Cheshire PEEL 2016
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Cheshire Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year, when we judged the constabulary to be good in respect of effectiveness.
The constabulary has maintained high standards of investigation and levels of service to vulnerable people, and it has improved its ability to tackle serious and organised crime. The constabulary’s approach to preventing crime remains good.
Cheshire Constabulary is committed to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and making a difference for communities. Neighbourhood policing provides a link between communities and the police, and the constabulary is able to address emerging problems immediately. Preventative work and problem solving at a strategic, constabulary-wide level is effective, but at a neighbourhood level, officers need to understand the full principles of the problem-solving methodology.
Cheshire Constabulary carries out high-quality investigations. Crimes are investigated by officers who have the appropriate skills and supervisors play an active role in ensuring investigations are carried out to the highest standard. The constabulary works well with other agencies to reduce reoffending and to identify, investigate and bring to justice repeat and dangerous offenders.
Cheshire Constabulary is effective at identifying people who may be vulnerable through their age, disability, or because they have been subjected to repeated offences or are at high risk of abuse, and investigates crimes against vulnerable victims thoroughly. Officers across the organisation understand their role in ensuring safeguarding measures are appropriately applied. Greater attention is required when response officers assess risks in relation to vulnerable people. The constabulary can demonstrate a high level of support for victims of domestic abuse and makes good use of powers to place restrictions on perpetrators. The constabulary’s use of charges is among the highest for domestic abuse offences in England and Wales.
Cheshire Constabulary made positive progress towards addressing the areas for improvement in relation to serious and organised crime that were identified in last year’s report. The constabulary now has a greater understanding of the threat it is facing, informed by data from partner organisations. Neighbourhood officers understand the role they play in disrupting organised crime groups.
The constabulary has appropriate arrangements in place to ensure that it can respond to national threats.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Cheshire Constabulary is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. It understands the threats facing its community and uses information from across the constabulary and from other local partners to make sure the threats to all sections of its community are well understood.
The constabulary has a strong commitment to providing a policing service that has the interests of local communities at its centre. Neighbourhood policing continues to be the link between the community and the constabulary through dedicated beat managers and PCSOs. The constabulary uses conventional engagement methods as well as social media as a means of reaching a wider audience.
The constabulary works well with partner organisations to apply a collaborative problem-solving approach to dealing with areas of high demand. Problem solving at local level is less well developed, with a limited understanding of the value of a structured approach. In the last year, the constabulary has seen a reduction in incidents of anti-social behaviour and an even greater reduction for incidents linked to repeat victims. There has been a very slight rise in crime, however this increase is well below the England and Wales rate.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should ensure that its problem-solving process is consistently applied particularly at neighbourhood level.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Cheshire Constabulary’s approach to investigating crime and managing offenders is good.
The constabulary allocates crime for investigation to the appropriate department and officers with the required level of skill. Processes within the control room enable call-takers to correctly assess areas of risk and gather sufficient information to assist in the early stages of investigation. The handover of investigations from the first attending officer to trained investigators was found to be to an acceptable standard, but lacked supervisory oversight. This does not appear to have a detrimental effect on the overall quality of investigations which, are generally completed to a high standard with supervisors at this stage taking an active role in reviewing and providing guidance. However, capacity to process the large number of digital devices that are seized as part of investigations is having a negative impact on timeliness.
Cheshire Constabulary has processes in place that ensure that individuals who pose a risk to the public are actively managed. The individuals who pose the greatest risk are managed appropriately through the MAPPA process. The constabulary’s integrated offender management scheme is well managed, but it only has a narrow focus on offenders who commit large numbers of offences, rather than on those offenses which cause the most harm. This approach does not reflect the constabulary’s priorities of tackling harm and risk. The number of registered sex offenders managed by each individual officer is high, but the constabulary has developed an efficient method for completing risk assessments that ensures those who are identified as posing the greatest threat are managed appropriately.
Officers put victims at the centre of any investigation and this is supported by compliance with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should improve its ability to retrieve digital evidence from mobile phones and other electronic devices quickly enough to ensure that investigations are not delayed.
- The constabulary should consider widening its approach to integrated offender management to maximise its impact on reducing threat, harm and risk. There should be clear measures of success which enable the constabulary to evaluate how effectively it is protecting the public from prolific and harmful offenders.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Cheshire Constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people from harm and supporting victims.
The constabulary has continued to build on its support and provision of services to vulnerable people. We are pleased to see that it has continued to develop its understanding of hidden crimes such as child sexual exploitation and domestic abuse and is working towards an improved understanding of modern-day slavery, so-called honour based violence and female genital mutilation. Operation Emblem (mental health street triage) which was being trialled in one area last year has now been implemented across the four local authority areas that the constabulary covers.
The constabulary identifies vulnerability at the first point of contact and investigates criminality linked to vulnerability to a high standard, with good levels of supervision. The constabulary works well with partner organisations and provides effective safeguarding support. It makes good use of restrictive orders such as DVPNs and DVPOs and supports the Right to Ask process. The constabulary is particularly effective at arresting the perpetrators of domestic violence and has achieved the highest rate of charging of any constabulary in England or Wales.
The constabulary does however need to ensure that response officers become more effective at identifying vulnerable people on first attendance and that sufficient supervision is in place to ensure that opportunities are not missed. Body-worn video cameras are still not available, although the increased availability of remote working devices will enhance officers’ ability to take digital images of victims of domestic violence.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should ensure that response officers become more proficient at completing risk assessments at initial response, and provide sufficient supervisory oversight to prevent opportunities to safeguard vulnerable victims from being missed.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
Cheshire Constabulary is assessed as being good at tackling serious and organised crime.
The constabulary has improved from last year’s judgment in which it was assessed as requiring improvement. The constabulary has now developed four serious and organised crime local profiles, complete with partnership data, which has improved its understanding of threats. HMIC also found that neighbourhood officers had a much greater understanding of how serious and organised crime affects their local community and the role they play in gathering intelligence and disrupting organised crime groups.
The constabulary has well-established mapping processes which follow national guidelines and it has recently introduced a consistent process for measuring the impact of disruption activity. It also has the capability to deal with the organised crime groups that create the greatest threat and additional support is provided by the regional organised crime unit. However, greater effort could be made towards lifetime offender management and as the local strategic partnership boards develop, establish a greater emphasis in preventative activity.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should engage routinely with partner agencies at a senior level to enhance intelligence sharing and promote an effective, multi-agency response to serious and organised crime.
- The constabulary should take steps to identify those at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime, and ensure that preventative initiatives are put in place with partner organisations to deter them from offending.
- The constabulary should enhance its approach to the ‘lifetime management’ of organised criminals to minimise the risk they pose to local communities. This approach should include routine consideration of ancillary orders, partner agency powers and other tools to deter organised criminals from continuing to offend.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Cheshire Constabulary has effective specialist capabilities and has good plans in place to mobilise in response to the threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement. The constabulary regularly takes part in regional exercises to test these plans and makes amendments following the lessons learned. Over the past twelve months the constabulary has taken part in over twenty exercises.
Specialist resources are available to Cheshire Constabulary, both locally through the alliance with North Wales Police, and via the regional service level agreement, as part of its preparation for a firearms attack. The constabulary has reviewed recently its assessment of threat, risk and harm and this now includes the threats posed by marauding firearms terrorists.