Lancashire PEEL 2017
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Lancashire Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our 2016 inspection found that the constabulary was good at preventing and investigating crime, protecting vulnerable people and tackling serious and organised crime. This year we found that Lancashire Constabulary remains committed to keeping people safe and protecting vulnerable people. It is making good progress in developing its processes and structures to support this commitment. However, in some areas further improvement is needed to ensure that all vulnerable people are being identified and provided with a timely and effective service.
The constabulary has a clear focus on vulnerability which leaders communicate to the workforce. It works well with partner organisations (such as local authorities, or health and education services) to achieve a well-developed understanding of vulnerability within the county. Call takers identify vulnerable people when they contact the police and conduct risk assessments to determine the most appropriate response. A vulnerable caller scheme provides additional information so that immediate safeguarding action can begin. In general, officers and staff who respond first to vulnerable victims take effective safeguarding measures. However, recording of risk assessments and the quality of information that is supplied to the teams who provide longer-term support need to be improved.
The leaders of all Lancashire’s public sector organisations have agreed that mental health is their main priority. They have developed an action plan to co-ordinate services to support people who have mental health conditions. The constabulary has introduced a helpline to assist frontline officers in responding to incidents involving people with mental health concerns. However, at the time of our inspection this had not been fully implemented and there was limited awareness of it among members of the workforce.
In general, those who investigate serious crimes involving vulnerable people do so thoroughly and provide effective victim care. The constabulary should improve the supervision of investigations of less serious offences, particularly when a vulnerable victim is involved. At a local level there is excellent partnership working. Nine partnership hubs, located in the areas of greatest need, provide co-ordinated support to individuals, families and communities to resolve problems at the earliest opportunity.
Lancashire Constabulary has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities, and to respond to an attack requiring an armed response. It has plans in place to test the effectiveness of this capability regularly.
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?
Lancashire Constabulary requires improvement in the way it protects vulnerable people from harm and supports victims.
Examples of effective practice include:
- excellent relationships with partner organisations, providing good support to vulnerable people and meeting victims’ needs;
- co-ordinated support to families and communities through nine partnership hubs, allowing problems to be resolved at the earliest opportunity; and
- a mental health action plan involving all Lancashire’s public services to co-ordinate support, making mental health the main priority in the area.
However, the constabulary needs to ensure that:
- vulnerability is always properly identified, and a clear risk-assessment rationale recorded;
- all immediate safeguarding actions are taken when officers respond to vulnerability calls, with information accurately recorded at the earliest opportunity to allow longer-term safeguarding assessments;
- supervision of investigations of less serious offences is more effective, particularly when a vulnerable victim is involved; and
- the backlog of risk assessments for registered sex offenders is reduced to effectively manage the risks they pose.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should ensure that officers and staff working in call handling are appropriately trained, understand and complete assessments of threat, risk and harm to appropriate standards, consistently record them on constabulary systems and are supervised effectively.
- The constabulary should ensure that frontline officers are proficient in completing vulnerability assessments and there is sufficient supervisory oversight to ensure opportunities to safeguard vulnerable victims are not missed.
- The constabulary should ensure consistent supervision of less complex crimes to investigate them to a good standard.
- The constabulary should reduce the backlog of risk assessments for registered sex offenders to ensure the risks posed are managed effectively.
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 with other forces to ensure enough trained staff and officers are available to respond to national threats;
- tests its skills and capabilities in training exercises; and
- has developed an adequate understanding of the threat to the public from an armed attack.
However, the constabulary should:
- set out its understanding of the criminal use of firearms in a threat assessment.