Hampshire PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Hampshire Constabulary is good at reducing crime and keeping people safe. Since our 2017 effectiveness inspection the force has improved how well it investigates volume crime. Action taken by officers when they first respond to reports of crime has improved. And staff are now better at gathering evidence at this early stage of the investigation.
Overall the force has a good understanding of vulnerability and works effectively with partners to protect and support vulnerable people.
Officers and staff understand vulnerability well, and identify the less obvious signs that a person may be vulnerable.
The force responds to 999 callers quickly but in too many cases 101 calls are abandoned. A new contact management system that the force is due to start using later this year should help it better understand the types of calls that are abandoned.
The force assesses risk to people at domestic abuse incidents well, and records when children are present. Officers use domestic violence protection notices and orders (DVPNs and DVPOs) and safety planning to safeguard victims well. Neighbourhood officers use follow-up visits to victims to make sure they are safe. The force uses charge and bail to reduce risk of further harm. It asks for feedback from victims of domestic abuse, including those who don’t support police action.
The force works well with mental health care providers to assess and respond to people with mental health problems.
Neighbourhood officers and beat managers have a good understanding of dangerous offenders, including sex offenders, in their areas. The force’s online investigation team has dedicated staff to quickly stop offenders sharing indecent images.
In 2016 we judged Hampshire Constabulary to be good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour, and at tackling serious and organised crime. In 2017 we judged it to be good at investigating 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.
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. However, there are two areas for improvement identified from this inspection:
- The force should take steps to ensure that all available evidence is recorded at the scenes of crimes.
- The force should ensure that volume crime investigations receive consistent, regular, and active supervision, and that it maintains meaningful contact with victims to further improve investigation quality and progress.
During our fieldwork for this year’s inspection we checked what progress the force had made in these areas. We found that the force has made good progress.
Action taken by officers when they first respond to reports of crime is good. They are also good at gathering evidence at this early stage of the investigation.
We also found that the quality of supervision of frequently committed crimes had improved. But we still found some instances where it could have been done to a higher and more consistent standard.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Areas for improvement
- The force should take steps to reduce the proportion of 101 calls that are abandoned. It should make sure that it has effective processes in place to understand the types of calls that are often abandoned.
- The force has an effective approach to identifying those sharing indecent images online, but it needs to make sure that it proactively reduces the threat of indecent image sharing online through the best use of intelligence.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of performance in this area.
Understanding and identifying vulnerability
Hampshire Constabulary has a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability, and an effective overall strategy for protecting vulnerable people. It uses the College of Policing’s definition of vulnerability: “a person is vulnerable if because of their situation or circumstances they are unable to take care of or protect themselves, or others, from harm or exploitation”.
The force is good at identifying vulnerability at the first point of contact (using the THOR model of threat, harm, opportunity and risk). We saw that this model was being consistently applied by contact centre staff, and that risk-assessment decisions were being made based on the circumstances of the incident. This is despite the limitations of the call handling computer system, which doesn’t automatically show whether a caller has contacted the police before. This means that call handling staff must do time-consuming secondary checks of other databases. While this is inefficient and open to human error, the force is currently transitioning to a new call handling system which will automatically provide all information held about a caller or location on the force’s computer systems. This will help officers assess vulnerability more efficiently.
The workforce is good at identifying hidden vulnerability. Staff have had extra training on domestic abuse, and issues that may be more difficult to identify such as autism and modern slavery.
We found that the workforce has a good understanding of vulnerability and what it means for them in terms of doing their job. This knowledge helps them to uncover hidden harm. During fieldwork, we found good examples of this. In one case we were told about body-worn video camera footage taken by a neighbourhood officer helping mental health professionals decide the right response to a vulnerable person. In another case we heard about safeguarding action taken for a young woman suspected of being forced into dealing drugs.
The force makes good use of data to improve the service it provides to vulnerable people. We were impressed by the force’s Evidence Based Policing Tool, which brings all crime and call data into a single database that is easy to interrogate. The database can be used to identify trends and indicators of vulnerability, such as repeat calls or incidents, and to prompt neighbourhood officers to intervene.
Responding to incidents
Hampshire Constabulary generally responds to incidents involving vulnerable people quickly enough to keep them safe. Risk assessments completed by call handlers are good and are reviewed by supervisors. If there is a delay in responding to an incident, the risk is reviewed and given a different priority if needed.
The force responds quickly to members of the public who contact it on 999, but there can be long delays before the 101 number is answered. Figures supplied by the force show that in February 2019 about a quarter of 101 calls were abandoned by the caller. It is not known with any certainty what the nature of these dropped calls was, or if these callers later contacted it another way. The new contact management system will help the force to better understand what types of call are abandoned. The force is aware of this problem and at the time of the fieldwork senior officers were meeting regularly to discuss it and oversee improvement activity. For instance, the force told us it needs to increase staff numbers in the contact management department and will make it part of its financial planning. But, in the meantime the force can’t be sure that it isn’t missing opportunities to support people who are vulnerable.
Officers use DASH forms as part of a structured risk assessment process when they attend domestic abuse incidents. The quality of their completion has improved since our previous inspection. In our 2017 effectiveness inspection we said the force needed to do more to identify and record on the DASH form the risks to children present at domestic abuse incidents. It has worked hard to improve in this area, which is important because the force takes part in the Operation Encompass scheme. This is where the police notify schools of domestic abuse incidents affecting their pupils in the previous 24 hours. Officers we spoke to were aware of the need to record details of children in the same household on the DASH form. But we heard that some forms don’t include this information and must be returned to officers. This indicates that this learning may need reinforcing.
Hampshire Constabulary is one of five forces in England and Wales taking part in a College of Policing pilot of telephone-based initial response to domestic abuse cases that don’t need an immediate or priority response. It uses a triage system to identify domestic abuse cases suitable for telephone-based initial response without an officer needing to attend. We will be interested to hear the conclusions reached at the end of the pilot.
In the 12 months to the end of March 2019 in Hampshire:
- there was an arrest at 44 percent of all domestic abuse incidents, compared with the England and Wales average of 33 percent;
- 15 percent of people arrested in connection with a domestic abuse offence were charged or summonsed, above the average rate for all forces in England and Wales; and
- 44 percent of victims of domestic abuse didn’t support police action, a lower percentage than the average of 51 percent across the other forces in England and Wales.
These figures show that the force is pursuing perpetrators of domestic abuse and supporting victims well.
In other cases when a person is thought to be vulnerable, we found that officers and staff are confident using the more general vulnerability assessment form (PPN1). The form is submitted to the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) which does a more detailed assessment.
Overall the force works well with other agencies to assess and respond to people with mental health conditions. Officers and staff can get clinical advice 24 hours a day from mental health nurses based at the South Coast Ambulance Service control room. This has evolved from a previous, more limited service provided by a single nurse based in the police control room. The new system has only recently been put in place and hasn’t yet been evaluated.
There are good arrangements in place (through the MASH, mental health workers in custody suites and local partnerships) for helping people with mental health problems who repeatedly come to police attention. This allows the police and other agencies to work together to identify and support people with mental health problems.
The force told us that there are now better links and working arrangements with mental health care providers, resulting in police officers being deployed to fewer incidents involving mental health. In 2013, Hampshire officers attended 3,000 such incidents per month; in 2019 it was only 700. This suggests that people with mental health problems are getting a better and more appropriate response.
People with mental health problems are no longer taken to a police station. Instead they are taken to a hospital by private ambulance service. This mostly works well, and a recent dip sample by the force showed an average waiting time of just 36 minutes between the ambulance being called and its arrival. But we heard from officers and staff about longer waits (some of more than 8 hours) for an ambulance to arrive and take responsibility for the patient. This is a waste of police resources and could cause someone with mental health problems distress. The force should consider how to prevent such delays. Although, at the time of our fieldwork, additional funds were being put in place to increase the capacity of this service to reduce the length and frequency of any such delays.
Supporting vulnerable victims
Hampshire Constabulary safeguards vulnerable victims well. The safeguarding unit aims to contact within 24 hours each victim of domestic abuse who has been assessed as high risk. Victims are also supported by an independent domestic violence adviser (IDVA). The IDVA is their primary point of contact and keeps their perspective and safety at the centre of multi-agency action.
Those assessed as medium risk are visited by a neighbourhood officer or police community support officer (PCSO) within 48 hours. They carry out safety planning with the victim and make sure that they are given information about the right support services. We were especially impressed by IDVAs being deployed to support domestic abuse victims immediately after police attendance. IDVAs are ready to respond to domestic abuse incidents at high-risk times and places. This means that domestic abuse victims can get immediate support when they are most vulnerable.
During our fieldwork we heard from neighbourhood teams. They see safeguarding vulnerable people as the most important part of their role. We spoke to one team whose members were each responsible for working with vulnerable young people. We were impressed by the work they had done getting these young people back into education and diverted from criminal and risky behaviour.
We also found that the force is making good use of DVPNs and DVPOs and Clare’s Law. There has been a focus on using these better over the past year. In the 12 months to the end of March 2019 250 DVPOs were authorised. It was positive to hear from neighbourhood officers how they visited domestic abuse victims to check that these orders hadn’t been breached by perpetrators. The 28-day period of the order has allowed some victims the space to end abusive relationships. This is exactly the sort of opportunity these orders are designed to create, and the force should be commended for the way it is using them.
The force is in the process of re-balancing its use of released under investigation in domestic abuse cases in favour of pre-charge bail. We heard from the force that they initially interpreted the 2017 bail legislation strictly. This meant that pre-charge bail was only used in a small proportion of cases. In April 2019 the force revised its guidance to officers and during fieldwork we found a real impetus to use pre-charge bail more frequently. This means that the force is likely to be reducing the risk to victims more effectively.
The force has good partnership working arrangements with three MASHs covering the entire force area. Daily multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs) are held within two of the MASHs. All high-risk domestic abuse cases are discussed here with partner agencies or, in the case of the third MASH, at the scheduled MARAC meetings. The number of cases discussed at a MARAC has remained stable over the past year and is in line with what would be expected for this area.
The MASH secondary assessment of risk covers all medium-risk domestic abuse cases to make sure the grading and level of safeguarding are right. There is no significant backlog of cases awaiting review meaning that risk assessments
In our 2017 effectiveness inspection, the force had an area for improvement. This concerned making sure its process for getting feedback from victims of domestic abuse includes those who don’t support police action. The force surveys the victims of different crime types, including those who are vulnerable, to understand their views. It now works with local domestic abuse charities to get feedback from domestic abuse victims, including those who don’t support police action. It has used the results to better understand the needs of victims of domestic abuse.
The force manages offenders who pose a risk to vulnerable people well. Staff working in this area are busy but prioritise their workload effectively. We found that 98 percent of all visits to monitor this type of offender are unannounced, and that there was no significant backlog of assessments or visits. This means that offenders have less opportunity to conceal incriminating items or behaviour.
The force makes good use of additional or ancillary powers, such as sexual harm prevention orders (SHPOs) and
The force recognises that the proportion of offenders in Hampshire who are charged or summonsed for rape or serious sexual assault is too low. In the 12 months to the end of February 2019 the force brought offenders to justice in less than 3 percent of these cases.
To increase the number of rape offenders brought to justice, the force is increasing the numbers of staff in its units dedicated to investigating rape and sexual offences. We visited one of these units during our fieldwork. It is also developing closer working relationships with the Crown Prosecution Service by having a detective inspector working there full time. We learnt that a high proportion of victims in some parts of the force area withdraw from the investigation or don’t engage with it at all. We recognise that co-operating with an investigation isn’t right for all victims. But it would be valuable to the force to understand why rates of non-engagement are lower in some areas than others.
Neighbourhood patrol officers and beat managers have a good understanding of dangerous offenders, including sex offenders, in their areas. Officers can access information about offenders and submit intelligence through the crime and intelligence management system.
The force is effective in identifying people who share indecent images of children online and uses a risk assessment tool to score the risk posed by offenders. The police online investigation team has dedicated staff to respond quickly to apprehend offenders who are sharing indecent images of children. However, there is still room to be more proactive in how it uses all types of information to identify people who may be sharing indecent images of children.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
Hampshire Constabulary operates joint arrangements with Thames Valley Police to provide armed policing. This means that the standards of training, armed deployments and command of armed operations are assured in both 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. It prioritises the threats to communities in Hampshire and the Thames Valley area and ensures professional standards of armed policing. 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. Most armed incidents in Hampshire are attended by officers trained to an armed response vehicle standard. However, incidents sometimes occur that require the skills and specialist capabilities of more highly trained officers.
The availability of specialist officers in Hampshire and the Thames Valley area is guaranteed by the close working arrangements with the regional counter terrorist unit (CTU). The proximity of the CTU means that specialist officers can immediately be called on should their skills be needed.
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 activity in which Hampshire Constabulary performs well. Close working with Thames Valley Police means that armed officers can deploy quickly and efficiently to any location in either force area. Effective plans are also in place with other neighbouring forces should additional support be needed.
We also examined how well prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in Hampshire are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. The force also has a prominent role in planning exercises with other organisations to simulate these types of attack. We found that these training exercises are reviewed carefully so that learning points are recorded and improvements are made for the future.
We found that Hampshire Constabulary regularly debriefs incidents attended by armed officers. This helps ensure that best practice or areas for improvement are identified. We also found that this knowledge is used to improve training and operational procedures.Summary for question 5