Surrey PEEL 2014
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Surrey Police has an established professional standards department including an anti-corruption unit. The force has made good progress since the last HMIC inspection, embedding positive behaviour, good standards and a clear plan for implementing the Code of Ethics. The anti-corruption unit capability is effective but its capacity is limited. There is a need to improve how the force reduces the risk of corruption and increases capacity to prevent and investigate.
Further insights on legitimacy
The Crime Survey of 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 greater than the figure across 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 greater 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 broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that operators listened carefully to the public with empathy and understanding, and accurately recorded the circumstances on the incident record. The domestic abuse inspection found that contact centre staff were trained to question callers to establish the nature of the call and the risk level. Staff researched police databases to gather available information and passed this on to attending officers; this part of the process worked well.
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?
There is clear leadership from the chief constable and chief officer team concerning the importance of values, ethics and personal behaviour. Policies and procedures take into account standards of behaviour and integrity. Staff are aware of their responsibility to challenge and report misconduct and unprofessional behaviour with a well-understood confidential process for individuals to report wrongdoing. The force has a clear plan to embed the Code of Ethics and staff are aware of this.
Training on ethical and professional behaviour, including the Code of Ethics, is provided to all staff.
The professional standards department completes the vast majority of both public complaint and conduct investigations, regardless of the severity. There are a large number of open or pending public complaint investigations that the force has recognised as an issue and it has recently placed additional investigators into the professional standards department to clear the backlog. This, though, is a short-term solution and the force as a matter of urgency needs to take action to avoid a repeat of it. The inspection highlighted a concern that there is a belief among staff that there is disproportionality in misconduct cases between police staff and police officers through to findings and sanctions.
Surrey Police has an established anti-corruption unit with staff who have good knowledge, skills and understanding of the organisation and systems. The unit provides an intelligence development role and is supported by an analytical and research function. The force has recognised a gap in technology to monitor efficiently the use of systems and social networking sites, and is intending to purchase affordable IT solutions to assist in monitoring.
The force has not taken steps to ensure that organised crime investigations have not been compromised by corruption risks. They have taken very recent steps (August 2014) to ensure that forthcoming operations are mitigated from the risk of corruption.
The professional standards department has appropriate tasking and co-ordination processes in place, and there are also clear governance meetings that cover all of the professional standards department performance and are held on a regular basis with records being kept. The force commissioned a peer review by Thames Valley Police. This identified and recommended the need to increase the capacity of the anti-corruption unit to complete proactive prevention, intelligence gathering, analysis, development and investigation of corruption.
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 Surrey Police show that:
Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 68 percent of adults surveyed think that the police do an excellent/good job, which is greater than the figure across England and Wales of 61 percent.
- 69 percent of adults surveyed agree that the police deal with local concerns, which is greater than the England and Wales proportion of 60 percent.
Victim Satisfaction Survey (12 months to June 2014)
- 85.9 percent (± 1.0 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience which is broadly in line with 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 Surrey Police had not set a clear performance standard for response times. However, the force did record average attendance times in both ’emergency’ and ‘prompt’ calls. As there is no comparative data, HMIC was unable to comment on how this has changed over the spending review.
The crime data integrity inspection found that operators listened carefully to the public with empathy and understanding, and accurately recorded the circumstances on the incident record.
The domestic abuse inspection found that contact centre staff were trained to question callers to establish the nature of the call and the risk level. Officers should have been sent to all incidents identified as domestic abuse. Contact centre staff researched police databases to gather available information and passed this on to attending officers; this part of the process worked well. Officers and staff had had relatively little training in respect of domestic abuse. However, they were encouraged to use their own discretion to think beyond using the domestic abuse, stalking and harassment risk assessment as a ‘box-ticking’ exercise. This helped them make a rounded assessment of the level of risk that a victim of domestic abuse faced, which was vital if appropriate measures were to be put in place to keep the victim safe.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity inspection examined 100 incident records and found that 72 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 72 crimes that should have been recorded, 59 were. This was of material concern because it meant that some victims’ crimes were not being recorded and they were not getting the service they deserved (because, for example, certain victim support services are only triggered when a crime is recorded).
The force also had a centralised crime-recording unit through which HMIC estimated that the force recorded approximately 38 percent of the total of its recorded crime. This unit recorded reports of crime directly from members of the public that did not require the creation of an incident record. The inspection of this unit (a review of 32 calls from the public) found that of the 42 crimes that should have been recorded, 41 were recorded correctly. This was an effective approach to crime-recording for the force in respect to this element of the process.
The inspection also examined 66 no-crime records and found 44 records to be compliant with Home Office Counting Rules and the National Crime Recording Standard. This was a serious concern because the no-crimes HMIC reviewed were for offences of rape, robbery and violence.