Essex PEEL 2017
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 effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Essex Police is good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB), but could do more to share learning and good practice.
HMICFRS found several examples of the force providing a high-quality service aimed at preventing crime and ASB. The force has:
- a comprehensive crime prevention strategy; and
- a good understanding of its communities.
The force engages well with local communities. It is good at assessing threats and at gathering community intelligence, and uses intelligence profiles effectively. Officers make good use of the powers and tactics available to tackle crime and ASB, including disruption activity against local criminal groups.
Essex’s community safety hubs, where police and partners work side by side, are becoming very effective, allowing for long-term problem solving.
However, the force is still not actively managing and sharing good practice across its own workforce and partners, despite HMICFRS identifying this as an area for improvement in 2016.
Areas for improvement
- The force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with partners, to continually improve its approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Essex Police is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending.
The force’s investigations are generally good. It continues to improve how it reduces re-offending, with several offender management schemes in place.
Investigations by specialist teams are of a consistently high standard and are effectively supervised. Elsewhere this is not always the case. The force should ensure that it provides training and support to all those carrying out and supervising investigations.
The force is establishing new fraud investigation teams. The progression of its response to fraud is well-developed and timely.
The force is trialling a triage system to identify less serious crimes that can be investigated over the phone. This has been used appropriately to meet demand.
Incidents are promptly attended, where appropriate. Officers make informed, risk-based decisions and take appropriate steps to identify and secure evidence. Investigations passed to other units are of a good standard. The force provides victims of crime with a good service and gives most victims regular updates on the investigation’s progress. Officers actively seek to keep victims engaged in investigations.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that there is regular and active supervision of investigations to improve quality and progress.
- The force should ensure that it is fully compliant with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.
- The force should ensure that all those carrying out investigations are provided with appropriate training and support.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Essex Police is good at protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims.
The force has made considerable efforts to improve its ability to protect vulnerable people, which is now a routine part of its daily activity. It is continually improving its understanding of vulnerability in Essex and takes proactive steps to uncover harm that might otherwise be hidden.
- is good at its initial response to incidents involving vulnerable people and at investigating crimes that involve vulnerable victims;
- responds extremely positively to mental health, undertaking extensive work in force and with partner organisations; and
- has worked hard to develop relationships with partner organisations which enable it to support vulnerable people and victims.
However, the force’s management of low-risk registered sex offenders is not in line with national guidelines. HMICFRS will revisit this area in future inspections.
The force should also review its use of domestic violence protection orders to ensure that it is making best use of these powers.
Areas for improvement
- The force should clarify the deployment and use of body-worn video cameras by officers attending incidents of domestic abuse.
- The force should review its use of domestic violence protection orders to ensure that it is making best use of these powers to safeguard victims of domestic abuse.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
This question was not inspected in 2017. The grade and findings from last year’s inspection still stand.
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 force:
- tests its skills in training exercises;
- takes lead responsibility in the region to mobilise large numbers of officers to major incidents or mass casualty disasters; and
- has developed a good understanding of the threat to the public from an armed attack.
It has been effective in leading an investigation into a cyber-attack on the NHS.