Avon and Somerset PEEL 2017
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. It has performed well in this year’s effectiveness inspection and has made good progress since last year.
The force is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. Better supervision and quality-assurance processes, and new electronic templates for gathering early evidence are improving investigations. However, the force could do more to understand why victims do not support police action and cases cannot proceed to prosecution because of evidential difficulties.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people from harm and supporting victims. Officers and staff understand how to identify vulnerable people and take positive safeguarding action. The force is good at identifying and supporting people who are experiencing mental ill-health. It generally investigates crimes involving vulnerable people to a good standard, and makes good use of legal powers to protect vulnerable people. However, the force needs to understand why its domestic abuse outcomes are not as good as those of other forces.
The force is good at tackling serious and organised crime. It assesses, monitors and reviews threats from serious and organised crime, but would benefit from including more data from partner organisations in its serious and organised crime local profiles. It collaborates well with other agencies, such as the local authority, health, fire and probation services, to help prevent organised crime. However, the force should improve its understanding of how its work affects serious and organised crime and ensure that it learns from experience to maximise the force’s disruptive effect.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities and to respond to an attack which requires an armed response. The force has a comprehensive regime of exercises to test its response to major incidents. These are regularly tested with partners, such as the armed forces, and information on their outcomes is disseminated using a joint partnership IT system.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
This question was not inspected in 2017. The grade and findings from last year’s inspection still stand.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. It responds appropriately to calls for assistance from the public and carries out initial investigations effectively. This helps it to secure and preserve evidence.
The force’s investigations are good overall. The force has trained investigators working in frontline roles and specialist investigation teams are available at all times. Investigations are supervised well. The force’s digital forensic unit operates efficiently.
- assesses and reviews threat, risk, harm and vulnerability at the initial point of contact;
- provides officers with mobile devices so that they can access force intelligence systems on patrol;
- introduced an electronic investigative toolkit for frontline officers to improve initial evidence-gathering at the scene of incidents; and
- has good processes for responding to reports of fraud.
The force has a long-established integrated offender management programme, working closely with organisations such as the probation service. It monitors re-offending rates and uses this information to target interventions and measure outcomes.
However, the force could do more to understand why some cases do not proceed to prosecution due to evidential difficulties.
Areas for improvement
- The force should take steps to understand and address the reasons why a high proportion of cases fall into the category ‘Evidential difficulties: victim does not support police action’ and rectify this to ensure that it can pursue justice on behalf of victims of crime.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people from harm and supporting victims. The force:
- has a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability in its communities;
- uses vulnerability risk assessments for all calls to the force control room and when attending incidents; and
- takes positive action to safeguard vulnerable people.
The force is good at identifying and supporting people experiencing mental ill health. Frontline officers receive mental health training and can obtain advice from psychiatric nurses based in the force control room. The force works with local mental health trusts to improve the joint response to people in need of crisis care.
The force is generally good at investigating crimes involving vulnerable people. It makes good use of legal powers to protect them. The force works well with partner agencies to provide support for vulnerable people.
However, the force needs to:
- understand why outcomes of domestic abuse cases it handles are not as good as they could be; and
- improve its process for managing registered sex offenders.
Areas for improvement
- The force should implement a process to obtain feedback from victims of domestic abuse.
- The force should improve the governance – agreement of priorities, plans and decisions – and scrutiny of the management of registered sex offenders.
- The force should improve its understanding of the reasons for the declining arrest and charge/summons rates in domestic abuse cases, and why a high rate of crimes related to domestic abuse fall into the category ‘Evidential difficulties; victim does not support police action’ and act appropriately to address these.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at tackling serious and organised crime (SOC). It has made significant progress in understanding and disrupting serious and organised crime groups (OCGs).
The force uses a range of intelligence sources to increase its understanding of SOC. It uses risk assessments to assess SOC threats, and monitors and reviews these threats. It also has:
- processes to manage, prioritise and review activity to tackle SOC;
- improved its mapping of identified OCGs; and
- developed five local SOC profiles, using its own and partners’ data.
The force collaborates with the local authority, health, fire and probation services, but would benefit from including more data from partner organisations to further develop its SOC local profiles.
The force works well to prevent SOC by:
- working with partner organisations to target young people at risk of becoming involved; and
- taking steps to prevent offending among established organised criminals.
However, the force should improve its understanding of how its activity affects SOC and ensure that it learns from experience to maximise its disruptive effect.
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 work aimed at reducing this threat.
- The force should improve its understanding of the impact of its work on serious and organised crime across the 4Ps (Prevent, Prepare, Pursue and Protect) and ensure that it learns from experience to maximise the force’s disruptive effect on this activity.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
National threats often require forces to work together, across force boundaries. These threats include terrorism, large-scale disorder and civil emergencies. We examined the capabilities in place to respond to these threats, in particular a firearms attack.
Most positively, the force:
- prioritises frontline activity in response to national threats;
- tests its skills in training exercises;
- identifies learning points to make organisational improvements; and
- has developed a good understanding of the threat to the public from an armed attack.