Wiltshire PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Overall Wiltshire Police is judged to be good at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
In terms of preventing crime the force operates effectively and standards of investigation are generally high. Furthermore the force works well with partners to manage the most harmful offenders. The force is clearly committed to protecting the vulnerable; however some improvements are needed in its understanding of, and response to, missing children. There are good arrangements 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.
Force priorities demonstrate a strong commitment to reducing crime and anti-social behaviour, protecting the vulnerable and reducing offending. This is well understood across the force at all levels but in particular by those involved in neighbourhood policing.
When a crime occurs it is effectively allocated and investigated. The quality of investigations is generally good and the skills of the officers are well matched to the cases they investigate. The force also has good arrangements to tackle repeat offenders and to manage those individuals who present a risk to the public. Nevertheless there are some areas for improvement; supervision of investigations is inconsistent and there are delays in the force’s procedures to retrieve digital evidence from smartphones, tablets and other devices. A backlog in these procedures undermines the effectiveness of investigations. The force has good arrangements to tackle repeat offenders and to manage those individuals who present a risk to the public.
Protecting vulnerable people is a priority for the force. There are systems in place to prioritise resources in areas of risk and vulnerability and to provide care and support for victims of crime. The force has good arrangements with partner services to support vulnerable victims. However the accurate identification of the risks faced by missing children and providing help to frequent absconders are areas where the force could do more. This is an area where the force is judge to require improvement.
The force has a well-developed understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime and is building on current relationships with other agencies to improve its understanding even further. The force has good processes in place to investigate and disrupt those individuals involved in this type of criminality.
The force also has good arrangements in place for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities.
How effective is the force at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe?
Wiltshire 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 and good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
The force priorities demonstrate a strong commitment to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, protect the vulnerable and reduce offending. This is well-understood by staff at all levels but in particular by those involved in neighbourhood policing.
The force is committed to neighbourhood policing and neighbourhood teams work effectively with partner agencies to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour in local communities. The force is currently piloting a new community policing model to further consolidate this. Staff are trained appropriately and use a range of powers and tactics to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour and keep people safe.
Evaluation of what works is conducted well at a strategic level. There is room for improvement in the way that the force understands and shares information about effective problem solving methods at a local level.
Areas for improvement
- The force should use evidence of ‘what works’ drawn from other forces, academics and partners to improve continually 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?
Wiltshire Police is good at investigating crime and managing offenders. This is consistent with HMIC’s inspection of crime in 2014, which assessed the force as good at investigating crime.
The force effectively allocates and investigates crime. Officers understand the importance of making early arrests and tackling repeat offenders. The quality of investigations is good and investigators are trained and equipped to conduct investigations appropriate to their role, although improvements can be made in the supervision and use of investigation plans for non-complex crimes.
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.
Good partnership arrangements are in place to focus activity on those offenders causing the most crime and anti-social behaviour in neighbourhoods. Effective partnership working is also integral to the success of the Switch integrated offender management programme. Generally, local officers have a good awareness of and involvement in the management of prolific offenders. Extending the remit beyond the current focus on perpetrators of acquisitive crime would increase the effectiveness of the programme.
Management of offenders under multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) is good with close and effective working between police and partners to reduce risks to the public.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that all those carrying out investigations are provided with appropriate training and support.
- The force should ensure that there is regular and active supervision of investigations to check quality and progress.
- 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 introduce a clear process to ensure that those who are circulated as wanted on the police national computer, those who fail to appear on police bail and named suspects identified through forensic evidence are swiftly arrested.
- 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?
Wiltshire Police has committed significant effort and resource to offer a high-quality service to the public. It strives to prioritise resources on the basis of threat, risk and harm. Force policies and processes show an emphasis on identifying those who are vulnerable and assessing levels of risk correctly. The force meeting structure assists with the prioritisation of resources to areas of risk and vulnerable people.
The force has made the response to child sexual exploitation a priority and has invested resources into a dedicated child sexual exploitation team. The force’s establishment of dedicated co-ordinators for domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation, together with the introduction of information sharing meetings for both demonstrates its prioritisation of vulnerable people.
We found evidence of good processes and behaviours in the force control room in identifying and responding to vulnerable victims. Vulnerable callers to police buildings are also readily identified.
Partnership working is effective, including within the multi-agency safeguarding hub. High-risk domestic abuse cases are typically managed by specialist staff. We were reassured that specialist staff have manageable workloads and that they are well-supported by supervisors.
HMIC is concerned, however, about the inappropriate grading of risk for some missing and absent children. We also have a concern about the priority given to the investigation and safeguarding of missing and absent children.
Cause of concern
The force’s response to missing and absent children is a cause of concern for HMIC. A review of missing and absent children cases revealed inappropriate initial assessments of risk with a lack of supervisory reviews, including a case where a risk of suicide had been disclosed. HMIC also has concerns in relation to the timeliness of investigations and the lack of clarity of plans and actions. In addition, we found inconsistent levels of understanding among senior officers in relation to key aspects of the force policy. These knowledge gaps could lead to inconsistency in ensuring appropriate priority for risk assessment, investigation and safeguarding.
- To address this cause of concern HMIC recommends that the force should immediately take steps to improve its response to missing and absent children, specifically in relation to the initial risk assessment and its supervision, and the priority given to investigations and safeguarding activity.
Areas for improvement
The force should improve its response to domestic abuse by ensuring that:
- officers and staff with the appropriate professional skills and experience investigate cases;
- it has robust processes for the submission of referrals to the multi-agency safeguarding hub to enable timely and appropriate investigations and safeguarding;
- it reviews the use of domestic violence protection orders and domestic violence protection notices, as well as the system for recording and reviewing their use and effectiveness;
- it clarifies the force’s policy on the use of photographic and video-recording equipment to obtain evidence of injuries and scenes; and
- it ensures that its storage and retention of images comply with requirements.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
Wiltshire 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 well-developed understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime. It has produced an initial serious and organised crime local profile and is working with partners to enhance this further and to ensure that a full range of interventions are available to tackle serious and organised crime. The force is developing its intelligence gathering arrangements with government and other partners but this could be further improved.
Organised crimes groups are identified at a local and force level and regularly scored to identify and prioritise those groups posing the greatest threat to the communities of Wiltshire. Good systems are in place to tackle organised crime groups using a wide range of policing options. The force is developing strategies and initiatives to deter individuals from becoming involved in serious and organised crime.
The force is meeting its responsibilities under the Strategic Policing Requirement. The force regularly tests its capabilities and has sufficient resources to deal with most public order contingencies.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve the awareness of organised crime groups among neighbourhood teams to ensure that they can reliably identify these groups, collect intelligence and disrupt their activity.
- The force should ensure that it takes opportunities to communicate with the public about serious and organised crime, in particular to publicise successful operations, offer reassurance and provide advice to help people to protect themselves from serious and organised crime.