Suffolk PEEL 2014
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
There is clear leadership from the chief constable to create a climate of ethical behaviour, and staff and officers are familiar with ‘What you need to know’, a booklet issued by the chief constable, together with his counterpart in Norfolk Constabulary, that sets out what is expected in terms of standards and integrity. Staff are prepared to challenge inappropriate behaviour and feel the organisation will support them when doing so. However, the rigour of initial assessments of misconduct cases where there is a potential of criminal offences is unsatisfactory, and there is limited proactive work to identify trends, risks or vulnerabilities in respect of corruption.
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 found that the proportion who agree that 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 who were satisfied with their experience was greater than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found the force promoted a victim-centred approach to crime-recording, disposal options and no-crime decisions. The inspection on domestic abuse found that force control room staff were competent, confident and empathetic in dealing with domestic abuse victims. They were trained to gather as much relevant information as possible by questioning the caller and the force had good systems to identify repeat callers and anyone who may be vulnerable. They also carried out background checks of the police databases for any previous police involvement. This enabled them to assess the risk and send the right level of police response, and helped the officers attending build a picture of the threat of harm to a victim and their children.
As a result of the crime data integrity inspection, HMIC is concerned that 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) as 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.
To what extent does the force ensure that the workforce acts with integrity?
An integrity working group has been established, which is chaired jointly by the deputy chief constables of Norfolk and Suffolk, and the force has good plans in place to manage the introduction of the Code of Ethics. Joint policies have been developed with Norfolk Constabulary around business interests and gifts and hospitality, and staff have a knowledge of these policies.
Police staff feel that they were not treated fairly and equally in terms of how investigations into conduct and public complaints were assessed, recorded and investigated, and sanctions imposed. The rigour of initial assessments of misconduct cases where there is a potential of criminal offences is unsatisfactory, and, when criminal interviews are conducted with staff, there is little evidence of supervisory oversight or guidance prior to any misconduct determinations being made.
There is limited analytical, research and intelligence development capacity within the anti-corruption unit, and what does exist is being used to react to and support ongoing investigations. Limited proactive work is therefore undertaken to identify trends, risks or vulnerabilities in respect of corruption. The force does not use random or with cause (intelligence-led) drug testing, or intelligence-led integrity testing to identify corruption.
Suffolk and Norfolk Constabularies have a joint vetting unit that complies with the national vetting policy and identifies corruption risks at the recruitment stage for officers and staff.
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 Suffolk Constabulary show that:
Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 63 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.
- 65 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)
- 87.7 percent (± 1.7 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience which is greater 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 Suffolk Constabulary had set a clear performance standard for response times, and these had remained the same since 2010. The inspection found that during this time the proportion of calls attended within these standards for ’emergency’ calls had seen a marginal change, with improved attendance for ‘priority’ calls.
The crime data integrity inspection found the force promoted a victim-centred approach to crime-recording, disposal options and no-crime decisions. It communicated widely with different groups within its communities to increase confidence and encourage the reporting of crime.
The domestic abuse inspection found that Suffolk worked hard to make victims safer from the first point of contact. Most domestic abuse calls were dealt with by staff in the force control room who were found to be competent, confident and empathetic in dealing with domestic abuse victims. They were trained to gather as much relevant information as possible by questioning the caller. The force had good systems within its control room to identify repeat callers and anyone who may be vulnerable. They also carried out background checks of the police databases for any previous police involvement. This enabled them to assess the risk and send the right level of police response. This information helped the officers attending build a picture of the threat of harm to a victim and their children. Domestic abuse incidents were given priority response and would either be attended as an emergency or within an hour, depending of the threat of harm to the victim. Officers had received domestic abuse risk assessment training and some had had additional training, covering coercive control, stalking, harassment and honour-based violence.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity inspection examined 99 incident records and found that 86 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 86 crimes that should have been recorded, 74 were. This was of concern as it meant that some victims’ crimes were not being recorded and they were not getting the service they deserved (e.g., because certain victim support services are only triggered when a crime is recorded).
The force had a centralised crime management unit through which the force estimated that it directly recorded four percent of the total of its recorded crime, this was a small proportion of the force’s recorded crime and therefore our inspection of this unit was limited. A review of four calls from members of the public found that four crimes should have been recorded. Of the four crimes that should have been recorded, all four were. All were correctly classified and recorded within the 72-hour limit allowed under the Home Office Counting Rules.
The inspection also examined 74 no-crime records and found 64 to be compliant with the Home Office Counting Rules and the National Crime Recording Standard. The errors we found related to the threshold required for additional verifiable information. This highlighted a potential lack of understanding from staff of the use of additional verifiable information to confirm or refute that a crime had taken place.