Thames Valley 2017Read more about Thames Valley 2017
This is HMICFRS’ fourth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Thames Valley. 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 is outstanding.
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 Thames Valley Police below, or watch the video.
I congratulate Thames Valley Police on its excellent performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime.
It investigates serious crime well, and is good at protecting the public from dangerous offenders, although it needs to improve its investigations into some less serious crime. I am also concerned to note that, while the force has made efforts to improve its crime recording, much remains to be done.
I am pleased to note that the force has developed its understanding of demand, which is now outstanding, and it adapts its use of resources to meet this demand, particularly to protect vulnerable victims.
The chief constable has created an environment of fairness and respect, benefiting both the people that the force serves, and its own officers and staff. The force is good at ensuring that the workforce behaves ethically and lawfully.
I am pleased that Thames Valley Police has continued to perform well in most areas since last year and am confident that it will continue to ensure that the areas for improvement that we have identified are acted on.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Thames Valley Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our findings this year are consistent with those from 2016 and the force’s overall progress is positive despite some deterioration in the quality of its investigations.
The force works well to prevent crime, tackle anti-social behaviour and keep people safe. Neighbourhood policing teams work with local communities and identify what matters most to them. The force works proactively with other organisations such as local councils, using joint problem-solving techniques and evidence-based practice to address the underlying causes of crime. It could take further steps to make the whole force aware about what works well.
The force has improved retrieval of evidence from digital devices such as mobile phones and laptops. It generally provides a good service to victims of fraud and cyber-crime. However, the way that it investigates crime requires improvement: it investigates serious crimes well, but in other cases the quality of investigation, supervision and victim updates varies. Response officers also need to ensure that their initial investigations are complete.
The force is committed to protecting the public from dangerous offenders and quickly arresting suspects and those who are unlawfully at large. It is developing a new IT tool that will support this. The way the force protects vulnerable people from harm and supports victims is good. Officers and staff understand how to recognise and support vulnerable people when they contact the police, and the force has increased resilience in teams responsible for investigating complex cases involving vulnerable victims. It also provides appropriate support to people with mental health conditions. The force generally works well with partner organisations such as local councils and charities to safeguard vulnerable victims, although we found some inconsistencies in risk-assessments for children in domestic abuse incidents and delays in some referrals to other organisations responsible for safeguarding victims.
Thames Valley Police has effective specialist capabilities and is generally well prepared to deal with the threats identified in The Strategic Policing Requirement, such as terrorism and civil emergencies.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Thames Valley Police is judged to be outstanding in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is an improvement on last year when the force was judged to be good for efficiency overall. The force is judged to be outstanding in its understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is also assessed to be outstanding; and its planning for future demand is judged to be good.
Thames Valley Police has an outstanding understanding of the demand for its services that is based on detailed analysis of a wide range of data, including from partner agencies such as the ambulance and fire and rescue services. The force is committed to understanding hidden demand and uses innovative technology to help it identify and tackle demand that is less likely to be reported. It takes steps to make sure that demand is not suppressed.
The force is also outstanding in how well it uses its resources. It has a good understanding of workforce skills and abilities through using the College of Policing’s competency and values framework, which sets out the national standards for workforce skills. It combines these with locally identified needs such as communication skills to describe and plan for the workforce skills it needs, now and in the future.
The force manages change programmes well, assessing new programmes against agreed criteria and whether proposed changes will support its priorities. The priority-based budgeting process gives the force a comprehensive understanding of the costs of its activities and the effect of moving resources from one part of the force to another. It is able to identify and analyse trends in demand and has a good understanding of likely future demand in many areas of its activities. The force is working with academic partners to include a wider range of information to develop this understanding. It is also is involved in a wide range of good collaborative work with other forces and agencies, and carefully assesses collaborative opportunities based on the benefits to the force.
Thames Valley Police is good in how it plans for the future, and some elements are outstanding. The force has displayed innovation, embracing and investing in technology. It uses external expertise such as financial and specialist IT consultancies to provide additional challenge, scrutiny and expertise for its saving plans. These savings plans project a balanced budget until 2021, but depend on the creation of more efficient ways of working. The force is investing well in its infrastructure to make this process possible.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Thames Valley Police is good at how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. For the areas of legitimacy we looked at this year, our overall judgment 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 ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
Thames Valley Police treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. The workforce receive the training it needs to perform their duties fairly and respectfully. This includes training on unconscious bias, effective communication skills and coercive powers such as use of force and stop and search. The force monitors its use of coercive powers to ensure they are being used fairly. It has recently improved its scrutiny of the use of force to help identify any disproportionality in its use. Independent advisory groups provide external scrutiny, although the force could better publicise these groups and provide group members with training to support them in their role.
The force is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. All members of the workforce receive training in ethical decision making. The force has groups that consider ethical issues, which could be improved by including external members. Information about how to make a complaint is available on the force website, but printed information was not available in the force enquiry offices we visited. The force investigates most complaints well and provides complainants with clear information, but it could improve the timeliness of its updates. It is good at identifying discrimination and investigates these complaints well.
Thames Valley Police treats its workforce with fairness and respect. The force seeks feedback and challenge and has a good understanding of the issues that concern the workforce. It is creating a new diversity plan to address disproportionality in its workforce, particularly to attract more candidates from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background. The force has a very good understanding of workforce wellbeing and provides a wide range of wellbeing and support services. It has a well-established talent management programme and has also introduced a new promotion process to remove potential bias and encourage different leadership styles. However, the one to one meetings between staff and supervisors that form part of the force’s individual performance assessment are not being used consistently and the scheme is not always valued by the workforce.
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.
Joint targeted area inspection of the multi-agency response to abuse and neglect in Wokingham – published on 14 July 2017
Abuse of position assessment – Thames Valley Police – published on 5 October 2017
Thames Valley Police: Crime Data Integrity inspection 2017 – published on 15 February 2018