West Yorkshire 2014Read more about West Yorkshire 2014
This is the first PEEL Assessment of West Yorkshire 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, and is good at tackling anti-social behaviour. However, it requires improvement in the way it investigates offending;
the efficiency with which the force carries out its responsibilities is good; and
the force is acting to achieve fairness and legitimacy in some of its practices.
Michael Cunningham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
In making this first PEEL Assessment of West Yorkshire I have taken into account the challenges to policing the area.
There are five local authorities covering both urban and rural communities, with extremes of affluence and deprivation. The county has one airport, four universities and significant motorway and rail networks. West Yorkshire’s black and minority ethnic population is increasing and community cohesion is essential in such a diverse area. There are large student populations in Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield.
The force is currently managing legacy issues in relation to Hillsborough and Jimmy Savile.
In July 2014, along with colleagues in South and North Yorkshire, an excellent policing operation was put in place for the Tour de France Grande Depart. It has also policed five English Defence League demonstrations.
I am encouraged by the progress West Yorkshire has made since last year in developing and carrying out a programme of change that is enabling it to provide good value for money. Despite major change and significant reductions in staffing, the force has continued to provide effective policing.
The force works well with its partners, and uses a range of preventative and diversionary tactics. The challenge now is to implement the changes fully.
While burglary is a clear priority for the force, the investigation of other crime types has suffered as a result, with additional focus required on those that have a level of threat, risk and harm. The quality of response for domestic abuse victims is also a cause for concern: at the first point of contact, response is not consistent and the quality of completed risk assessments is patchy.
I have serious concerns about the force’s approach to crime-recording, which is not as accurate as it should be.
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 interested to see how the force responds to the areas HMIC has identified for improvement over the next 12 months. I will be particularly interested to see the following developments:
- addressing the recommendations from the crime data integrity inspection report;
- changes in operational performance, with the victim at the centre and a clear emphasis on crime prevention, reduction and investigation; and
- continued implementation of its change programme, particularly in relation to mobile technology.
How well the force tackles crime
West Yorkshire Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force requires improvement in investigating offending. It is good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
West Yorkshire has a crime rate which is higher than that for England and Wales. However, in the last 12 months it has seen a greater reduction in crime than England and Wales as a whole and the number of anti-social behaviour incidents has reduced from the previous year. The force works well with its partners, and uses a range of preventative and diversionary tactics although its integrated offender management teams require more strategic oversight. HMIC found crime reduction and prevention currently focuses heavily on acquisitive crime such as dwelling burglary, with an inconsistent approach to tackling other types of crimes. The force would benefit from an increased cultural shift towards a more victim-centred approach.
The force uses a wide range of investigative tactics with real drive and determination to resolve its long-standing burglary problem. Accredited investigators are used to investigate more serious crimes, but the allocation and supervision of less serious crimes is inconsistent. Burglary is a clear priority for the force, but the investigation of other crime types has suffered as a consequence with additional focus required on those that have a level of threat, risk and harm.
The force and its partners prioritise anti-social behaviour and it is tackled well. Increasingly police and partners work together in anti-social behaviour hubs aligned to the five local authority areas, reinforcing their commitment to this shared challenge. Approaches to problem-solving are complemented by a range of multi-agency meetings to agree solutions for individual cases. These include good use of victim-centred restorative disposals and statutory orders. The aspiration is for true integration across all areas – designed to provide an enhanced service for victims and for the community.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that there were some risks in the way West Yorkshire dealt with victims of domestic abuse. HMIC was concerned that there were a number of inconsistencies in the processes across the force area. This meant that the force could not be confident that risks to victims of domestic abuse were assessed effectively and that measures were put in place to maintain their future safety in all cases. The crime inspection found evidence that West Yorkshire is managing domestic abuse investigations effectively.
The crime inspection found that force tasking meetings manage the force’s most serious crime groups. However, mapping and management of organised crime groups across the force and tasking neighbourhood policing teams was found to be inconsistent.
How well the force delivers value for money
HMIC is encouraged that West Yorkshire Police has made impressive progress since last year in developing and carrying out a programme of change that is enabling it to provide good value for money.
West Yorkshire has faced one of the largest cuts to its spending of all forces in England and Wales. After a faltering start in the early years of this spending review period, it has made rapid progress this year. It is now on track to meet its financial challenges over the spending review period and beyond, to 2016. Importantly, the force has started to develop its outline plans for achieving savings beyond 2016 and has sufficient reserves to enable change, achieve the ambitions of the police and crime commissioner and support transformation and innovation.
The pace and scale of improvement in the force since last year has been impressive. West Yorkshire has introduced a new way of providing policing and has significantly improved its approach to managing change to tackle the challenges it faces. Despite major change and significant reductions in staffing, the force has continued to provide effective policing; crime has continued to fall in West Yorkshire throughout this period at a greater rate than elsewhere and victims’ satisfaction with the police is high.
The challenge now is to implement the changes fully.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Chief officers have been robust on standards and integrity. There are effective monitoring systems in place but some improvement is needed on reporting gifts and hospitality. West Yorkshire Police has increased anti-corruption resources recently and is effective in analysing and responding to intelligence about corruption or unprofessional behaviour, but it needs to develop its proactive work.
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 also found that the proportion that agrees 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 that were satisfied with their experience was greater than the figure across England and Wales.
The domestic abuse inspection found that call handlers and enquiry desk staff had received little training in how to understand and deal with domestic abuse incidents. Therefore, the force could not have confidence that domestic abuse victims were receiving a consistent quality of response at this first point of contact. The quality of completed risk assessments was patchy.
As a result of the crime data integrity inspection, HMIC is seriously 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.