Cleveland PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
The way Cleveland Police prevents crime, tackles anti-social behaviour and protects vulnerable people is poor. It needs to improve the way it investigates crime, but it is good at tackling serious and organised crime.
Crime prevention isn’t a priority for the force and this is a cause of concern. The force isn’t giving officers and staff the direction they need. It has limited resources assigned to neighbourhood teams and its future plans for policing neighbourhoods are uncertain. The force knows the main threats its communities face, but it doesn’t have a good enough understanding of local concerns. Engagement with the public is poor and, across the force, problem solving is inconsistent. The force relies on its partners to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. It needs to understand better the effectiveness of any prevention work that does happen.
The force needs to improve how it investigates crime. It doesn’t have the right number of people in the right place to manage investigation demand. It needs to allocate crimes to the right teams for investigation and train its supervisors to oversee investigations properly. The quality of investigations isn’t good enough, particularly telephone investigations and those completed by response officers who have limited available time.
The force needs to provide better support to victims and the wider community. We are concerned that the force is putting the public at risk by not being proactive enough at catching criminals. But it works well with public and private sector partners to manage offenders who have been arrested.
We have serious concerns that the force is leaving vulnerable victims at risk by not protecting them well enough. There are too many examples of the force:
- failing to identify vulnerable victims;
- providing a poor or significantly delayed response;
- failing to provide adequate safeguarding; and
- investigating some cases poorly.
The force’s approach to vulnerability is unclear. Changes it has made to manage demand have created unnecessary risks and intentionally suppressed demand. It doesn’t use its protective powers effectively to safeguard vulnerable victims. There are examples of it working well with its partners to assess, respond to and safeguard victims. But this isn’t the case force-wide.
The force hasn’t done enough to address the recommendations we made in our 2017 national child protection inspection. It is leaving some children at risk of harm.
Cleveland Police understands the serious and organised crime threats across the force area. It has an effective strategy, a detailed strategic assessment and clear priorities. It works well with its partners to gather intelligence and respond to threats, including new and emerging threats, and manages organised crime groups (OCGs) effectively. It is good at deterring people at risk of entering organised crime and proactively works with vulnerable children to prevent this. The force disrupts, dismantles and investigates serious and organised crime well, but it could be better at understanding the effect of its activity on serious and organised crime.
The force understands the threat posed by firearms and responds well through a collaborative approach.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Cleveland Police is inadequate in the way it prevents crime and tackles anti-social behaviour to keep the people of Cleveland safe. In this respect, the force has dropped two grades since our last inspection, which is a significant deterioration.
The force isn’t prioritising crime prevention. There is a lack of strategic leadership and direction. It has limited resources allocated to neighbourhood teams and those resources aren’t working consistently to force priorities. The future of neighbourhood policing is uncertain. Although other teams exist to prevent crime, they work separately to neighbourhood teams, lack clear direction and have limited capacity to solve problems.
The force understands the main threats facing its communities and has identified its priorities to address these threats. But it doesn’t engage well with its communities, which means it doesn’t fully understand local concerns and may not reflect these in its priorities. While some crime prevention and problem solving is happening, it is ad hoc and not well co-ordinated across the force. The force doesn’t use a consistent approach to problem solving. Methods and systems that were previously in place are no longer consistently used. The force continues to work well with partners. There is a reliance on, but good use of, partner powers to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. But the force isn’t using evidence well enough to inform how it can prevent crime from occurring.
It is too early to assess the overall effect of removing neighbourhood officers. However, this is starting to show in the lack of access to police powers when needed to prevent crime in local communities.
The force isn’t raising enough awareness in its communities to prevent crime. Individual teams send out messages, but there is no corporate approach to the force’s communication. The force works well with children to prevent them from being drawn into crime.
Cause of concern
The force doesn’t appropriately prioritise crime prevention. There is a lack of strategic direction, and the force doesn’t allocate enough resources to prevention work. Staff who carry out prevention work lack an understanding of the priorities they should be tackling.
The force should take immediate steps to:
- provide strategic direction and co-ordination of all prevention activity;
- ensure there are the right resources, in the right place, to carry out structured problem-solving and prevention activity aligned to its priorities;
- ensure officers and staff working within neighbourhood teams understand the needs of local communities, their priorities, and the threats they face; and
- monitor the effectiveness of its crime prevention activity, evaluating and sharing effective practice both internally and with other organisations.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Cleveland Police needs to improve the way it investigates crime. The force doesn’t have the right number of people in the right place to manage its investigative demand. It allocates most crimes to the right teams. But it hasn’t trained supervisors to the right standard to oversee the effectiveness of investigations.
The quality of investigations isn’t good enough. This is particularly the case for crimes investigated over the phone and those investigated by response officers. Response officers don’t have the time to make the necessary enquiries, they often miss the chance to collect evidence early and they don’t make enquiries quickly enough. Most crimes are supervised, but not always given the necessary direction. The force has a plan in place to improve the quality of its investigations.
The force doesn’t effectively support victims and the wider community. It doesn’t see the importance of continuing with a prosecution when the victim doesn’t support it. This may be putting victims and the wider community at unnecessary risk.
We are concerned that the force is putting the public at risk by its poor offender management. The force isn’t proactive enough at catching criminals. It needs to have a clear process, with good leadership and senior officer oversight.
Cleveland Police works well with its public and private sector partners to manage offenders after arrest. It makes appropriate referrals for foreign national offenders. It manages and monitors the risks associated with suspects who are released under investigation (RUI). It fulfils its disclosure obligations and has effective arrangements in place to manage and ensure the quality of disclosure.
We have identified three areas for improvement, which we set out below. Although we are also concerned about the force’s ability to proactively catch criminals, we have included this in our cause of concern under ‘Protecting vulnerable people’ later in
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it allocates crime, ensuring it allocates investigations to appropriately trained and supported officers, and that it reviews this allocation throughout the investigation.
- The force should ensure that all investigations are completed to a consistently good standard and in a timely manner.
- The force should ensure that staff with the right skills are investigating crimes thoroughly, leading to satisfactory outcomes for victims. It should review its provision of investigative training, development and guidance.
Detailed findings for question 2
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Cleveland Police isn’t protecting vulnerable people well enough. We have serious concerns that the force is leaving vulnerable victims at risk. The force has high levels of repeat victimisation but isn’t considering the cumulative effect. There are too many examples of the force:
- not identifying vulnerable victims;
- not providing any response to vulnerable victims, or providing a significantly delayed response;
- not fully assessing and safeguarding vulnerable victims including children; and/or
- not adequately investigating cases with low levels of vulnerability.
The force’s approach to vulnerability is unclear. There is no vulnerability strategy or overall approach that the workforce understands. It analyses some patterns of offending against vulnerable victims but doesn’t use this knowledge well. Training for some of the workforce in how to identify and assess vulnerability has helped understanding.
The force is making changes to try and manage its demand. But in doing so it is creating unnecessary risks in how it:
- deals with non-emergency calls;
- responds to vulnerable victims, particularly victims of domestic abuse;
- assesses victims of domestic abuse and associated children; and
- manages reports of missing children.
It has plans to improve its call handling, but these plans don’t fully address all the problems.
The force doesn’t make effective and consistent use of protective powers and measures to safeguard vulnerable victims. It isn’t making disclosures under Clare’s Law and Sarah’s Law promptly, and it isn’t making sufficient use of domestic abuse protection notices. This is despite the high number of repeat incidents and the increase in domestic abuse incidents overall.
The force works well with partners to assess, respond to and safeguard victims. There are mental health and domestic abuse practitioners in the force control room. The multi-agency approach in the north of the force to safeguard children is effective. But a similar approach in the south of the force hasn’t yet started.
In 2017, we inspected Cleveland Police as part of our national child protection programme. In 2018, we followed this up with a post-inspection review. During this PEEL/IPA inspection, we reviewed all the recommendations relating to our previous child protection inspections of Cleveland Police. Disappointingly, the force hasn’t made enough progress for any of these recommendations to be signed off.
As well as these outstanding recommendations, we found the following cause of concern, recommendations and areas for improvement in this inspection.
Cause of concern
Cleveland Police is failing to respond appropriately to vulnerable people, including children. It is missing opportunities to safeguard them and is exposing them to risk.
The force must take immediate action to ensure that:
- officers and staff can identify vulnerable people and repeat victims effectively;
- it promptly attends incidents involving vulnerable people, and any regrading of incidents is based on a structured and recorded risk assessment with supervisory oversight;
- it safeguards all victims of domestic abuse, through the effective completion of a structured risk assessment, adequately supervising any changes to the initial assessment;
- there is sufficient supervision of domestic abuse cases assessed as having a standard level of risk;
- the cumulative effect of numerous incidents involving the same victim or household is properly risk assessed, considered and responded to;
- referrals for ongoing safeguarding are made at the appropriate time;
- there are effective processes in place for catching criminals which are subject to supervision and scrutiny, and it uses the available legal powers to prevent re-offending; and
- it supplies people with the information they need and are entitled to under the provisions of Clare’s Law and Sarah’s Law.
Areas for improvement
- All children managed within VEMT should have a person dossier and a trigger plan in place with appropriate supervisory oversight.
The following AFIs are still outstanding from our previous inspections:
- The force should further improve the way it works with partner organisations in relation to sharing information and safeguarding victims by continuing to work to establish a multi-agency safeguarding hub (for the south of the force area). (Vulnerability 2015)
- The force should ensure that the risks posed by registered sex offenders are managed effectively. (Vulnerability 2016)
- 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 rectify this to ensure that it is pursuing justice on behalf of victims of domestic abuse. (Vulnerability 2016)
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
Cleveland Police understands the serious and organised crime threats across the force area. The force has aligned its strategy and governance for serious and organised crime to the national strategy. It has appropriate governance in place within the force and with partners. It has a thorough strategic assessment and clear priorities. It understands the gaps in its understanding through proactively seeking intelligence, which it does through various sources, including partners and local communities.
The force takes positive steps to understand newer threats such as modern-day slavery, child sexual exploitation and county lines. It proactively seeks intelligence about existing and new organised crime groups (OCGs). The force acts on the intelligence it receives and properly assesses new OCGs as soon as it identifies them. It maps and reviews them at regular intervals. There are plans in place to manage and disrupt organised crime.
Cleveland Police is good at deterring people at risk of being drawn into organised crime. It proactively works with children to prevent them from becoming involved in crime. This includes those who are at risk of being exploited for criminal purposes, such as county lines. The force publicises successful operations through social media. However, it could do more to communicate prevention messages to deter people from engaging in organised crime and protect them from being victims. This is one of the approaches in the force’s serious and organised crime strategy.
The force disrupts, dismantles and investigates serious and organised crime well. It does this by drawing on its own specialist resources, in addition to other forces, agencies and partner organisations. The force is managing organised criminals through lifetime offender management. However, it doesn’t understand the longer-term effect this is having on serious and organised crime. We saw signs that the removal of neighbourhood officers was starting to have a negative effect because they weren’t available to carry out lower-level disruption activity.
During our pre-inspection in December 2018, we found that the management of serious and organised crime lacked leadership and direction. There was limited prevention activity and no accountability for those responsible for disrupting organised crime. Some good work was taking place, but this was as a result of individuals rather than force direction or a co-ordinated force approach. We gave our findings to the force five months ahead of the inspection because of the deterioration in this area. The force listened and made improvements ahead of the inspection taking place.
Areas for improvement
- The force needs to develop a better understanding of the effect of its activity on serious and organised crime across the four Ps, and make sure it learns from experience to maximise its disruptive effect.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
We have previously inspected how well forces were prepared to manage firearms attacks. 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 firm 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