Staffordshire 2016Read more about Staffordshire
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Staffordshire 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.
Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
I am satisfied with most aspects of Staffordshire Police’s overall performance. However, there are some areas that the force needs to improve in order to provide a consistently good service.
I commend the force on the substantial progress it has made since my assessment last year on how it protects vulnerable people. In particular, the force has made marked and sustained improvements in the quality and quantity of its domestic abuse risk assessments.
However, there is still room for improvement in relation to how it manages incidents involving missing persons. The force works effectively with partner organisations to provide safeguarding arrangements for vulnerable people, but needs to improve the consistency of the actions taken by officers.
I am pleased that the force has also improved its approach to investigating crime and reducing re-offending. Most investigations are allocated appropriately and the quality of investigation, particularly among non-specialists, is improving. However, there are occasions when cases are not consistently supervised to check their quality and progress, which can affect outcomes.
The force makes innovative use of integrated offender management, which is helping it achieve consistent reductions in reoffending, but a lack of capacity is causing delays in routine visits to sex offenders.
Staffordshire Police is good at preventing crime and reducing anti-social behaviour, and it works collaboratively with local partner organisations.
I am concerned about the force’s approach to tackling serious and organised crime. It needs to build on the work done already to develop its understanding of the threat posed by organised crime groups operating in Staffordshire and how it disrupts them.
The force has a good understanding of current and future demand for its services, and it is developing its understanding of so-called hidden demands such as internet crime. Since our inspection in 2014, the force has made concerted efforts to improve the accuracy with which it records crimes, and it has made progress in placing the victim at the forefront of crime-recording decisions. The accuracy of its recording is very good in some areas, such as reports of rape.
The force’s financial plans are prudent, and it has a comprehensive understanding of the capabilities of its workforce. Its training and recruitment is planned to address gaps in the skills and knowledge of the workforce, and it has ambitious plans to strengthen its technological capabilities. The force has made a good start on planning for future demands on its service.
The force uses a broad and innovative range of techniques to seek feedback from the public and adjusts its approach to engage with those who may not have confidence in the police. However, the force could make better use of this feedback by taking a more structured approach to analysing it.
I commend the force’s clear focus on well-being, which its workforce believes has led to meaningful action: Staffordshire Police was the first force in England and Wales to achieve Workforce Wellbeing Charter accreditation. The force actively seeks new ideas and approaches, from the workforce and more widely. It is effective at identifying threats to the integrity of the organisation, including corruption, and has the necessary processes for intervening early. The force will want to press on further and develop a rigorous process for post-employment vetting.
In summary, I am heartened by the progress made by Staffordshire Police over the past year and am sure the force will build on this by addressing the remaining areas for improvement.
Staffordshire Police provides policing services to the county of Staffordshire. Staffordshire 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 within the city of Stoke-on-Trent and the towns of Burton-upon-Trent and Stafford.
The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes 134 miles of motorway and trunk roads and major rail stations.
The proportion of areas in Staffordshire 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. The police force area is large, relative to other forces in England and Wales, and it takes a comparatively long time to travel across the area by road, which increases the difficulty of providing police services.
Staffordshire Police has collaborative arrangements with public and private sector organisations, for example, a ten-year technology partnership with a private sector company.
Looking ahead to 2017
In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how Staffordshire Police responds to this assessment and to the areas for improvement that HMIC identified last year.
I will be particularly interested to see:
- how it continues to improve the way it protects vulnerable people from harm;
- how it continues to improve its investigations of crime; and
- how it improves its approach to tackling serious and organised crime.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Staffordshire Police requires improvement in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year, when we also judged the force to require improvement. The force has improved its investigation of crime and the way it protects vulnerable people, but still has work to do. Crime prevention activity is good, but the force’s approach to tackling serious and organised crime requires improvement in some specific areas.
Staffordshire Police requires improvement in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
The force is effective at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. It ensures that its engagement methods are tailored to the public’s needs. It shows continued commitment to working collaboratively with local partner organisations. Its approach to solving problems in the community could be improved by adopting a more structured model.
The force has improved the way it investigates crime and reduces re-offending, but it still requires further improvement. Most investigations are allocated appropriately and investigation quality, particularly among non-specialists, is improving. However, managers are not consistently supervising investigations to check quality and progress where required. Innovative use of integrated offender management is helping the force achieve consistent reductions in re-offending, but a lack of capacity is causing delays to routine visits to sex offenders.
The force has improved significantly how well it protects from harm those who are vulnerable, but it still requires improvement.
The force has introduced improved policies for tackling cases of domestic abuse and of missing persons. Marked improvements in the quality and quantity of domestic abuse risk-assessments have been sustained throughout 2016. The force works effectively with partner organisations to ensure appropriate safeguarding arrangements are in place for vulnerable people. However, the rationale for assessing risk in missing person cases is not always being recorded in sufficient detail, and officers are not always using trigger plans to their full effect. Specialist investigators sometimes fail to use investigation plans and victim contact contracts in cases involving vulnerable people.
The force needs to improve its approach to tackling serious and organised crime. The force has conducted work to assess the threat from serious and organised crime (SOC), but this has not provided it with a complete understanding. It has not completed a force-wide SOC profile and is not mapping all organised crime groups thoroughly. It is making much greater use of its local policing teams in a co-ordinated all-force effort, but needs to implement a more balanced approach to tackling organised crime which places a greater emphasis on protective measures as well as more traditional pursuit and reactive investigation.
The force and its partners use tailored projects to deter people from being drawn into organised crime, and it uses a range of innovative methods to raise awareness about the threat from organised crime and reassure the public about its response.
The force has arrangements in place to respond to the threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement (PDF document) and, although not part of the national uplift programme, it has increased its firearms capacity.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Staffordshire Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
The force generally has a good understanding of its current and future demand.
The force is developing its understanding of the less obvious areas of demand, including hidden demand. However, under recording of some offences may be undermining the forces efforts to develop a more detailed understanding of the full scale and extent of the totality of demand. The force is aware of shrinking partner resources and capacity and is actively engaged with partners to develop a shared understanding of the potential impact on joint working arrangements. The force understands the importance of directing resources towards the highest risks and reviews this systematically. The force is very focused on benefits realisation and has in place effective systems and processes to conduct benefits realisation monitoring across a broad range of business areas to drive efficiency. The force shows a strong commitment to working collaboratively with public and private sector partners, but has less focus on collaborative arrangements with other police forces.
Although the force is planning well for demand in the future, its plans are not yet fully developed. The next phase of the force’s transformation programme is ambitious and it has identified a number of significant work streams for development. Detailed work is necessary to enable the force to assess the extent to which its change programme will transform the way it manages demand and secures efficiencies. The force’s future financial plans are being drawn up in close collaboration with the office of the police and crime commissioner. In devising these plans, the force is making realistic and prudent assumptions about future income and costs.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Staffordshire 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 this respect.
The communities of Staffordshire are treated with fairness and respect, and the force acts on public feedback to improve how it treats people. Good structures and processes are in place to make sure that the workforce behaves lawfully and ethically, but more needs to be done to improve post-employment vetting arrangements. There is a strong focus on workforce wellbeing and the force responds effectively to issues and concerns raised. Improvements are needed to its performance review processes.
Staffordshire Police treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. The force is responsive to the make-up of its community and adjusts its approach to engage with and seek feedback from groups who are difficult to reach.
The force would benefit from a more structured approach to analysing feedback. This would enable it to prioritise those issues that have the greatest impact on public perceptions, and to understand whether its efforts to improve the way it treats people are making a difference.
The force ensures that its workforce behaves lawfully and ethically. It is effective at identifying threats to integrity and has the necessary processes in place to intervene early. The force should develop a robust process for post-employment vetting arrangements. The force frequently uses a range of effective methods to identify the areas which affect its workforce’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. The force undertakes effective and timely action in response to issues raised, such as the need for increased transparency of promotion processes.
Staffordshire Police has a clear and authentic focus on wellbeing and was the first force in England and Wales to achieve Workforce Wellbeing Charter accreditation.
A substantial number of the workforce have not completed a performance review and the force needs to develop its governance and scrutiny arrangements to ensure the performance review process is consistently and fairly applied.
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.
Staffordshire Police has a clear understanding of its leadership expectations. The force’s leadership principles were developed in consultation with the workforce and are both clearly defined and well understood.
The force’s approach to leadership development is inconsistent. It provides a range of development opportunities, but relies on individuals and line managers to identify leadership training needs. Inconsistent use of performance reviews means the force does not fully understand its leadership capabilities and gaps, although it has introduced two new schemes to help address this. The force could make more use of recruitment methods such as Direct Entry.
The force displays leadership by encouraging innovation, with new ideas and new approaches shared via knowledge exchange groups and practitioners’ panels. It also works with academic institutions, professional bodies and other forces to review its practices. The force understands the importance of being representative of its communities and continues in its efforts to recruit more individuals with protected characteristics (such as age, race, sex, disability), as well as employing external candidates with skills that the force currently lacks. It is also making progress towards building diverse leadership teams.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Staffordshire Police.