Leicestershire 2016Read more about Leicestershire 2016
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Leicestershire Police. 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 force is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The extent to which the force is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The extent to which the force 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 Leicestershire Police’s overall performance. However, there are some areas where the force recognises that it needs to improve in order to provide a consistently good service.
I am very pleased that the force continues to provide a consistently good service to the public in preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
The force works hard to understand the needs of the communities it serves, making good use of social media to help with crime prevention.
However, although the force has made some progress, I am disappointed that Leicestershire Police has not improved the way in which it protects some vulnerable victims. The force’s practice of downgrading risk in some high-risk domestic abuse cases is of particular concern. If these victims do not receive appropriate support from the police and its partner organisations, such as local councils, they could potentially be put at risk of further harm.
I am also concerned about how Leicestershire Police investigates crime. An overly complex process for dealing with investigations is hampering the force’s ability to carry out effective and timely investigations.
However, Leicestershire Police has effective processes to identify and then investigate organised crime groups. It is increasing its use of partnership information and intelligence to gain a better understanding of the threats posed by this high-end criminality and to take effective action against it. I am pleased to see that the force is working hard to prevent young people being drawn into this type of crime, as well as deterring those who have been involved in organised crime from returning to it.
I am reassured that Leicestershire Police has sustained its good track record of reducing costs and reinvesting in high-priority areas. It has a good understanding of the current demands for its services and is able to target its resources accordingly.
I am pleased that Leicestershire Police expects to increase spending on ever-expanding areas of policing such as child sexual exploitation and safeguarding, and I welcome its ambitious plans to increase its effective collaborative working with other forces. It is also working well with local councils, health, probation, fire and ambulance services to provide a more seamless public service; to share information; and to take a joined-up approach to solving local problems and supporting troubled families.
The force is committed to treating the people it serves with fairness and respect, and seeks both positive feedback and challenge from the public. It does, however, need to do more analysis of the information it receives from the public, to identify and address the areas it could improve on, with the aim of further increasing public trust.
The force responds well to reports of possible corruption, but greater capacity in its anti-corruption unit would enable it to seek out this information proactively. I would also like to see it do more to clarify and reinforce what constitutes acceptable behaviour, particularly in relation to abuse of power for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime).
I am pleased to confirm that the force treats its workforce fairly and respectfully. The focus on ensuring the well-being of staff and officers is testament to this, and it is encouraging that supervisors have a comprehensive understanding of their well-being responsibilities.
In summary, I am satisfied that in some areas the force continues to provide a good service to the people of Leicestershire. I am reassured that the force is addressing the areas for improvement that we have identified this year.
Leicestershire Police provides policing services to the counties of Leicestershire and Rutland. Leicestershire has a high level of poverty, although there are some more affluent areas. The force area is home to around 1.1 million people, who mainly live in the city of Leicester and the towns of Loughborough, Market Harborough and Melton Mowbray.
The resident population is ethnically diverse, with 22 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by the very large number of university students and those who visit, socialise in, or travel through the county. The transport infrastructure includes 114 miles of motorway and trunk roads, rail stations and an airport.
The proportion of areas in Leicestershire that are predicted (on the basis of detailed economic and demographic analysis) to present a very high challenge to the police is broadly in line with 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 which 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.
Leicestershire Police works with other forces within the East Midlands and is part of a collaboration that provides policing and support services, such as major crime, special branch and forensics.
The force is also part of the East Midlands operations support service, a collaboration with Lincolnshire Police, Northamptonshire Police and Nottinghamshire Police that provides support such as armed response, search, roads policing and dog services.
Looking ahead to 2017
In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how Leicestershire Police 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 investigations of crime and its services to vulnerable people;
- how the force develops its understanding of workforce’s skills and knowledge;
- how the force develops its understanding of the likely future demands for its services; and
- the progress of the force’s ambitious plans to increase further its collaborative working.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Leicestershire Police 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 is effective in some important areas of activity, such as neighbourhood policing and tackling serious and organised crime. However, some areas of weakness remain that were identified in HMIC’s 2015 effectiveness inspection. We found considerable inconsistencies in how well the force investigates crime and how effectively it protects those who are vulnerable and supports victims, particularly for crimes involving domestic abuse.
Leicestershire Police’s approach to preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour is good. The force uses a structured approach to solving problems and ensures that it evaluates the effectiveness of its response. Neighbourhood policing teams understand their local communities and work well with partner organisations, such as local councils. These teams make good use of social media to raise awareness of police services and activity, and for public safety messages. The force is continually broadening its approach to keeping people safe and preventing crime. For example, it has introduced digital police community support officers (PCSOs) to help to keep people safe online, and safeguarding PCSOs to work with the most vulnerable people, and it has a high-profile campaign to warn young people about the dangers of online activity.
However, the force’s effectiveness at investigating crime and reducing re-offending requires improvement. The force’s process for dealing with crime investigations is very complex, which often hampers its ability to investigate crimes effectively and in a timely manner. HMIC found that the force’s initial investigative response is too often not good enough. Its investigation process relies on cases being handed over from one officer to another and we found the quality and quantity of the evidential material within handovers is variable. Although complex and sensitive crimes are allocated to appropriate staff and are investigated well with good supervision, there is inconsistent supervision and structure of investigations for more common crimes. The proportion of investigations that result in charges and summons has declined since last year and is below the rate for England and Wales. The force does not fully understand the reasons for the decline in bringing offenders to justice.
Overall victim satisfaction rates continue to decline. The force needs to do more to maintain contact with victims during the course of the investigation and ensure that the views of the victim about the impact of the crime are properly recorded in victim personal statements.
Leicestershire Police’s effectiveness at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims also requires improvement. HMIC remains concerned by the force’s continued practice of downgrading risk in domestic abuse cases where the victim is initially identified as being at high risk of serious harm or death. We found about half of all high-risk cases were downgraded, which means fewer victims who were initially assessed as being at high risk of harm are having their cases referred to specialist staff to undertake the investigation. This also means that these victims do not then have access to the best available support from other organisations.
The force needs to do more to understand why its arrest rate for domestic abuse is considerably below the England and Wales rate, and why the proportion of arrests for domestic abuse leading to a charge or summons has also fallen over the last year.
Leicestershire Police’s effectiveness at tackling serious and organised crime is good. It has effective processes to identify and then investigate organised crime groups, and it prioritises its resources based on assessments of threat, harm, risk and vulnerability. The force works well with partner organisations and uses information from them to help its understanding of the effects of serious and organised crime on its communities. It supports several initiatives to help prevent people from becoming involved in, or returning to, serious and organised crime.
The force has good plans to respond to the threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement and undertakes regular exercises with other emergency services and the military.
The force is part of the East Midlands operational support services collaboration, which has adequately assessed the threat of an attack requiring an armed response. Plans are in place to increase the force’s firearms capability by March 2017.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Leicestershire Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force has a good understanding of current demand for its services, but could do more to understand likely future demand. It uses its resources well to manage current demand, reallocating some resources to high-priority areas such as public protection. The force has a good track record of reducing costs and reinvesting in high priority areas, and collaborates well with other forces and organisations in the region. It works hard to increase its efficiency and improve the service it provides. In last year’s efficiency inspection, Leicestershire Police was judged to be good.
Since HMIC’s 2015 inspection, Leicestershire Police has continued to be efficient in how it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force has a comprehensive understanding of its current demand. It has used an academic model (the Cambridge harm index) to measure crime, rather than counting types of crime. This means that it can identify those communities suffering the most harm from crime and target resources in those areas. The force is working with partner organisations, such as the health, probation, fire and ambulance services, to understand and assess future demand. It is also working with them to understand the effects of budget cuts and to identify and mitigate any risks.
Leicestershire Police is good at using its resources to manage current demand and has strong processes in place to ensure that it is prioritising its resources. Its rigorous ongoing outcome-based budgeting processes mean the force has a clear understanding of the costs of its services. In conjunction with HR and finance, any costs, savings, investments and the associated staffing changes are clearly tracked and results are analysed to assess their impact. It has a limited understanding of its current workforce skills and capabilities but is seeking to improve its understanding through a skills audit of the workforce. This will be essential for the force to understand and develop the capabilities it needs for the future and meet crucial current gaps in areas such as firearms policing and public protection. The force has a commendable approach to regional collaboration and a good record of joint working arrangements. All five East Midlands forces have collaborated in investment in ICT with the aim of being able to access the same IT systems to reduce costs and improve efficiency. The force needs to ensure it assesses the benefits of the new ICT systems.
The force is good at planning for demand in the future and is developing credible plans based on assessments of likely future demand and anticipated workforce numbers. The force challenges itself to make further savings to increase efficiency and improve on the level of services it provides. Its medium-term financial plan shows the force plans to allocate more resources to areas likely to see increased demand, such as child sexual exploitation and safeguarding. Plans for increased collaborative work with other forces are ambitious in terms of scale and the potential benefits that could be realised. The force has managed its financial position well and should be able to cope if the expected savings from collaboration are not fully realised or delayed.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Leicestershire Police 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 is committed to treating the public with fairness and respect, and it seeks and acts on feedback. However, the force needs to improve its capacity to understand risks to the integrity of the organisation. The force treats its workforce fairly and with respect and supports their wellbeing.
Leicestershire Police is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. It has clear organisational values that are reinforced by training, briefings and other internal events. The workforce have a good understanding of the importance of treating the public with fairness and respect, although their understanding of the force’s values could be improved.
The force seeks feedback and challenge from the people it serves through a variety of channels, including the force’s website, social media, independent advisory groups, public surveys and meetings, and tailored engagement with diverse communities. However, it could do more to analyse feedback and demonstrate to the public that it is taking effective action promptly.
Leicestershire Police needs to improve how it ensures that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Although it conducts vetting checks on all new police officers, staff and volunteer recruits, there is a backlog in vetting officers and staff who joined before 2012, which the force is addressing.
The force’s approach to corruption is reactive and focused on carrying out investigations, rather than proactively seeking intelligence on potential corruption. The anti-corruption unit lacks both capacity and analytical support, meaning that the force has a limited understanding of the risks to the integrity of the organisation.
Leicestershire Police always publishes complaints and gross misconduct investigation outcomes on its website in a timely and accessible way. Misconduct hearings are held in public and information about how the public can attend is also published on its website. The force does not currently publicise the outcomes of misconduct cases across its workforce, although we note that the force has plans to do so.
Knowledge and awareness of abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) is inconsistent across the force. Senior anti-corruption unit officers recognise that this behaviour is one of their main threats. However, the force does not routinely analyse the intelligence received by the anti-corruption unit and so it cannot be certain of the scale of abuse of authority for sexual gain.
Leicestershire Police has a good understanding of what support the workforce needs and has introduced initiatives to promote and sustain physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as provide services to support staff in times of need.
Supervisors across the force have a comprehensive understanding of their wellbeing responsibilities towards staff and the introduction of a new performance appraisal system is a positive step.
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 (for instance, our 2016 leadership assessment); 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.
Leicestershire Police has taken positive steps to set leadership expectations, and understand the skills and capabilities of its leaders. It should do more to ensure that the entire workforce, particularly at sergeant and inspector level, understands leadership expectations, and that it has a clear picture of the leadership skills of its workforce at all ranks and levels.
The force is performing well in the way that it develops its leaders, with a well-considered approach to leadership development. The force can demonstrate positive progress in enhancing its leadership skills and capabilities through its recruitment processes. Leicestershire Police is able to identify potential senior leaders within the workforce, although this is not done consistently at all ranks and grades.
The force displays effective leadership in the way it has created a positive working environment where staff are encouraged to innovate and challenge. We found that officers and staff felt valued and supported and the force is performing well in the extent to which it is developing diverse leadership teams.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Leicestershire Police.