Humberside PEEL 2016
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Humberside Police requires improvement in how it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year, when we also judged the force to require improvement. The force does not consistently identify vulnerable people, and its response to victims needing urgent help is sometimes unacceptably delayed. Its investigation of crime also requires improvement. Victims receive a good service from specialist investigators, but other investigations are inconsistent. In contrast, the force works well with other organisations to prevent crime, tackles serious and organised crime effectively and it is well prepared to address nationally-identified threats.
Humberside Police is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. Officers and police and community support officers understand the risk and harm within communities, and they work effectively with partner organisations to resolve local problems.
In overall terms, the ability of Humberside Police to investigate crime requires improvement. When victims of crime first make contact with the force it is not certain that their immediate needs will be properly assessed. In instances where the service provided lacks urgency, important evidence can be lost and victims unnecessarily exposed to harm.
The quality of investigation is inconsistent. Crimes such as theft which occur in high volumes are sometimes investigated poorly due to a lack of proper guidance and supervision. This contrasts with the enquiries of specialist investigators, who are better trained and victim-focused. These shortcomings were brought to the attention of the force in 2015. It is disappointing that they have not been addressed more comprehensively.
The force’s procedures to assess the initial risk of vulnerable victims within the control room are weak and are not subject to effective supervision. There are therefore occasions when the force is failing victims.
Humberside Police is good at tackling serious and organised crime, and has maintained its performance in this area since HMIC’s 2015 effectiveness report. The force is also in an appropriate state of readiness to address the national threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement. The force forms part of an effective collaboration with other forces in the Humber and Yorkshire region, and there are tried and tested arrangements in place for responding to major crime, acts of terrorism, and other emergencies.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Humberside Police is judged to be good regarding its effectiveness in preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. Although levels of crime are increasing in the area, this is in line with trends elsewhere in England and Wales. Furthermore, there have been sustained reductions in reported incidents of anti-social behaviour. The force understands well the threat of risk and harm within the communities it serves. It researches thoroughly the individual characteristics and demographics of each ward. Local officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) communicate effectively with local people, are available to meet them personally and have significant Twitter and Facebook followings.
The force uses a wide range of high-impact tactics to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. The best tactics to use are thoroughly considered for each operational plan. The methodology the force uses ensures that it strikes a good balance between enforcing the law, preventing crime, protecting vulnerable individuals, and making communities more resilient to crime and anti-social behaviour.
Best practice is shared throughout the force area and Humberside Police frequently invites other forces to conduct peer reviews so that it can continually improve its service.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Overall, the ability of Humberside Police to investigate crime effectively requires improvement. When victims of crime first make contact with the force, it is not certain there is a lack of certainty that their immediate needs will be properly assessed. This means that there are some instances when the service provided lacks urgency, important evidence may be lost and victims are unnecessarily exposed to harm.
When the force allocates allegations of crime for investigation, it generally directs them to officers with the appropriate levels of skills and experience. However, the standards of investigation are variable. Specialist detectives, investigating more complex crime or crime associated with vulnerable victims, are better trained and able to manage investigations to a high standard. By contrast, the standard of investigation of the more routine, higher-volume type of crime is unreliable. This is because inexperienced investigators lack proper guidance and supervision. Some of these findings were highlighted to the force in HMIC’s 2015 inspections. It is disappointing that not all of the concerns have been comprehensively addressed to improve the service to victims.
The way in which the force manages offenders to prevent them causing harm in Humberside’s communities is more effective. In particular, the force works closely with the most prolific criminals to help them turn away from crime.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that all investigations are completed to a consistently good standard and in a timely manner.
- The force should ensure that there is regular and active supervision of investigations to improve quality and progress.
- The force should ensure that suspects in criminal investigations are accurately identified. Thereafter, it needs to establish effective measures to ensure that such suspects are either prosecuted or formally eliminated from enquiries.
- The force should improve its initial investigation of crimes by giving responding officers access to photographic and/or video-recording equipment with which to secure better evidence.
- The force should take immediate steps to understand the reasons why such a high proportion of crimes fall into the outcome category ‘Evidential difficulties; victim does not support police action’, and rectify this to ensure that it is pursuing justice on behalf of victims. Humberside Police is one of several forces that have been asked to review its use of this outcome category. It is recommended that by 1 May 2017 the force should produce and submit to HMIC an action plan that sets out how it will:
- undertake a comprehensive analysis of the use of this outcome across the force area to understand fully why the force is an outlier, and produce an accompanying report for scrutiny by HMIC by 1 June 2017;
- review the extent to which the force’s use of this outcome category is appropriate; and
- take steps to reduce the force’s reliance on this outcome category and improve outcomes for victims.
This action plan and subsequent report will be reviewed by HMIC and may prompt additional inspection revisits during 2017 in order to assess the force’s progress in adopting a more effective response in pursuing justice on behalf of victims.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Humberside Police is inadequate in how it is protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims. HMIC found that it routinely fails to identify vulnerable people when they contact the force, and that the level of service given to them is inadequate. The force’s procedures to assess the risk to victims are weak and they are not subject to effective supervision. Therefore, evidence is sometimes lost and opportunities to protect victims from further harm are missed.
The force commissioned a peer review of domestic abuse that has led to a number of changes. These have seen improvements in how often preventative legislation is being used to protect victims and prohibit perpetrators from being intimidating or causing further harm.
However, inconsistencies HMIC identified in 2015 in the quality of investigations, and in the capacity of the force to respond promptly to people who need their help, have not been adequately addressed. This is a cause of concern.
More positively, the force works well with partner organisations to safeguard victims during the course of investigations. At a number of venues, officers and staff work alongside other service providers. This means that a broad range of expertise and facilities are brought together to give practical support to victims.
As a consequence of the causes of concern set out in the Humberside PEEL: Police effectiveness 2016 report, HMICFRS has re-visited the force to assess the progress made since the initial inspection.
Cause of concern
The force’s ability to assess vulnerability when victims first make contact, and the timeliness of the response they receive, are causes of concern. First, there needs to be an assured method of identifying the threat and risks faced by callers. Then, Humberside Police needs to be certain that there are officers available to respond to their needs. These topics were included in HMIC’s observations about the force in 2015 and they now need to be addressed urgently.
- The force should improve its initial assessment and response to vulnerable people by ensuring that control room staff apply the THRIVE risk assessment principles effectively.
- In order to keep victims safe, the force’s response to incidents must be determined by the initial assessment of risk rather than the availability of response officers.
- Any decision to delay a response to domestic abuse must be fully justified and subject to objective supervision.
- Steps need to be taken to ensure that investigations of domestic abuse allegations are in line with the force’s published standards, irrespective of the risk categorisation of the victim.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
Humberside Police is assessed as good at tackling serious and organised crime. It has maintained this level of performance since HMIC’s 2015 effectiveness report. The force generally has a good understanding of organised crime. This could be developed still further if the force had access to data held by third party organisations to improve its knowledge.
The force has good procedures in place to scrutinise the activity against organised crime groups (OCGs). Each group is effectively managed by a nominated officer. These officers are well trained, knowledgeable, and have access to appropriate resources and tactics to help prevent, disrupt or detect criminality. Its organised crime team works well with local officers who also play an important role in containing criminality.
Humberside Police has a proud track record of youth involvement, much of which is directed at steering youngsters away from gang violence and substance misuse. The establishment of joint agency hubs will soon supplement established programmes in Humberside. As part of the national ‘Troubled families’ programme, these hubs will bring resources together from several organisations to work with households with long-running associations with organised crime.
Areas for improvement
- The force should further develop its serious and organised crime local profile in conjunction with other interested parties to enhance its understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime and inform joint activity aimed at reducing this threat.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Humberside Police is in an advanced state of preparedness to fulfil its expected contribution to the national threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement.
The force has reached this position through the part it plays in the Humber and Yorkshire regional collaboration with three other forces. The four forces in the region have appointed a chief officer as the strategic lead to co-ordinate the development of the region’s ability to counter the national threats.
The region’s resilience forum draws together police forces, fire and ambulance services, and local councils as well as other organisations, to test the joint agency response to crisis management. The forum has developed the region’s emergency procedures manual and the joint protocols within it are tested in an annual cycle of exercises.
In conjunction with other forces in the region, Humberside Police is boosting its numbers of armed officers as part of the national armed policing uplift programme. The force expects to increase its resources in this area within the scheduled timescale.