Hampshire PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Overall HMIC judges that Hampshire Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. The constabulary works well with local partner organisations to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour; it has dedicated resources to enable it to work within neighbourhoods to tackle issues of concern to communities. On the whole the constabulary investigates crime well and generally supports vulnerable people well but there is room for improvement in the way the force deals with some vulnerable victims of crime. It has improved its approach to tackling serious and organised crime; and also works very well with partners to identify and manage the most serious repeat offenders to prevent re-offending and protect the public. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.
Overall HMIC judges Hampshire Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Preventing crime, keeping people safe and reducing anti-social behaviour are clear priorities for the constabulary.
The constabulary is aware that some levels of recorded crime have increased over the past year but is confident that this is a consequence of improved crime recording practices, rather than an increase in actual crime. A further period of monitoring is required before a definitive conclusion can be reached. The constabulary’s approach to investigating crime and managing offenders is good. However, the unexpected increase in recorded crime has meant that some officers have been carrying a higher than anticipated workload, and supervisors’ reviews of less serious crime have not always taken place.
The constabulary is highly effective at preventing re-offending by working with partner organisations through a variety of different schemes, which help to identify, manage and divert vulnerable offenders away from further offending.
The constabulary effectively identifies repeat and vulnerable victims, and responds to them well. It investigates crime committed against most vulnerable victims well, usually ensuring the appropriate level of expertise is applied dependent on the level of the complexity of the investigation. However, the practice of resolving certain incidents involving potentially vulnerable people over the telephone should be reviewed so that the constabulary can be assured that it is consistently providing the right level of support and protection to all who need it.
Hampshire Constabulary is good at identifying and tackling serious and organised crime. The constabulary understands the threat from serious and organised crime and it works well to disrupt and dismantle organised criminal groups which pose the greatest risk to communities. The approach would benefit from better communication with the public to raise awareness.
The leadership has strong oversight of the force’s ability to respond to national threats, such as terrorism, serious cyber-crime incidents and child sexual abuse. Its own arrangements for ensuring it can meet its national obligations in this regard (such as planning, testing and exercising) are good.
How effective is the force at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe?
Hampshire Constabulary is good at preventing crime, anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. This is consistent with HMIC’s judgment in the 2014 crime inspection when the constabulary was also good at reducing crime and preventing offending.
Preventing crime, keeping people safe and reducing anti-social behaviour are clearly important to the constabulary. Senior police leaders work with other organisations to develop joint strategic approaches to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour and to keep people safe.
Despite financial constraints, the constabulary’s new policing model allocates dedicated resources to work in neighbourhoods to address these issues. It works well with local partners to ensure a joined-up response to preventative activities and to early intervention to prevent any escalation of anti-social behaviour or crime.
The constabulary has a structured approach to implementing evidence-based policing and HMIC saw a wide range of tactics being used to tackle problems of crime and anti-social behaviour. This could be enhanced by more consistent application of the shared problem-solving database used by the constabulary.
Levels of anti-social behaviour continue to fall in Hampshire, although police recorded crime has increased in the 12 months to June 2015. The constabulary is monitoring these increases and is confident that this is a consequence of improved crime recording practices, rather than any real increase in actual crime. A further period of monitoring is required before a definitive conclusion can be reached.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and managing offenders?
Hampshire Constabulary is good at investigating crime and managing offenders. This is consistent with HMIC’s 2014 crime inspection, in which it was judged as good at investigating offending.
As part of the recent restructure, the constabulary has carefully considered how it effectively investigates all types of crime. It has introduced a new policing model which makes appropriate specialist provision for the most serious crime, but concentrates most investigative resources into either its telephone-based resolution centres and police investigation centres who deal with majority complex and non-complex crime in the most efficient way.
An unexpected increase in recorded crime has meant that officers have been carrying higher than anticipated workloads, which the constabulary has been working to bring down.
HMIC is concerned to find that although supervisors set effective initial investigation plans, they rarely review progress on less serious crime meaning that there is a lack of supervision and oversight of these investigations.
The constabulary is highly effective at preventing re-offending by working with partner organisations through a variety of different schemes, which help to identify, manage and divert vulnerable offenders away from further offending. HMIC found that these arrangements are good and maturing.
Hampshire Constabulary has responded well to the increasing need for the police to examine digital evidence in crime investigations. It has a unique partnership arrangement with the University of Portsmouth to carry out forensic examinations on computers and other electronic equipment in a timely fashion.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should ensure that there is regular and active supervision of investigations to check quality and progress.
How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?
Hampshire Constabulary would have been assessed as good in this inspection were it not for a significant weakness in its practice of assessing the risk to some victims of domestic abuse over the telephone through its new resolution centre.
The constabulary is generally good at identifying vulnerable victims and responding to them appropriately. It investigates crime committed against most vulnerable victims well, with the right level of expertise involved in the investigation.
The constabulary works well with partners and has implemented multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASHs) across the constabulary area.
Hampshire has made progress in respect of the recommendations made by HMIC in our previous report on domestic abuse. We found a clear, structured and well-supervised process for responding to reports that children are missing or absent. The constabulary has made good preparations to tackle child sexual exploitation with awareness training to its staff.
Cause of concern
The constabulary’s response to victims of domestic abuse is a cause of concern to HMIC. Risk assessments are on occasions being completed over the telephone without an officer seeing the victim in person. This may result in the risk not being fully assessed and a victim of domestic abuse (and other family members) not being appropriately safeguarded. HMIC has concerns about the quality of investigation and decision-making in relation to some domestic abuse cases referred to the resolution centre.
To address this cause of concern HMIC recommends the constabulary should carry out a comprehensive review of its arrangements in this regard. In any event the constabulary should take immediate steps to ensure:
- it reviews the approach to assessing risks to victims of domestic abuse without the attendance of an officer and takes steps to ensure any changes deemed necessary to protect victims are implemented; and
- investigations, including those conducted within the resolution centre, are conducted to appropriate standards with effective supervision.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
Hampshire Constabulary is good at identifying and tackling serious and organised crime in its area. 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 constabulary understands the threat from serious and organised crime which is evident from its force strategic assessment, and the strategic serious and organised crime action plan.
It has introduced a process by which activity to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups (OCGs) is in line with the top risks to the public. This is designed to ensure that such activity is focussed on protecting those who are most vulnerable.
Oversight is provided through the OCG management meeting and there are clear lines of accountability for tackling OCGs. Where they are used, management plans are comprehensive and well-structured and generally involve other appropriate agencies working alongside the police to tackle OCGs. However the force needs to ensure that these plans are consistently used so that it maximises its impact in targeting, disrupting and dismantling OCGs.
The constabulary does not have a serious and organised crime communication plan, although HMIC did see evidence of improved awareness among its staff.
Hampshire Constabulary has satisfactory oversight arrangements to fulfil its national policing responsibilities, and arrangements to test its response are in place.
Areas for improvement
- The force should complete its 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.