Essex PEEL 2014
How well the force tackles crime
Essex Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force requires improvement in investigating offending. It is good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
Essex Police has significantly reorganised how it delivers policing within the county. The new model moves resources and accountability away from central control and out to the local policing areas. It is part of the force’s response to austerity, with HMIC previously assessing that the force was responding well to the financial challenges it faces.
The force works well with partners to reduce and prevent offending and to tackle anti-social behaviour. It has made great progress in improving services to victims of crime and anti-social behaviour. Essex needs to continue these efforts to ensure that the improvements become the norm in terms of the day-to-day approach that police officers and staff take towards victims.
There is clear evidence of a commitment by the force and its staff to prevent crime and reduce offending. The force has taken significant steps to increase its ability to identify and deal with those victims of crime who are particularly vulnerable.
Essex faces challenges in respect of levels of crime. The force needs to do more to improve its standards of investigation and supervision of investigators, and to improve the training and professional expertise of its staff. The way that it responds to calls for service from the public requires improvement.
While anti-social behaviour is not articulated as a specific force priority within the force’s Plan on a Page, it is implicit across all relevant areas of the plan and we found evidence of good work taking place in the neighbourhood teams to tackle anti-social behaviour although more could be done to learn from what works and to share good practice.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that, since HMIC’s previous inspection in March 2013, the force had taken a number of positive steps to improve the service provided to victims of domestic abuse. However, the inspection found that some victims of domestic abuse were still at risk of not getting the effective response or quality of service they needed from the police. The crime inspection found evidence that Essex had made considerable progress in tackling domestic abuse.
The crime inspection found that there was no apparent local responsibility for specific organised crime groups and officers viewed them as being the sole responsibility of the Essex and Kent serious crime directorate, leading to a lack of activity and the missing of opportunities to disrupt these groups or to prevent them from developing into groups that presented a risk of more serious harm.
How effective is the force at reducing crime and preventing offending?
Essex Police has strong and effective partnership working arrangements that contribute to a range of crime prevention and reduction initiatives.
Force and community priorities are clear and understood by operational officers, with evidence that they direct policing activity.
HMIC found that the force’s ability to measure the impact of its activities and to learn from what has worked is limited. The force has recognised this and is starting to develop better ways to evaluate activities.
How effective is the force at investigating offending?
There is clear evidence that officers contact and update victims of crime appropriately and in a timely fashion.
The integrated offender management process is well understood, accepted by all, and effective.
Investigations are not of a good enough quality and there is a lack of effective supervisory scrutiny or review. There is limited evidence of the use of investigation plans. Domestic abuse investigations are subject to a more rigorous approach.
There is limited evidence of effective identification and disruption of organised crime groups, meaning that prevention and disruption opportunities are missed.
The force faces significant challenges in training and accrediting staff to the agreed national standard for investigation to improve standards.
How effective is the force at tackling anti-social behaviour?
Although not articulated as an explicit force priority, there is strong evidence of good partnership working to tackle and prevent anti-social behaviour, with a number of initiatives across the force.
The force engages well with communities to understand what they want and need.
HMIC found a visible neighbourhood policing team presence with good evidence of programmes to divert young people, or those at risk, away from crime or anti-social behaviour. The force should ensure that this strong neighbourhood approach is not diminished as a result of further force restructuring.
The force’s two anti-social behaviour recording systems are unnecessarily duplicative and pose a risk to the management of incidents.
How effective is the force at protecting those at greatest risk of harm?
The domestic abuse inspection found that, since HMIC’s previous inspection in March 2013, the force had taken a number of positive steps to improve the service provided to victims of domestic abuse. Some areas identified as in need of improvement were, understandably, work in progress. However, the inspection found that some victims of domestic abuse were still at risk of not getting the effective response or quality of service they needed from the police.
The crime inspection found evidence that Essex Police had made considerable progress in tackling domestic abuse. The force had recently introduced dedicated domestic abuse investigators teams and had introduced specific vulnerability and repeat victim question sets for its call-takers and officers to identify vulnerability at the earliest opportunity. The inspection also reviewed Essex’s domestic abuse action plan and found the force had set out activity that was in line with the agreed national priorities for forces to improve their response to domestic abuse, and included summaries of improvements made and the force’s intentions to improve further. There was no clear, direct reference to the HMIC force recommendations in the plan, but information within the submitted action plan supported most activity required from the HMIC recommendations.
How effective is the force at tackling serious, organised and complex crime?
The crime inspection found very limited evidence of any organised crime group tasking or disruption outside of that done by the Essex and Kent serious crime directorate (SCD). There was no apparent local responsibility for specific groups at any level and officers viewed organised crime groups as being the sole responsibility of the SCD, leading to a lack of activity and the missing of opportunities to disrupt these groups or to prevent them from developing into groups that presented a risk of more serious harm.
The value for money inspection found that the Essex and Kent SCD, which tackles serious and organised criminality across the two counties, had been in existence for four years. As well as enhancing operational effectiveness and resilience, the collaboration continued to achieve savings year on year.
How effective is the force at meeting its commitments under the Strategic Policing Requirement?
There was no Strategic Policing Requirement inspection for this force.