Bedfordshire 2018/19Read more about Bedfordshire
This is HMICFRS’s fifth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Bedfordshire Police. PEEL is designed to give you information about how your local police force is performing in several important areas, in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year on year.
Bedfordshire Police was inspected in tranche three and we found:
the extent to which the force is effective at reducing crime and keeping people safe is good.
the extent to which the force operates efficiently and sustainably is good.
the extent to which the force treats the public and its workforce legitimately is good.
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Matt Parr, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
I am very pleased with Bedfordshire Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime. In particular, I note the improvements the force has made since 2017 in its efficiency and effectiveness.
Since our last inspection, the force has improved how it prevents and investigates crime. It has also developed better ways to make sure that it identifies and protects vulnerable people.
The force has improved some of its crime recording processes but still has more work to do.
The force has a good understanding of the current demand for its services. This influences the annual planning cycle to ensure that resources are directed to force priorities. The force needs to gain a better understanding of the skills its workforce currently has and those it is likely to need. This will enable it to develop strong, sustainable financial and workforce plans for the future.
Senior leaders ensure that the workforce understands the importance of treating the public and each other with fairness and respect. The force continues to uphold an ethical culture and promote the standards of professional behaviour it expects.
Overall, I commend Bedfordshire Police for the progress it has made over the past year, which provides a good foundation for continuing improvement in the year ahead.
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Bedfordshire Police is effective at reducing crime and keeping people safe. The force continues to experience significant and long-term pressure on its resources. The need to respond to serious incidents quickly means that the force has diverted community officers from prevention work to deal with them. And frequently these incidents occur in its urban centres.
The force is good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour, and it has worked hard to increase resources in community hubs. But it should make sure that staff have access to analytical support when they need it, so that the force can achieve a more detailed understanding of problems. The force should also make sure that staff routinely evaluate problem solving, so that they understand what works in given situations and can access this knowledge in the future.
The force is good at investigating crime. It carries out effective investigations. But it needs to make sure that investigations are better supervised. Staff need to be held to account, and also to receive support and guidance. The force is aware of resource shortages in high-risk departments. It should seek to ease the burden on officers who are working in child abuse investigation teams. It should also continue its work to reduce the delays in digital examinations of mobile phones, computers and other devices. This will ensure that evidence is passed quickly to investigators in all cases.
The force is good at protecting vulnerable people, and it works well with partners to do this: for example, officers greatly value the work of the mental health street triage team. Staff know the importance of protecting vulnerable people, and they treat victims well. But the force needs to make sure that body-worn video evidence is available to staff who are investigating domestic abuse incidents. That way, they can secure better evidence, leading to more prosecutions.
In 2017, we judged Bedfordshire Police as good at tackling serious and organised crime.
How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?
Bedfordshire Police operates efficiently, and provides services that it can sustain in the future.
The force is good at assessing current demand and it has a detailed knowledge of current demand for its services. This knowledge has been aided by two processes: a detailed strategic demand assessment (SDA) and an effective budgeting process.
The force needs to reduce backlogs in crimes that are awaiting administrative finalisation. It is important for the force itself and the public to have full confidence in its crime data.
The force has a long-standing commitment to co-operating and collaborating with other police organisations. It has a history of collaboration with Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire constabularies, and the forces have an existing tri-force collaboration. Through collaboration, Bedfordshire Police has improved its demand management in key areas, including major crime.
The force needs to quickly resolve its issues with the new crime, custody and intelligence system. These are having an acute operational impact, and are reducing productivity in areas such as crime investigation.
The force requires improvement in the way it plans for the future. It should make sure that it understands public expectations better and monitors changes in them, to improve its decision making about future services.
The force should ensure that an effective human resources department supports its ambitious recruitment and staff development plans. It also needs to develop a comprehensive skills strategy to make sure that its staff have the right skills, and are prepared for future challenges.
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
Bedfordshire Police treats the public and its workforce legitimately.
The force is good at making sure that its staff behave ethically and lawfully. Without exception, every member of the workforce we spoke to was clear about the importance of behaving ethically.
Force leaders are ethical role models. They encourage staff at all levels to talk to them, and to challenge them when this is justified and appropriate. Recently, the force has introduced ways for staff to receive advice about ethical dilemmas.
The force takes its vetting responsibilities seriously. But it needs to make sure that its staff can command the public’s full confidence, and that staff have at least the minimum level of vetting required. It also needs to make sure that its backlogs in vetting are cleared, and that it complies with the national guidelines.
Bedfordshire Police is good at identifying and tackling corruption. The force has counter-corruption plans, and is aware of its main corruption risks. However, it needs to make sure that its counter-corruption unit has the staff and skills available to use more proactive tactics to prevent and detect corruption.
During our fieldwork, staff showed a good awareness of ethics and their duties under the code of ethics. But the force should do more to improve the knowledge of staff, particularly those in high-risk roles, in relation to abuse of position for a sexual purpose. It should improve their recognition of warning signs and encourage them to report incidents.
In 2017, we judged Bedfordshire Police as good at treating both the public and the workforce fairly.
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.