Nottinghamshire PEEL 2016
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Nottinghamshire Police has been assessed as 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. There are weaknesses in the way the force prevents crime and tackles anti-social behaviour. The force’s response to vulnerable people is inadequate because of unacceptable delays in responding to some high-risk incidents. However, the force is good at investigating crime and tackling serious and organised crime.
Nottinghamshire Police’s effectiveness at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe requires improvement. The force’s understanding of the communities it serves, the risks they face and their priorities is limited. We found that there are inconsistent local arrangements to meet with communities. Local teams still do not have sufficient information to enable them to improve their understanding of local communities.
The force makes good use of a wide range of police powers to tackle anti-social behaviour. Problem-solving with partner organisations, including community safety partnerships, is well structured across the force area and there is effective joint working. However, although neighbourhood officers attend incidents of anti-social behaviour and emergency incidents in their area they are also often taken away, on a pre-planned basis, to support response teams in other areas. This affects their ability to work with partner organisations on longer-term problem-solving and crime prevention.
The force does not evaluate operations consistently and does not always identify and share good practice across the force or with partner organisations; doing so would help it improve its approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
Nottinghamshire Police is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. Offences are investigated to a good standard by officers and staff with the right skills whose workloads are manageable.
The force has a well-structured integrated offender management scheme that, with partner organisations, actively manages those offenders who pose a risk to the public. It is successful in reducing re-offending and deterring people from becoming involved in organised crime. The force is adequately prepared to manage the risk posed by dangerous and sexual offenders.
Nottinghamshire Police’s effectiveness at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims is inadequate. The force is failing to support some victims and to protect some vulnerable people from harm. It continues to demonstrate an insufficient understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability and does not work well enough with partner organisations to share information to prevent crime and protect vulnerable victims.
The use of risk assessments in the control room at initial contact and the recording of the rationale for attendance are inconsistent. When the control room and response teams are busy, how quickly the police respond is too often determined by the availability of response officers rather than the risks faced by victims. This weakness is compounded by the force’s current shortcomings in recording crime properly. The force cannot be confident that all victims are getting the service they need when they need it.
Nottinghamshire Police is good at tackling serious and organised crime. Frontline officers and staff now have a better awareness of organised crime group activity in their local areas and the force’s activity is having a positive effect. The force works well with partner organisations to reduce re-offending and prevent people from becoming involved in serious and organised crime.
Nottinghamshire Police has effective specialist capabilities and is generally well prepared to deal with the threats identified in the Strategic Policing Requirement, such as terrorism and civil emergencies. The force tests and exercises its response to these threats on a regular basis with other emergency services and partner organisations, such as the fire and rescue service 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 effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Nottinghamshire Police’s approach to preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour requires improvement. The force’s performance in this area has deteriorated, as last year we judged the force to be good. HMIC is concerned that the force is not recording crime as effectively as it should, and there are delays in crimes being recorded. The force recognises this problem and is putting a remedy in place. However, there is still some way to go before the force can be confident that its crime records are accurate and up to date, which means that some vulnerable victims may not be getting the service from the police that they need at the time when they need it.
There is a limited understanding of the local communities served by policing teams, both in terms of the risks they face and their local priorities. The force is trying to take some steps to improve its ability to assess complex, emerging and hidden crimes. It uses a range of methods to engage with communities and makes good use of social media to communicate with the public. However, it does not routinely seek the views of the public to understand what matters to them and it acts inconsistently on any feedback it does obtain.
There is a structured collaborative approach to local problem-solving which is well-established in some areas. However neighbourhood officers are often taken away from their assigned neighbourhood area, which means that they cannot dedicate enough time to proactive, preventative policing in communities. When problems are tackled, the full range of tactics and interventions to prevent crime and deal with anti-social behaviour are used and there is a new system to share information routinely with partner organisations to tackle long-term problems. Large-scale operations are routinely evaluated, but smaller-scale, neighbourhood-focused operations are not evaluated. Good practice is not always identified and shared across the force in order to improve services to the public.
Areas for improvement
- The force should work with partner organisations to share information and improve its understanding of local communities.
- The force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with other organisations, to continually improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.
- The force should ensure that its focus on crime prevention is not undermined by the redeployment of neighbourhood officers and staff to undertake reactive duties way from their assigned neighbourhood area.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Nottinghamshire Police is good at investigating crime. However, there is a lack of capacity within the response officer teams during periods of high demand which is affecting the force’s ability to respond effectively to some calls for service. HMIC is concerned to find that there are inconsistencies in the way risk is assessed at the first point of contact. This weakness is compounded by the force’s current shortcomings in recording crime properly and means that the force cannot be assured that all victims are getting the service they need from the police at the time when they need it.
Also of great concern is the fact that some calls that are initially assessed as high risk and requiring prompt police attendance are downgraded to a slower response, in some cases many days later, because there are insufficient resources available at the time to cope with peak demand. This specific concern is dealt with in the next section of the report where HMIC judges the force is inadequate in how it protects those who are vulnerable from harm, and supports victims. We judge the force to be good in how the force investigates crime because when officers are dispatched and an investigation of a crime follows these investigations are good, forensic evidence is recorded effectively and in the vast majority of cases there is an adequate handover and the case is allocated to the most appropriately skilled officers and staff. More complex investigations are followed through thoroughly with good results, effective digital investigation methods are considered and there are good techniques to examine digital devices. Victims are provided with a satisfactory service, including dealing with individual concerns so they can give evidence at court, victim updates are provided promptly and victims are given the opportunity to make a victim personal statement.
There is a well-structured integrated offender management (IOM) scheme which, with partner organisations, actively manages those offenders who pose a risk to the public. There are successes in reducing re-offending and, together with the Vanguard team (which manages OCG offenders) the IOM helps deter people from getting involved in organised crime. The force is adequately prepared to manage the risk posed by dangerous and sexual offenders.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Nottinghamshire Police is failing to effectively support some victims and protect some vulnerable people from harm. The force has made insufficient progress to improve some of the weaknesses identified by HMIC in our 2015 inspection. The force continues to demonstrate an insufficient understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability, and its work with partner organisations is inconsistent.
There are weaknesses in the processes for identifying vulnerable and repeat victims at the first point of contact and there is an inconsistent approach to the assessment of victims’ risks. HMIC is concerned that, as a consequence, the force sometimes provides vulnerable people with a poor initial response largely because of the inappropriate demands placed on the control room and response officers; this means that there is often insufficient capacity to provide the level of service needed.
The force conducts the necessary immediate safeguarding actions at initial response but sometimes fails to share sufficient information about children with external organisations and agencies. Specialist investigations are supervised to identify risk and vulnerability and ensure investigations and victim care plans are carried out. However, scrutiny of these plans is not always recorded. The force sometimes fails to ensure that appropriate ongoing specialist safeguarding arrangements are in place for vulnerable victims.
On a more positive note, HMIC found that frontline officers and staff understand how to identify and protect those who are vulnerable and work positively in relation to vulnerable victims. Offences are investigated to a good standard by people with the right skills and with manageable workloads.
Cause of concern
Nottinghamshire Police is failing to respond appropriately to some people who are vulnerable and at risk at the initial point of contact. This means that early opportunities to safeguard victims and secure evidence at the scene are being missed, and victims are being put at risk.
To address these causes of concern, HMIC recommends that the force should take immediate steps to ensure that:
- it improves its initial assessment and response to incidents involving all vulnerable people, by ensuring that staff working in call handling understand and complete assessments of threat, risk and harm to appropriate standards, consistently record them on force systems and are supervised effectively;
- its response to incidents is determined by this initial assessment of risk in order to ensure victims are kept safe, and not by the availability of response officers.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that officers and staff understand how children can be affected by domestic abuse, and that there is a process to ensure they undertake safeguarding actions and make referrals to other organisations which have a role in safeguarding.
- The force should improve the way it works with partner organisations to share information and safeguard victims of domestic abuse and their children, specifically in relation to addressing the backlog of cases that require further assessment and referral to other organisations.
- The force should improve its approach to safeguarding victims of domestic abuse who are assessed as high risk. It should review the referral process to multi agency risk assessment conferences to ensure that victims of domestic abuse are not being placed at risk as a result.
- The force should work with partner organisations to improve its understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability within its local area.
As a consequence of the causes of concern set out in the Nottinghamshire PEEL: Police effectiveness 2016 report, HMICFRS has re-visited the force to assess the progress made since the initial inspection.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
Nottinghamshire Police is good at tackling serious and organised crime; the force was also graded as good in this area in 2015. The force has continued to invest in its own specialist officers to tackle serious and organised crime and it has access to an extensive range of specialist policing capabilities provided by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU).
The force has raised awareness among frontline officers and staff on organised crime group activity in their local areas and this improves co-ordinated activity and leads to a better intelligence picture. However, the force needs to develop its approach and extend its understanding of the threats and problems posed by serious and organised crime in Nottinghamshire, with partner agencies contributing their data fully.
Force activity has a positive effect on tackling serious and organised crime. A management plan is used and disruption activity is recorded and analysed to examine the effect of this activity. Good practice and learning are shared. However, risk management to identify priority offenders is not well understood and, as a result, those potential offenders who pose the most risk to the community may not be identified and the risks may not be effectively managed.
Good use is made of serious crime prevention orders (SCPOs), and the force is developing a systematic approach to the lifetime management of offenders. The EMSOU is currently reviewing how it can create a more joined up and consistent process across the region.
The force works well with partner organisations to prevent people from becoming involved in serious and organised crime by providing protection advice and publicising successful operations.
Areas for improvement
- The force should further develop its serious and organised crime local profile in conjunction with partner organisations to enhance its understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime.
- The force should complete an action plan that sets out the steps it will take to maximise use of regional organised crime unit capabilities, minimise duplication at force level, and ensure that the use of shared regional organised crime unit (ROCU) resources is prioritised effectively between forces in the East Midlands region.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Nottinghamshire Police has effective specialist capabilities and is generally well prepared to deal with complex and strategic threats. The force has assessed all the threats identified in the Strategic Policing Requirement, although there is a lack of depth and breadth to some of the assessments because they lack partnership data and input. There are good arrangements in place to lead the force’s response to such threats. The force tests and exercises its response to these threats on a regular basis with other emergency services and partner organisations, like the fire and rescue service and the military.
The force is part of a collaboration called the East Midlands operational support services, which has adequately assessed the threat of an attack requiring an armed response. Plans are in place to increase firearms capability by March 2017. Progress is being made with an interim plan and the recruitment of officers to achieve the budgeted number of firearms officers.