Essex PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Essex Police is good at reducing crime and keeping people safe.
The force is good at investigating crime. Its investigations give satisfactory results. In 2017, we found the force should supervise investigations better. Its specialist departments have got better at guiding and supervising investigations. But investigations by uniformed response officers could be improved with better guidance.
Essex Police is good at protecting vulnerable people. It identifies vulnerability when people first contact the police. It actively looks for hidden harm. Increasing demand has stretched the force’s ability to respond to emergency and non-emergency calls. But it is working to rectify this by increasing capacity and improving efficiency.
In 2017, we assessed the force as good at:
- preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour; and
- 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 2017 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.
However, Essex Police had an area for improvement in our 2017 effectiveness inspection. This was that the force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with partner organisations, to continually improve its approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
We assessed progress on how well the force evaluates and shares effective practice. We found that the force is still waiting the release of its preferred fix on the IT system – the Athena Partnership Problem Solving Solution (PPSS). The force has in the interim developed its own internal database, Go2, which was released shortly before our inspection. This database does allow for the evaluation and sharing of effective practice, and the force was actively promoting Go2 among staff. At the time of our inspection, Essex Police was due to pilot the PPSS fix during autumn 2018.
We will assess the PPSS fix and its use in future inspections. Externally, the force has an extremely strong partnership structure where it regularly shares issues and developments with other organisations and agencies.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
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 appropriately throughout the investigation.
- The force should review how it closes investigations where the victim is reluctant to engage, to reassure itself that it is addressing risk and undertaking proportionate investigation and safeguarding activity.
Victims get satisfactory results from Essex Police’s investigations. But in our 2017 report we said it should supervise investigations more closely. This is still inconsistent across the force. But, the force is training uniformed response officers in crime supervision, so it is likely to get better at supervising investigations.
The force is closing many investigations that are not supported by the victim. It often does this without contacting the suspect. It should review this to make sure it is assessing risk and protecting victims. But the number of cases where the suspect is charged or summoned has increased, which means more victims get a good outcome.
The force should ensure it allocates investigations to the right officer for the job. Some crimes are assigned to officers who are going on rest days. This means the victim won’t hear from the investigating officer for several days. This isn’t appropriate.
Essex Police actively pursues and manages offenders. Since our last inspection it has got better at using bail, so it is doing better at protecting victims. The force has not circulated on the Police National Computer (PNC) all the people it has listed as wanted for an offence. This means other forces cannot help find these people. Essex Police knows about this and is correcting it.Detailed findings for question 2
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Areas for improvement
- The force should review its processes for assessing risk in the crime bureau to make sure it takes opportunities to safeguard vulnerable victims in cases that it closed without officer attendance.
The force can identify and understand vulnerability. It seeks out people with hidden vulnerability, such as those who have been trafficked. It identifies vulnerable people when they first contact the police.
The force knows that demand for its services has gone up. It has recruited 150 new frontline officer posts to deal with this. Our 2017 report said the force should reduce the number of abandoned calls to its non-emergency 101 line. It has tried to do this. But the rate is still too high. The force continues to work on this area. The force shares information well with its colleagues working in mental health services, even though Essex’s mental health service provision is complex.
Since our 2017 inspection, the force has improved the way it uses legal powers to safeguard domestic abuse victims. It works well with other organisations to keep vulnerable victims safe. And it asks vulnerable victims what they think about its service. It uses their views to improve its services. It is no longer visiting all low-risk registered sex offenders (RSOs) unless it gets intelligence that changes their assessment. This means it can better manage high-risk RSOs. Essex Police is increasing its use of specialist software to identify offenders who view indecent images of children online.Detailed findings 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?
HMICFRS has 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