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Hertfordshire PEEL 2017

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 22/03/2018
Good

Hertfordshire Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and at reducing crime.

It has acted decisively to address a specific failing identified in 2016 and, although it needs to improve its approach to protecting vulnerable people further, its overall progress is positive.

Hertfordshire Constabulary is good at investigating crime. Its approach to initial investigation is effective; it attends incidents promptly when this is appropriate, and makes informed decisions, based on the risks to victims. The force makes good use of intelligence and updates most victims regularly as investigations progress.

The force has a good understanding of those who cause the most harm in communities and takes positive steps to reduce re-offending. While it does not always supervise crimes fully, or investigate them to as high a standard as necessary, it has put in place good quality-assurance processes to address any shortfalls.

The force has taken prompt and effective action to address a serious failing that we identified in our 2016 effectiveness inspection. It now identifies vulnerable people effectively when they first contact the police. Subsequent risk assessments are also good. However, the force needs to do more to ensure that it has officers and staff with the right skills and expertise to investigate crimes against vulnerable victims and to ensure they are kept safe. In particular, the supervision and quality of investigations involving some victims of rape and domestic abuse need to improve. During our inspection, we found examples of vulnerable victims being let down by poor investigative practice and the force has already taken steps to address this.

The force could also do more to comply with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, to ensure that every victim gets the quality of service from the police that they have a right to expect.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities, and to respond to an attack requiring an armed response.

Questions for Effectiveness

2

How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?

Hertfordshire Constabulary is generally good at investigating crime. The force conducts initial investigations well. Officers attend incidents promptly and usually make correct use of the ‘golden hour’ immediately following an incident. Investigations are allocated well, using the appropriate risk assessment and decision-making system. The force also investigates fraud well.

However, the standard of investigations remains inconsistent, and problems include inconsistent handovers (although problems here may be down to the high number of officers in acting or temporary roles).

Investigation outcomes have declined over the past year. The force is trying to deal with this by carrying out analysis and better victim surveys.

Victims of crime receive a generally good service. However, the force does not always update victims regularly, or complete victims’ personal statements.

Hertfordshire Constabulary is good at reducing re-offending. It is encouraging that the force:

  • locates and arrests identified suspects quickly;
  • enters wanted persons’ details on the Police National Computer quickly; and
  • has a good approach to managing arrested foreign nationals.

The force has undertaken several initiatives including use of the integrated offender management model, which involves working with partner organisations to tackle the most prolific criminals. It is also seeking to identify and apply good practice in other forces.

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force should take steps to ensure that it records all available evidence at scenes of crime.
  • The force should ensure that it complies fully with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.
3

How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?

Hertfordshire Constabulary requires improvement at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims.

Officers and staff have a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability in the force’s area. They are good at identifying vulnerable people when they make contact. Marking an improvement since 2016, call handlers now follow a structured risk assessment process, ensuring rapid identification of vulnerable people, and supply additional services where needed.

Since our last inspection, the force has improved:

  • training in risk assessments and vulnerability; and
  • supervision and quality assurance processes in the control room.
  • The force’s initial response to incidents generally is good. However, matters of concern are the:

  • inconsistent quality of its risk assessments to identify vulnerability; and
  • reduction in arrests and charges of domestic abuse suspects, especially as the number of domestic abuse incidents has risen.

The force also needs to improve how it investigates crimes involving vulnerable people. While the force allocates most such crimes to specialists, it is struggling to attract duly qualified detectives, leading to problems such as:

  • cases not being supervised or managed effectively, or with any clear direction (including some involving significant risk); and
  • inexperienced individuals investigating cases.

More encouragingly, since last year the force has improved its use of legal powers to protect victims of domestic abuse, such as domestic violence protection orders and non-molestation orders. It still could use Clare’s Law more effectively.

The force manages sex offenders well. Multi-agency public protection arrangements work well in monitoring high-risk offenders, and neighbourhood officers’ knowledge of high-risk offenders has improved. The force also has good partnership arrangements to support victims and vulnerable people.

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that frontline officers become more proficient in completing DASH risk assessments at initial response and that there is sufficient supervision to ensure opportunities to safeguard vulnerable victims are not missed.
  • The force should review its effectiveness regarding its use of body-worn video cameras to capture photographic/video recorded evidence, particularly for domestic abuse incidents.
  • The force should improve the quality of investigations involving vulnerable people, ensuring that such investigations are subject to regular and active supervision.
5

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:

  • works with other forces to ensure enough trained staff and officers are available to respond to national threats;
  • tests its skills in training exercises; and
  • has developed a good understanding of the threat to the public from an armed attack.

However, the force should:

  • improve its understanding of the time taken for armed officers to attend incidents.

Ungraded