Kent 2017Read more about Kent 2017
This is HMICFRS’ fourth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Kent 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 outstanding.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
Read my assessment of Kent Police below.
I congratulate Kent Police on its excellent performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force is providing a good service to victims of crime and it continues to improve the way it reduces re-offending.
The force has made significant changes to its structure to enable it to sustain a good and improving service, in particular to vulnerable victims and witnesses.
It is working hard to ensure that all reports of crime are properly recorded in compliance with national standards.
It has an impressive understanding of its current and likely future demand, and makes good use of its resources to meet this demand.
The force continues to be outstanding in how it treats members of the public, and in treating its workforce with fairness and respect. I am impressed that it is still looking for ways to improve in this area.
I commend Kent Police for another strong performance this year and am confident that it is well equipped for this to continue in the future.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Kent Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime, and it continues to make positive improvements in terms of its effectiveness. When required, the force attends incidents promptly. Its investigations are generally thorough and lead to satisfactory outcomes for victims.
The force has introduced a new operating model and has moved a large number of officers into new and primarily investigative roles focused on crimes which involve vulnerable people as victims. The force appears to be implementing its new model well. It is also testing a new approach to assessing crimes which allows officers to concentrate on cases that are more likely to result in a positive outcome for victims. Kent Police generally provides victims of crime with a good service and usually updates them regularly as investigations progress. The force continues to improve the way it reduces re-offending and has introduced an effective process to ensure that people who are wanted can be found, and arrested when appropriate.
The force has a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability throughout Kent. Dealing with vulnerable people is a well-established part of its daily activity. The force works well in responding to victims who are vulnerable and in investigating crimes committed against them. It is developing its understanding of why some victims do not support police action, and is acting to reduce the number of victims who are unwilling to support prosecutions so that it can bring more offenders to justice. Officers have mobile devices that they can use when they are at the scene of an incident to refer victims to local advice and support services, so that victims can get appropriate support quickly and easily. However, we found that the body-worn video cameras are not always used to gather evidence at incidents.
The force works well with partner agencies, such as local authorities and charities to support and safeguard victims. It supports people with mental health conditions and is undertaking extensive work to improve in this area, both internally and with other organisations.
Kent Police has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities, and to respond to an attack which requires an armed response.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Kent 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 outstanding in its understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is assessed to be good; and its planning for future demand is judged to be good.
Kent Police is outstanding in how it ensures it understands demand for its services. The force is continuing to improve its already comprehensive understanding of current and likely future demand, including complex demand such as that from communities less likely to report crime. It makes impressive use of data from partner agencies, ensuring that its analytical products are very informative. The force has used its detailed understanding of demand in its substantial work on a new operating model. It has also established processes to identify and improve internal inefficiencies that create avoidable demand.
The force continually assesses its ability to respond to demand for its services, but there are areas for improvement. The rate that the public are abandoning 101 calls directed to the control room is too high, and sometimes demand is greater than the force’s capacity to manage it, which means its frontline resources are under pressure. Chief officers recognise the significance of these problems and are taking action to manage demand better; they expect that the force’s new operating model will bring further improvements. This model moves a considerable number of the workforce into public protection to help the force tackle the increase in crimes affecting people who are vulnerable.
The force has a good understanding of the skills and capabilities it needs, including in its leaders, and how these will change in the future. The force’s profiling tool helps it to plan its recruitment and training. In its most recent recruitment campaign, the force had some success in increasing the number of black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates. Excellent opportunities are available to both officers and staff for lateral development.
Kent Police has demonstrated a strong commitment to joint working, in particular with Essex Police, and as an active member of the seven-force strategic alliance. The force seeks ideas for improvement from its workforce and encourages its leaders to seek examples of good practice from outside the force.
The force has a good track record of achieving financial savings ahead of schedule. The force’s plans are realistic and they are based on prudent financial assumptions. Despite this, the successful implementation of the new operating model will be challenging for the force.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Kent Police is judged to be outstanding 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 outstanding 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 outstanding at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
Kent Police has clear values that emphasise the importance of treating people with fairness and respect and it is outstanding at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The workforce receives extensive training on ethical decision-making that covers unconscious bias, effective communication skills and the use of coercive powers such as stop and search. The force monitors the use of stop and search and has carried out research to understand any identified disproportionate use. Independent advisory groups provide effective external scrutiny and feedback. Governance of the use of force is clear and lessons learned are communicated with the workforce. However, the force should ensure that all officers and supervisors understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for stop and search and record them correctly.
Force leaders continue to demonstrate an extremely positive and ethical approach to policing. Officers and staff receive continuing advice and extensive training on ethical decision-making and have an excellent understanding of ethical policing. The force’s website and police front counters provide the public with information on how to make a complaint. However, the force could improve the information it provides complainants when they first make a complaint and ensures it provides informative updates at the required intervals.
In 2016, we found that the force was outstanding at treating its workforce with fairness and respect, and this remains the case. The force has had some success in addressing the disproportionality in its workforce by increasing officer recruitment from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. The force maintains a comprehensive range of effective and sometimes innovative preventative measures to improve workforce wellbeing, including initiatives to reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues and has applied for an excellence award under the Workforce Wellbeing Charter. It has schemes to develop talent and bring skills into the force. The workforce sees the police officer promotion process as fair and candidates report receiving objective feedback.
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.