Cheshire PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Cheshire Constabulary is good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour.
The constabulary is good at investigating crime, and we have seen some improvements since our last inspection. These include a new investigations board and a cyber-crime investigations team.
Cheshire Constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people, and it has a good grasp of the scale of vulnerability in its area. Since our last inspection, it also has a better understanding of how to support people with mental health issues. This is being achieved through the implementation of a new strategy, effective leadership and training for its staff.
The constabulary is good at tackling serious and organised crime.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2016 effectiveness inspection has been carried over. In 2016, we recommended that its problem-solving process be consistently applied at neighbourhood level.
The constabulary uses the OSARA model (objective, scanning, analysis, response, and assessment) to problem solve. While there has been relevant training given, the constabulary needs to record its use of OSARA. Some progress has been made to improve problem-solving, but there is still some work to do. We will revisit this area for improvement as part of our inspection programme.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
The constabulary has made improvements to how it investigates crime. Changes include a new investigations board and a cyber-crime investigations team. New procedures are also giving clearer guidance, which should lead to a more consistent approach to investigations. The constabulary is now addressing the problem of gaps in training.
Having completed our recommendations for recording crime, the constabulary now understands its crime levels better. Planning should improve as a result.
In our 2016 inspection, we recommended that the constabulary should improve its ability to retrieve evidence from electronic devices promptly. There has been some investment to tackle this, but backlogs are occasionally still delaying investigations. The constabulary is aware of this and is investigating solutions.
In our 2017 inspection, we identified that all investigations should be supervised and planned more consistently. A new procedure is now in place and there is evidence that standards have generally improved.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should improve its ability to retrieve digital evidence from mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices quickly enough to ensure that investigations are not delayed.
- The constabulary needs to better understand the data relating to its crime outcomes and put actions in place to make sure that it is effectively pursuing justice on behalf of victims.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Cheshire Constabulary generally protects vulnerable people well and understands the scale of vulnerability in its area. Teams work well with outside agencies and there is a focus on vulnerable people.
We were pleased to see that the constabulary has responded to our 2017 feedback and that call handlers have more information to identify vulnerability. Call handling and response times to incidents are well monitored, and options to address its call abandonment rate are being assessed. The constabulary now needs to make its initial assessment of risks more consistent.
Since our last inspection, the workforce is better at supporting people with mental health issues. This is being achieved with a new strategy, leadership and training.
In our 2017 inspection, we recommended that the constabulary review how it schedules appointments. We also recommended that vulnerable persons assessments (VPAs) needed improving. It was good to see that standards had improved this year, and that work is being done to further improve VPAs.
The constabulary manages sex offenders in the community. Most visits were up to date and there are plans to reduce delays in visits. It is aware it needs to review workloads and is addressing these issues.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary needs to record the initial assessments of risk more consistently. This is so risk and vulnerability are visible from the outset, ensure it is used to re-assess when delays in deployment occur, and it informs the subsequent attendance and investigation.
- The constabulary needs to review its vulnerability marking processes entirely to make sure there is consistent process, and it is used to inform safeguarding considerations for victims.
- The constabulary should review the resilience of its sex offender management units to allow for effective visit and workload management. Staff must understand the process of recording and planning visits in line with guidelines, and that accurate performance data is visible.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2017 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.
[Report says: This area was last inspected in 2017 and no areas for improvement were identified in our inspection.]
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
We have previously inspected how well forces provide armed policing. This formed part of our 2016 and 2017 effectiveness inspections. Subsequent terrorist attacks in the UK and Europe have meant that the police service maintains a focus on armed capability in England and Wales.
It is not just terrorist attacks that place operational demands on armed officers. The threat can include the activity of organised crime groups or armed street gangs and all other crime involving guns. The Code of Practice on the Police Use of Firearms and Less Lethal Weapons makes forces responsible for implementing national standards of armed policing. The code stipulates that a chief officer be designated to oversee these standards. This requires the chief officer to set out the firearms threat in an armed policing strategic threat and risk assessment (APSTRA). The chief officer must also set out clear rationales for the number of armed officers (armed capacity) and the level to which they are trained (armed capability).Detailed findings for question 5