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Hertfordshire PEEL 2018

Effectiveness

How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?

Last updated 27/09/2019
Good

Hertfordshire Constabulary is good at reducing crime and keeping people safe.

It is good at investigating crime. It is organised to meet the growing challenges posed by issues such as gang-related violence, child sexual exploitation and cyber crime.

The force is well organised in the way it allocates and investigates crimes. However, in our 2017 effectiveness report (PDF document), we noted that the quality of its investigations was variable. This has since improved. It robustly monitors incidents where a victim may be vulnerable. We are impressed by the support it gives to repeat victims of low-level domestic abuse in particular.

Following a peer review, Hertfordshire Constabulary has increased the number of investigators who deal with rape and other serious sexual offences. It is also analysing how it can better serve victims.

Lately, the force has been carrying out more evidence-led prosecutions. This is a result of its officers’ skill in building such cases when victims are reluctant to co-operate.

The force is highly effective in pursuing suspects of crime. And it is developing innovative practices involving female offenders and prolific, non-violent offenders.

Hertfordshire Constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people. It is good at understanding and identifying vulnerability, including hidden harm. It responds swiftly to incidents involving vulnerable people.

Under the banner of Operation Sceptre, it has adopted a noteworthy approach to preventing knife and gang-related crime. It also seeks to prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of young people in Hertfordshire.

In 2017, the force needed to review its effective use of body-worn video. It now consistently monitors the use and effectiveness of this.

It is making more effective use of police bail with conditions, leading to better protection for vulnerable victims.

It is well organised in the way it manages convicted, high-risk sexual and violent offenders who pose a risk to vulnerable people.

In 2017, we judged Hertfordshire Constabulary to be good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour, and at tackling serious and organised crime.

Questions for Effectiveness

2

How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?

Good

Hertfordshire Constabulary is good at investigating crime. In our 2017 effectiveness report (PDF document), we said it needed to fully comply with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime. It also needed to review its use of body-worn video. It has made these improvements.

It robustly monitors incidents where victims may be vulnerable. And it allocates investigations effectively. Good victim care was evident during our inspection. We were impressed with the level of support the force gives to victims.

The force’s investment in a range of training also means that officers and staff are better able to investigate crime and protect victims.

Hertfordshire Constabulary effectively pursues suspects, manages persistent offenders and deals with foreign-national offenders. It is strongly committed to the swift capture of all outstanding suspects.

Its integrated offender management (IOM) programme reflects its focus on preventing crimes that cause the public most harm.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has some good examples of how it is managing offenders. This includes a programme that offers female offenders different support from that offered to men. The force is also running a scheme in which non-violent offenders are offered prison deferrals in exchange for a six-month programme aimed at long-term behavioural change.

We expect the new specialist disclosure team to be a substantial asset.

While Hertfordshire has experienced a stabilised increase in crime figures, force data also shows a reduced proportion of positive outcomes. However, the force has detailed plans to improve how it handles serious sexual offences. And its efforts in important areas of policing – such as burglary and gang-related violence – are noteworthy.

Areas for improvement

  • The force needs to develop a cyber strategy and delivery plan to support criminal investigations and safeguard victims.

Detailed findings for question 2

3

How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?

Good

Hertfordshire Constabulary is good at understanding and identifying vulnerability.

It is ambitious at tackling violent crime, as well as repeat offenders and domestic abuse. The workforce has a good working understanding of vulnerability, including hidden harm.

A restructuring of the serious and organised crime unit should enable the force to better investigate criminal gangs. We note the force’s excellent ability to investigate cyber crime.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has a serious violence strategy and delivery plan; this includes noteworthy approaches to preventing knife and gang-related crime. The force receives daily referrals to divert young people away from knife crime. Its strategy also builds on national best practice, and aims to prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of young people.

Its approach to mental health triage is both progressive and highly regarded, not only by the workforce but also the NHS and mental health charities. It already gives victims an assured and responsive service, and changes that have followed the triage scheme’s formal evaluation will also allow the team to give more support to police officers.

The force continues to be effective in its swift response to incidents involving vulnerable people. It is well organised in the way it manages convicted, high-risk sexual and violent offenders who pose a risk to vulnerable people. It also makes effective use of police bail and other powers to safeguard victims.

It carries out meaningful investigations into all concerns, irrespective of the initial classification of risk.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should refresh guidance to staff on processes for managing unconvicted but potentially dangerous people within the community and reassure itself that staff understand this.

Detailed findings for question 3

5

How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?

Ungraded

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 (PDF document) 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