Wiltshire 2014Read more about Wiltshire 2014
This is the first PEEL Assessment of Wiltshire 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, is good at investigating offending and good at tackling anti-social behaviour;
the efficiency with which the force carries out its responsibilities is good; and
the force is acting to achieve fairness and legitimacy in most of the practices that were examined this year.
Dru Sharpling, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
In making this first PEEL Assessment of Wiltshire Police I have taken into account the challenges to policing Wiltshire.
Wiltshire County is home to diverse communities, with a wide range of socio-economic characteristics. Wiltshire is a largely rural county with the main towns hosting more densely populated communities. Wiltshire also has a large military personnel presence. The county is home to Stonehenge World Heritage site and the M4 corridor.
Wiltshire has embarked on a number of collaborative projects in order to reach its budget reduction, including sharing forensics, specialist operations and major incident investigation resources with partners in the south west. In addition, the force has a strategic partnership agreement with Wiltshire Council.
I have been impressed by Wiltshire’s focus on victims, which has improved the already high satisfaction levels over the past 12 months. The force is effective at reducing crime and preventing offending; neighbourhood policing and partnership working are recognised as strengths.
I am impressed that the chief officer team promotes a culture of professionalism and ethical behaviour and that where misconduct is reported the force responds appropriately. I am also impressed that Wiltshire will meet the financial challenge of the spending review and that the force is planning now for further funding reductions and financial pressures in the future. However, the plans to collaborate with Wiltshire Council need further work to turn the ambition into an effective model for providing policing for 2016 and beyond.
I have concerns about the force’s approach to crime-recording, which is not as accurate as it should be.
Officers and staff needed further training to understand the different elements of domestic abuse other than physical assault. Telephone operators did not always succeed in identifying repeat victims, although I am encouraged by the crime inspection which found evidence that the force had made progress in improving its response to domestic abuse.
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 particularly interested to see how the force responds to the areas HMIC has identified for improvement over the next 12 months.
How well the force tackles crime
Wiltshire Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force is good at investigating offending. It is good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
Wiltshire Police is effective at reducing crime and preventing offending. Clear crime prevention and reduction priorities are in place. The force is focused on victims; this has helped maintain the already high satisfaction levels over the past 12 months.
Neighbourhood policing is recognised as a strength in engaging communities of all backgrounds in preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
Partnership working is strong in both short and long term initiatives to deal with crime and anti-social behaviour and there is continual development of multi-agency teams.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found effective work was being done, however there were several areas for improvement which needed addressing. Officers and staff needed further training to understand elements of abuse other than physical assault, and increasing workload for staff in specialist teams meant there was little opportunity to review risk levels and check on victims’ welfare. However, the crime inspection found evidence that the force had made progress to improve its response to domestic abuse.
The crime inspection found that the dedicated team with responsibility for organised crime groups engaged neighbourhood teams regularly and that neighbourhood teams were aware of their responsibilities for gathering intelligence and disrupting organised crime groups.
The Strategic Policing Requirement inspection found that Wiltshire had, or had access to through collaboration with other forces regionally, the necessary capability to tackle terrorism, civil emergency, serious organised crime and public disorder, but not a large-scale cyber incident.
How well the force delivers value for money
Wiltshire Police will meet the financial challenge of the spending review and the year beyond. However, the plans to collaborate with Wiltshire Council needs further work to turn the ambition into an effective model for providing policing for 2016 and beyond.
Wiltshire Police is on track to meet its financial challenge for the spending review period and also for the following financial year of 2015/16. The force is also looking beyond this period and is planning now for further funding reductions and financial pressures in the future.
Overall, the force understands the immediate financial issues it faces and has a change programme in place to achieve the savings required, while minimising as far as possible, the impact on frontline policing. The plans with Wiltshire Council are large-scale and innovative and HMIC recognises the determination of the force to realise the ambition.
This developing work will form the basis of how the force will meet future financial challenges beyond 2016.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Wiltshire Police has made good progress since HMIC’s revisit in 2012. The chief officer team promotes a culture of professionalism and ethical behaviour. Force policies are detailed and provide guidance across the range of subjects falling under professional conduct and ethical behaviour. Staff understand their obligation to conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner, set by the force and by the Code of Ethics in policing. However, some staff need guidance so they feel confident about reporting misconduct. Where misconduct is reported the force responds appropriately. Active monitoring of areas vulnerable to corruption is efficient using a comprehensive system of regulation and auditing of integrity-related performance, but more could be achieved with greater analytical capacity.
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 greater than the figure across England and Wales. The same survey over the same period also found that the proportion which 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 who were satisfied with their experience was greater than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that all of the calls reviewed were dealt with in a helpful, polite and professional way. The domestic abuse inspection found that force control room staff were good at gathering and passing on necessary information to frontline officers. Unfortunately, operators did not always succeed in identifying repeat victims. Staff understood how to risk assess victims’ circumstances and were not afraid to use their personal judgment to determine the overall level of risk.
As a result of the crime data integrity inspection, HMIC is concerned that a notable proportion of reports of crime are not being recorded by the force. This means that victims of crime are not receiving the service they should when they first report a crime.
The force’s approach to no-criming (cancelling a recorded crime) is a matter of concern.