Surrey 2015Read more about Surrey
This is HMIC’s second assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy with which Surrey Police keeps people safe and reduces crime. PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) gives you information about how your local police force is performing in several important areas. It does this in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year-on-year.
The extent to which Surrey Police is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The extent to which Surrey Police is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The extent to which Surrey Police is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
Contact Zoë Billingham (e-mail address)
This year, for the first time, we have assessed leadership across the force. The assessment has led to a narrative rather than graded judgment, which is summarised below.
Read more about my assessment of Surrey Police’s performance this year, including exceptional events and where I would like to see improvements next year.
In its PEEL inspections this year, HMIC found some areas of serious concern in the performance of Surrey Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime. In view of these findings, I have been in regular contact with the chief constable and I am reassured by the extremely positive way in which she and the force has acknowledged and responded to the issues we have raised.
At the time of our efficiency inspection, the force was going through an internal reorganisation and was in transition, and I judged the force to be insufficiently well prepared to meet its future financial challenges. While recognising that the force has a good track record of financial management, the workforce model made available to us on the inspection was not affordable; there were too many vacancies in frontline roles and this was placing undue pressures on the organisation. I am reassured that the force had already recognised this and has been taking appropriate steps, through its reorganisation, to protect neighbourhood policing, which has the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour at its core.
The force is undoubtedly committed to protecting vulnerable people but our vulnerability and child protection inspections raised some serious concerns. The quality and consistency of child protection investigations and the way in which the force handles reports of missing children are both causes of concern. To its credit, the force has responded positively to these issues and has addressed historic underinvestment in these areas by allocating additional resources to help safeguard vulnerable victims and improve the standard of investigations. I commend the force for the significant improvements it has made since our child protection inspection, but I do not underestimate the time that it will take for some of the changes to take effect.
The chief constable, who has now left the force to take up a national position in policing, provided strong leadership and was both visible and approachable. The chief officer team has worked to make ethics an important part of the force’s everyday culture and is committed to the wellbeing of the workforce, responding positively when pressures were apparent in some front line areas. The force communicates well with communities in Surrey, particularly through social media.
Description of force area
Surrey Police provides policing services to the county of Surrey. Surrey is generally affluent. Around 1.2 million people mainly live in the urban centres which include the outskirts of Greater London, as well as several other distinct urban areas, including the towns of Guildford, Reigate, Staines and Esher. The resident population is ethnically diverse, with 10% from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes major rail stations.
The proportion of areas in Surrey that are predicted to present a very high challenge to the police is broadly in line with the national average. These are characterised by social deprivation or a concentration of commercial premises (including licensed premises), and in some cases both.
In June 2015 the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta was held in Surrey. This required a major policing operation with over 600 officers and staff on duty, and over 3,000 guests attending, including Her Majesty the Queen and the Prime Minister. This event, took place in the same month as Armed Forces day, which attracted over 30,000 visitors.
The force has developed collaborative arrangements with Sussex Police. Although the forces have recently decided not to progress collaboration in some front line operational policing areas, work continues to collaborate in many support functions. The force is also part of a collaboration to develop a south east contact centre, which also involves Sussex Police and the ambulance and fire services.
The chief constable was appointed as Director General of the National Crime Agency in January 2016. A new chief constable is due to be appointed after the police and crime commissioner elections in May.
In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Surrey Police to require improvement in the way in which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The way it prevents crime and anti-social behaviour is good, but the quality of some crime investigations requires improvement. The force works well to stop some re-offending and it has good arrangements in place to ensure that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities. However, it needs to improve how it tackles serious and organised crime in Surrey. Of concern is the force’s inadequate approach to protecting and supporting some vulnerable victims, especially children who have been subject to abuse. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.
Surrey Police is partly prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force has a good track record of effective financial management and understands the savings it has to achieve up to 2019/20. However, it does not have a thorough understanding of the demands for its services and is not able to match its resources to these demands. The force has recognised this and is currently identifying a new way of organising itself (its operating model) that is designed to help it to meet demand while remaining within its future budget. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the previous spending review period, Surrey Police was judged to be good.
Surrey Police is judged to be good in respect of its legitimacy. The chief officer team takes the need for an ethical workforce seriously. It was instrumental in the successful introduction of the Code of Ethics.
Local neighbourhood policing teams have a good understanding of their area and engage positively with the public. Taser is used fairly and appropriately, and the force complies with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
The chief constable and the chief officer team have demonstrated strong leadership by identifying and effectively addressing a range of issues, many of which were the result of an historic underinvestment in skills and capabilities in some areas of the force. The force’s positive future direction to develop its leaders and to motivate officers and staff has been communicated effectively.
HMIC found an ethical style of leadership across the organisation and a largely effective performance review process that is closely linked to development opportunities and training programmes.
Insights from other inspections
HMIC undertakes other inspections in addition to the PEEL programme. Since the last PEEL assessment there have been seven reports published on inspections that included Surrey Police. More detail on some of these inspections can be found under the Other inspections section.
Looking ahead to PEEL 2016
In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how the force responds to this assessment, and to the causes of concern and areas for improvement that HMIC has identified in the last year.
I will be particularly interested to see:
- how the implementation of the new local policing model by April 2016 enables the force to maintain its strong preventative neighbourhood policing approach;
- how the steps that the force has taken to improve its response to vulnerable victims, particularly children, translate into an operational reality and tangible improvements in the service it provides; and
- the future direction of the force following the appointment of the new chief constable.
In May 2016, like the majority of forces in England and Wales, the force will see the second elections for its police and crime commissioner.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Surrey Police requires improvement in its approach to keeping people safe and reducing crime.
The way it prevents crime and anti-social behaviour is good. But the quality of some crime investigations requires improvement. The force works well to stop some re-offending and it has good arrangements in place to ensure that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities. However, Surrey Police’s approach to tackling serious and organised crime requires improvement in some specific areas. Of concern is the force’s inadequate approach to protecting and supporting some vulnerable victims, especially children who have been subject to abuse. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.
HMIC found that the force is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. Force priorities reflect a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to crime and anti-social behaviour in Surrey. A commitment to keeping people safe, supporting victims, and working effectively with partner organisations are themes that run clearly throughout neighbourhood policing.
There has been some improvement in the quality of investigations of volume crimes such as burglary. However, the way the force investigates more complex crime requiring specialist investigations, particularly cases of child abuse and missing children, is not good enough. Investigations are taking longer to conclude than they should and are not being effectively supervised. The force is not providing a good enough service to protect some of the most vulnerable victims or to bring offenders to justice.
The force works well to identify, investigate and bring to justice repeat and dangerous offenders and stop them re-offending.
There is scope for the force to improve its understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime, and ensure that procedures for mapping organised crime groups are followed rigorously. The leadership has oversight of the force’s ability to respond to national threats, such as terrorism and serious cyber-crime incidents. Its own arrangements for ensuring it can meet its national obligations in this regard (such as planning, testing and exercising) are good.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that Surrey Police is partly prepared to face its future financial challenges. The force has a good track record of effective financial management and understands the savings it has to achieve up to 2019/20. However, it does not have a thorough understanding of the demands for its for services and is not able to match its resources to these demands. The force has recognised this and is currently identifying a new way of organising itself (its operating model) that is designed to help it to meet demand within its future budget. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Surrey Police was judged to be good.
HMIC judges Surrey Police to require improvement. Since 2010, it has had to cut its spending by 14 percent, which is significantly lower than the England and Wales average. It has achieved the savings needed and is planning for future savings while looking to maintain officer numbers over the next three years. It has balanced its budget for this financial year.
When HMIC inspected Surrey Police, it was in transition. It recognises that its current workforce model is not affordable and is reviewing part of its operating model through the ‘policing in your neighbourhood’ (PIYN) programme. The force plans a new way of providing neighbourhood and emergency response policing by April 2016 and, to prepare for this, is maintaining high levels of vacancies in frontline posts. The existing operating model therefore has to deliver the same level of services with significantly fewer staff (although the force has decided to recruit to fill some vacancies). At the point of inspection, this approach was creating undue pressures on the organisation and on staff. HMIC found evidence of an adverse effect on the service to the public in some areas of policing. While this may be a temporary problem, HMIC judges forces’ performance at the point of inspection.
The force has some knowledge of demand for its services but, five years into the period of austerity, this is not thorough enough for it to properly match its resources to its demand. Its IT systems provide limited information, hampering its ability to match resources to demand. It has plans for a new IT system to address this but it is not yet in place. Until the new operating model (relating to the PIYN programme) is in place, it cannot know that its resources are being used efficiently to meet the demands being made of it.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
The force has worked successfully to introduce the Code of Ethics which sets and defines the exemplary standards of behaviour for everyone who works in policing, as well as the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged). The Code of Ethics is a central component of the National Decision Model.
The chief officer team takes seriously the need for an ethical workforce. Local neighbourhood policing teams have a good understanding of their area and engage positively with the public. Taser is used fairly and appropriately, and the force is complying with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
The chief officer team works with its staff to emphasise the importance of an ethical culture and focus on the Code of Ethics which is being established within force policy and procedures. The force is committed to the wellbeing of its staff and has a programme to achieve this. The majority of staff recognise and understand the Code of Ethics, which also is a common topic in all training courses.
The workforce routinely discusses ethical issues. These are prompted by the chief officer team’s discussion and communication to the workforce of practical examples of ethical dilemmas which assist staff in understanding the practical application of the Code of Ethics.
When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully works with all the people it serves, we found that Surrey has effective engagement and consultation arrangements and is committed to retaining a community focused policing model. Officers and staff understand how their actions affect public trust and confidence, and levels of public satisfaction with the force remain consistently high. As a result, the people of Surrey can be reassured that they are being treated fairly and professionally by the force.
Stop and search and Taser are two ways that the police can prevent crime and protect the public. However, they can be intrusive and forceful methods, and it is therefore vital the police use them fairly and appropriately. Surrey Police uses Taser fairly and appropriately. The force needs to publish more data about stop and search to improve transparency.
How well has the force performed in our other inspections?
In addition to the three core PEEL pillars, HMICFRS carries out inspections of a wide range of policing activity throughout the year. Some of these are conducted alongside the PEEL inspections; others are joint inspections.
Findings from these inspections are published separately to the main PEEL reports, but are taken into account when producing the rounded assessment of each force's performance.
As part of HMIC’s annual all-force inspections into police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) in 2015, HMIC assessed how well led forces are at every rank and grade of the organisation and across all areas inspected in PEEL. We reviewed how well a force understands and is developing its leaders; whether it has set a clear and compelling future direction; and how well it motivates and engages the workforce.
Surrey Police understands the current leadership capability across the majority of its workforce and has communicated effectively the force’s positive future direction to develop its leaders and to motivate officers and staff. The chief constable and the chief officer team have demonstrated strong leadership by swiftly and effectively addressing issues that resulted in an historic underinvestment in skills and capabilities in some areas of the force.
HMIC found that the force’s performance review process is largely effective and which is closely linked to development opportunities and training programmes. We found an ethical style of leadership across the organisation, while the chief officer team is viewed as approachable by the workforce, and engages well with police staff and officers.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Surrey Police.