Merseyside 2014Read more about Merseyside 2014
This is the first PEEL Assessment of Merseyside Police. 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 good; 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 Merseyside I have taken into account the challenges to policing the area.
Merseyside serves a diverse population in a mix of urban and rural locations. The resident population is swelled throughout the year by a large student population and visitors to the region’s sporting events, conference and exhibition centres, major retail outlets and leisure facilities. Despite considerable investment and regeneration, there remain significant areas of deprivation. Serious and organised crime and the illegal use of firearms present a challenge to the force.
I have been impressed with Merseyside’s clear priorities to prevent and reduce crime. The force can clearly demonstrate how these priorities are reflected in resource allocation and activity. The force also has good arrangements in place for understanding the vulnerability of victims of anti-social behaviour and monitoring performance. The ability of Merseyside to disrupt organised crime groups using a range of tactics is a clear strength, and it also deals particularly well with serious sexual offending.
I have also been impressed by the force’s understanding of the issues facing it, and its comprehensive and well-managed change programme to achieve the savings required, while minimising as far as possible the impact on frontline policing. Importantly, the force is planning now for further funding reductions and future financial pressures.
There is scope for Merseyside to enhance its ability to capture evidence of ‘what works’ in investigation, and use this knowledge to further improve the services it provides to victims of crime.
Although there have been some notable improvements, I have concerns about the force’s approach to crime-recording, which is not as accurate as it should be.
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 Merseyside that have suggested that the force is creating a more victim-focused approach.
I am interested to see how the force responds to the areas HMIC has identified for improvement over the next 12 months. In particular:
- increased victim focus;
- consistent coordination of partnership activity; and
- non-pay savings plans.
How well the force tackles crime
Merseyside Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force is good at investigating offending. It is good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
Merseyside has clear priorities to prevent and reduce crime. The force can clearly demonstrate how these priorities are reflected in resource allocation and activity. Its assessment of threat, risk and harm to communities enables the force to make appropriate decisions about how best to use its resources.
Most investigations are conducted thoroughly, with good levels of supervision by trained detectives. The force understands vulnerability, and is becoming increasingly victim-centred in its approach to investigation. There is scope for Merseyside to enhance its ability to capture evidence of ‘what works’ in investigation, and use this knowledge to further improve the services it provides to victims of crime.
Anti-social behaviour is a priority for the force. There are clear governance and oversight arrangements in place, allowing senior officers to drive activity in tackling this issue. At a local level, partnership working arrangements are effective, although these are not consistent across the force area with good practice not always being shared.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that the public in Merseyside could have confidence that, generally, the police provided a good service to victims of domestic abuse and helped keep them safe and staff demonstrated a high level of commitment and awareness; they exercised appropriate discretion and worked well with partners.
The ability of Merseyside to disrupt organised crime groups using a range of tactics is a clear strength, and it also deals particularly well with serious sexual offending. However, there is some inconsistency in the quality of victim contact.
How well the force delivers value for money
Merseyside Police has made good progress and is well placed to respond to further austerity in the future.
Merseyside is not only on track to meet its financial challenge from the spending review period but also for the following financial year of 2015/16. Importantly, the force is also looking beyond this period and is planning now for further funding reductions and future financial pressures. Overall, the force understands the issues facing it, and 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 Merseyside’s saving plans and by the leadership team’s ability and determination to make changes while fighting crime and keeping its communities safe.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
There was clear evidence in Merseyside Police that senior officers of the force take the issues of police integrity and corruption very seriously. Senior officers of the force have been proactive in taking important messages to the workforce and in developing a climate in which professional behaviour is encouraged and valued. HMIC found there to be effective and efficient governance structures, including an integrity and anti-corruption board. The professional standards department works proactively to understand potential as well as actual threats and presents regular updates to the anti-corruption board.
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 of those that agree 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 greater than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that operators answering calls from the public were almost always polite, professional and helpful. The domestic abuse inspection found good systems within the control room to identify repeat callers although call handlers found it less easy to identify a victim’s vulnerability. HMIC found some risks in the initial attendance at incidents and there were weaknesses in the process for undertaking a risk assessment and subsequent safety planning for victims.
HMIC is concerned that, although there have been improvements in the force’s crime-recording practices, 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): 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.