Hampshire 2016Read more about Hampshire 2016
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Hampshire Constabulary. PEEL is designed to give the public information about how their local police force is performing in several important areas, in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year on year. The assessment is updated throughout the year with our inspection findings and reports.
The extent to which the constabulary is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The extent to which the constabulary is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The extent to which the constabulary is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
I am satisfied with most aspects of Hampshire Constabulary’s overall performance. However, there are some areas that the force needs to improve to provide a consistently good service.
I am pleased with Hampshire Constabulary’s approach to preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour. The force is to be commended for its commitment to neighbourhood policing. Over the past year it has reduced reports of anti-social behaviour by a greater proportion than most other forces.
It works closely and well with partner organisations, like the local council, which helps it to have a very good understanding of the threats facing its local communities.
Hampshire Constabulary needs to improve aspects of how it investigates crime. The force needs to understand why it has a higher proportion of victims of crime who are unwilling to support the police investigation that any other force in England and Wales.
This year I have expressed some deep concerns about Hampshire Constabulary’s practices relating to some victims of domestic abuse. However, since our inspection the force has taken active steps to address its falling arrest rates for perpetrators of domestic abuse, and is working hard to understand why approaching two thirds of investigations into domestic abuse do not progress because it is said that the ‘victim does not support police action’.
This is far above the figure in many other forces. I am also reassured that the force has suspended its practice of only speaking to some victims of domestic abuse over the phone instead of visiting them to make sure they and their children are safe and not at risk from harm.
However, the force is working well with partner organisations to protect other vulnerable victims, including those suffering from mental illness and those vulnerable to sexual exploitation. I am encouraged by the creation of an innovative stalking and harassment clinic. The force now needs to mirror this dedication and innovation in how it responds to the concerns we have raised about how it protects and supports victims of domestic abuse.
The force tackles serious and organised crime well. It is particularly good at involving neighbourhood teams in activity to disrupt organised crime groups. It is also increasing its use of partnership information and intelligence to gain a better understanding of the threats posed by this high-end criminality.
I am pleased that Hampshire Constabulary has maintained its comprehensive understanding of the current and likely future demands for its services. Not only does the force understand where demand for its services is now, it is also working with other partner organisations, like local councils, to understand and reduce demand both now and in the longer term. It has also made progress in identifying so-called hidden demand, such as child sexual exploitation.
Some of the work the force does on predicting future demand is outstanding and this has allowed it to identify where it needs enhance its capability to address future crimes, such as internet crime. It is working with Thames Valley Police on plans to transform how it provides services by ambitious use of technology. The force has made good use of mobile devices to allow frontline staff to spend more time in public by negating the need to return to a police station to use a computer.
The force does not have a comprehensive understanding of the skills of its workforce. It needs to do more to ensure that its officers and staff get the training they need to provide an effective response to some of the most vulnerable members of the community. I am pleased that the force has recognised the need to address this, and with how it is developing its capability to meet future demands.
We found that the force is good at treating the public it serves fairly and with respect. This is in no small part thanks to the force’s commitment to the Code of Ethics, which is reflected in the force’s values and mission. It is a very positive sign that the force actively seeks feedback from the public and is working hard to improve how it responds to that feedback.
I was pleased to find that the force takes seriously the issue of misconduct, including the abuse of power for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime). It works hard to ensure its workforce behaves ethically and regularly clarifies what unacceptable behaviour looks like, so that staff can identify problems and report them. The force has good vetting arrangements for new recruits, but needs to reduce the backlog of existing members of the workforce whose vetting has expired.
Although Hampshire Constabulary is committed to fair and ethical treatment of its workforce, it is let down by systems that prevent it from fully understanding welfare and performance issues.
In summary, I am satisfied that in many areas, the force continues to provide a good service to the people of Hampshire, and I am reassured that it is taking action to address my specific areas of concern.
Hampshire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Hampshire has areas of marked affluence, although there are some areas of deprivation. The force area is home to around 2 million people, who mainly live in the cities of Southampton, Portsmouth and Winchester, the towns of Basingstoke and Farnborough, as well as the town of Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise, or travel through the area each year.
The transport infrastructure includes 176 miles of motorway and trunk roads, major rail stations, an airport and major sea ports.
The proportion of areas in Hampshire that are predicted (on the basis of detailed economic and demographic analysis) to present a very high challenge to the police is lower than the national average. The most challenging areas are generally characterised by a high concentration of people living, working, socialising, or travelling in the area.
Features that both cause and/or indicate a concentration of people include the number of commercial premises, including licensed premises and fast-food premises, public transport, and social deprivation. In some areas, these features are combined.
Hampshire Constabulary collaborates with Thames Valley Police, including the joint operation unit (incorporating specialist policing services, for example, firearms, and dog support). It shares two chief officer posts with Thames Valley and has increased the scope of the collaboration to incorporate information and communications technology, and contact management.
The force collaborates with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire County Council to provide transactional services such as finance and human resource management.
Looking ahead to 2017
In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how the force responds to this assessment and to the areas for improvement that HMIC identified last year.
I will be particularly interested to see:
- how the force improves its response to domestic abuse;
- how the force improves the quality of its investigations; and
- how the force improves its understanding of the well-being needs of its workforce, and reduces the delay for occupational health services.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Hampshire Constabulary requires improvement in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our overall judgment is a deterioration on last year, when we judged the force to be good.
The force should be commended for its commitment to neighbourhood policing and it has improved how it tackles serious and organised crime. It generally protects vulnerable people well. However, HMIC has serious concerns about the way in which the force is supporting some victims of domestic abuse. The force needs to take action to address the low arrest rates for domestic abuse related crimes and the disproportionately high number of investigations that are not progressing due to the victim not supporting police action.
Hampshire Constabulary requires improvement overall in its effectiveness. Since our 2015 inspection the performance of the force has deteriorated in some important areas, especially in the way that it responds to some victims of domestic abuse.
Overall the force is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. Its successful approach in these areas is based on a collaborative problem-solving approach, which involves working closely and sharing information with partner agencies such as local authorities, housing associations and health services. This helps the force to understand the threats facing its communities, keep people safe, and successfully reduce anti-social behaviour.
The force is to be commended for its commitment to neighbourhood policing. It engages very well with the community and uses tailored methods (such as formal public consultation meetings, less formal events such as ‘coffee with cops’ and social media) to make sure that it understands and responds to the public’s needs. The force is good at identifying and using best practice and is putting more sophisticated methods in place to review success.
However, HMIC has significant concerns about the way that the force responds to some vulnerable victims. It has unacceptably low arrest rates for crimes relating to domestic abuse and a very high proportion (over 60 percent) of domestic abuse cases where cases do not proceed on the grounds that ‘the victim does not support police action’. The proportion of domestic abuse incidents that result in arrest or formal police action has reduced markedly over the last year and is now the lowest in England and Wales. This means that some victims of domestic abuse in Hampshire may not be receiving adequate support through the use of police powers of arrest, prosecution or out of court action; far fewer offenders are being brought to justice compared to the rate across England and Wales as a whole. The force would have been judged as inadequate overall in how it protects vulnerable people, had it not already identified the problem and started to take steps to address the concerns before our inspection began. There remains much for the force to do.
HMIC also has concerns about the force’s practice of conducting some domestic abuse risk assessments over the telephone rather than face-to-face. In some of the cases we examined, the full extent of the risk to the victim and any children involved was not fully identified, and actions taken to deal with the perpetrator were inappropriate. These failings present risks to victims which we drew to the attention of the force. We note that the force has now decided to suspend this practice.
Despite the concerns around how the force deals with some aspects of domestic abuse, protecting vulnerable people is a priority for the force. It is good at identifying people who might be vulnerable and staff have a good understanding of how to respond. The force works innovatively to protect some of the most vulnerable people and has robust systems to ensure those people vulnerable to sexual exploitation and who are suffering from mental illness are safeguarded.
The way in which Hampshire Constabulary investigates crime is another area that requires improvement, although its arrangements to prevent further offending by persistent offenders and to protect the public from dangerous offenders are good. The force’s performance in some important areas has deteriorated markedly since last year. The number of offenders who are arrested by the force has declined over the last 12 months and a smaller proportion of offenders are dealt with through the criminal justice system than in many other parts of England and Wales.
The force is good at tackling serious and organised crime with processes in place to identify relevant threats from serious and organised crime. It is increasing its use of partnership data to improve its understanding of these threats. Neighbourhood officers’ involvement both in tackling serious and organised crime and in raising awareness is particularly good. The force works well with other agencies and has initiatives in place to deter people from being drawn into serious and organised crime.
Hampshire Constabulary is well prepared to respond to national threats under The Strategic Policing Requirement and has appropriate exercise, testing and training arrangements in place at local, regional and national levels. The force works well with partner organisations and other forces in the region to coordinate its activities. It is very well prepared to respond to incidents requiring an armed response.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Hampshire Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. It has a good understanding of current demand for its services and has made progress identifying so-called hidden demand, such as child sexual exploitation. The force is developing its understanding of likely future demand. It uses its resources well to manage current demand and collaborates effectively with other police forces and organisations. The force has sound financial plans and ambitious plans to transform the service in the future. In last year’s efficiency inspection, Hampshire Constabulary was judged to be good.
Since HMIC’s 2015 inspection, Hampshire Constabulary has continued to be efficient in how it keeps people safe and reduces crime. It has a good understanding of its current and likely future demand and has undertaken comprehensive analysis of demand for its operating model, regularly adjusting the model according to new information. The force works with other agencies in order to understand and reduce demand. It is seeking to understand demand that is less likely to be reported and is working with another police force and a university to develop an evidence base for predicting demand. The force recognises how inefficient internal processes create unnecessary demand and takes action to identify and eliminate them. It is also developing a good understanding of future demand and is taking steps to increase the sophistication of its assessments. It has used anticipated future demand to inform the themes of its latest organisational change project. The force is developing its capability to address future demand, including a strong focus on cyber-crime, but needs to do more to ensure that all staff are suitably trained.
Hampshire Constabulary is good in the way it uses resources to manage demand. It uses detailed information about processes and demand to inform the allocation of resources across the force. The force’s strategic priorities are clearly defined and outcomes are rigorously monitored. It continually challenges itself to improve services while reducing costs. Hampshire Constabulary is committed collaboration and sees this as an important way of reducing costs and improving efficiency. For example, it collaborates with Thames Valley Police on ICT and in a joint operating unit for roads policing, dogs, firearms and public order. The two forces are implementing a joint contact management system and a new customer web portal to help manage demand. Tablets and smart phones for frontline staff are already improving efficiency. The force is also working well with other agencies to help manage demand more effectively, including the fire, ambulance and mental health services, and local government agencies. Hampshire Constabulary has some understanding of its current workforce skills and capabilities, but at present information about its staff is held in different databases and so it does not have a force-wide understanding of its workforce. Its performance and development review system for staff does not feed into an overall database. The force recognises this as an area for improvement and work is underway to create a database holding all of the workforce’s current skills and abilities.
Hampshire Constabulary has good plans to address future demand on its services and some elements of its approach are outstanding. It is good at identifying and prioritising areas to invest in the future, based on realistic and prudent assumptions. It continues to deliver savings, mainly through planned staff reductions and the implementation of a new operating model. However, the force shows particular strength in its comprehensive and ambitious plans to transform service delivery through ICT. In developing these plans, it has brought in expertise, worked collaboratively with partners and consulted the public. It has also begun a second organisational change programme (HC2020) through which it plans to create a workforce with the required capabilities to deal with its future demands, although workforce planning is in its early stages. This, together with its investment in IT, represents a forward-looking, sustainable approach to transforming services despite reducing budgets and a relentless approach to identifying further opportunities to reduce costs.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Hampshire Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our findings this year are consistent with last year’s findings, in which we judged the force to be good in respect of legitimacy.
The force and its workforce understand the importance of treating the public with fairness and respect, and the force seeks and acts on feedback. It has good arrangements for identifying risks to the integrity of the organisation. It takes seriously any abuse of power for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) and has improved staff awareness of this issue.
The force is committed to the wellbeing of its workforce.
Hampshire Constabulary is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect and this is a central part of the force’s values. The force actively seeks feedback and challenge; for example, from independent advisory groups, independent custody visitors and online surveys, as well as by working with specific groups in the community. It acts on this information to improve its service to the public and ensures the workforce are aware of good practice and lessons learnt by publishing examples on the force intranet. However, it could improve how it demonstrates to the public what action it has taken.
The force has good arrangements for vetting people applying to be officers, staff and volunteers, and undertakes some vetting of contractors. It also vets officers and staff on promotion or when moving to a more sensitive area of work. However, there is a backlog in re-vetting those people who have not been vetted for ten years, which the force is addressing.
Hampshire Constabulary has a systematic approach to clarifying and reinforcing acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. It is effective at identifying threats to the integrity of the organisation and undertakes proactive and reactive investigations to identify potential corruption. The workforce are aware of the confidential service for reporting information about possible corruption.
The force recognises the abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) as serious corruption. It routinely seeks information and intelligence relating to corruption from non-policing bodies, and has plans to extend this to organisations such as women’s refuges.
Hampshire Constabulary uses a range of methods to identify the issues that affect the workforce’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. However, it could improve its understanding by conducting exit interviews with those leaving the force, and by monitoring annual performance appraisals for data relating to staff perceptions. In addition, some staff do not feel confident that they would be listened to if they complained.
The force understands the importance of workforce wellbeing and has provided a range of services, including gym facilities, training for staff to support those with mental health needs and an employee support line for advice from welfare officers. Advice is also given on stress management. However, the force cannot collate easily all the information concerning wellbeing, such as sickness data, mental health wellbeing referrals or the impact of occupational health referrals, and so cannot achieve a comprehensive understanding of the needs of its workforce. In addition, delays in staff accessing occupational health services indicate that the current level of services is inadequate.
Hampshire Constabulary also needs to improve how it manages the performance of its officers and staff. The performance development review system is used inconsistently. It is not monitored closely for completion or value, and the review does not link consistently with performance improvement. The force as a whole does not have access to a system through which it can gather and monitor data centrally.
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.
Police leadership is crucial in enabling a force to be effective, efficient and legitimate. This inspection focused on how a force understands, develops and displays leadership through its organisational development.
Hampshire Constabulary has developed a vision for 2020, which describes the types of workforce and leadership behaviours necessary for the force to provide policing services as the needs of the community change. It has worked well to improve its leadership capability, and has developed specific leadership training to grow the capability of its leaders. We found that this is having a positive effect, which should be enhanced even further if the force extends this to raise awareness among the workforce about the force’s expectations for leaders. The force is developing its understanding of leadership capabilities across the organisation. This understanding is more detailed around capacity than in respect of capabilities or experience. There are firm plans to address this gap. These plans should help the force to build on the work it has done to develop its understanding of leadership capabilities across the organisation and to develop diverse teams.
The force has a positive approach to innovation, evidence-based policing, and has a good track record of bringing in new ideas to improve service to the public. It could, however, do more to capture internally-generated good practice. Some staff are unclear about how to bring good ideas to the attention of senior officers.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Hampshire Constabulary.