Sussex PEEL 2014
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Sussex Police has made good progress in communicating to all staff the importance of acting with integrity at all times while fulfilling their duties. The force has implemented systems to prevent and detect corruption effectively. The force also publishes data to show it is transparent in the way gifts, hospitality and business interests are dealt with. Investigations and the rationale for decisions in disciplinary cases are clearly recorded and carried out in an effective and timely manner.
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 broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales. The same survey over the same period also found that the proportion who agree that the police 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 less than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection identified that the quality of call handling was excellent, with almost all calls sampled judged to have been handled professionally and courteously. The domestic abuse inspection found that the force took domestic abuse incidents very seriously, and they were responded to as a high priority. Call takers in the control room had had training to help them gather as much information as possible, so that they could assess the risk to a victim and provide the most appropriate response. However, not all staff in the control room were trained to access all the police databases, meaning that the officer attending the incident may not have been provided with the most complete and up-to-date information.
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 a clear ethical foundation within Sussex Police driven by the chief constable’s commitment to embed force values and integrity. Staff understand the boundaries between professional and unprofessional behaviour and are generally confident to challenge wrongdoing. While some staff expressed concern that it may be possible to identify people using the anonymous reporting system, the force has clearly maintained its commitment to embedding ethical values throughout the organisation.
Supervisors, particularly those on the front line, set standards and expectations for their teams. Staff feel that the visibility and demonstration of ethical values by second line managers and senior officers are not as clear as those of sergeants. The force has been highly transparent in its approach to tackling unethical and unprofessional behaviour, with chief officers being clear on their stance. The force has made good progress ensuring that gifts and hospitality are recorded appropriately. However, many staff do not understand the need to report inappropriate associations.
Investigations are carried out to a good standard with well-documented rationale and completed within a reasonable time frame. Intelligence is effectively gathered and analysed to prevent and detect corruption. While the force reviews cases, it needs to implement an effective system that captures lessons learned from previous events and should include dissemination of the Independent Police Complaints Commission bulletin. The force also needs to ensure that resource levels in the anti-corruption unit can provide both a reactive and proactive capability.
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 Sussex Police show that:
Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 62 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.
- 53 percent of adults surveyed agree that the police deal with local concerns, which is less than the England and Wales proportion of 60 percent.
Victim Satisfaction Survey (12 months to June 2014)
- 83.0 percent (± 1.1 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience, which is less 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 Sussex Police had set a clear performance standard for response times, and this 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 slightly declined, but had improved for ‘priority’ calls.
The crime data integrity inspection audit identified that the quality of call-handling was excellent, with almost all calls sampled judged to have been handled professionally and courteously.
The domestic abuse found that the force took domestic abuse incidents very seriously, and they were responded to as a high priority. Call-takers in the control room had had training to help them gather as much information as possible, so that they could assess the risk to a victim and provide the most appropriate response. The force command and control system also undertook an automated search of the address and telephone number of the caller to immediately identify previous incidents reported to the police. The control room staff were responsible for searching police databases to gather any further information about the caller, offender, location or risk to children at the address. However, not all staff in the control room were trained to access all the police databases, meaning that the officer attending the incident may not have been provided with the most complete and up-to-date information. Officers who attended incidents of domestic abuse were committed to assessing effectively the risk to victims and taking positive action, although there was limited understanding of the range of safety measures available to manage risk. The force had set up dedicated teams to deal with high-risk domestic abuse incidents.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity inspection examined 157 incident records and found that 133 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 133 crimes that should have been recorded, 111 were. Of the 111, three were wrongly classified and 19 were recorded outside the 72-hour limit allowed under the Home Office Counting Rules. There was sufficient information from the caller to record a crime at the time of first report in all of the 22 cases where a crime had not been recorded – this should have occurred. This was a matter of material concern to HMIC because it meant some victims’ crimes were not being recorded.
The inspection also examined 72 no-crime records for offence of rape, robbery and violence and found 59 records to be compliant with Home Office Counting Rules and the National Crime Recording Standard. For rape no-crimes, of 30 rapes recorded as no-crime that HMIC reviewed, the inspection found 6 that should have remained classified as crimes. The force’s approach to no-criming was a matter of concern.