Thames Valley PEEL 2014
How well the force tackles crime
Thames Valley Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force is good at investigating crime. It is good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
Thames Valley has a good track record at cutting crime; it has seen one of the biggest reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour in England and Wales. The force has low overall crime levels and maintains high levels of victim satisfaction.
The force has a good understanding of local priorities and clearly targets resources at fighting crimes that matter most for local people. In spite of financial austerity and cuts elsewhere in the force, it has managed to put extra staff in frontline roles and specialist teams investigating crimes such as child sexual exploitation and on-line grooming. HMIC found that the force is effective in investigating offending, with well-trained staff and well-managed investigations. Although victim satisfaction is high, more work needs to be done to ensure that victims receive an improved level of service from officers investigating their crimes. Victims need to be kept informed about what is happening with their case.
Neighbourhood officers are focusing on preventing crimes and resolving local problems. They work well with partners to tackle community concerns – in particular, anti-social behaviour – and there has been a reduction in the number of incidents reported. The rate of anti-social behaviour in Thames Valley is now under half that seen across England and Wales.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that the public could have confidence that generally the police provided a good service to victims of domestic abuse and kept them safe. The inspection found that victims at the greatest risk of harm received a more bespoke service from specialist officers. However, more could be done for victims assessed as medium or standard risk. The custody inspection of police custody suites found that people held in police custody were generally well cared for but health care needed to improve. The crime inspection found evidence that the public in the Thames Valley area can have confidence that generally the police provide a good service to victims of domestic abuse and help keep them safe.
The crime inspection found that organised criminal group management and disruption were robust, with other forces and agencies being involved when needed. Actions to disrupt organised crime groups at a local level were discussed through the tasking and coordinating processes, but there is a need for more information to be shared with neighbourhood officers. Some investigators have received a one-week cyber-crime training course which will improve the force response to increases in cyber-enabled and digital crime.
How effective is the force at reducing crime and preventing offending?
Crime has fallen faster in the Thames Valley Police area than elsewhere over recent years. It has been cut by 30 percent since 2010. It continued to fall last year. Crime rates across most crime are now lower than in England and Wales as a whole.
Thames Valley has an effective and mature approach to understanding and assessing the most important threats and risks to communities in the area. The force makes sure that it puts resources into dealing with local priorities. For example, in spite of financial austerity, it has increased the number of officers on the front line and invested in specialist teams to deal with child sexual exploitation and on-line grooming.
The force works well across a complex array of local organisations and HMIC found good examples of the police working together with other local agencies to share information and provide a better joined-up response to prevent crime and reduce offending.
How effective is the force at investigating offending?
Thames Valley Police has a comprehensive approach to assessing risks to victims of crime and ensuring an appropriate response. HMIC found that investigations of crime are generally carried out to a good standard by well-trained and skilled officers.
The force works well in identifying and disrupting organised crime groups and also in working with other organisations to prevent re-offending among those who pose the greatest risk of harm to their communities.
The force has a positive and improving approach to learning. It is evident that it is striving to understand and learn from what works, in order to improve services. The developments in evidence-based policing to improve investigations, and reduce and prevent crime, are encouraging.
How effective is the force at tackling anti-social behaviour?
People living in the Thames Valley Police area are less likely to be affected by anti-social behaviour than almost anywhere else in the country. Rates of anti-social behaviour are lower here than in England and Wales.
Tackling anti-social behaviour is a priority for the force, and officers and staff understand this.
The force provides dedicated officers in each local policing area who oversee the response and provide guidance to other staff dealing with anti-social behaviour.
Thames Valley has a rigorous approach to assessing the level of risk posed by anti-social behaviour. Repeat victims are generally identified at first point of contact and, where a caller is assessed as being vulnerable, the police response is enhanced to meet their individual needs.
Staff have developed strong relationships with other organisations and work together effectively using a range of tactics to prevent and tackle anti-social behaviour issues.
How effective is the force at protecting those at greatest risk of harm?
The domestic abuse inspection found that the public could have confidence that generally the police provided a good service to victims of domestic abuse and kept them safe. The inspection found that victims at the greatest risk of harm received a bespoke service from specialist officers; however, more could be done for victims assessed as medium or standard-risk.
The custody inspection found that people held in police custody were generally well cared for but health care needed to improve. Inspectors were pleased to find that there were good structures to manage the risks associated with custody. However, inspectors were concerned to find that the design in some cells presented ligature points; there was little governance of forensic medical examiners; and mental health services were not well developed.
The crime inspection found evidence that the public in the Thames Valley area could have confidence that generally the force provided a good service to victims of domestic abuse and helped keep them safe. Staff demonstrated a good understanding of what they needed to do to provide a good service to victims. The inspection also reviewed Thames Valley’s domestic abuse action plan and found that the force had considered all the necessary areas and developed an action plan that contained only those areas where most focus was required to improve the service.
How effective is the force at tackling serious, organised and complex crime?
The crime inspection found that organised crime group management and disruption were robust, with other forces and agencies being involved when needed. Dedicated intelligence and investigation teams had responsibility for identifying and disrupting organised crime groups. Actions to disrupt organised crime groups at a local level were discussed through the tasking and coordinating processes, but there was a need for more information to be shared with neighbourhood officers to better understand who was operating in their area and to assist in disrupting organised crime group members when appropriate.
Some investigators have received a one-week cyber-crime training course which will improve the force response to increases in cyber-enabled and digital crime. The force acknowledges that with this increase comes added demand for technical forensic analysis, and the need to respond to this.
The value for money inspection found that the Hampshire and Thames Valley collaborative arrangements were strong. The force was also working to develop other regional arrangements for organised crime and counter terrorism.
How effective is the force at meeting its commitments under the Strategic Policing Requirement?
There was no Strategic Policing Requirement inspection for this force.