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Northumbria PEEL 2017

Effectiveness

How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 22/03/2018
Good

Northumbria Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Since our last effectiveness inspection in 2016, HMICFRS is pleased to see that improvements have been made in some of the areas highlighted in our subsequent report. However, the force’s approach to protecting vulnerable people has deteriorated and it should take steps to address this.

Investigations are generally conducted to an acceptable standard, particularly in more serious and complex cases. The force has improved its processes for examining digital devices to support investigations, and has reduced the timescales for new examinations to be completed.

In 2016, we found the force’s approach to protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims to be good. However, this year we found that it requires improvement. The initial identification of vulnerable people based on threat, harm, and risk is inconsistent. We found examples of vulnerable people who had not received the response they needed when they contacted the police, and subsequent investigations are not always carried out by appropriately trained officers.

In contrast, the force has a good understanding of how to manage incidents which involve concerns relating to the mental health of victims, witnesses and offenders. The force also has good partnership arrangements in place to support vulnerable victims.

Northumbria Police has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national responsibilities, and to respond initially to an attack which requires an armed response.

Questions for Effectiveness

2

How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?

Northumbria Police is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. The force’s investigation of serious and complex cases is generally good, but it should ensure it completes all investigations consistently well. Since our 2016 inspection, HMICFRS is pleased to see that improvements have been made in some of the areas highlighted in our subsequent report.

The force needs to improve its investigations, particularly in lower-risk domestic abuse cases, through:

  • active supervision of investigations; and
  • keeping victims informed of progress.

While the force has improved its intregrated offender management (IOM), it could further improve its IOM programme by adopting clear and consistent methods to select offenders.

The force should also have clear measures of success, to enable it to evaluate how effectively it is protecting the public from prolific and harmful offenders.

We found that the force has greatly improved its examination of computers and smartphones for potential evidence. It now has a very good system for managing this.

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that all investigations are completed to a consistently good standard and that victims receive regular, meaningful contact.
  • The force should improve its IOM programme by adopting clear and consistent methods to select offenders. There should be clear measures of success, which enable the force to evaluate how effectively it is protecting the public from prolific and harmful offenders.
3

How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?

In 2016, Northumbria Police’s approach to protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims was good. In 2017, it requires improvement.

The force has a clear:

  • definition of vulnerability; and
  • policy for responding to vulnerable victims.

The force frequently reviews threats and risks to vulnerable people. It generally acts quickly to safeguard victims and arrest offenders, analysing threats and risks in detail to identify recurring problems.

The force has a good understanding of mental health problems, and works well with other organisations offering mental health support.

However, when vulnerable people contact the police, call handlers are not using consistent methods to assess vulnerability. We found several cases where vulnerable people had not received an appropriate or timely response when they contacted the police.

We also found several cases of serious sexual offences being investigated by officers without appropriate skills and training.

The force needs to address these shortcomings. It should also improve its initial investigation of crimes involving vulnerable people, by ensuring officers make better use of body-worn video devices to record evidence.

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The force should improve its initial assessment and response to incidents involving vulnerable people by ensuring that call handlers understand and apply the THRIVE decision-making model consistently.
  • The force should ensure that crimes which involve vulnerable people are allocated promptly to investigators with the appropriate skills, accreditation and support to conduct the investigation to a good standard.
  • The force should improve its initial investigation of cases involving vulnerable victims by giving responding officers photographic and/or video-recording equipment to show evidence of injuries and crime scenes.
  • The force should take steps to understand the reasons why a high proportion of crimes related to domestic abuse fall into the category ‘Evidential difficulties; victim does not support police action’, and ensure that it is pursuing justice on behalf of victims of domestic abuse.
5

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:

  • completed several training exercises with other organisations to test its response to the national threats;
  • good procedures to identify improvements and to develop best practice continually; and
  • developed a good understanding of the threat to the public from an armed attack.

However, the force should:

  • make better use of analysis of the time taken for armed officers to attend firearms incidents.

Ungraded