Essex PEEL 2014
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
The chief constable and all the chief officers show strong leadership on the importance of values, ethics and personal behaviour. Some policies and procedures address standards of behaviour and integrity. The force has a clear plan to implement the Code of Ethics under the force’s ‘passion in policing’ brand. The force has an established anti-corruption unit and its staff have good knowledge, skills and understanding of the organisation and systems; however, it has insufficient capacity to work proactively. There are governance arrangements for integrity issues, and an established joint process for monitoring contracts and related issues with Kent Police.
Further insights on legitimacy
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013) found that the proportion of respondents who think that the force does an excellent/good job was 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 was 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 less than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that there was a strong drive from the leadership of the force actively to promote and display a victim-centred approach which was understood by frontline staff, including call-takers. The domestic abuse inspection found that the force had taken a number of positive steps to improve the service provided to victims, including the introduction of a dedicated domestic abuse intelligence team that carried out background checks, which gave officers attending the incident an appreciation of the likely threat of harm to a victim.
The force has good crime-recording procedures in place when receiving reports of crime, meaning that victims of crime receive the service they should when they first report a crime.
HMIC is also impressed with the accuracy of the decisions taken by the force when making no-crime decisions (cancelling a recorded crime), nearly all of which are correct.
This means the public can have confidence in the way the force records crime.
To what extent does the force ensure that the workforce acts with integrity?
HMIC found that staff are aware of their responsibility to challenge and report misconduct and unprofessional behaviour, and that most leaders led by example and demonstrated their personal commitment to ethical behaviour. There is a well understood confidential process for individuals to report wrongdoing. The force has provided extensive communication and direction to staff regarding the misuse of police systems under the Data Protection Act 1998.
The force has a clear plan to implement the Code of Ethics under the force’s ‘passion in policing’ brand.
There are governance arrangements for integrity issues and an established joint process for monitoring contracts and related issues with Kent Police. This has increased transparency and governance. The force regularly audits the gifts and hospitality register, and inappropriate entries are challenged or investigated by the professional standards department (PSD). The force publishes information on chief officer expenses, gifts and hospitality, but it does not publish information concerning officers’ business interests and secondary employment.
The force has a process for disseminating lessons learned from investigations, and makes use of Independent Police Complaints Commission bulletins to keep staff informed of the latest issues and learning.
The PSD maintains a register of professional standards investigations, whether conducted by the PSD or local police area, but there is no central process to monitor timeliness. HMIC found some evidence of effective record-keeping of the planning of investigations, and of the recording of the rationale for decisions.
The force has an established anti-corruption unit (ACU) and its staff have good knowledge, skills and understanding of the organisation and systems. The ACU has an intelligence department and is supported by an analytical and research function; this is shared with the PSD. The ACU has insufficient capacity to work proactively.
The risk that operations will be compromised by corruption is managed largely within the force. Where serious organised crime is concerned, the force operates, together with Kent Police, a joint security unit within the joint serious crime directorate. This joint security unit is responsible for operational security; it also completes corruption investigations on behalf of both forces.
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 Essex Police show that:
Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 59 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.
- 61 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)
- 82.4 percent (± 1.6 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience which is less 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 that the force had set a clear performance standard for response times, and this had remained the same since 2010. The inspection found that during this time, the proportion of calls attended within the set standard for ’emergency’ calls had improved, but had declined for ‘priority’ calls.
The crime data integrity inspection found that there was a strong drive from the leadership of the force actively to promote and display a victim-centred approach. The inspection found that frontline staff, including call-takers, understood these messages and the importance of meeting the needs of the victim when considering crime-recording and investigation.
The domestic abuse inspection found that the force had good systems within its control room to identify repeat callers. A dedicated domestic abuse intelligence team carried out background checks which gave officers attending the incident an appreciation of the likely threat of harm to a victim. However, the terminology for the initial risk assessment was the same as that used subsequently for formal risk assessments which created some confusion. Control room staff had received domestic abuse training. The force had recently introduced guidance within the force control room for checking whether incidents should be classified as domestic abuse, but it excluded certain types of abuse, and as a result, potentially excluded a number of victims. As a result of concerns raised during the inspection, the force withdrew the guidance.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity inspection examined 169 incident records and found that 132 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 132 crimes that should have been recorded, 121 were. Of the 121, two were wrongly classified and 14 were recorded outside the 72-hour limit allowed by the Home Office Counting Rules. Overall, this was a good result for the force and demonstrated the accuracy of the force’s crime-recording practices.
HMIC estimated that the centralised crime-recording unit recorded approximately 24 percent of the total of its recorded crime directly from members of the public in those cases which did not require the creation of an incident record. Our inspection of this unit (a review of 27 calls from the public) found that of the 27 crimes that should have been recorded, 1 was classified incorrectly. This was an effective approach to crime-recording for the force.
The inspection also examined 73 no-crime records and found 68 records to be compliant with Home Office Counting Rules and the National Crime Recording Standard. Comprehensive monitoring and auditing took place in most no-crime decisions, particularly those involving high-risk crimes.