Durham PEEL 2017
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Overall, Durham Constabulary remains outstanding in its effectiveness at reducing crime and keeping people safe. It continues to provide high-quality services to its communities, as well as seeking to innovate and improve in many areas. Because of this continued high level of performance, HMICFRS has only reassessed the constabulary in relation to how effectively it protects vulnerable people and supports victims. In 2016, it was assessed as outstanding at preventing crime and tackling serious and organised crime and good at investigating crime and reducing reoffending.
Durham Constabulary’s approach to protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims is good. It is good at identifying vulnerable people at the first point of contact, and staff reassess risk at regular intervals as incidents develop. We found an impressive level of understanding throughout the constabulary of what makes a person vulnerable and how they need to be supported. Officers provide a good service to victims when they initially respond to incidents. They understand how to safeguard victims and refer them to appropriate agencies for additional support when this is appropriate.
The constabulary makes good use of preventative powers to protect victims of domestic abuse; investigations involving vulnerable victims are conducted to a good standard, although supervision should be better in less serious cases. Crimes are allocated to appropriately trained staff.
The constabulary has good relationships with partner organisations such as Rape Crisis, Harbour, HALO and Barnardo’s. These allow it to provide vulnerable people with a service that meets their specific needs, to manage offenders who pose the greatest risk and threat, and to provide diversionary schemes to reduce re-offending.
Durham Constabulary has the necessary arrangements in place to help it to meet its responsibilities under The Strategic Policing Requirement, and to respond initially to an attack requiring an armed response.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Durham Constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims. The constabulary:
- routinely identifies vulnerability at the first point of contact;
- provides an outstanding service during the initial response phase to callers and victims who are vulnerable. Officers understand fully how to deal with different elements of vulnerability, including how to safeguard victims and refer them to appropriate agencies for additional support; and
- provides a good service to victims during the investigation phase of incidents.
The constabulary’s partnership arrangements are good. It works well with other organisations to:
- provide vulnerable people with a service that meets their specific needs;
- manage offenders who pose the greatest risk and threat; and
- provide diversionary schemes to reduce re-offending.
Nevertheless, the constabulary should improve:
- how it categorises the level of risk involving mental health;
- what details it records on the incident log; and
- in some investigations, supervision and victim contact.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should improve its ability to analyse and understand its domestic abuse data, including arrests rates and the use of the outcome category ‘evidential difficulties; victim does not support police action’. The constabulary should use this data to monitor and continually improve its response to domestic abuse and ensure that domestic abuse victims receive the best possible service.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
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 constructively with other organisations to assess its response to national threats;
- tests its skills and capabilities in a training programme; and
- has developed a good understanding of the threat to the public from an armed attack.
Less positively, the constabulary:
- could make better use of analysis of how long it takes for armed officers to attend incidents.