Gwent PEEL 2016
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Gwent Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our overall judgment is the same as last year, when we judged the force to be good. The force has an effective approach to reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. It is good at investigating crime and protecting vulnerable people, particularly victims of domestic abuse. The force has the necessary arrangements in place to ensure it can respond to national threats. However, the way it tackles serious and organised crime requires improvement.
Gwent Police’s overall effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good. The way the force is organised helps it to engage effectively with its communities and to identify and tackle neighbourhood problems. It works effectively with partner organisations (such as local authorities, or health and education services) to develop solutions that protect communities, prevent or reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and keep people safe.
The force is generally effective in the way it gathers evidence at the first point of contact However the way it uses its risk assessment process is inconsistent.The force continues to place the victim at the centre of any crime investigation.
The force ensures that intelligence professionals provide appropriate support to investigations. It has effective digital forensic support and makes good use of new technology to prevent and reduce crime. But initial supervision of crime investigations is not effective.
The force has a good integrated offender management structure, which is aiming to include serious violence and domestic abuse offenders. Domestic abuse is still a clear priority for the force and it has made good progress against its domestic abuse action plan.
While Gwent Police works hard to understand the nature and scale of vulnerability at a local level, it does not have an automatic system to identify vulnerable and repeat victims. Its response to missing children is good and processes are in place to identify and tackle child sexual exploitation.
The force has a limited understanding of the threat posed to its communities by serious and organised crime but is working with partner organisations to address this.
The force has appropriate arrangements in place to manage its national responsibilities under Strategic Policing Requirement. It has a good understanding of the current firearms and terrorist threats facing the Southern Wales region.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Gwent Police is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. Community engagement is an important component of the force’s policing strategy and it links directly to the objectives contained within the police and crime plan and the chief constable’s delivery plan. The way the force is organised helps it to engage effectively with its communities and to identify and tackle neighbourhood problems using a recognised problem-solving approach. It has systems in place to identify current and emerging trends and determine local priorities.
The force works well with partner organisations to develop solutions that prevent or reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and keep people safe. It uses social media effectively to update local communities on police activity and outcomes. Gwent Police has looked beyond its own boundaries to learn what works, to find new ways of working and to improve the services it provides to the public.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Gwent Police is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. The force is generally effective in the way it gathers evidence at first point of contact and uses a nationally recognised risk assessment model to assess calls received from the public. The force places the victim at the centre of all crime investigation, and victim satisfaction is high.
The force has made considerable investment in providing effective digital forensic support and makes good use of mobile phone download technology and evidence from body-worn video cameras. This has resulted in a reduction in backlogs in analysing data from mobile devices and swifter prosecutions of some of the more serious and harmful offenders.
The force has an effective integrated offender management programme working with partner organisations, which it aims to extend to include serious violence and domestic abuse offenders. It also has effective multi-agency public protection arrangements to manage with partner organisations the most high-risk violent offenders and registered sex offenders. The force does not have a robust process to make sure that it is making progress with its activity to arrest wanted suspects.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that those who are circulated as wanted on the Police National Computer, those who fail to appear on police bail, named and outstanding suspects and suspects identified through forensic evidence are swiftly located and 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 those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Gwent Police is good at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims. The force works hard to understand the nature and scale of vulnerability. At a local level, cases involving high-risk victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse are reviewed and plans are put in place to support victims or tackle offenders. Vulnerable people are a clear priority for the force at both strategic and tactical levels.
The force has implemented new systems recently to improve its service to victims. Some staff have been trained to use a formal risk assessment tool but its use and documentation are inconsistent. The force does not have an automatic system to identify vulnerable and repeat victims, but all calls we examined were correctly graded with an appropriate response.
The force’s response to missing children is good and processes are in place to identify and tackle child sexual exploitation. Domestic abuse is still a clear priority and good progress has been made against the force’s domestic abuse action plan.
Overall, the standards of investigations undertaken by the force are of an acceptable standard. The force has continued to reinforce its commitment to victims and routinely updates victims with the progress of investigations.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its initial assessment and response to incidents involving vulnerable people by ensuring that staff working in call handling understand and apply the THRIVE decision-making model consistently.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
Gwent Police is in the early stages of developing an approach to preventing people from being drawn into serious and organised crime. The police and crime commissioner has recently asked the force to look at the potential for a programme similar to the Troubled Families initiative in England. At the time of the inspection, the ‘Families First’ programme existed in one local authority area in Gwent and it was unclear whether the proposals related to children and adults in need generally, to victims of crime in need of support, or to people at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime. The force needs to ensure it has a clear understanding of the UK government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy and of the Prevent programme, which is the government’s programme to prevent offending behaviour. Otherwise, there is a risk that any initiatives it develops will fail to realise the strategy’s intentions.
It is not clear whether the force area is affected by gang and youth violence. The force has not formally recorded the presence of any urban street gangs and some staff reported that street gangs did not present problems locally. Other staff referred to a recent initiative in which the police and crime commissioner funded a video about youth knife crime, and one senior officer described a particular town as having a clear gang problem. We found no evidence of a clear approach to tackling gang and youth violence.
The region is developing an approach for lifetime management of serious and organised crime offenders, although this is limited in scope to the more dangerous offenders and will not address the majority of identified organised crime group members.
The force has been developing its own approach to managing serious and organised crime offenders. In future, lead responsible officers with overall responsibility for the management of organised crime groups will produce management plans for each organised crime group using the 4Ps approach to prevent offending and protect the public from organised crime groups. Local policing area inspectors are responsible for monitoring organised crime group members released from prison who are the subject of an ancillary order. The force uses serious crime prevention orders and other additional orders (formally known as ancillary orders) where appropriate, as part of their approach to managing the most dangerous offenders.
In addition, all organised crime group known criminals are flagged on the force crime and intelligence system. The force’s integrated offender management team identifies those who are about to be released and raises this at the next local policing area tasking meeting so that monitoring and intelligence-gathering plans can be put in place.
Gwent Police did not make any applications for serious crime prevention orders in the year to June 2016, but consideration is currently being given to applying for two in connection with Operation Anchor, which is an operation to deal with large-scale vehicle theft and fraud throughout England and Wales. The force has recently obtained slavery and trafficking prevention orders for three known criminals and is currently managing three offenders who are the subject of serious crime prevention orders; a fourth offender who lives outside the force area is managed on the force’s behalf by South Wales Police. Another ten known criminals, all of whom are in custody, are the subject of serious crime prevention orders.
In December 2016, the force is planning to expand the existing WISDOM (Wales Integrated Serious and Dangerous Offender Management) programme to include serious and organised crime, violent and high-risk offenders, with an initial cohort of 20 30 domestic abuse perpetrators.
The force has provided advice and support to potential victims of child sexual exploitation through Operation Quartz, which focuses on high-risk vulnerable or missing children. It is currently planning an initiative to assist those at risk of cyber-crime by deploying trained special constables and cadets to help people improve their cyber-security.
The force participates in the All Wales Schools Liaison Programme, which is a crime prevention programme funded jointly by the Welsh Government and the four police forces in Wales. The main aims of the programme are to work towards achieving crime and disorder reduction within young communities through education and to promote the principles of positive citizenship in school and the wider community. The programme has recently helped the force and its partners to develop a response to new psychoactive substances.
The force uses a range of tools to communicate its successes against serious and organised crime to the public, including local policing area inspectors’ blogs, social media and Gwent Now. Gwent Now is an efficient and effective communication system designed to keep the residents of Gwent informed about the latest crime notifications and crime prevention advice for their communities.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Gwent Police has governance arrangements in place through its Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR) governance board to oversee each of its national policing responsibilities.
The force has completed threat assessments for some SPR threats. The force has completed some problem profiles, but accepts that its current approach is inconsistent and there is a need to develop standard operating procedures across the region. It has tested its response to several SPR threats through a series of comprehensive multi-agency exercises, but not all six threats have been tested to this extent.
The governance board has direct links into TARIAN, the Southern Wales Regional Organised Crime Unit, which covers the three Southern Welsh forces and plays a crucial role in identifying, disrupting and dismantling organised crime.
The force and the Southern Wales region carry out a comprehensive armed police strategic risk assessment to enable them to accurately assess the level of threat and risk to the force and the Southern Wales region.
The force is involved in a programme of practical and theoretical exercises as part of the joint firearms unit response, together with partner organisations.