Lincolnshire 2017Read more about Lincolnshire 2017
This is HMICFRS’ fourth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Lincolnshire 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 requires improvement.
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 Lincolnshire Police below.
I am satisfied with most aspects of Lincolnshire Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime, but we found some areas of concern that it needs to address to provide a consistently good service.
Since 2016 it has maintained the standard of most of its investigations and improved its approach to reducing reoffending. It has made progress in dealing with vulnerable people, addressing most of the areas that required improvement.
However, the force needs to:
- improve the consistency of supervision in investigations; and
- ensure that workloads are manageable, so that officers and staff can meet the needs of victims, particularly the vulnerable.
The force has worked hard to provide an efficient service, but it needs to develop financial plans informed by a comprehensive review of demand.
The force treats members of the public with fairness and respect, and is improving the way it treats its workforce in response to our recommendations.
Overall, I commend Lincolnshire Police for working hard to address the areas for improvement we have identified and the good progress it has made in a number of areas we identified last year.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Lincolnshire Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime and has maintained this level of performance from last year.
The force is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. Although the supervision of some investigations still needs to improve to ensure their quality is consistent, effective leadership is raising standards. Control room staff effectively assess calls to determine the right response from the police, based on the level of threat, harm, risk and vulnerability of the victim. Most calls are attended within acceptable timeframes for the victims. Officers clearly understand their responsibilities to take action to safeguard victims and involve partner organisations (such as local authorities, or health and education services) to provide additional support wherever appropriate. The standard of initial investigations is good and important initial enquiries are completed well. However, there are delays in the allocation of some of these crimes for further investigation and although these cases are investigated by officers with appropriate skills, more consistent supervisory direction and guidance should be provided. Overall, victims receive a satisfactory service, are kept well informed, and are given an opportunity to make a victim personal statement to support a prosecution.
Backlogs exist in the force’s evaluation and analysis of intelligence submissions, but investigative support, when it comes to examining computers and telephones for evidence, is good. The integrated offender management scheme is good and growing, and there is some progress in improving the oversight of cases in which a named suspect needs to be found and arrested.
Lincolnshire Police’s effectiveness at supporting victims and protecting those who are vulnerable from harm requires improvement. The force does not have a thorough enough understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability across the county, although it is concentrating efforts on improving this situation. Officers attending domestic abuse incidents mostly record how children are affected, to ensure that they, as well as the victim of the abuse, are safeguarded. There is some progress in the force’s approach to the management of risk for missing and absent children.
The force’s specialist investigative capacity and capability is generally sufficient. However, demand is outstripping the capacity of the teams that investigate rape, serious sexual offences and internet child abuse. This is undermining the force’s ability to respond as effectively as it should.
Lincolnshire Police has the necessary arrangements in place to ensure that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities, and to respond to an attack requiring an armed response. The force is part of the East Midlands Operational Support Service collaboration, which has adequately assessed the threat of an attack requiring an armed response.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Lincolnshire Police is judged to require improvement in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is not consistent with last year’s assessment where we judged the force to be good for efficiency overall. The force’s understanding of demand is judged to require improvement; it is judged to be good for its use of resources to manage demand; and its planning for future demand is judged to require improvement.
Lincolnshire Police provides a good policing service to its communities at one of the lowest costs per head of the population in England and Wales. It has entered into local partnerships, for example, with local authorities, has outsourced services to the private sector and has undertaken extensive collaborative work. However, because its last comprehensive review of demand took place some time ago, the force now has an incomplete understanding of the current, complex and future demand for its services.
HMICFRS expects forces to have a continuing process in place to understand demand. In addition, the force is not sufficiently developed in how it plans to respond to an uncertain financial future and to provide efficient and effective policing.
Lincolnshire Police continues to prioritise its services and it allocates its resources well. It has introduced a new policing model, which redirects resources to deal proactively with potential problems. The force understands its current workforce’s operational skills and capabilities, although it could benefit from recording their non-operational skills such as other languages. It is developing leaders for the future, but it might be missing opportunities to increase the diversity of teams and to seek talented individuals from elsewhere.
The force invests well in ICT and other technology to improve efficiency. It also collaborates extensively, for example with other forces and emergency services, the local council, private-sector providers and academics, to cut costs, increase resilience and improve capacity.
The force predicts a significant budget deficit in April 2018. This is a considerable concern to HMICFRS as it means that the force depends heavily on the police and crime commissioner’s financial reserves to balance the budget. Due to the priority-based budgeting exercise not being far enough forward at the time of the inspection, the force was unable to demonstrate a clear plan as to how it will deal with this anticipated budget shortfall. The recent changes in the force leadership team have inevitably resulted in a pause in some of the decision-making processes, to allow the new chief officer team time to review the future plans. HMICFRS looks forward to the new chief constable, and his team, taking on these challenges and is confident that the team will develop clear plans and take swift action to ensure that the force can maintain effective policing if funding is not increased in line with the force’s current expectations.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Lincolnshire 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 this year is the same as last year. The force is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is also good at how well it ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully, which is more positive than last year’s assessment although it now requires improvement in some of the aspects of treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
Lincolnshire Police demonstrates a strong commitment to improving how it treats the public with fairness and respect. The workforce understand the importance of effective communication skills, although they would benefit from specific guidance on how unconscious bias can affect their decision-making. Activities such as the use of force and coercive powers are scrutinised through improved internal governance arrangements as well as an independent advisory group and an external panel. The force is encouraging communities that may be less likely to contact the police to provide feedback.
The force promotes an ethical culture. Leaders are good role models and have an ethical approach to decision-making. However, there is no force-wide mechanism to discuss and resolve ethical dilemmas. The force examines and investigates complaints well, including those in which potential discrimination has been identified. However, it could provide more support for people making a complaint who need additional assistance and improve its updates for complainants on the progress of their complaint.
Lincolnshire Police requires improvement in some aspects of treating its workforce with fairness and respect. Leaders have an adequate understanding of the workforce’s perceptions, but officers and staff do not always feel able to provide feedback and challenge. The force has a comprehensive and accessible wellbeing programme that includes preventative measures to improve workforce wellbeing. However, some officers and staff feel that not enough trained welfare support is available. They also indicate that opportunities to take leave are still limited and that they often feel they operate at the limits of their wellbeing. The force is developing a more fair and effective performance assessment process.
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.
Abuse of position assessment – Lincolnshire Police – published on 5 October 2017