Suffolk PEEL 2016
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Suffolk Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our findings this year are consistent with last year’s assessment, in which we judged the force to be good in respect of effectiveness.
Suffolk Constabulary has made progress against the areas we identified in HMIC’s 2015 effectiveness and effectiveness (vulnerability) reports and has plans in place to make further improvements in the service it provides to the public during 2017.
Suffolk Constabulary is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe, and the force has seen the third biggest reduction in the rate of anti-social behaviour in the country. However, the force needs to ensure that taking officers away from working in their communities to respond to emergencies is not having a negative effect on its ability to prevent crime from happening in the first place, to engage with local communities and to undertake local problem solving.
Overall, Suffolk Constabulary investigates crimes and manages offenders effectively. The force implemented a new crime and intelligence system in October 2015. It is yet to realise the benefits of this investment fully and needs to take action to reduce the backlog of crimes awaiting closure.
The force is good at identifying vulnerable victims and works with a wide variety of different organisations to keep them safe. However, the force could do more to use preventative legislation such as court orders to protect victims of domestic abuse.
Suffolk and Norfolk constabularies work closely together to provide an effective joint response to serious and organised crime. The force works with other organisations to identify and disrupt organised crime groups and is developing how it uses information held by partner organisations to deepen its understanding of this issue.
Suffolk Constabulary is well prepared to meet the threats outlined within the Strategic Policing Requirement and regularly tests its plans to ensure they are effective. The force is in a state of readiness to respond to an attack requiring an armed response, and reviewed this following the attacks in Paris in November 2015.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Suffolk Constabulary is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe.
The force understands the threats facing its communities. Safer neighbourhood teams are at the core of its community engagement and work closely with the public, gathering information and acting on local priorities. However, the force should ensure that taking officers away from working in communities to respond to emergencies is not having a negative effect on this work.
The force is effective at problem solving with partner organisations to protect communities and victims. It should ensure that it makes the best use of the powers available to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour and that it evaluates its activities consistently to identify what works and shares this learning internally and with partner organisations.
The safer neighbourhood teams have particular responsibilities for keeping vulnerable people in their neighbourhoods safe, including by working with partner organisations. The force has recently introduced specialist roles and volunteers to ensure effective engagement with those who find it difficult or are less likely to engage with the police.
The force is using a range of approaches very effectively to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour and has one of the biggest reductions in anti-social behaviour in the country.
Areas for improvement
- The force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with partner organisations, to improve its approach continually to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.
- The force should ensure that local policing teams routinely engage with local communities and undertake structured problem solving alongside partner organisations in order to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Suffolk Constabulary is good at investigating crime and managing offenders. Those answering calls from the public in the force’s control room are well trained and thorough in assessing calls for service.
Crime investigations are conducted to a high standard, and officers ensure evidence is collected and preserved effectively. The force identifies and monitors those who pose the greatest risk to the community very well and it prepares thoroughly to manage the behaviour of dangerous offenders and sex offenders. The force has an impressive high-tech crime unit with Norfolk Constabulary and has invested in new technology and training to ensure that evidence can be secured from smartphones and other devices to support prosecutions.
The introduction of a new crime-reporting system has presented some challenges in the management of crime, and there were many investigations that were awaiting closure at the time of our visit.
The force has made some progress in ensuring it complies with the obligations to victims set out in the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, but needs to do more to ensure it applies the code consistently across the organisation. The force retains good levels of victim satisfaction but recognises that these have reduced over the last two years and has plans in place to address this.
Suffolk Constabulary is good at protecting the public from the most prolific, serious and dangerous offenders. Its integrated offender management scheme is well managed and fully supported by partner organisations.
Areas for improvement
- The force should reduce the backlog of crimes awaiting closure in the incident management unit.
- The force should ensure that it is fully compliant with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Suffolk Constabulary has made good progress since HMIC’s 2015 effectiveness (vulnerability) report. It is good at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims. Officers and staff in the control room are effective at identifying risk and they deploy resources appropriately to incidents that involve people who are vulnerable.
The force responds well to the immediate and longer-term needs of vulnerable victims and it works with a variety of different organisations in order to protect those who are vulnerable.
Staff across the organisation have a good understanding of vulnerability and what they need to do to protect vulnerable people. The force is effective at investigating offences involving vulnerable victims; however, its use of powers including Domestic Violence Protection Notices (DVPNs) and Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) could be increased and improved on.
The force’s support to victims of high, medium and standard-risk domestic abuse is good, with positive action at the scene, structured joint agency safeguarding and good outcomes for victims. Both the arrest rate and subsequent charge/summons rate for domestic abuse incidents have reduced since last year, however, and the force needs to understand the reason for this and take appropriate action.
Areas for improvement
- The force should review its current use of preventative legislation, particularly DVPOs and DVPNs, to ensure it is making effective use of these powers to safeguard victims of domestic abuse.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
Suffolk and Norfolk constabularies work together under the leadership of an assistant chief constable in providing a proportionate and effective response to tackle serious and organised crime.
A recently formed local organised crime joint board provides a focus for this task and brings a range of organisations together to disrupt organised crime. The force plans to refresh its serious and organised crime local profile in conjunction with partner organisations in January 2017.
The force actively manages criminals by imposing conditions on their financial, property and business dealings, and local policing teams have a good knowledge of organised crime within their communities.
The force is taking steps to understand newer and emerging threats such as human trafficking and cyber-crime better and maps OCGs thoroughly in accordance with national guidance. Specialist support to disrupt serious and organised crime can be quickly accessed and there are good links with the regional organised crime unit (ROCU). The force needs to ensure it minimises duplication with those services provided at regional level.
The force could do more to work with communities to help prevent young people from being drawn into gangs or organised criminality and to enhance its approach to the lifetime management of organised criminals.
Areas for improvement
- The force should further develop its serious and organised crime local profile in conjunction with partner organisations; this would enhance its understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime and inform joint activity aimed at reducing this threat.
- The force should enhance its approach to the lifetime management of criminals to limit their offending.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Suffolk Constabulary has sound and detailed plans to mobilise in response to the threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement. It regularly tests these plans and makes amendments following the lessons learned from operational exercises.
The force has recently reviewed its assessment of threat, risk and harm and it is using bespoke software to develop 3D plans of venues. The force is not part of the national armed policing uplift programme to increase the capability and capacity of trained firearms officers but has nevertheless enhanced the capabilities of its armed officers.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that its armed policing threat and risk assessment considers and specifies plans to deal with attacks on places that attract large crowds.