Lancashire 2014Read more about Lancashire 2014
This is the first PEEL Assessment of Lancashire Constabulary. In making this assessment I have used my professional judgment to consider the evidence available from inspections undertaken in the past 12 months.
The available evidence indicates that:
in terms of its effectiveness, in general, the force is good at reducing crime and preventing offending, good at investigating offending and good at tackling anti-social behaviour;
the efficiency with which the force carries out its responsibilities is outstanding; and
the force is acting to achieve fairness and legitimacy in most of the practices that were examined this year.
Michael Cunningham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
In making this first PEEL Assessment of Lancashire I have taken into account the challenges to policing the area.
Lancashire is an economically diverse mix of industrial towns, popular tourist destinations and two university cities, set among areas of outstanding natural beauty. There are pockets of severe social and economic deprivation. The population is ethnically diverse: black minority ethnic populations are concentrated in the city of Preston, and in Blackburn with Darwen. The force has already developed strong partnerships, such as those in the multi agency safeguarding hubs, to tackle the worst forms of abuse against the most vulnerable children and adults in the county. There are also serious threats from organised crime, and international terrorism and extremism.
I have been particularly impressed by the positive culture across the force focused on putting the victim at the centre of decisions and activity.
I was also impressed with the force’s understanding of the issues facing it, and its comprehensive and well-managed change programme in place to achieve the savings required, while minimising as far as possible the impact on frontline policing. Importantly, the constabulary is planning now for further funding reductions and financial pressures in the future.
I was impressed by the way the force monitors its systems and robustly investigates misconduct. The force’s approach to crime-recording is good with a high degree of accuracy.
The force will need to satisfy itself that recent increases in crime and a reduction in victim satisfaction will not have a long-lasting impact on its performance.
Our intention is to examine leadership specifically as part of future PEEL Assessments, once criteria have been established. This will allow us to take account of the College of Policing review of leadership that is currently underway.
In common with other forces, there is a need to develop a better understanding of the changing demands for police services.
Over the past 12 months, there have been a number of inspections made of the force that have suggested that it is continuing to develop closer partnership working arrangements while making efforts to better understand demand for its service.
I am interested to see how the force responds to the areas HMIC has identified for improvement over the next 12 months. In particular:
- how the demand reduction unit, introduced early in 2014, has an impact on how services are delivered; and
- how customer satisfaction levels are affected across the force.
How well the force tackles crime
Lancashire Constabulary is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force is good at investigating offending. It is good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
Lancashire demonstrates good and consistent standards of victim care and investigation.
Partnership working is strong in both short and long-term initiatives to deal with crime and anti-social behaviour, and there is continuing development of multi-agency teams.
There is a positive culture across the force focused on putting the victim at the centre of decisions and activity.
The domestic abuse inspection found that the public in Lancashire could have confidence that police officers and staff provided a good service to victims of domestic abuse in all areas and helped to keep them safe. Tackling domestic abuse was a priority for the force, which had invested in well-trained and specialist staff. The crime inspection found evidence that tackling domestic abuse is still a priority for the force although improvements could be made.
The crime inspection found that organised crime groups were tackled and disrupted through a number of operations involving both police resources and those from other organisations, including local authorities.
How well the force delivers value for money
Lancashire Constabulary is on track to meet its financial challenge of the spending review period and also for the year beyond, 2015/16. Importantly, the force is also looking beyond this period and is planning now for further funding reductions and financial pressures in the future.
Lancashire has identified that it needs to save £54.3m over the four years of the spending review. It has plans in place to meet this requirement as well as preparing to meet future austerity. Overall, the force understands the issues facing it, and it has a comprehensive and well-managed change programme in place to achieve the savings required while minimising, as far as possible, the impact on frontline policing.
HMIC was reassured by the level of detail that underpins Lancashire’s saving plans and also by the leadership’s ability and determination to make changes while fighting crime and keeping its communities safe. The force will, however, need to satisfy itself that recent increases in crime and a reduction in satisfaction will not have a long-lasting impact on its performance.
There are innovative plans for working more closely across public services to manage demand better and to provide a more effective response. HMIC recognises the ambition of the force in this work, which could transform how services are provided and offer the opportunity to achieve savings in the future.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
The chief officer team consistently reinforces integrity issues and this is recognised by all members of the constabulary. Effective programmes of work, led personally by chief officers, promote continuing change. The force has established an integrity and standards board which is chaired by the head of the professional standards department and is actively generating a dialogue with staff to develop their understanding. Plans to roll out the national Code of Ethics are in place but have not yet been implemented.
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 which agrees that the force deals with local concerns was broadly in line with the England and Wales. The force’s own victim satisfaction survey (12 months to June 2014) found that the proportion of victims who were satisfied with their experience was less than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that operators answering calls from the public were almost always polite, helpful and professional. The domestic abuse inspection found that there were good IT systems which alerted the operator to repeat callers. There were good systems to assist in locating and sending the nearest officers, ensuring a timely response for the victim. Frontline staff and supervisors dealing with domestic abuse were well trained and took their responsibilities seriously.
The force has good crime-recording procedures in place when receiving reports of crime, meaning that victims 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.