Staffordshire PEEL 2016
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 and, although not part of the national uplift programme, it has increased its firearms capacity.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
The force is effective at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. This is consistent with last year’s finding. The force uses the MoRiLE process to develop a satisfactory understanding of the threats faced by the community. The force ensures that its various engagement methods are tailored to the public’s needs. Its community engagement board is soon to launch an engagement strategy called ‘a new relationship with the people of Staffordshire’.
In conjunction with the office of the police and crime commissioner, the force has developed ‘Staffordshire Smart Alert’ in consultation with residents and local businesses. In rural areas crime prevention projects address the needs of isolated communities. The force has started an engagement preference mapping exercise and is analysing the volume of community intelligence originating from different sections of the community. The force continues to work collaboratively with local partner organisations. Routine sharing of information is enabling community safety partners to prioritise their resources jointly. The force uses a range of tactics and interventions, including a wide range of civil orders. The force’s approach to solving problems in the community could be improved by the use of a more structured problem-solving approach and routine sharing of good practice.
Areas for improvement
- The force should adopt a structured and consistent problem-solving process to enable it to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour more effectively.
- The force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with partners, to improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour continually.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Staffordshire Police requires improvement in investigating crime and reducing re-offending. The force has improved since 2015, when we also judged it to require improvement, but it still has work to do.
The force uses the THRIVE risk assessment model to assess calls from the public in a structured manner. Frontline staff conduct prompt initial investigation in the critical early stages of most investigations, and investigation quality is improving, particularly among non-specialists (though it is still not good enough).
The force operates a clear attendance policy for crime scene investigators and tracks progress of forensic examinations online. The high-tech crime unit effectively prioritises digital evidence recovery. Digital media examiners recover evidence from media devices such as mobile phones. Extensive and innovative use of integrated offender management (IOM) with a broad range of partner organisations is assisting the force to achieve impressive reductions in re-offending. The force applies IOM principles to reduce violence with a large gang group and runs a trial domestic abuse perpetrator scheme. It has addressed delays to routine visits and risk-assessment of sexual offenders caused by a lack of capacity in its violent and sexual offender management unit.
Weaknesses remain. Although the force’s new crime allocation policy ensures that it allocates most investigations appropriately, this is not yet part of routine practice. Although investigation quality is improving, particularly among non-specialists it is still not good enough. Officers are more focused on victims, but, again, this improvement is also not yet part of routine practice. Managers are not consistently supervising their teams’ investigations. Investigative standards and victim care by specialist investigators in the south of the force’s policing area have declined. Some of the processes to manage the risk posed by sex offenders are not managed effectively.
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 the risks posed by registered sex offenders are managed effectively.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Staffordshire Police still requires improvement in protecting those who are vulnerable and supporting victims, though it has improved on the 2015 judgment of inadequate.
The force understands adequately the nature and scale of vulnerability. It has invested in mandatory vulnerability training for all frontline officers and introduced improved policies for domestic abuse and missing persons. Officers across the whole force are now consistently treating vulnerable victims in a better way. The vast majority of missing person calls are assessed appropriately at the initial point of contact. However, officers are not consistently using trigger plans effectively to conduct necessary immediate safeguarding actions and the rationale for decisions is not always recorded in sufficient detail.
Under force policy risk-assessments are required at all domestic abuse incidents. Marked improvement in the quality and quantity of these has been sustained throughout 2016. This helps the force to conduct immediate and tailored safeguarding activity in domestic abuse cases.
A revised force crime allocation policy ensures that most investigations involving vulnerable victims are allocated to specialist investigators, but the standard of investigation of offences involving vulnerable victims has declined in the southern force safeguarding and investigation team, where we found high caseloads, inconsistent supervision, and cases without investigation plans and victim contact contracts.
The force works effectively with partner organisations to ensure appropriate safeguarding arrangements for vulnerable people. Partner organisations report that working relationships with the force are good. Changes in policy and the improved culture towards victims are resulting in the force identifying a greater number of high-risk domestic abuse victims, the highest increase in the whole of England and Wales. It is working with the office of the police and crime commissioner and partners in the multi-agency risk-assessment conferences to meet this challenge.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its response to missing and absent children by:
- recording in sufficient detail the rationale for decision-making when assessing the risks for missing and absent children;
- acting promptly and effectively on any information which may assist with locating a missing child which is available from previous missing episodes, such as information contained in trigger plans; and
- ensuring that the initial stages of an investigation include effective supervision to provide appropriate and timely inquiries and safeguarding action.
- The force should improve the quality of investigations involving vulnerable people, ensuring that the workloads of specialist investigators are manageable at all times and that such investigations are subject to regular and active supervision.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
The force requires improvement at tackling serious and organised crime. This is a lower grade than 2015 when we judged the force as good.
There are a number of positive features of the way in which Staffordshire Police tackles serious and organised crime. The force appoints a lead responsible officer supported by a specialist tactical advisor for each mapped OCG, and these formulate a disruption plan. Community safety partnerships in each local area ensure that the force and its partners work effectively together to tackle organised crime problems.
The force and its partners use tailored projects to deter people, such as gang members and their younger siblings, from being drawn into organised-crime.
The force could make greater use of these partnership arrangements to target such diversionary activity on identified OCGs. The force is working well with the prison service to ensure a sustained focus on members of organised crime groups while they are in prison and after their release. It uses a range of innovative methods to engage with its communities to raise awareness about the threat from organised crime and to reassure them about the force’s response.
However, the force’s approach to tackling serious and organised crime requires improvement in some areas. The force would have been assessed as good in this area were it not for three specific shortcomings which, taken together, limit the force’s ability to tackle serious and organised crime.
Firstly, the force’s strategic understanding of the threat posed by organised crime groups operating in the force area requires improvement. Although the force has taken steps to assess a range of strategic SOC threats it has yet to develop a force-wide local SOC profile which will give it a comprehensive overview of organised criminal activity.
Secondly, although in some cases the force identifies and maps organised crime groups it is not consistently mapping all OCGs engaged in the newer organised crimes. This means that that for some groups the force’s response is not structured, as set out in national guidance.
Thirdly, although the force is making much greater use of its local policing teams in a co-ordinated all-force effort, the use of all elements of the structured 4Ps (pursue, prevent, protect, prepare), approach is not yet consistent.
Areas for improvement
- The force should further develop its serious and organised crime local profiles in conjunction with partner organisations to enhance its understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime and inform joint activity aimed at reducing this threat.
- The force should ensure that it maps all organised crime groups promptly following identification and re-assesses them at regular intervals in line with national standards.
- The force should ensure that lead responsible officers adopt a 4Ps structure for OCG management plans as part of a long-term, multi-agency approach to dismantling OCGs.
- The force should continue to improve its understanding of the impact of its work on serious and organised crime across the 4Ps, and ensure that it learns from experience to maximise the force’s disruptive effect on this criminal activity.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Staffordshire Police has arrangements in place to respond to the threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement. The force regularly exercises with partner organisations and other emergency services to test its preparedness. The assistant chief constable responsible for this area of activity works with representatives from local public services across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent in the local resilience forum (LRF). The force undertakes regular exercises and deployments with other emergency services and partner organisations in the LRF. It formally assesses all the SPR threats, and the police and crime commissioner regularly holds chief officers to account for the force’s level of preparedness.
Staffordshire Police is well prepared to respond to an attack requiring an armed response. It has recently reviewed its assessment of the threat from such an attack. This assessment is supported by intelligence and provides the force with a thorough understanding of the threat. As a result, although not part of the national uplift programme, the force is making immediate changes to increase its current firearms capacity. It is conducting recruitment and training to extend further its firearms capabilities. The force has conducted exercises with partners to test its preparedness to respond jointly to incidents which require an armed response, and more such exercises are planned.