Bedfordshire 2017Read more about Bedfordshire 2017
This is HMICFRS’ fourth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Bedfordshire 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 is not yet graded.
The extent to which the force is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The extent to which the force is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The efficiency and legitimacy inspection findings are published below.
Matt Parr, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
My overall assessment of Bedfordshire’s performance will be published in spring 2018, following the publication of the effectiveness inspections in March 2018.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Bedfordshire Police is judged to require improvement in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is consistent with last year. The force’s understanding of demand is judged to require improvement; it is judged to be good for its use of resources to manage demand; and its planning for future demand is judged to require improvement.
Bedfordshire Police is developing its understanding of demand for its services, although the force acknowledges that this still requires improvement in some important areas. Since 2016 it has been doing good work with the College of Policing, other forces and organisations such as the local authority and the health service to improve its assessment of current, complex and future demand. The force continues to work to improve its understanding of how demand may change. It demonstrates a good commitment to managing and prioritising how it responds to demand to increase its efficiency. However, it could improve its understanding of and response to anti-social behaviour as well as how it assures itself that its response to emergency incidents that require immediate police attendance is effective and timely.
The force generally uses and allocates its resources well and has been increasing the resourcing of its policing model since June 2015, although the model is still not fully staffed. It has prioritised vulnerability and increased significantly resources in its public protection teams. However, it still does not have enough officers and staff within community policing to deal efficiently with demand, including crime and anti-social behaviour prevention. Progress is being made to increase local police constable and police community support officer numbers, including a new rural crime team, but the community teams will not be fully staffed until 2018.
We recognise that Bedfordshire Police continues to face significant financial challenges. The force does not currently have any clear plans beyond 2019/20 for how it will continue to provide the level of policing needed, within the resources that are likely to be available. Despite this fundamental issue, the force has done several positive things to improve its position. The force invests well and works constructively with others to manage demand for its services. It has some understanding of its current workforce’s operational skills and capabilities, and it is identifying and making plans for future skills requirements appropriately. Leaders are being trained for the future. Building on Bedfordshire Police’s pioneering methods to increase minority ethnic diversity in its workforce, joint work through the alliance with Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary is expected to increase opportunities to improve diversity for under-represented groups and to identify and nurture talent.
HMICFRS is concerned that the force’s future plans remain uncertain. The new policing model that was developed some years ago is not expected to be fully staffed until 2018. The force recognises that beyond 2019/20 even this level of resourcing will be unlikely to meet growing demand for services without further organisational change, plans for which have not yet been developed. The chief constable and the police and crime commissioner are working closely with Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary and with local partner agencies to achieve greater efficiencies in an attempt to bridge the gap.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Bedfordshire Police is judged to be good at how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. For the areas of legitimacy we looked at this year, our overall judgment is the same as last year. The force is judged to be good at treating all of the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is also judged to be good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
The force has improved the extent to which all officers and staff treat the public with fairness and respect. The workforce understands the importance of effective communication skills and has some understanding of how personal bias can affect decision making. In Bedfordshire police, independent challenge and advice, together with internal scrutiny and oversight, improve how the workforce treats members of the public. In particular, the force carefully monitors the use of coercive powers, such as stop and search, which demonstrates its strong commitment to improving how it treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. However, the force could do more to monitor the way its officers use force when dealing with the public.
The force promotes an ethical culture and an ethical approach to decision making, with its leaders acting as positive role models. There is an improved force-wide system for discussing and resolving ethical dilemmas to aid learning across the organisation, but this needs to be communicated more effectively. Additionally the force needs to ensure that it complies with the national vetting policy by December 2018. Allegations of discrimination are generally identified, responded to and investigated well and the force makes it easy for people to make a complaint, including offering additional support to those who need it. However, for internal complaints, improvements need to be made in the extent to which complainants, witnesses and staff are updated on progress, when cases are referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the way that grievances are managed.
The force is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. It takes early action in support of wellbeing, but more needs to be done to support supervisors to identify and access support. Leaders encourage feedback and challenge from the workforce, and officers and staff generally feel able to challenge, admit mistakes and provide feedback. The workforce also consider their wellbeing to be adequately supported. The force is developing fair and effective performance assessment procedures with more open and independent selection and consistent promotion processes implemented across the strategic alliance with Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary. However, the force could do more to guide and support supervisors in the process, and to review the quality of assessment.
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 (for instance, our 2016 leadership assessment); 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.