Cumbria PEEL 2017
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Cumbria Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Since our 2016 effectiveness report, the constabulary has made progress in a number of areas. HMICFRS is pleased to see improvements in how the constabulary protects vulnerable people (those who are vulnerable through their age, disability, or because they have been subjected to repeated offences, or are at high risk of abuse, for example). The constabulary continues to be effective in its approach to investigating crime and tackling serious and organised crime.
Our 2017 inspection found that the constabulary has effective processes to ensure that crimes are investigated thoroughly by appropriately trained officers and staff. The constabulary makes good use of intelligence and the forensic examination of digital evidence from mobile phones and computers to support investigations, and updates victims regularly as investigations proceed. The supervision of investigations has improved since our inspection last year. The constabulary understands those people and groups who cause the most harm in communities, and has measures in place to reduce re-offending. Although the constabulary has a daily emphasis on arresting the highest risk offenders, it also needs to ensure that lower risk offenders are being managed as effectively.
Cumbria Constabulary has improved its ability to protect vulnerable people since HMICFRS’ 2016 effectiveness report. Its use of a standardised risk-assessment process provides a consistent means of identifying vulnerable people when they first contact the police. Robust quality assurance has improved the standard of risk assessments which officers submit about vulnerable people and victims of domestic abuse, but there is room for further improvement.
The constabulary is effective at tackling serious and organised crime. It has a good understanding of both local and national threats from organised crime, including newer threats such as modern slavery and cyber-crime. The constabulary has made progress in the way it manages organised crime groups, but it needs to do more to prevent serious and organised crime, and to deter people who are at risk of being drawn into organised criminal activity.
Cumbria Constabulary has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national responsibilities, and to respond in the first instance to an attack requiring an armed response. It has plans in place to test the effectiveness of this capability regularly.
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?
Cumbria Constabulary is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending.
- is good at initial investigation;
- conducts good overall investigations; and
- has several projects to reduce re-offending, which are starting to see sustained reductions in re-offending levels.
Officers attend incidents promptly. They make informed, risk-based decisions, and take appropriate steps to identify and secure evidence.
The constabulary investigates crimes over the telephone appropriately. The cases we reviewed showed officers routinely took care of crime victims.
The constabulary should ensure that it allocates the more complex investigations to appropriately skilled officers. Although in general officers had the appropriate skills for investigating the crimes assigned to them, we saw cases where relatively inexperienced officers were investigating more complex offences.
Investigations are generally good. Investigators have manageable workloads and are well-supervised, especially in cases that are more complex and high risk. The constabulary could do more to improve its supervision of less complex investigations.
Although the constabulary has a daily focus on arresting the highest-risk offenders, it needs to ensure that lower-risk offenders are being managed as effectively.
The constabulary provides a good service to victims of crime, and updates them regularly throughout investigations.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should ensure that investigations of relatively complex offences are being allocated properly, and that supervisors are aware of these investigations and can also support officers in order to provide a good service to victims.
- The constabulary should ensure that offenders who are circulated as wanted on the police national computer, offenders who fail to appear on police bail, named and outstanding suspects, and suspects identified through forensic evidence are swiftly found and arrested.
- The constabulary should ensure that there is regular and active supervision of investigations to improve the quality and progress of investigations.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Cumbria Constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims. It has improved its ability to protect vulnerable people since our 2016 inspection.
The constabulary has a good initial response to vulnerability and is good at identifying vulnerable people when they first contact the police. It can also identify repeat callers. Protection of vulnerable people is a priority for the constabulary.
It works extensively with partner organisations to increase its understanding of vulnerable people, and to improve its ability to protect them.
Officers have a good understanding of vulnerability and support victims well. The constabulary has improved the quality of information it records, which has improved its support for victims. It investigates well crimes involving vulnerable victims, and officers and staff have the right training to deal with these crimes.
The constabulary deals well with domestic abuse (DA). Its arrest rate of DA suspects is relatively high, and it uses legal powers well in order to protect DA victims.
The constabulary’s good partnership arrangements provide a more effective service for people with mental health problems. It has secured funding to provide additional facilities, ensuring people with severe mental health conditions are not taken into police custody.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should ensure that risk assessments are completed to a standard that allows those working in the multi-agency safeguarding hub to validate the risk and exchange information with partners effectively.
- The constabulary should implement a process to obtain feedback from the victims of domestic abuse.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
Cumbria Constabulary is effective at tackling serious and organised crime (SOC). It uses structured methods to assess a range of threats, and is good at:
- understanding local and national threats; and
- investigating and disrupting SOC.
However, it needs to do more to prevent SOC, and to deter people who are at risk of being drawn into criminal activity.
The constabulary uses a range of sources to produce a detailed profile of SOC in Cumbria, actively seeking to fill gaps in its knowledge. Officers understand how to spot signs of organised crime groups (OCGs), especially for emerging threats such as modern slavery.
The constabulary has good partnership arrangements to tackle OCGs. It has undertaken successful operations to safeguard victims and disrupt OCG members. It also keeps the public informed about OCGs, in order to prevent them from becoming victims of organised crime.
The constabulary has improved its approach to preventing established organised criminals from re-offending, but it needs to improve its lifetime management of these criminals in order to minimise the risk to the public.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should enhance its approach to the lifetime management of organised criminals to minimise the risk they pose to local communities. This approach should include routine consideration of ancillary orders, partner agency powers and other tools to deter organised criminals from continuing to offend.
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 constabulary:
- works with other forces ensuring sufficient staff and officers are trained to respond to national threats;
- tests its skills and capabilities in training exercises; and
- has developed an adequate understanding of the threat to the public from an armed attack.
However, the constabulary should:
- set out its understanding of the criminal use of firearms in a threat assessment that is specific to the Cumbria area.