Metropolitan PEEL 2017
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
The Metropolitan Police Service requires improvement in keeping people safe and reducing crime but in general its performance is better than in 2016.
Since our 2016 effectiveness inspection the force has made progress in some areas, and HMICFRS is pleased to see that efforts have been made to ensure that improvements have been made throughout the force. However, further action is needed in several areas, set out below, in order to provide the public with an effective service.
The force invests significantly in local policing and has a good understanding of its communities. However, although we found some good examples of officers and staff using problem-solving techniques to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, there is little evaluation to enable them to learn from previous experience and improve their effectiveness.
The force needs to improve its approach to investigating crime and reducing re-offending. It is struggling to fill a large number of detective vacancies, despite the use of some innovative recruitment methods. This shortfall in officer numbers is having a detrimental effect on the quality of criminal investigations.
The force must also improve the way it protects vulnerable people. Officers and staff are aware that ensuring they respond appropriately to them is a priority; improvements have been made to the way the force deals with vulnerable victims of crime, particularly in relation to domestic abuse. However, the force must improve how it works with other agencies to safeguard victims.
The force has responded well in the areas for improvement relating to serious and organised crime which HMICFRS identified in 2016. It has improved its understanding of serious and organised crime and manages organised crime groups well, involving teams across the force and working in collaboration with local partners, for instance other policing authorities, HM Revenue & Customs and the National Crime Agency. The force is proactive in the way it prevents serious and organised crime. It works with victims to prevent repeat crimes against them, and also with potential perpetrators to divert them from criminality. It has some innovative approaches to improving its management of organised crime. The organised crime advisors in the borough-based teams are a significant and innovative investment for the force.
The Metropolitan Police Service has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities and for initial response to an incident requiring an armed policing response. It has regularly tested and evaluated its response through several exercises and actual deployments and has a comprehensive understanding of the six threats specified in The Strategic Policing Requirement.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
The Metropolitan Police Service’s approach to tackling crime and anti-social behaviour is generally good. The force understands the need for change and has responded with useful strategies and initiatives for crime prevention.
Its understanding of and communication with its communities is good.
It focuses on neighbourhood policing and is investing in it. The force has some interesting initiatives, but it does not always follow these through or communicate them to its workforce.
As in 2016, the force’s effectiveness is let down by:
- inconsistency in its application of working practices;
- failures to provide the resources to implement its initiatives properly;
- lack of routine monitoring of the effectiveness of its initiatives; and
- some failures to communicate with the workforce.
Promising initiatives include:
- the use of dedicated ward officers and Police Community Support Officers;
- Operation Makesafe, focusing on community engagement and public awareness of child sexual exploitation;
- introducing and monitoring a burglary prevention programme; and
- working with the local authority in one borough to ensure resources are deployed effectively.
Particular weaknesses include:
- a shortage of trainers leading to delays in training neighbourhood policing staff;
- no record of how many times anti-social behaviour orders have been used;
- removing schools officers from their neighbourhoods to backfill shortages; and
- inconsistent use of problem-solving tools.
The force needs to adopt a more structured and consistent problem-solving process, and routinely evaluate and share effective practice.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that the structured and consistent problem-solving process it is implementing to enable it to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour more effectively is fully understood and used by its officers and staff.
- The force should routinely evaluate and share effective practice, both internally and with partner organisations, continually to improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
The Metropolitan Police Service needs to improve, and be more consistent, in its approach to the reduction of crime and re-offending. Too often, the benefit of a promising initiative is spoiled by failure to consider all the necessary consequences.
- initial response to calls is inconsistent and not always prompt;
- early evidence retrieval is sometimes insufficient, and supervision of investigations lacking;
- detective shortages affect the quality of investigations; and
- inadequate Police National Computer (PNC) records of pursuit of offenders.
Positive developments include:
- the Pathfinder Boroughs scheme, which brings together several borough commands, thus saving resources, and using response officers to investigate simple cases;
- victims are more likely to support police action on offences;
- innovative approaches to offender management; and
- a reduction in re-offending, including for domestic abuse and gang-related crimes.
The force’s particular remit of policing a city which is a financial hub and attracts many foreigners is reflected in the strength of its performance in relation to fraud and crimes committed by foreigners.
The force needs to:
- improve evidence retrieval;
- increase the number of qualified detectives; and
- ensure that those who appear as wanted on the PNC are swiftly located and arrested.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that all evidence is retrieved at the first opportunity in order to maximise the likelihood of investigations being concluded successfully.
- The force should continue to seek to increase the number of qualified detectives in order to improve the quality of its investigations.
- The force should ensure that those who are circulated as wanted on the police national computer are swiftly located and arrested.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
While the Metropolitan Police Service is doing better in this area than in 2016, more needs to be done. The force understands its responsibilities, has a strategy in place to fulfil them, and generally works well with other organisations.
However, the support for officers dealing with people with mental health illness differs across the force area. These different approaches have not been assessed to understand best practice.
Specific weaknesses include:
- frontline staff have a limited understanding of modern slavery;
- assessment of risk and subsequent safeguarding is inconsistent (the THRIVE process for risk assessment is not always used), and multi-agency risk assessment conferences are not always used in all appropriate cases;
- there are staff shortages in specialist investigative units;
- there is not enough use of legal powers to protect vulnerable victims; and
- there is insufficient input from local teams into dealing with known sex offenders.
- an internal communications campaign focuses on vulnerability;
- volunteer mental health liaison officers have been appointed in all boroughs and meet regularly; and
- work with partner organisations is generally effective.
The force needs to address the areas of weakness indicated above, and especially to work on monitoring initiatives and ensuring consistency at the level of best practice.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its initial assessment and response to incidents involving vulnerable people by ensuring that staff working in call handling understand and apply consistently the THRIVE decision-making model.
- The force should ensure that response officers become more proficient at completing risk assessments at initial response, and provide sufficient supervisory oversight to prevent opportunities to safeguard vulnerable victims from being missed.
- The force should ensure that response officers are aware of the range of safeguarding options available at initial response to protect vulnerable victims.
- The force should improve the quality of investigations involving vulnerable people, ensuring that the workloads of specialist investigators are manageable at all times and that such investigations are subject to regular and active supervision.
- The force should review its use of domestic violence protection orders, domestic violence protection notices and Clare’s Law to ensure that it is making best use of these powers to safeguard victims of domestic abuse.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
The Metropolitan Police Service has a good understanding of serious and organised crime (SOC), which it has identified as a major risk. It assesses and prioritises SOC effectively, using structured processes and intelligence from a wide variety of sources. It contributes to regional, national and international understanding of organised crime. Its mapping and archiving of organised crime groups complies with national guidelines.
The force works well with partner organisations and regional organised crime units to plan and carry out disruption of SOC activities both in and outside London. It rigorously monitors resources, and uses local officers well. However, the force still needs to improve how it evaluates its disruption activity to maximise its effectiveness.
The force is good at preventing SOC, including gang crime, using a variety of tools and communicating well with the public. It works well with partners to prevent reoffending.
The force’s approach to regional and organised crime continues to change and develop. Notable recent developments include:
- appointing organised crime officers in three pilot boroughs to improve local understanding of local officers;
- establishing the London Serious and Organised Crime Partnership Group; and
- effective use of modern slavery powers against ‘county-lines’ drugs activity.
Despite the rating of ‘good’ and the improvement over last year, the force needs to improve its SOC profiles in collaboration with its partners.
Areas for improvement
- The force should develop further its serious and organised crime local profiles, in conjunction with other interested parties, to enhance its understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime and inform joint activity aimed at reducing this threat.
- The force should improve its understanding of the impact of its activity on serious and organised crime across the four Ps (pursue, prevent, protect and prepare), and ensure that it learns from experience to maximise the force’s disruptive effect on this activity.
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:
- has assigned chief officers to each of the threats, who have specific skills and experience in the relevant area;
- tests its skills in training exercises;
- frequently tests its ability to mobilise large numbers of officers to major incidents or mass casualty disasters; and
- has developed a good understanding of the threat to the public from an armed attack.
Less positively, the force:
- should set out its understanding of the unlawful use of firearms in a joint threat assessment with City of London Police and British Transport Police.