Skip to content

HMICFRS is consulting on our proposed policing and fire & rescue services inspection programmes

Please give us your views on these programmes by 5pm on Monday 19 February 2018.

Dorset 2017

Read more about Dorset 2017

This is HMICFRS’ fourth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Dorset 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 is good.

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.

Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary

Contact Wendy Williams

HMI's observations

My overall assessment of Dorset’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?

To be graded
View the five questions for effectiveness


How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 09/11/2017

Dorset Police is judged to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year. The force is judged to be good in its understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is assessed to be good; and its planning for future demand is also judged to be good.

Dorset Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. It is an efficient police force with clear plans in place for the future. It has a well-developed understanding of the demands for its services, which allows it to make informed decisions about planning and resourcing. Because of this, it is in a strong position for the next phase of its strategic alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police. This will see the introduction of a new, joint model for service provision aimed at transforming how both forces operate. Within the force’s call handling department there are some pressures but the force understands what the problems are. It has now put processes in place to prioritise calls from those people who are most at risk.

The force generally makes good use of its resources. Its investment plans align with the police and crime plan. The plans focus on the benefits that the structured use of new technology can bring to both the public and to the organisation. The force needs to improve its understanding of the skills and leadership potential of its workforce. It has a good track record of working together with other organisations and understands the benefits to be gained.

Dorset Police is planning for its future in a coherent way. The work it has done to identify potential future demand is impressive. The force knows that it needs to replace some inefficient systems and processes to provide a solid basis for its planned changes. In contrast, it does not yet have a clear picture of its future leadership needs. However, the strengths of its existing change programme provide a degree of confidence that the ambitious scale of future change is achievable, both because of its organisational capability and because of its financial position.

View the three questions for efficiency


How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 12/12/2017

Dorset 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 the people it serves with fairness and respect, good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully but requiring improvement in some aspects of treating its workforce with fairness and respect.

The importance of treating people fairly and with respect is reflected in the force’s vision and values, and leaders demonstrate a commitment to it. Officers and staff are trained to communicate effectively with the public and use their coercive powers fairly, but the force needs to improve workforce understanding of unconscious bias. The force has various internal and external processes to scrutinise how officers and staff interact with the public. Generally these work well, but the force needs to improve how it works with the community to ensure effective independent scrutiny and challenge of its stop and search activity.

The commitment to developing a strong ethical culture in the force is evident. Leaders at all levels promote the need to make ethical policing decisions with officers and staff having a good understanding of how to make ethical decisions in the working environment. The force generally makes it easy for the public to make a complaint and the workforce is able to recognise, respond to and investigate discrimination well, although it needs to ensure that referrals to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are made correctly.

The force needs to improve how it works with officers and staff to maintain internal standards of fairness and respect. The force has many processes in place to engage with, and support, the workforce, but these are not always effective or valued. High workloads are evident across the force and it needs to consider the consequences this has on individual wellbeing. The force needs to improve some of its other people management processes, most notably individual performance assessment which is not as effective as it needs to be.

View the three questions for legitimacy

Other inspections

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.

Key facts

Force Area

1024 square miles


0.76m people 9% local 10 yr change


73% frontline 78% national level
3.1 per 1000 population 3.6 national level
14% change in local workforce since 2010 15% national change since 2010

Victim-based crimes

0.05 per person 0.06 national level
Local 5 year trend National 5 year trend (no change)


45p per person per day local 55p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

  • Dorset is a largely rural county with no cities or motorways; a long coastline, two major ports and an international airport.
  • The economically and demographically diverse population is inflated each year by millions of visitors and university, college and school students.

Police and crime plan priorities

Martyn Underhill has published a number of commitments from his 2016 election manifesto for delivery during his second term. These underpin the broader strategic aims of the new Police and Crime Plan, focused around four main themes:

Read More
  • Protecting People at Risk of Harm – Protecting those most at risk of harm or vulnerable to crime, including issues such as Safeguarding; Mental Health; Crime and ASB reporting; and emerging threats such as fraud.
  • Working with our Communities – The PCC as a link between the public and the police, and as a facilitator between partners and stakeholders.
  • Supporting Victims, Witnesses and Reducing Reoffending – Focused on supporting victims and witnesses of crime whilst also recognising the need to work with offenders to break the cycle of offending.
  • Transforming for the Future – Investing in people, resources and innovation to ensure that local policing is as efficient and effective as possible now, and into the future.