South Yorkshire PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
South Yorkshire Police requires improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
The force works well to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour and to keep most people safe. However, in some aspects of protecting vulnerable people from harm and supporting victims, it could do better. Similarly, how it investigates crime and manages offenders, could improve. It is good at tackling serious and organised crime, and understands its capability to address national threats. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their
year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.
The force engages well with communities and uses the full range of available legal powers to tackle organised crime groups and associated low-level crime, and anti-social behaviour. It works effectively with partners to prevent crime and to tackle anti-social behaviour. The force is making effective use of technology so that officers make best use of their time in those areas with a high concentration of anti-social behaviour and crime.
However, the force needs to improve the way it investigates crime. The responses to reports of crime are delayed sometimes and this, together with a lack of capacity in the major crime team, affects adversely the quality of investigation. While the main lines of enquiry are usually identified and pursued, few investigation plans, little or no evidence of supervision, and limited victim contact are recorded on the crime management system. In contrast, the force has good working arrangements with partner organisations to manage offenders and to divert people away from the criminal justice system.
South Yorkshire Police requires improvement in the way it protects vulnerable people and supports victims. Child sexual exploitation and missing persons are a priority for the force, and it has good systems in place to respond to repeat and vulnerable victims, children who go missing, and child sexual exploitation. However, the force needs to improve how it identifies and addresses risks to domestic abuse victims and their children.
The force responds well to the threat from serious and organised crime and has effective arrangements in place to meet its national policing responsibilities.
How effective is the force at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe?
South Yorkshire Police works effectively with partners to prevent crime and tackle anti-social behaviour. Strong relationships between police and partners are in place in each of the four metropolitan borough councils. At an operational level, there is effective two-way sharing of information to manage prolific and dangerous offenders, solve local problems and prevent crime.
As part of its response to financial pressures, the force is merging safer neighbourhood and response teams to form local policing teams. It has retained dedicated neighbourhood inspectors, police community support officers and introduced an anti-social behaviour team to keep people safe. Working together, these teams have demonstrated that they are able to engage with communities and use the full range of powers including gang injunctions and public space orders to tackle organised crime groups and associated low-level crime and anti-social behaviour. It is too early to say if this is sustainable and some local policing team staff have reported that their workload and shift patterns are such that meaningful community engagement has become difficult.
The force is making effective use of technology to enable officers to patrol, park their vehicles and complete paperwork as a visible deterrent in areas with a high concentration of anti-social behaviour and crime, in accordance with good practice.
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?
South Yorkshire Police investigates crime inconsistently. The force has good working arrangements with partners to manage offenders and divert people from the criminal justice system. The number of subjects suspected of violent and sexual offences within the offender management system is increasing, reflecting force priorities.
The force keeps people safe and starts a timely investigation where an ongoing risk of harm to the public is identified. If patrols are not available, or an offence recorded by the crime bureau is not allocated for investigation promptly, the quality of the investigation and the confidence of victims are affected adversely.
Once allocated for investigation, the main lines of enquiry, including digital evidence gathering, are usually identified and pursued, and victim satisfaction rates remain above the national average. However, there are few investigation plans, little or no evidence of supervision, and limited victim contact recorded on the crime management system. More detailed considerations are held on paper in the force crime unit, rather than on computer.
At the time of our inspection in September 2015, the previously recognised quality of this team’s investigations had been undermined by an unusually high workload and an inability to flex the available detective resource.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it responds with appropriate promptness to reports of crime.
- The force should ensure that all crimes are allocated promptly to investigators with the appropriate skills, accreditation and support to investigate them to a good standard.
- The force should ensure that all investigations are completed to a consistently good standard, and in a timely manner.
- The force should ensure that there is regular and active supervision of investigations to check quality and progress.
- The force should ensure that those who are circulated as wanted on the police national computer and named suspects identified through forensic evidence are swiftly arrested.
How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?
South Yorkshire Police identifies vulnerable people effectively. It has good systems in place to respond to children who go missing. It is ensuring that it is well-prepared to tackle child sexual exploitation. However the force needs to improve its response to domestic abuse victims with more consistent and thorough processes. The force is continuing to address the concerns identified in HMIC’s crime and domestic abuse inspection reports of 2014. Given the risk that is posed to some of the most vulnerable people overall, the force requires improvement.
The force identifies repeat and vulnerable victims well, but its initial response to incidents, specifically the identification of opportunities to gather evidence and its use of scheduled appointments needs to improve. The force generally investigates offences well, particularly those requiring more specialist skills, but it should improve the computer records of investigation plans, decision-making and contact with victims.
The force’s response to missing and absent children is good. It is clear, structured and well-supervised. The force works well with partners and has good relationships with the four local authorities.
As a result of strong leadership, the force is now well-prepared to respond to child sexual exploitation locally and is leading the national policing response through Evolve and Operation Makesafe.
In contrast, the force’s response to domestic abuse is not consistently good. The inconsistent approach to assessing risk means the force cannot be sure it is taking adequate steps to safeguard victims and their children.
Cause of concern
The force’s response to victims of domestic abuse is a cause of concern to HMIC due to the lack of consistent and thorough processes. South Yorkshire Police needs to improve its understanding of the nature and scale of domestic abuse. Call-handlers did not always keep victims of domestic abuse on the telephone when the perpetrator was still on the premises, thereby failing to properly protect and support the victim.
The force needs to improve the quality and completion rates of its risk assessment process, and improve its recording of safeguarding, investigation, and supervisory activity in relation to domestic abuse.
To address this cause of concern the force should immediately take steps to ensure that:
- it understands the nature and scale of domestic abuse by conducting an up-to-date assessment of available information, including that of partners;
- its call-handlers consistently safeguard victims reporting abuse;
- it carries out risk-assessments at the earliest opportunity, to an appropriate standard, and introduces processes to ensure these are properly supervised and submitted; and
- it records consistently its investigation and safeguarding activity, including supervision.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its initial response to incidents, specifically in relation to the assessment of opportunities to obtain evidence and the use of scheduled appointments.
- The force should improve the quality of the investigation plans and decisions it records on force systems.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
South Yorkshire Police has a good understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime. An effective threat assessment process is in place, which draws on information from both police and partner organisations. The force is working well with partners. It has created a local profile for serious and organised crime, which includes information on troubled families and prison data. This provides a platform for joint working to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups. The force is now working with partners to develop district level local profiles to support activity against lower threat crime groups.
The force responds well to the threat from serious and organised crime. It has a clear governance structure, experienced and capable staff working in its intelligence and organised crime investigation units, and support from officers at district level to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups.
South Yorkshire Police has reviewed, and is taking steps to improve, its capability to respond to the six national threats, particularly cyber-crime.
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.
Areas for improvement
- The force should develop a better understanding of the impact of its activity on serious and organised crime, and ensure that it learns from experience to maximise its disruptive effect.