Dorset PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Dorset Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Crime reduction and community safety are central to all force activity and rest on a firm foundation of neighbourhood policing. Dorset Police works well with partners to support vulnerable victims, and its investigation of crime and management of offenders is good. Staff understand organised crime groups and their role in combating them. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so a year-on-year comparison is not possible.
Dorset Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour are priorities for the chief constable and the police and crime commissioner (PCC). Maintaining a visible presence in local communities is important to the force; constables and police and community support officers (PCSOs) on the front line draw on a broad range of preventative and investigative tactics to keep citizens safe.
When a crime occurs it is effectively allocated and investigated. Investigations are of a good standard and the skills and experience of officers are well matched to the cases they investigate. However the force needs to improve its procedures to retrieve digital evidence from smartphones, tablets and other devices. The force works well to protect the public from prolific and dangerous offenders.
Dorset Police is good at safeguarding specific vulnerable groups, in particular missing and absent children and victims of domestic abuse. The force is adept at understanding and assessing crime trends and patterns to identify potential vulnerable victims, which ensures it designs a tailored response for their needs. The force’s investigations into crimes and incidents involving these vulnerable groups were judged as good in an HMIC inspection published in December 2014.
Staff at all ranks across the force have a good knowledge of organised crime groups and the role they are expected to play to combat them. The force monitors organised crime groups (OCGs) effectively, using a range of tactics to disrupt their criminal activities. All forces are required to develop a serious and organised crime local profile that includes relevant data from partner organisations; Dorset Police is yet to complete this profile.
How effective is the force at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe?
Dorset Police is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. This is consistent with HMIC’s crime inspection in 2014 when the force was judged to be good at reducing crime and preventing offending.
Force priorities are designed to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, keep people safe and provide sustainable neighbourhood policing. The force’s workforce understands this well, particularly those involved in neighbourhood policing and the various multi-agency teams across the county. Staff are well trained and use a range of tactics with partners to prevent problems from escalating or re-occurring.
The force is particularly strong in its approach to evidence-based policing and what works best in areas of crime and anti-social behaviour. In major projects learning is shared well across the force, this could be strengthened if the force shared to a similar degree best practice from successful initiatives to tackle crime and disorder at a local level.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and managing offenders?
Dorset Police is good at investigating crime and managing offenders. In HMIC’s inspection of crime in 2014, we considered the force to require improvement. This was due to backlogs in processes that the force has to refer vulnerable victims to other service providers for safeguarding support. The force has since addressed this.
The force effectively allocates and investigates complex and non-complex crimes. Investigations are of a good standard and the skills and experience of officers are well matched to the cases they investigate. The force uses forensic evidence well to support investigations, but better arrangements are needed to retrieve digital evidence from smartphones, tablets and other devices. This is causing delays to some investigations.
The force uses restorative justice well and has a successful safer schools and communities team who give presentations in over three hundred schools across the county. The presentations cover a wide range of issues and are intended to divert children away from crime and anti-social behaviour. The force has effective measures in place to manage repeat and 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 its investigations are not delayed.
How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?
Dorset Police has made good progress in putting clear processes in place to identify repeat and vulnerable victims. The force makes accurate assessments of the risks that victims face, its response to them is consistent and it works well with partner organisations to protect vulnerable people. HMIC judges that the force’s performance is good.
The force shares information effectively with partner organisations. This takes place either through the force’s safeguarding referral unit or in the multi-agency teams established to support missing children and protect young people who are susceptible and at risk of grooming and sexual exploitation. The co-location of the police and statutory bodies in a secure environment is a successful way to provide tailored support to victims in Dorset.
HMIC also noted that the voice of the victim is more prominent than has been the case previously and that adult safeguarding has developed exponentially. Both of these were areas of concern in inspections in 2014.
The standards of investigations are generally a strength, albeit that they are more assured in specialist teams then elsewhere in the force. While not doubting that victims are at the heart of police investigations in Dorset, the force needs to keep better records of contact with victims and of their entitlements that are compulsory under the victim code of practice. This would be more in line with the outstanding service that the force is striving to achieve.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
Dorset Police is good at identifying and tackling serious and organised crime groups. This is the first year 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.
The force has a clear understanding of the threat posed by organised crime. Staff at all ranks across the force have a good knowledge of organised crime groups and the role they are expected to play to combat them. The force maps and monitors effectively organised crime groups, and it works well with other statutory organisations and the business sector to address them.
The force is developing its preventative work through core programmes provided in schools and restorative justice, which are also flexible enough to address more serious offending. The force envisages that its prevent directorate will provide a more comprehensive package that is bespoke to serious crime.
The force has yet to produce a local profile for serious and organised crime. This will further strengthen the understanding of the scale and nature of the problem; this will leave the force and its key partners better placed to align resources with areas of need, identify any training requirements and develop operational capability.
Areas for improvement
- The force should complete a serious and organised crime local profile including relevant data from partner agencies, and ensure that it has a local partnership structure in place with responsibility for tackling serious and organised crime.