Essex 2017Read more about Essex 2017
This is HMICFRS’ fourth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Essex 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 good.
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.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
Read my assessment of Essex Police below.
I am very pleased with the performance of Essex Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force has made considerable efforts to improve its ability to protect vulnerable people and it is now good at supporting and protecting these people.
The force has worked hard to develop constructive relationships with partner agencies, so that it can provide better support to victims and the communities that it serves.
I am reassured to see that the force has maintained a good understanding of demand, and that it continually assesses its ability to respond effectively. It has detailed plans in place to enable it to meet its future demand; these plans are realistic, innovative and based on prudent financial assumptions.
The force treats members of the public and its workforce with fairness and respect, and its workforce behaves lawfully and ethically.
I am very encouraged by the progress Essex Police has made and the commitment it demonstrates to improve further.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Essex Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. It has made considerable improvements across a number of areas since 2015, and its overall progress is positive.
The force has an effective approach to preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour. Officers have a good understanding of their communities and what is important to those communities, and they work hard to respond to their needs. The community safety hubs where police and partners (such as local councils) work side by side are becoming very effective, allowing for more successful problem-solving to address the underlying causes of crime. However, the force could still do more to disseminate learning and what works well.
Crimes are generally investigated to a good standard. Investigations conducted by specialist officers are consistently of a high standard. The force provides victims of crime with a good service, and most victims of crime are regularly updated with the progress of the investigation. The force continues to improve the way it reduces re-offending and it is has a number of schemes to manage offenders, including domestic abuse offenders. Of concern is the decision taken by the force to step outside national guidelines for the management of low-risk registered sex offenders. The force has stopped all mandatory visits to these offenders, instead it will only visit and assess a low risk offender if the offender comes to notice by some other means, such as intelligence or a complaint. HMICFRS has concerns regarding this approach and will revisit this area in future inspections.
Essex Police has made considerable efforts to improve its ability to protect vulnerable people. It is generally good at responding to victims who are vulnerable and at investigating crimes committed against them. The force has worked hard to develop constructive relationships with partner organisations to enable it to support vulnerable people more effectively and to address the needs of victims.
The force has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities, and to respond initially to an attack that requires an armed response.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Essex Police is judged to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment is the same as last year. The force has maintained a good 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.
Essex Police has a good understanding of current and likely future demand for its services, and assesses continually its ability to respond effectively. It also has a good understanding of crime that is hidden, such as domestic abuse and female genital mutilation. The force has, over the previous two years, necessarily moved a substantial number of people into the public protection department to help it to provide better support for people who are vulnerable. This movement of staff has put pressure on other areas of the force, despite efforts to reduce and manage demand. The force needs to take action as soon as possible to reduce the high rate of 101 calls being abandoned by the public. In addition, the victim satisfaction rate for the force has been falling steadily since 2011, from 83.1 percent to 73.4 percent. The force is undertaking work to understand the reasons for these problems and to make improvements.
The force understands the skills and capabilities it needs, and how these will change in the future. It has undertaken a meaningful skills and capabilities audit and uses this information to plan recruitment and training. The force is having some success in increasing recruitment from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. It also makes good use of national schemes aimed at bringing people with diverse backgrounds and different experiences into the police service.
Essex Police has a strong commitment to joint working to improve efficiency and make savings. This is particularly so with Kent Police and as part of the seven-force strategic alliance, but also with partners such as the local authority in community safety hubs. The force’s detailed 2020 change plan forecasts and tracks potential savings, costs and investments for the future. Consolidating and rationalising its building stock to meet future operational needs is a crucial element of its plans for the future. The force is considering a number of affordability options and has brought in outside expertise to lead strategic change. It has yet to develop its savings plans fully beyond 2017/18, but this work is in progress. The force’s plans are realistic, innovative and based on prudent financial assumptions, but they may be difficult to achieve.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Essex 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 the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is judged to be good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
Essex Police has clear values that emphasise the importance of treating people with fairness and respect and these values are reflected in the force’s policies. The workforce receives extensive training on unconscious bias, effective communication skills and the use of coercive powers. The force is good at scrutinising its activities and independent advisory groups provide effective external scrutiny. Most officers understand how to use stop and search powers fairly and respectfully, but the force should ensure that all officers and supervisors understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for stop and search and record them correctly.
The force ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Leaders understand the importance of an ethical approach and act as good role models. Officers and staff receive continuing training and advice on ethical decision-making. The force’s website provides clear information to the public on how to make a complaint, although we did not find this information in the front counter areas of police stations. The force should ensure it provides all complainants with the required information when they first make a complaint and with informative updates at the correct intervals.
Essex Police encourages feedback from the workforce and highlights what action it is taking in response to concerns raised. It is addressing disproportionality in its workforce by increasing officer recruitment from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. The force has a well-established wellbeing programme that includes preventative measures that cover mental wellbeing. Leaders have a good understanding of their wellbeing responsibilities. The force has improved how it manages individual performance assessment. It has schemes to develop talent and bring skills into the force. The force’s promotion process is based on competence and is viewed by the workforce as fair.
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; 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.