Avon and Somerset PEEL 2016
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our findings this year are an improvement on last year’s findings assessment, in which we judged the force to require improvement in respect of effectiveness.
The force has a good understanding of the threat and risk of harm facing its communities, and has improved the quality of its investigations. It has effective processes to tackle serious and organised crime, and has the necessary arrangements in place to ensure that it can fulfil its responsibilities under the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR).
Overall Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. It understands the threat and risk of harm facing its communities and has dedicated teams working with partner agencies and communities to solve problems in a structured way and use intelligence effectively to direct patrols to take place in areas to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
The force has improved the quality of its investigations, particularly those involving vulnerable victims, and addressed both causes of concern HMIC identified during last year’s inspection by improving how it responds to missing children and domestic abuse. It is good at sharing information with partner agencies (such as local authorities, or health and education services) to assess risks and ensure safeguarding arrangements are made. The force’s processes to identify vulnerable people and allocate investigations to the most appropriately trained officers work well. Victims’ needs are considered throughout these processes and they are supported through effective partnership arrangements.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has good processes in place to assess the threat posed by serious and organised crime, which encompasses drug activity, modern slavery, organised immigration crime, child sexual exploitation and cyber-crime. It investigates organised crime groups effectively, and has initiatives that aim to prevent people from being drawn into this type of offending. However, the force could do more to implement a whole-force approach to tackling organised crime groups, for example by involving neighbourhood teams in local disruption.
The force is able to meet its responsibilities under the SPR, and it regularly tests plans for such emergencies. There are well-embedded collaborations with neighbouring forces that contribute to the response to threats posed by firearms attacks. These have been reviewed in light of recent terrorist attacks.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. This is consistent with our findings from last year’s inspection, when we judged the force to be good in this area.
The force has dedicated neighbourhood policing teams in each geographical area, and these teams are supported by effective intelligence analysis to direct patrols and highlight hotspot areas. The force works well with partner agencies and shares information and problem-solving plans to tackle incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour. It has well-developed methods for engaging with the public and is working with its communities, in particular to improve its understanding of those communities who may have less trust and confidence in the police. It recognises the importance of neighbourhood teams and how early intervention can reduce demand, and has introduced a dedicated problem-solving team to act as a single point of contact for neighbourhood teams to seek advice and guidance on ‘what works’. The force recognises training in this area could improve outcomes, and has developed problem-solving training to address this.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending, which is an improvement on last year. There is a structured approach to the assessment of all reported incidents, assessing threats to and vulnerability of the victim, and early evidential and safeguarding opportunities.
The initial response to victims is good. Call handlers give good advice to callers about how to preserve forensic evidence before officers arrive. The force’s Back to Basics plan and the drive to deal with incidents when they are reported are part of a wider plan to achieve better outcomes for the public. When crimes are reported that involve the most vulnerable victims, these are allocated to appropriately trained officers. All crime reported is the subject of good procedures in place to ensure that the allegation is assigned to an officer with the appropriate level of skills.
Daily meetings chaired by supervisors and senior officers enable the force to review events over the last 24-hour period and ensure compliance and the appropriate response. There are automatic alerts to investigators and supervisors when a victim is due to be informed about the progress of an investigation. HMIC’s review of crime files showed that crime is investigated at different levels within the force to a consistently good standard. Victims are well-supported, which again is an improvement since last year’s inspection.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that the risks posed by registered sex offenders are managed effectively.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at protecting those who are vulnerable and supporting victims. This is an improvement since last year’s HMIC inspection. The force uses the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime definition of vulnerability and has extended the definition to include individuals affected by mental health problems, impaired social functioning and physical disabilities. We found this to be well understood by the workforce and prioritised in the way that they work.
The force has good processes to understand vulnerability at the first point of contact and to highlight repeat victims and locations to improve outcomes for victims. Each local policing area has a safeguarding co-ordination unit which acts as the conduit to share information such as safety plans and risk assessments with partner agencies. The force plays an important role in the longer-term support for high-risk victims of domestic abuse through multi-agency meetings where the needs of the victims are assessed with partner agencies to ensure an appropriate response, and clear pathways to refer vulnerable individuals to organisations for further safeguarding support. Investigations are conducted by suitably trained staff and are supervised effectively by managers.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
The way in which Avon and Somerset Constabulary tackles serious and organised crime requires improvement. Although it has effective processes to assess the threat and risk posed by such crime at a strategic level, it is not making a proper assessment of OCGs once they have been identified and its understanding of their intent and capability is incomplete.
The force draws on partnership data to assess organised crime threats, but has not created a force-wide partnership structure to harness the powers of other organisations in the fight against serious and organised crime. It could do more to embrace fully a whole-force approach to organised crime group management, specifically by making better use of neighbourhood teams. This would enable it to collect valuable intelligence and disrupt OCGs at a local level.
Alongside other constituent forces of the south west regional organised crime unit, the force also needs to develop a plan for making best use of ROCU capabilities, and minimising the extent to which they are duplicated at force level.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at preventing serious and organised crime. It makes effective use of prevention orders, undertakes work to divert young people away from crime and communicates effectively with the public to highlight the success of its activity.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it maps all organised crime groups promptly following identification and re-assesses them at regular intervals in line with national standards.
- The force should establish a force-wide organised crime partnership board to enhance intelligence-sharing and promote an effective, multi-agency response to serious and organised crime.
- 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 develop a better understanding of the effect it is having across the 4Ps by adopting national disruption assessment guidance.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has good plans to mobilise in response to the threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement. The force regularly tests these plans and makes amendments following the lessons learned from such tests. This ensures that the force has appropriate plans in place to allow its main activities to continue and to keep people safe from harm. The force’s capability and response to fulfilling this responsibility is assessed against the national strategy through a scheduled self-assessment.
The force is well prepared to respond to a firearms attack. As part of the tri-force arrangement with Wiltshire Police and Gloucestershire Constabulary, the assessment of threat, risk and harm has been reviewed recently and now explicitly includes the threats posed by marauding firearms terrorists. In light of this threat, the force plans to increase its firearms capacity and capability.