North Wales 2014Read more about North Wales 2014
This is the first PEEL Assessment of North Wales 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 and is good at tackling anti-social behaviour. However, it requires improvement in the way it investigates offending;
the efficiency with which the force carries out its responsibilities is good; and
the available evidence suggests that the force is acting to achieve fairness and legitimacy in some of the practices that were examined this year.
In making this first PEEL Assessment of North Wales I have taken into account the challenges to policing the area.
North Wales is an economically and culturally diverse area. Predominately rural, it also has many square miles of national parkland and a number of world heritage sites. Wrexham is the largest town in the force area. Farming and agriculture is of economic importance, as is the tourism industry. Around a third of the population is able to speak, read or write in Welsh.
I have been encouraged by how North Wales has reduced crime in the past four years. While the rate of reduction is broadly in line with that for England and Wales, the likelihood of being a victim of crime or anti-social behaviour (per 1,000 population) is less in North Wales.
Partners work closely with the force to manage offenders who are the most likely to cause harm in communities and criminals who are most likely to reoffend. The force has sophisticated joint working arrangements with councils and other local service providers to support victims who are vulnerable or persistently targeted.
Nevertheless, the service provided to victims tended to be inconsistent and the force could not be confident that all victims were getting the response they needed when the force investigated offences and safeguarded victims, particularly repeat and vulnerable victims of domestic violence. Victim satisfaction with the police is well below the figure for most other forces in England and Wales. However, the crime inspection found evidence that North Wales had made some progress to improve its response to domestic abuse. I also have concerns about the timeliness of the force’s decisions on crime-recording.
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 North Wales that have suggested a recurrent issue around the identification of repeat and vulnerable victims at first point of contact.
I am particularly interested to see how the force responds to the areas HMIC has identified for improvement over the next 12 months.
How well the force tackles crime
North Wales Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force requires improvement in investigating offending. It is good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
North Wales Police has reduced recorded crime over the past four years. The rate of reduction during this period of time is broadly in line with that for England and Wales. The likelihood of being a victim of crime or anti-social behaviour (per 1,000 population) is less in North Wales than across England and Wales as a whole.
North Wales is collaborating with forces in the north west of England as well as those in Wales in order to deliver a more efficient service to the public and to meet the demands of austerity. However, the force remains committed to delivering policing through its local policing teams. The local policing service comprises neighbourhood teams based in ten local policing commands which span North Wales’ six counties. Major crime is investigated in the force by a centrally-based team.
The force has sophisticated joint working arrangements with councils and other local service providers to support victims who are vulnerable or persistently targeted. Service providers work closely with the force to manage offenders who are the most likely to cause harm in communities and criminals who are most likely to re-offend.
North Wales has a strong focus on the most vulnerable, and individuals who cause most harm in society, making the area a safer place for residents, businesses and tourists.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that, although domestic abuse was a clear priority for North Wales Police and that this was recognised by staff at all levels, the service provided to victims was inconsistent and the force could not be confident that all victims were getting the service they needed when the force investigates offences and safeguards victims. However, the crime inspection found evidence that North Wales had made some progress to improve its response to domestic abuse.
The crime inspection also found that, in cases of more serious and sustained offending, partnerships in the force area make use of a range of tactics to stop offending behaviour; these tactics involve drugs intervention, the use of curfews and tagging schemes.
How well the force delivers value for money
North Wales Police is on track to meet its spending review challenge and is financially well-placed to face further cuts, but there are funding uncertainties that may increase future financial pressures.
North Wales is not only on track to meet its financial challenge for the spending review period but also for the following financial year, 2015/16. It has made the savings it needed with one of the smallest planned reductions in police officer numbers in England and Wales and with no overall reduction in its total workforce. This has enabled it to increase the numbers of staff on the front line.
HMIC found that the force has a good understanding of the demand it faces and is working to manage the demand better, and to change the way it provides policing so that police time is used to best effect.
Crime is stable in North Wales, although victim satisfaction with the police is well below the figure for most other forces in England and Wales.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
The police officers and staff in North Wales Police have a good awareness of what is expected from them in terms of demonstrating integrity, although the chief officer team could do more to promote this to the workforce. There needs to be a review of the force’s capacity and capability to identify and respond to threats and risks. The force has made some good progress on recommendations contained in the HMIC 2012 inspection.
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 less than the average for 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 call-handlers in the control room were consistently polite, professional and treated people with respect. The domestic abuse inspection found key risks in the way the force managed the initial reporting of domestic abuse. The inspection found there were no robust procedures in place to make sure that repeat and vulnerable victims could be identified consistently. Therefore some victims may not have received the right level of police response at the earliest opportunity.
As a result of the crime data integrity inspection, HMIC is concerned about the force’s approach to crime-recording. The force needs to improve in this area to ensure that victims of crime are better served.