Merseyside PEEL 2017
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Merseyside Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. During the last year the force has been through a period of change in the way that it provides its services and continues to prioritise how it protects vulnerable people.
In 2017, HMICFRS found that the force is good at protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims, which is consistent with our findings in 2016. We found that officers and staff had a strong awareness and understanding of the importance of vulnerability. The force’s call handlers have empathy and understanding, but the force needs to give them guidance on the identification of mental health problems and general vulnerability, in order to inform correct assessment.
The response provided is generally good. Officers take the required safeguarding actions at incidents and make referrals to other organisations for further action and support. We did note, however, an increase in the use of a delayed response to some domestic incidents through the use of scheduled appointments. The force needs to review this. The force is good at allocating and supervising complex cases, including rape, using trained detectives, but is not always consistent for less serious investigations. The force is aware it needs to be more consistent in the identification, prompt allocation and supervision of these investigations from beginning to end.
The force’s triage car service is a secondary police response, which uses police officers supported by mental health nurses to deal with incidents that involve members of the community who have mental health problems. This is well-established and the force has carried out detailed evaluation of the process and its benefits. The force’s partnership working is strong, strategically and operationally. Its early help hubs have significant potential. They identify problems before they reach a crisis, and reduce demand in the long term. The force has established relationships to safeguard vulnerable victims, but needs to implement a solution to allow the effective surveying of victims of domestic abuse. Its use of powers to protect victims of domestic abuse is very positive.
Merseyside Police has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities, and to respond initially to an attack requiring an armed response.
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?
Merseyside Police is good at identifying vulnerability. The force:
- has a good understanding of the scale and nature of vulnerability in its area and proactively seeks hidden vulnerability;
- has well-developed relationships with partner organisations, enabling it to support vulnerable people and address the needs of victims; and
- generally investigates complex crimes involving vulnerable victims well.
Call handlers were empathetic and responsive to callers’ requirements. Call handlers have access to standard operating procedures for calls relating to sexual offences and domestic incidents.
However, further work is needed to ensure the force accurately records risk assessments. Guidance for call handlers on vulnerability and mental health problems could be improved.
The force is well able to identify and support people with mental health conditions. It:
- understands its mental health role, and its partnership arrangements work well;
- has a well-established and evaluated triage car service to respond effectively to vulnerable persons; and
- has invested in specialist mental health investigators and four specialist detectives within mental health establishments to assist with investigations and support vulnerable victims and families.
The force makes good use of the available powers to protect victims of domestic abuse. It has increased its use of domestic violence protection notices and orders in 2017.
Less positively, the force does not survey victims of domestic abuse, relying on feedback from independent domestic violence advisors. By limiting the data in this way, the force is not ensuring consistent corporate learning.
The force should ensure that less complex crimes are allocated promptly to investigators with the appropriate skills and accreditation, and ensure consistent supervision to promptly investigate them to a good standard.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that less complex crimes are allocated promptly to investigators with the appropriate skills and accreditation, and ensure consistent supervision to promptly investigate them to a good standard.
- The force should implement a process to obtain feedback from victims of domestic abuse.
- The force should ensure that it accurately records the structured risk-assessments completed by call handlers to identify vulnerability to inform the continuing response, supervision and investigations.
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 force:
- works with other organisations to improve its response to the national threats;
- tests its skills and capabilities in training exercises; and
- regularly checks that it can mobilise large numbers of officers should a major incident occur.
However, the force needs to deepen its understanding of the threats and risks caused by the criminal use of firearms in Merseyside.