Humberside PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Humberside Police is good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour.
The force is good at investigating crime. It has improved at this. The force has a shortage of trained detectives, but it has a plan to deal with this shortage. It has improved the way it manages wanted criminals. The force uses legislation to protect vulnerable victims. It works closely with immigration officials to manage foreign national offenders.
Humberside Police is good at protecting vulnerable people. It has got better at managing vulnerability and is keen to improve further. The force collects data on vulnerability and analyses this daily. In the past it has not responded quickly enough to vulnerable victims. It has made changes so it can better meet demand.
Humberside Police is good at 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.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure regular and active supervision of the quality and progress of investigations. This supervision should be properly recorded.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
In our 2017 effectiveness inspection, we reported that the force needed to improve how it investigated crime. This year we were pleased to find that investigation processes have developed. The force now investigates most crimes to a good standard. It has made improvements to procedures and has invested in training for supervisors.
We found that the force has a plan to address its shortage of trained detectives. It has developed this plan from national guidance. Data provided by the force shows that 86 percent of its detectives are accredited to PIP level two. The force makes good use of police staff investigators, with 61 in post to support its overall investigation capability. Its recruitment programme allows it to proactively seek officers who have an aptitude to become future detectives. The force has reintroduced CID detectives to its north and south areas. It has also created more senior detective supervision posts. These include a rape and serious sexual offences inspector, to quality-assure and facilitate improvements for vulnerable victims.
This year we found that the force is allocating crimes consistently to the most appropriate investigator. Its local accountability meeting structure helps it monitor officers’ workloads. These generally appear to be manageable, but are higher than the force would like, especially for detectives. The force needs to be mindful of the welfare of its investigators.
The force has relocated its crime management units and increased staffing levels to make them more effective. These units are where officers assess initial crime reports and resolve some of them by telephone. We visited one unit and found that it deals with appropriate low-level crimes. The unit acts as a quality-assurance and filtration process for the allocation of crimes and conducts telephone enquiries to complete crimes where applicable. It filters out a percentage of crimes that would previously have been allocated to response officers. This reduces investigation workloads for frontline officers. If a crime has an element of vulnerability, the unit allocates this to the most appropriate resource.
Prior to our fieldwork, we carried out a review of 60 crime investigations, from January to March 2018. Most cases (45 out of 60) had been effectively investigated, with victim care and lines of enquiry completed. But in some cases we had concerns about the standard of initial enquiries and in 20 cases a lack of direction from supervisors. Only a few of the investigations we reviewed included an effective investigation plan. We found that call handlers communicate well with callers and are careful to record information that supports the officers responding to incidents. There were sometimes delays in responding to incidents. Although we found no evidence that victims had withdrawn their support, this may sometimes be a consequence of such delays.
We provided detailed feedback to the force about this review. It responded positively to this feedback and made improvements for victims, including:
- providing training for supervisors on managing investigations, including setting better investigation plans (two-day course);
- introducing a clearer crime allocation policy which considers complexity, capacity and capability;
- continuing the introduction of body-worn video cameras so that officers can secure evidence at scenes;
- using a drop-down menu in the control room with ‘golden hour’ guidance;
- making sure that incidents are dip-sampled for quality;
- displaying clear and visible guidance throughout the force on:
- basic standards;
- victims’ code;
- investigation plans;
- voice of the child; and
- safeguarding considerations.
At the time of our inspection, the force was two weeks into the introduction of a significant change to its shift pattern for uniformed officers. This is to help it meet demand for service. It was also progressing the recruitment of an extra 400 officers by December 2018.
During our inspection we examined some continuing investigations in various departments throughout the force. The majority were of a satisfactory standard, with good updates, supervision, guidance and contact with victims. This was especially so with the more serious investigations. We acknowledge that the force has taken quick action to improve its investigation processes. The few cases that were not as satisfactory tended to involve uniformed officers. Factors that can affect the quality of these investigations include periods of leave, infrequent supervision and poor updates about the progress of the investigation.
The force should now focus on improving investigations undertaken by uniformed officers. It should make sure that supervision is consistent and takes into account whether any of the people involved might be vulnerable. Factors it should consider include the pressure some officers are feeling and the inexperience of new officers. Also, CID officers told us that some of the investigations handed over by uniformed officers can lack detail, which makes their job more difficult.
The force legitimacy board oversees the monitoring of contact with victims of crime. The force uses officers trained in achieving best evidence (ABE) to secure evidence from vulnerable victims. It recognises that not enough officers have completed the serious child abuse investigators development programme, but it has a plan in place to close this gap. The force is aware of cases where the victim doesn’t support prosecution. It showed us several cases in which it has pursued an investigation despite the lack of victim support. This is positive. Completing the introduction of body-worn video cameras for frontline uniformed officers will be a positive step, as their use supports cases like these. It is force policy to use body-worn video cameras at all domestic abuse incidents.
The force carried out a review of its processes for managing suspects who are shown as ‘wanted’ on its internal systems. This included examining over 4,000 investigations. Data showed that the force had a high number of suspects who it had not circulated on the police national computer (PNC) despite them being shown as wanted. In April 2018, the force introduced a new suspect management policy to address problems in its processes. This included a toolkit to aid consistent decision-making for when officers should put a suspect on the PNC.
We found good awareness among officers we spoke to of the new processes for circulating wanted persons on the PNC. Before circulation, the officer should complete enquiries and prepare the file so that the case is ready for the individual’s arrest. For continuity, the investigation now remains with that officer. Supervisors told us that this is taking place and that they carry out reviews of progress. We were reassured to learn that in a case where this preparation did not occur, the force still managed to achieve a successful prosecution following further enquiries.
The force regularly uses Operation Impact to focus on arresting suspects. The force has a dashboard that shows details for wanted persons. Local accountability meetings monitor progress. We viewed a response officer’s daily briefing record and saw that it highlighted locally wanted persons. Additionally, a chief officer chairs the force’s daily pacesetter process. This is an online meeting of leaders from departments, the control room and policing areas. The process includes updates on progress to arrest suspects connected to serious incidents.
Within the Humberside Police area is the significantly sized port of Hull. The force has to take account of this in its policing activity. The force has well-established joint working arrangements with the immigration service. We saw that the force makes foreign national offender referrals to the ACRO criminal records office. Between April and October 2018 the force made 611 referrals to exchange information and check records. In Hull, the force has two immigration officers working alongside its own workforce. This is positive.
We assessed how the force now uses bail following recent changes to bail legislation. The force encourages officers to consider and use more pre-charge bail in cases of domestic abuse to protect victims through the proportionate use of conditions where justifiable. Risk assessments on bail decisions are expected to be documented. The force’s criminal justice unit manages bailed suspects. There is good data available for monitoring purposes.
The force dip-samples cases to monitor the correct use of released under investigation (RUI) for suspects. This is where a suspect is released under investigation without any bail conditions. The force has developed a new policy, which sets out investigators’ and supervisors’ responsibilities when deciding to use RUI. This includes consideration of its suitability to use in domestic abuse, child abuse and sexual offences, stipulating pre-charge bail must always be initially considered in these cases. Senior officers from the force have led some audits of its use, but we considered that management oversight is inconsistent. Good data is available, and the force is introducing more monitoring processes. It should make sure this development includes consistent oversight on the use of RUI.
The disclosure process in criminal prosecutions provides a crucial safeguard to ensure fairness within the system. Police investigations must follow all reasonable lines of enquiry, even if they point away from the suspect. Prosecutors must provide the defence with any material that undermines the case for the prosecution or assists the case for the accused. To fulfil its disclosure obligations, the force has a disclosure unit. Experienced staff within this unit review files that officers send them. Officers can also contact the unit for advice. While this is a different approach to most other forces, Humberside is confident it currently serves its needs.
The force has a senior detective lead for disclosure. It has planned further training for all detective inspectors and detective sergeants. This will be a day of inputs, including a presentation by a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyer. The force has also circulated a three-page CPS guide to disclosure to the workforce.
HMICFRS data in October 2018 showed the current ‘action taken’ rate for Humberside Police is 16.78 percent overall. This is higher than the national average of 14.6 percent. To improve results for victims, the force has reviewed its initial investigation actions and devised a new crime allocation policy. It dip-samples 300 investigations per month to monitor quality. It also looks at crime data to see what might be affecting outcomes and it examines whether its use of outcome 15 and outcome 16 (where victims don’t wish to pursue cases) is appropriate.
The force is making these improvements and has plans to develop further. It will soon start a review of its overall investigation processes.Summary 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 improve the consistency of its officers’ initial safeguarding assessments, recording of information, force IT case management process and robust supervision to ensure it does not miss further prompt safeguarding and investigation opportunities.
- The force should ensure that vulnerable persons, crime-related or not, are visible on the case management system.
- The force should review its resilience for registered sex offender management.
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
We found that over the last 12 months the force has focused on making improvements in the management of vulnerability. It has a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability within its force area. The chief officer team has provided clear leadership on this. The force is keen to develop further and we consider that it has made good progress but there is still some work to do.
The force uses the College of Policing definition of vulnerability. We found that the workforce understands what is meant by vulnerability and that it is a priority for the force. We were pleased that officers could explain how to look for hidden vulnerability at incidents. For example, they told us how they would check for food and assess the living conditions if they had concerns. The force lead for human trafficking is a senior detective, supported by two analysts who are developing a new human trafficking profile.
The daily pacesetter meetings, both at local and force level, demonstrated there was a good understanding of continuing incidents relating to vulnerability. Vulnerability incidents reviewed included rape, domestic abuse, victims and offenders with mental ill health and wanted persons. Attendees at the meetings use a dashboard of performance data: this covers incident volume, call handling performance and available resources. It also now includes data on attendance at scene, to focus on response times and improve the service for victims. The duty senior officer reviews the same data at 10.00pm each evening.
The force control room has good systems in place to monitor and oversee incidents and resources. This includes domestic abuse incident data. These effective systems put the control room in a good position to see what is happening throughout the force.
The force produces good analytical products. For example, a detailed mental health dashboard to help understand increasing demand for service. The force shares this with health partners. It also shares information with the local authorities through the protecting vulnerable people (PVP) departments. However, officers and staff within these departments told us that inexperienced officers could improve the quality of information they provide that will be exchanged with other partner agencies. They suggested that the force should train officers on this specific skill earlier in their service.
We examined what the control room does when it receives the initial call from the public. We found that staff consistently record an initial risk assessment using the THRIVE assessment tool. The force has focused on improving the recording of these risk assessments and has been dip-sampling calls and providing feedback to improve standards. We found that the information and evidence recorded is generally accurate. Call handlers spend time speaking with callers and victims with patience and empathy, to understand their needs. The force has made guidance on vulnerability and mental health available for call handlers to use. MIND workers also continue to operate from the control room, providing advice for mental health-related incidents. Our crime file review showed that victim vulnerabilities were generally identified by the call handler at first contact or during the investigation process.
Humberside Police has made a commitment to victims of domestic abuse with the development of a domestic abuse co-ordination team (DACT) within the force control room.
A detective sergeant and three domestic abuse co-ordinators work in the control room between 7.00am and 5.00pm. The team deals with lower priority domestic abuse incidents. Their role is to provide a specialist service to victims of domestic abuse within a short time, to ensure adequate and appropriate risk assessment and safeguarding.
Call takers within the control room send incidents to the DACT, which reviews the THRIVE rating and contacts the victim. The team re-assesses the risk and provides safeguarding advice and appropriate referrals. In addition, the DACT highlights incidents that require immediate deployment or use of the force’s domestic abuse car. This provides a prompt secondary risk assessment.
This facility allows the force to negotiate and start safeguarding for domestic abuse victims at point of first contact. This includes measures such as rehousing with women’s aid groups. As a result, the force can share information on safeguarding with partners such as ‘Blue Door’ almost immediately. This provides cover and interventions for vulnerable victims that are far more effective.
The project has been considered so successful that there was a recommendation to move to a 24/7 function. This commenced in November 2018.
We found that the force had not trained all its public enquiry office staff to carry out initial risk assessments. We saw this when we reviewed a domestic abuse report where there had been a two-hour gap before a THRIVE assessment was carried out. We raised this with the force. Even though the vast majority of incidents involving vulnerable people are reported to the control room, it promptly produced a training plan to cover this gap and train all remaining staff who carry out the initial recording of incidents following contact from victims.
The current control room system doesn’t automatically search on names of callers to identify previous call history. This must be done through another system. The force informed us that the replacement system will have this facility built in. Until then it is important to maintain supervisor quality assurance and searching of systems.
Responding to incidents
During our crime file review, we found some evidence that the force was not able to respond promptly to some vulnerable victims of crime. This was from a sample of files recorded between January and March 2018. Since then the force has recruited over 300 officers. In addition, just prior to our fieldwork it changed its uniformed officers’ shift pattern to better match its demand for service.
We purposely visited the control room during a busy afternoon shift in June and three times during our fieldwork in October. We found good call-handling performance in answering 999 and 101 calls, with very few calls abandoned. We sampled incidents from the control room queues and could see that supervisors had reviewed them. There was evidence of re-assessment using THRIVE where there were delays. The force now monitors the times of attendance at scenes, to provide a better victim focus. Senior officers have access to good demand data, which helps them make decisions about resource allocation across Humberside. Control room supervisors also hold ‘snapshot’ meetings at 6.00am, 12.00pm and 6.00pm every day to look at outstanding incidents and plan for attendance. This is a positive approach.
The force’s appointment policy is that control room staff should not make appointments for domestic abuse incidents without input from a supervisor. Appointments require the caller to attend the police station to maximise efficiency. We visited a local policing area and examined a sample of appointments covering three days. We found that they were for low-level incidents and the response was appropriate. None of the appointments viewed related to domestic abuse. Some officers we spoke to suggested that it might be more appropriate to use a range of resources to cover some of these appointments (including specialist officers and CID), rather than just uniformed officers. We believe this is worth consideration.
We referred one incident to the force. This involved a delayed response to a victim of domestic abuse. The incident should have been progressed more promptly by allocating a more appropriate detective resource, rather than waiting for a uniformed officer appointment. Although this was only one incident, the force should use it as a learning opportunity. It should satisfy itself that delaying its response to domestic abuse incidents doesn’t expose victims to risk or hinder the investigation.
We found examples of incidents where responding officers had completed immediate safeguarding actions to protect the victim or victims. Investigations by detectives also result in further safeguarding. For example, an investigator identified that a victim’s wife and children may have been at risk from further attacks aimed at the victim himself. The officer arranged safeguarding for the family through organisations including children’s social care. The officer reduced the risk further with measures such as a fire service home fire-risk assessment.
Where appropriate following incidents, officers submit risk assessments – called domestic abuse stalking and harassment (DASH) forms – or safeguarding referrals for vulnerable children or adults at risk. The multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASHs), or the domestic abuse partnership, then complete secondary assessments and are expected to provide feedback to officers. The force uses a crime recording and intelligence system called Connect for its database. We clarified that the force creates Connect records for referrals that are non-crime that relate to DASH and/or vulnerable children. The advantage of this is that the records are more visible for auditing purposes, for call handlers’ initial risk assessments and for responding officers. At the time of our inspection, the force did not create these records for non-crime adult-at-risk referrals. The MASHs share these referrals for safeguarding purposes, but the force recognises it needs to close this gap, so that all vulnerability is visible. It is developing an information and communications technology (ICT) solution for this. It needs to implement this solution promptly.
We found a consistent understanding among officers that they should complete DASH assessments with the victim in person. But officers we spoke to had frustrations with the current DASH ICT solution and how these forms are input. Officers told us they take positive action and arrest the offender where it is appropriate. This is verified by data which shows that arrest was used in 93 percent of cases and 7 percent were dealt with by means of voluntary attendance. This is in line with the England and Wales average. The force believed its arrest rate for domestic abuse incidents had slightly reduced due to the increase in recording lower-level assaults. In those cases, officers will use voluntary attendance for interviews. The force expects supervisors to review all domestic abuse incident logs before closure and that any incident considered high risk is referred to an inspector, who takes responsibility for the risk.
Most of the referral forms we examined contained sufficient detail. But the quality of written updates on some forms was inconsistent. A minority were poor and lacked detail about children, previous incidents, risk factors and further offences. One contained evidence of unconscious bias towards the victim’s circumstances. Positively, the force already had some work in progress in this area and it promptly produced an action plan of improvements in response to our feedback.
We highlighted a specific case for the force to review. Although the force took positive action, aspects of the case should have been better, including ICT processes, timeliness in the MASH assessment, investigation and awareness of evidence-based prosecution. The force needs to ensure it does not miss opportunities to take prompt safeguarding action as well as investigate or prosecute evidence-based offences.
All information must be recorded accurately, carefully supervised and accessible across the force. This includes information from DASH forms and vulnerability referrals. ICT solutions and prompt secondary assessments need to support this. In our 2017 effectiveness report, we were very positive about Humberside Police’s procedures for mental health. This year the force continues to use a control room based mental health process rather than a mobile street triage service. The force has evaluated this and considers it meets its needs. This involves workers from the mental health charity MIND being present in the control room to examine incident logs and provide advice on how to resolve incidents. It was positive to see the force has improved this scheme, which now operates seven days a week.
We spoke to some of the force’s mental health partners. They were generally very positive about the force’s approach to mental health. They did suggest some improvements that the force could make. For example, in cases where people with mental health problems assault medical staff, officers can assume the suspect doesn’t have mental capacity and therefore take the decision not to prosecute. Although we weren’t provided with specific examples, officers should not make this assumption and instead should make their decision on an evidence-based assessment of the person’s mental capacity.
The force has recently made it possible for officers to spend time in mental health suites. Partner organisations had very positive feedback about how this had broadened understanding and relationships on both sides. However, some frontline officers we spoke to had frustrations with access to partner information and waiting times in medical suites. The force dip-samples incidents to quality assess the way it deals with vulnerable victims with mental health problems.
Supporting vulnerable victims
The force’s neighbourhood policing teams are involved in the continuing safeguarding of vulnerable victims. Teams receive briefings – such as in cases of children who are vulnerable to child sexual exploitation and information on sex offenders in their areas. We saw how they manage community tensions following incidents. Neighbourhood teams also work with the early intervention teams to solve problems for vulnerable persons. This is reducing the demand created by some repeat callers.
Response officers normally arrange immediate safeguarding at an incident if needed. In the custody suites, detainee processing teams or CID detectives deal with most arrested suspects in domestic abuse cases. The force positively promotes the use of pre-charge bail to protect victims of domestic abuse. The force also uses domestic violence protection notices and orders to support victims. We found that officers and staff understand their benefit. The force treats any breaches of such orders as incidents and assigns these to teams for progression. We noted that application rates for these orders have fluctuated over the past year. The force was unable to explain fully the reasons for this. In order to ensure that it consistently makes use of all available victim protection and disclosure powers, the force should understand the reasons behind changes in application rates.
There are four well-established MASHs within the force area. Police and partners such as social care and education are co-located, so that they can share information promptly. This gives each service a fuller picture of vulnerability. We visited some of these hubs and found the assessments queues to be managed and recent. We witnessed the co-ordination of a live-time prompt response to a vulnerable child. A school had sent in information regarding a young child presenting with suspicious injuries. The child had told them their parent had caused the injuries. The MASH team immediately reviewed the information and escalated to a specialist team for investigation. This was very positive.
The force contributes to multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARAC). These are where partner organisations who are involved in the continuing safeguarding and support of victims discuss high-risk domestic abuse cases. We found that the MARAC is an established practice. The force expects that those involved will refer all high-risk cases.
The force’s quality and performance team surveys victims of domestic abuse, including those who do not support further police action (outcome 16). Leicestershire Police facilitates this process for the force, as it leads in this type of work.
Humberside Police currently uses Risk Management 2000 process (RM2K) assessments for the management of all RSOs. It is in the process of overlaying this with the Active Risk Management System (ARMS ), with 39 percent completed. It was pleasing to see the force had used an external ARMS specialist for auditing and training. Lincolnshire Police are also conducting a peer review of the process and policy to identify improvements and to increase efficiency.
During our inspection the force was managing some 1,310 RSOs in the community. The majority of the RSO visits were up to date, with 159 outstanding in October. All visits were carried out unannounced. The supervisors we spoke to had a good knowledge of these outstanding visits. They were giving priority to the minority that were high risk, using overtime to complete the work. The force produces detailed monthly performance data on RSO management for monitoring purposes. There were concerns about capacity in the management of RSOs. The force had already, at the time of the inspection, commissioned an independent review by another force into its capacity in the units in order to increase resilience and lower ratios, so that visits and assessments can be completed. The force uses specialist software to identify those viewing and sharing indecent images of children. For resilience, it has trained several people to use the system. Officers and staff access it at least weekly. When we visited, there were 12 low-risk cases awaiting progression. The force plans to develop the unit by bringing in a new software system. This followed research with another force. The force expects this to increase the number of identifications.
It was pleasing to see that the force has increased its use of sexual harm prevention orders over the past year. We found that the force knows when suspects have breached these. The force also uses child abduction notices. This has resulted in prosecutions that support vulnerable youths.
We found that neighbourhood officers tend to know about RSOs through general briefings, rather than specialist teams specifically informing them about all those in their area. Some tasking does take place and a good example of this is where the offender managers informed a police community support officer (PCSO) of an RSO recently released from prison. The officer carried out visits to the RSO and then held a residents’ group meeting to resolve community concerns. We saw information for local policing emphasised where a shift briefing highlighted concern for safety at a children’s home because of a prolific offender.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 2017 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Response to threats
The force has a developed 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 Humberside Police 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.
We found that Humberside Police has good arrangements in place to mobilise specialist officers should their skills be required. On these occasions, agreements are in place for the capabilities to be provided by the regional counter terrorism unit.
ARV officers are properly briefed at the start of their shift and debriefed after most operations. Good practice or learning is highlighted within the force and externally as appropriate. The force acknowledges that analysis of all debriefs may assist in providing better information about trends which are not already identifiable.
Understanding of demand
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.
Humberside Police has tried and tested procedures in place with other forces in the region to boost its ARV capabilities if this is needed. It has strategic specialist firearms commanders and, additionally, the arrangements in place with the regional counter terrorism unit mean that specialist officers are readily available. This was evidenced by the force supporting policing following the Manchester bombing. These capabilities align well with the threats and risks set out in the APSTRA and national requirement.
We also examined how well prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in Humberside Police are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. Also, Humberside Police 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 Humberside 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 its operational debriefing procedures. This will help ensure that opportunities to improve are not overlooked.Summary for question 5