers. Concerns included too little consultation, a lack of clarity of roles and responsibilities and the capacity of the new unit to consider referrals rapidly enough. The inspection also reviewed Devon and Cornwall’s domestic abuse action plan and found that the force had provided an action plan outlining activity which was in line with the agreed national priorities for forces to improve its response to domestic abuse. The activity evidenced responds to the specific issues raised by HMIC.
How effective is the force at tackling serious, organised and complex crime?
The crime inspection found that the force could do more to establish a systematic approach to disrupt and deter the activity of organised crime groups. The approach to dismantling and disrupting organised crime groups lacked structure and a shared understanding of responsibilities and expected outcomes. The inspection also found that where officers had been allocated management of organised crime groups at neighbourhood level, they had received no training or guidance regarding their roles. The force was aware of these shortcomings and had plans to address them.
The value for money inspection found that the regional collaboration on tackling serious and organised crime in the South West was well established.
How effective is the force at meeting its commitments under the Strategic Policing Requirement?
There was no Strategic Policing Requirement inspection for this force.