Dyfed-Powys PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
We found that Dyfed-Powys Police is good at reducing crime and keeping people safe.
The force needs to improve how it prevents crime and anti-social behaviour.
The force should improve its focus on crime prevention. It should also check how well prevention tactics work.
The force needs to make sure it protects the public from crime consistently.
We found that Dyfed-Powys Police needs to improve how it protects vulnerable people.
The force is good at understanding and identifying vulnerability. But it does not always complete a risk assessment when it attends a domestic abuse incident. This means the force may not be giving vulnerable victims the best protection.
The force is good at supporting vulnerable victims. It exchanges information with other organisations which help and support victims.
In 2017 we judged the force as good at investigating crime. In 2016 we judged it to be good at tackling serious and organised crime.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure it has a clear strategy for neighbourhood policing that is understood at all levels of the force.
- The force should ensure that there is sufficient capacity to carry out neighbourhood policing activities in line with its strategic approach.
- The force should adopt a structured and consistent problem-solving process to enable it to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour more effectively.
- The force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with other organisations, to improve its prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Prioritising crime prevention
Dyfed-Powys Police requires improvement in prioritising crime prevention. The force is developing its future strategy for neighbourhood policing. We found some areas where it had given a clear indication of future intentions and plans. One example is rural policing. It has developed a strategy and introduced rural crime teams. But other parts of the neighbourhood policing strategy lacked clear direction. And there was an inconsistent approach towards prevention activities. The workforce does what it feels best, rather than the force setting out its expectations for the workforce. It is also evident that the neighbourhood policing workforce is not fully resourced. Officers find themselves taken off neighbourhood work to cover response work. This happens frequently in some areas. This is, of course, necessary to manage the incoming demand, especially in the more rural areas. But it means that neighbourhood activities, such as community engagement and crime prevention, are not always taking place.
The force has introduced crime and harm reduction units. These units support an improved approach towards problem-solving and crime prevention. The force has trained officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) in effective problem-solving. But we found this knowledge throughout the workforce was variable.
Protecting the public from crime
Dyfed-Powys Police needs to improve some elements of how it protects the public from harm. The force has reviewed its control strategy to ensure that it focuses on vulnerability. It identifies important threats as:
- class A drugs and new psycho-active substances;
- child sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse; and
- domestic abuse.
The force also identified cross-cutting themes of mental health, vulnerability and county lines. Some good examples show that the force understands threats in its communities. We saw that it has identified county lines activity in Powys. The force and local partners took positive action to address this under Operation Regent, a drugs operation that was linked to organised crime groups.
Daily management meetings consider specific community tensions and the threats posed on that day or week. However, it wasn’t always clear how the priorities in the control strategy informed workforce activity.
Dyfed-Powys Police has good relationships with partners and exchanges information to help with crime prevention. It does this through multi-agency meetings. Operation Heirloom is a recent example. The force worked with holiday parks, activity centres and campsites to reduce anti-social behaviour over the summer holiday period.
The force has an easy-to-use database, so the workforce can solve problems in the community. We reviewed this during inspection fieldwork and we saw some good examples of problem-solving with analysis and responsibility. But most of the problem-solving plans lacked supervision, data and partnership involvement. This was an area for improvement in 2016. The force needs to provide a more structured and consistent approach to problem-solving.
The force uses the OSARA (outcomes, scanning, analysis, response and assessment) problem-solving model and the workforce has been trained in this. We saw the model used in a large-scale initiative, Operation Arrowhead in Carmarthenshire, to reduce quadbike thefts. But OSARA seems to have less of an effect for lower-level problem-solving and there is little evidence of people taking responsibility.
Other types of activity include pre-planned seasonal campaigns such as Operation BANG, which targets anti-social behaviour during Halloween and bonfire night. The force runs campaigns during Freshers Week at the start of the academic year for universities in the force area.
During Operation Lion the force worked with partners to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour in Tenby during peak tourist season in the summer.
The force has a cyber-crime unit which has engaged with schools to raise awareness of cyber-crime. It held a focus group in one school to get advice from students on the types of apps that young people use, to help it keep pace with new technology.
While the force prevents crime through a range of operations and tactics, we could not see how it evaluates these activities. Evaluation could allow it to learn lessons, find out what works and promote effective practice. This was an area for improvement in 2016. For example, the force learned lessons about county lines drugs activity during Operation Regent in Powys. But it is unclear whether it has since used these lessons to address similar problems in other parts of the force area.Summary for question 1
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2017 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Cause of concern
It is a cause of concern to HMICFRS that Dyfed-Powys Police is failing to risk assess all incidents of domestic abuse. This means that opportunities to intervene and take appropriate action at the earliest opportunity are being lost; this includes missed chances to identify coercive and controlling behaviour, other persons at risk in the household such as children and escalation in the scale of violence.
This puts vulnerable people at risk.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Understanding and identifying vulnerability
Dyfed-Powys Police is good at understanding and identifying vulnerability. Protecting vulnerable people is an important priority for the force. This is outlined in the police and crime commissioner’s (PCC’s) police and crime plan and in the chief constable’s force priorities. The force uses the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime definition of vulnerability.
During our inspection we heard that the force had recently trained all frontline officers and staff in how to identify vulnerability, and we found good understanding in this area. The force does not have a specific vulnerability strategy, but it is working well with partner agencies to identify vulnerability. Initiatives include joint training and improved information exchange. One specific example is its work with a homelessness charity with staff who talk with children who have previously gone missing from home.
Some, but not all, of the workforce understands hidden vulnerability and the associated risk. We found both knowledge and awareness of modern slavery and child sexual exploitation during inspection fieldwork.
When a member of the public first contacts the force communication centre, they get assessed for vulnerability. The force uses an assessment known as THRIVES (threat, harm, risk, investigation opportunities, vulnerability of the victim, the engagement level and safeguarding). Call handlers have scripts for certain incident types, including female genital mutilation, slavery, fraud, abduction, missing people and honour-based violence.
We found that call handlers showed empathy towards callers on the 999 and 101 phone lines. They provided appropriate advice and guidance. We found call handlers were good at asking effective questions to get information about vulnerability that might not be immediately obvious. Response times were appropriate to the risks that had been identified through the THRIVES process.
Responding to incidents
The force requires improvement at responding to incidents that involve vulnerable victims. Specifically, we were concerned about how effectively it assesses risk to victims of domestic abuse. The force responds to incidents involving vulnerable people in a timely manner. Mental health partners and members of the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust work in the force communication centre. This provides a joint approach for vulnerable people when they first contact the police.
When attending incidents, officers have two methods for assessing risk. The first is a multi-agency referral form (MARF). This form is used when there are concerns about children and/or adults. The second method for assessing risk is a domestic abuse, stalking and harassment (DASH) risk assessment form. This is a national risk-assessment tool used for domestic abuse incidents.
The workforce understands how to use the MARF and the process is well established. But not all the workforce understands when to use the DASH. Our crime data integrity inspection found that where no crime was recorded, there was no DASH assessment. The force invited a peer review which identified similar issues. In response, the force made changes to the supervision and quality assurance of DASH risk assessments in September 2018. The completion of DASH risk assessments was an area for improvement in 2017.
Following our inspection fieldwork, we asked the force to conduct a further review of its DASH completion rates. This review reported a 90 percent completion rate, but also showed that some incidents were inappropriately categorised. The force does not complete a DASH risk assessment for all reported incidents of domestic abuse, such as a verbal argument, where a risk assessment may not be carried out at all. Additionally, there is confusion about what a domestic incident is. This is disturbing. It means that vulnerable victims may not be appropriately identified, supported and safeguarded.
We found evidence that immediate safeguarding information is exchanged with partner agencies. The force exchanges safeguarding information about people with mental ill health with children services, mental health services and GPs. It exchanges information with other forces to safeguard victims of domestic abuse.
Limited information on support organisations is provided to vulnerable people. We found some examples of neighbourhood policing teams providing information, but this was inconsistent throughout the force. The force provides a mental health triage service run with Hywel Dda University Health Board. Mental health practitioners work in the force communication centreand this cover is now provided seven days a week. The force is working out how to collect data on, and evaluate the benefits of, the triage service. The workforce spoke positively of the way this triage service was improving the response to vulnerable people.
Officers we spoke to understood the importance of safeguarding vulnerable people when dealing with suspects, particularly when deciding whether to arrest or to use voluntary attendance. To protect vulnerable victims, arrests are made when appropriate in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. The force domestic abuse arrest rate has risen to 46 percent, which is positive because this was an area for improvement in 2017.
Supporting vulnerable victims
The force is good at supporting vulnerable victims. Neighbourhood policing teams are involved in the safeguarding of vulnerable people in their communities. Examples include safeguarding visits to high-risk domestic abuse victims to provide security kits which include door jams and window alarms. Another example is the visits made by PCSOs to elderly victims of scam mail to give crime prevention advice and reassurance.
The workforce has responded positively to a new dedicated neighbourhood policing team briefing page on the force information system. This has improved access to relevant information such as details of vulnerable victims and high-risk offenders. These details inform patrol plans and safeguarding visits.
The force uses legal powers to protect victims of domestic abuse. It has seen an increase in the use of domestic violence protection notices and domestic violence protection orders since 2017. This is encouraging because it was an area for improvement in 2017. It also uses Clare’s Law and pre-charge bail. But the workforce does have problems accessing some of this data.
Partnership working is an area of strength for Dyfed-Powys Police. The force has a central referral unit which co-ordinates the exchange of information with partners to safeguard and protect vulnerable people.
The force introduced a public protection hub 18 months ago to improve information provision and partnership working in offender management. In this hub there are offender management teams like MAPPA, ViSOR and integrated offender management, victim protection teams like multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs), and staff from the national probation unit. The unit co-ordinates offender management activity force-wide. Mental health partners work from the hub once a week to exchange information and make joint decisions for the effective management of offenders.
The force administers and chairs MARACs. Police and partner agencies make referrals into the MARAC. We observed a well-run MARAC during our inspection fieldwork. A wide range of the force’s partners attended. We saw both the police and partner agencies contributing to and making decisions. The force refers all high-risk domestic abuse cases into the MARAC process and refers cases where there are any escalating concerns.
While the force recognises the importance of feedback from victims, we found limited examples of it seeking and using this feedback to improve services. It has started working with a victim of child sexual exploitation to improve workforce understanding and victim services. The force is working with independent sexual violence advisers in the sexual assault referral centre to better understand the reasons why victims withdraw complaints. This feedback will inform the force’s future response to sexual offences. It sought feedback from victims of domestic abuse during a force-wide operation to prevent domestic abuse over the summer period. The lack of victim feedback means that the force cannot be confident that the service it provides is meeting the needs of vulnerable people.
Dyfed-Powys Police manages dangerous and prolific offenders well. Officers and staff in the public protection hub co-ordinate offender management force-wide, working with partner agencies to safeguard vulnerable people. The force uses nationally recognised risk assessment processes to manage offenders. We found that offender manager caseloads are reasonable. A small number of offender visits were overdue at the time of our inspection fieldwork. But these are addressed efficiently through effective scrutiny and governance.
The force uses additional or ancillary orders and other powers effectively to protect the public. It has increased the use of serious harm prevention orders since 2017.
The force briefing system provides information about dangerous and prolific offenders for frontline officers. We found a good level of knowledge of high-risk perpetrators and high-risk victims among the frontline officers and staff that we spoke to.
The force is proactive in its approach to identifying those who share indecent images of children online. The policing online indecency team monitors and enforces offences of indecent images of children through the use of specialist software.Summary for question 3
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 2016 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Understanding the threat and responding to it
Dyfed-Powys Police operates joint arrangements with Gwent Police and South Wales Police to provide armed policing. This means that the standards of training, armed deployments and command of armed operations are assured in all three forces. The force has a good understanding of the potential harm facing the public. Its APSTRA conforms to the requirements of the code and the College of Policing guidance. The APSTRA is published annually and is accompanied by a register of risks and other observations. The designated chief officer reviews the register frequently to maintain the right levels of armed capability and capacity.
All armed officers in England and Wales are trained to national standards. There are different standards for each role that armed officers perform. The majority of armed incidents in Dyfed-Powys police area are attended by officers trained to an armed response vehicle (ARV) standard. However, incidents sometimes occur that require the skills and specialist capabilities of more highly trained officers.
The availability of specialist officers in the Dyfed-Powys police area, in addition to the support available from South Wales and Gwent Police, means that the force has sufficient specialist capability. The force’s capabilities align well with the threats and risks identified in its APSTRA.
Working with others
It is important that effective joint working arrangements are in place between neighbouring forces. Armed criminals and terrorists have no respect for county boundaries. As a consequence, armed officers must be prepared to deploy flexibly in the knowledge that they can work seamlessly with officers in other forces. It is also important that any one force can call on support from surrounding forces in times of heightened threat.
This is an area where Dyfed-Powys Police performs well. Close working between the three Welsh forces means that armed officers can deploy quickly and efficiently in the region.
We also examined how well prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in Dyfed-Powys Police are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. Also, the force has an important role in designing training exercises with other organisations that simulate these types of attack. We found that these training exercises are reviewed carefully so that learning points are identified and improvements are made for the future.
We found that Dyfed-Powys Police regularly debriefs incidents attended by armed officers. However, it does not identify best practice and areas for improvement on every occasion. We recommend that the force reviews operational debriefing procedures. This will help ensure that opportunities to improve are not overlooked.Summary for question 5