South Wales 2014Read more about South Wales 2014
This is the first PEEL Assessment of South 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, good at investigating offending and outstanding 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.
In making this first PEEL Assessment of South Wales I have taken into account the challenges to policing a diverse area.
South Wales has urban, rural and coastal areas with the two largest cities in Wales, Swansea and the capital city Cardiff. South Wales provides a policing service to around two-fifths of the Welsh population. Swansea has a ferry port, premier league football team, regional rugby team and a student population. Cardiff, one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, attracts a large number of visitors per year, and is the home to the Welsh Government, Millennium Stadium, an international airport, championship football team, regional rugby team, international cricket stadium and a large number of students.
I have been impressed by the outstanding practice developed by South Wales Police when tackling anti-social behaviour. Partnership working is strong across the force and the way in which the force works with neighbourhoods to solve problems improves the quality of life for local communities.
The force has made excellent progress in response to budget reductions, with one of the smallest reductions in the workforce in England and Wales.
The all-Wales counter-terrorism unit, known as WECTU, and the serious and organised crime collaboration, known as Tarian, were mature and effective arrangements.
The force puts victims at the centre of how it works, and places a strong emphasis on crime reduction and prevention. There is evidence of practices in place to protect the majority of vulnerable victims and a number of good services are available when tackling high-risk domestic abuse and keeping victims safe. I do, however, have concerns that the service was not so good for victims of domestic abuse who were assessed as posing a lower risk.
The force’s approach to crime-recording is good, with a high degree of accuracy.
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.
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
South Wales Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force is good at investigating offending. It is outstanding at tackling anti-social behaviour.
South Wales puts victims at the centre of how the force works, and this includes working with partners to safeguard vulnerable victims. Force leaders set and drive clear strategic priorities to reduce crime and prevent reoffending. The most vulnerable victims are protected effectively. Victim satisfaction with policing services is improving in South Wales. The police work well with partners to prevent crime and reduce reoffending.
Early intervention and problem solving are strengths for the force. The continuity of staffing within neighbourhood policing teams reinforces the approach to crime reduction and the prevention of offending, and means that the force understands local community concerns and priorities.
Tackling anti-social behaviour is outstanding in South Wales. This is a priority for the police and crime commissioner and for the force. Partnership working is strong, both strategically and locally. The force’s work on neighbourhood problem solving achieves the objective of improving quality of life for local communities.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that there were good services for tackling domestic abuse and keeping victims safe in South Wales, with some areas for improvement. The inspection found that the service was not so good for victims who were assessed as posing a lower risk.
The crime inspection found that the force is identifying, targeting and dismantling organised crime groups, and stripping them of their assets. It had a ‘whole system approach’, which included intelligence gathering at a neighbourhood level, an organised crime group crime-mapping process, assignment of tasks to disrupt their activity, and links with regional task forces and the National Crime Agency.
The Strategic Policing Requirement inspection found that South Wales Police had the necessary capability to tackle terrorism, civil emergency, serious organised crime and public disorder, either on its own or in collaboration with other forces within its region. It did not, however, have the capability to respond effectively to a large-scale cyber incident.
How well the force delivers value for money
South Wales Police has made excellent progress as it responds to the spending review challenge, approaching it with rigour and innovation. This means the force is well placed to face future challenges.
The force has plans in place to achieve all the necessary savings over the spending review period.
It is also developing plans to achieve further anticipated savings beyond 2016.
It has reorganised the way it is structured and has managed to make the savings with one of the smallest reductions in the workforce in England and Wales. Having taken some early steps to move to new structures for the provision of policing, it has now moved to a period of consolidation and refinement through a comprehensive programme of continuous improvement.
Despite the challenges of the spending review, the force has been able to improve performance – in particular, for increased victim satisfaction. The force is also taking opportunities to collaborate with others; and it is progressive and innovative in a number of areas, creating an environment that will yield additional opportunities.
HMIC considers that South Wales Police has met the requirements of the spending review, while protecting the front line, maintaining a focus on effective policing and keeping its communities safe.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Chief officers demonstrate their commitment to integrity, and set high standards of behaviour that are clearly understood by staff. People feel confident to report misconduct and unprofessional behaviour, and HMIC has seen good evidence of the active investigation of misconduct and corruption. With a capable and well-resourced professional standards department and anti-corruption unit, South Wales Police is well placed to minimise any risks it faces from corruption, although further work in some areas is required.
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 less than the figure for England and Wales. The same survey over the same period also found that the proportion who agree that the force deals with local concerns was less than the figure 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 greater than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that operators answering calls from the public were invariably polite, helpful and professional. The domestic abuse inspection found there was a policy of taking positive action to safeguard the victim at every stage in the police response, including dealing with the initial call. The force had good systems within its public service centre to identify domestic abuse incidents and victims who had previously reported domestic abuse.
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.