Devon and Cornwall PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Overall, Devon and Cornwall Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. In terms of preventing crime, the force is effective; it also sets high standards for investigations and the management of offenders. However, when protecting the vulnerable, improvements are required in how the force responds to young people who are at risk of sexual abuse and missing children. Good arrangements are in place to tackle serious and organised crime. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness, so a year-on-year comparison is not possible.
Devon and Cornwall Police is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. The force has a clear commitment to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, and officers and staff understand that prevention is everyone’s responsibility. The force ensures that neighbourhood teams are well resourced, many of them are co-located with partner agencies. These teams share information with partners effectively; this leads to productive joint working and the development of a broad range of tactics to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.
However, a better evaluation of tactics and the sharing of organisational learning with the workforce is an area where the force could do more.
Crime investigations are generally of a good standard and conducted in a timely manner, with effective supervision, direction and scrutiny. HMIC found that the force generally provides an effective service to victims at the point of initial contact and throughout the life of an investigation. The force has effective specialist units that deal with more serious and complex crime, and it can draw on regional investigative resource and expertise as required. The force has good arrangements to tackle repeat offenders and to manage those individuals who present a risk to the public.
The force effectively identifies vulnerable victims, and sexual offences and domestic abuse investigation teams provide a specialised service to victims. However, the teams are not yet fully resourced which means that some vulnerable victims do not receive this tailored support.
The force has taken steps to improve the service to vulnerable victims by introducing a victim care unit and specific victim’s needs assessments. However, HMIC’s inspection of vulnerability in 2015 found that improvements are required in assessing the needs of victims.
The force understands the threat and risk posed by organised crime and has effective processes in place to work with partner organisations to tackle organised crime groups. The force can draw on additional capacity and expertise from neighbouring forces when required. The force is also well prepared to fulfil its national policing responsibilities.
How effective is the force at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe?
Devon and Cornwall Police is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe.
The force allocates resources to prevention with locally based neighbourhood policing teams delivering policing across the force area. The work of these teams is focussed on threat, risk and harm in communities.
In HMIC’s 2014 crime inspection, we judged the force to be good at reducing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour and this continues to be the case. The force has a good understanding of local communities and a range of effective methods to engage with communities and partner agencies which helps it to respond to community needs and tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.
Officers and staff clearly understand that they all have a responsibility for the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour and operational activity supports both force level and local prevention priorities.
HMIC found good examples of a broad range of tactics being used to tackle emerging issues of anti-social behaviour.
Information sharing with partner agencies is productive and is an effective method of taking joint responsibility to solve problems. Some forces have taken information sharing a step further by introducing a joint integrated information-sharing database. Devon and Cornwall Police may wish to consider exploring this opportunity.
Areas for improvement
- The force should use evidence of ‘what works’ drawn from other forces, academics and partners to continually improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour. There needs to be routine evaluation of tactics and sharing of effective practice.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and managing offenders?
Devon and Cornwall Police’s approach to investigating crime and managing offenders is good. This is consistent with HMIC’s crime inspection in 2014, which assessed the force as good at investigating offending.
Crime investigations are well managed and closely supervised. The arrest of high-risk offenders is a priority for all staff and activity is monitored through daily management meetings.
Investigators are appropriately trained and equipped to conduct investigations and the force is taking action to ensure that it will have sufficient trained staff when a large number leave due to retirement. Forensic analysis provides good support for investigations; however there are significant delays in the retrieval of digital evidence from smartphones, tablets and other devices.
Good procedures are in place to identify and focus activity on those offenders committing the most crime and anti-social behaviour in communities. Senior police managers take an active role in making sure that these procedures are effective.
Integrated offender management (IOM) arrangements are good with effective IOM multi-agency teams actively managing offenders in each policing area.
Multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPAs) and domestic abuse serial and serious perpetrators (DASSP) arrangements are effective at dealing with sexual and other dangerous offenders.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its ability to retrieve digital evidence from mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices quickly enough to ensure that investigations are not delayed.
- The force should ensure that checks are routinely conducted to verify the identity, nationality and overseas convictions of arrested foreign nationals.
How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?
Devon and Cornwall Police generally provides a good service in identifying vulnerable people and responds well to them. However, there are several areas where improvement is needed to ensure that the service is consistent and vulnerable people are kept safe. Given the scale of the challenge in this area and risk that is posed to some of the most vulnerable people, overall HMIC judges that the force requires improvement.
HMIC acknowledges that the force has committed significant effort and resource to improve the service to the public on vulnerability and supporting victims.
The force effectively identifies vulnerable victims. Its sexual offences and domestic abuse investigation teams provide a specialist response to crimes committed against vulnerable victims. However, the teams are not yet fully resourced which means that some vulnerable victims do not receive this tailored support.
Reports of missing and absent children are a priority for the force, with clearly-understood and well-supervised processes for finding missing or absent children. Professionals in the multi-agency safeguarding hubs assess vulnerability to child sexual exploitation and take early action to reduce the risks to victims. The force is making progress on its ability to respond effectively to cases of child sexual exploitation.
The force response to domestic abuse is thorough with an action plan that has accountability at senior officer level and a clear process for tracking progress of actions against areas identified for improvement so that officers are correctly assessing risk and taking effective action to keep victims safe.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its investigation of cases involving vulnerable victims, specifically in relation to serious crime, by ensuring it carries out investigations to the required standards with proper supervision and plans and actions recorded.
- The force should improve its response to reports of persistent and repeat missing children by ensuring it uses information from previous missing episodes to develop a co-ordinated and prioritised response.
- The force should improve its response to children at risk of sexual exploitation by ensuring approaches to identify and assess children are consistently applied across the force and that staff with the appropriate professional skills and experience investigate cases.
- The force should improve its investigation of domestic abuse by ensuring it has sufficient staff with the appropriate professional skills and experience to investigate cases.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
Devon and Cornwall Police is good at identifying and tackling serious and organised crime groups.
The force has a well-developed understanding of the threat posed to the public by serious and organised crime. A number of analytical products such as strategic assessments and themed organised crime local profiles have provided the force with a good understanding of this threat.
The force has specialist resources and techniques available at both a force and regional level, which it can draw upon as required to tackle serious and organised crime.
The force effectively disrupts and investigates serious and organised crime in collaboration with a range of partners and also works with them to prevent those at risk from being drawn into serious and organised crime.
The force actively contributes to multi-agency intelligence sharing through the government agency intelligence network, however criminal records checks for arrested foreign nationals could improve.
The force is able to test its ability to meet its responsibilities under The Strategic Policing Requirement. It ensures that it has sufficient resources with the necessary skills to deal with most public order and other major incidents.
This is the first year that HMIC has graded forces on their effectiveness at tackling serious and organised crime, including a force’s arrangements for ensuring that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.