Lancashire PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Lancashire Constabulary is good at reducing crime and keeping people safe.
It is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and has a good understanding of what is important to its communities. The constabulary has moved some officers from neighbourhood policing teams to response teams to ensure that calls for service are attended promptly. Although this means there are now fewer people in neighbourhood policing, they spend less time responding to calls and so have more time to focus on solving community problems.
The constabulary shares information with partners such as the council and health services. It conducts analysis to understand problems and works with partners and communities to solve them. It is spending money raised from a council tax increase on more officers to tackle crime in communities. The constabulary needs to make sure that it keeps a record of how it resolves problems, so that it can learn and share what works well.
The constabulary requires improvement in investigating crime. It is working hard to make sure it has enough people to investigate serious crime now and in the future. It is using technology to help it decide which crimes can be solved. This will help it use investigators’ time and skills more effectively. It has trained more people to cope with the rise in cyber and digital investigations.
The constabulary’s new IT system will help the workforce to make the right decisions to protect people. However, not all officers and staff know how to use it properly and many crime reports are not completed correctly. Putting them right can cause delays in the investigation, which means that evidence could be lost. Also, victims of crime might not get the support they need in a timely manner.
Investigations are not being supervised well. Inexperienced officers are not always getting the help they need to conduct investigations. The constabulary knows this and has a plan to improve.
There are good processes for making sure that wanted people are arrested. But the constabulary must make sure that it has all the information it needs to understand the risks that foreign national offenders may present.
The constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people. Staff answering 999 and 101 calls are trained to identify vulnerable people and make the right decisions to help them.
Officers respond to calls in time to protect people. They make sure people are looked after and record what has happened. They share this information with other agencies that can provide support, such as social services or health, so that both immediate and ongoing needs can be met.
The constabulary is innovative in protecting high-risk victims of domestic abuse. It works promptly with partners to solve the cause of the abuse. It has made sure that it has enough people with the right skills to protect the public from dangerous and sex offenders. People who share indecent images of children are arrested quickly once identified.
The constabulary understands the threat from firearms and has sufficient resources to respond to that threat.
In 2017, we judged the constabulary as 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 constabulary should ensure there is a consistent approach to recording, reviewing and evaluating problem-solving activity.
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
Lancashire Constabulary is good at prioritising prevention and problem solving to stop people becoming victims of crime and anti-social behaviour. Its overarching aim is for “fewer victims, fewer crimes, less vulnerable people and less demand on policing by addressing the causes of crime through integrated partnerships”. As part of the constabulary’s commitment to achieving this, it is a pilot force for the national modernising neighbourhood policing programme.
The neighbourhood policing strategy is based on the principles of the modern crime prevention strategy published by the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) policing vision 2025. The constabulary has worked hard to ensure that officers and staff understand the core focus of neighbourhood policing, which is:
- reducing victimisation, especially repeat victimisation;
- reducing offending, especially repeat offending and those who are at risk of becoming offenders; and
- the places where offenders and victims coincide, and harm is caused.
The constabulary’s internal website (intranet), team briefings, individual emails and training workshops all communicate this message. We spoke to neighbourhood officers and staff across the constabulary and all showed a clear understanding of the strategy. They described it as being based on three areas of policing: problem solving, engagement and targeting (repeat offenders, locations and victims) within their communities.
A chief superintendent chairs the monthly joint strategic governance group meeting, which discusses strategy, interdepartmental issues and medium-long term planning. Monthly meetings of the tactical group focus on implementation of strategy, monitoring and sharing good practice. Chief officers hold regular meetings with district leaders covering a variety of topics including performance management and managing change. This ensures a co-ordinated approach to developing neighbourhood policing across the districts.
In 2018, the constabulary conducted a review of resources for its core services –answering calls from the public, responding to the public’s needs and investigating crime. The review found that there weren’t enough officers on response teams to attend incidents. Neighbourhood officers were often switched from problem solving and community work to attend incidents.
The constabulary increased the number of officers in response teams and cut the number of officers in neighbourhood policing teams (NPTs). The number of police community support officers is unchanged. Although there are fewer officers in neighbourhood teams, they can focus on neighbourhood matters because they don’t have to attend as many response incidents. We found that officers and staff in NPTs felt the changes had given them more time to do problem solving and prevention work in communities.
Following the 2019 council tax precept increase, 40 additional officers are being recruited to support NPTs to help the constabulary achieve the priorities of the police and crime commissioner (PCC). They will work alongside NPTs, proactively targeting offenders and locations where harm is being caused in local communities.
Lancashire Constabulary has officers working with local partners in community safety teams (CSTs) in the nine areas of the county where there is the greatest social need. These teams – part of the neighbourhood policing structure – bring together neighbourhood police officers, youth offending officers, anti-social behaviour administrators, council, social services, housing, health and other agencies with a focus on preventative support to vulnerable people and offenders. This approach can improve the quality of life of those they work with and reduce the long-term demand on all the agencies involved.
Workshops to train NPTs in engagement, prevention and problem solving identified a need for more detailed problem-solving training. National experts on problem-solving approaches are helping to devise a course to give people the skills they need. We found that NPT staff are trained and aware of hidden and emerging vulnerabilities and threats such as child sexual exploitation, the impact of domestic abuse on children, female genital mutilation and honour-based violence.
Protecting the public from crime
The constabulary works with statutory partners such as council and health organisations to share information and create public intelligence assessments and local area profiles. These help to set strategy and to focus problem-solving activity.
NPT teams and supervisors are using data from various police systems collected by business intelligence software called PowerBI. This gives them up-to-date information and means they can be more dynamic in tackling problems in their communities.
The PowerBI dashboard had been launched a few weeks prior to our inspection. Unsurprisingly, there was mixed awareness and use of it among teams. However, we saw that where it is being used well it is informing daily activity, weekly team meetings and monthly tasking meetings. More traditional engagement, such as public meetings and business forums, is still taking place in some areas where it adds value. All NPTs use good social media engagement to identify issues and update the public on action taken. Threats and risks are referenced in patrol plans. NPTs have a good awareness of the priorities, threats and risks in their areas.
There is a local partnership approach through Operation Genga to understand more serious threats and harms in communities. Regular Genga meetings enable police and partners to share information, manage organised crime gangs and address longer term issues.
The constabulary has introduced a more structured tasking regime so that NPTs work on the issues that matter to the public. A monthly meeting in each district, chaired by the local NPT lead officer, considers community issues and sets a patrol plan. However, this is not yet embedded in driving activity. We found that most NPT staff self-brief and self-task. Some referenced PowerBI and patrol plans in informing their activity, but others had little or no awareness. The constabulary recognises from its own analysis that it must do more to ensure NPT staff are doing work that adds value.
The constabulary has worked hard in recent months to embed a problem-solving culture within the neighbourhood teams. Officers and staff understand the principles of problem solving and are familiar with the SARA (scan, analyse, respond, assess) problem-solving model. We found that the problem-oriented policing (POPs) IT system was being used effectively to document problems. However, not all the NPT workforce is clear on the purpose of POPs. Some of the issues being recorded are tasks rather than problems that require more detailed consideration and a structured approach to resolve, for example, the task of organising a local community event. The constabulary has given some training to staff around problem-solving and preventative approaches but recognises that more is needed.
Although the POPs database is being used well to record a problem, there is variation in how and where to record how the problem was resolved. Some of the workforce are using the Connect crime and intelligence system. Others are using another database. This can leave supervisors having to read across several systems when reviewing what has been done. Consequently, there is limited supervisory review and direction recorded against a problem. The constabulary is aware of these issues and is trialling in one district a revised version of POPs that allows activity to be recorded. It needs to ensure there is effective supervision of local problems and evaluation of activity once a problem is resolved so that it is confident there is timely, focused action and it is learning lessons and identifying good practice.
NPT teams are working with partners to solve problems. For example, one team was working with the local council to obtain a public space protection order for a local park to prevent drug users from congregating. Another was working with the fire and rescue service (FRS) and local landowners to prevent youths lighting fires on an abandoned golf course. NPTs work with schools to educate children on how to stay safe online and to highlight the dangers and consequences of issues such as online bullying and sexting. Officers and staff give crime prevention advice through leaflets, online material and use of their handheld devices to support victims of crime.
We found some use of the available powers to tackle anti-social behaviour and other community issues such as gang injunctions, but this varies across the districts. This is partly due to the different approaches taken by partners in problem solving and prevention. However, the constabulary uses the available powers less frequently than most other forces. It may wish to examine whether these are being used (and monitored) effectively.
The constabulary is taking a novel approach to deal with cuckooing, where members of organised crime groups prey on vulnerable people and bully them into allowing their homes to be used for drug dealing and criminal activity. Police and local authorities gather intelligence and obtain orders against the occupant, not to punish them but to use it as a means of protection. The order means that the property and the occupant receive regular visits by the authorities, which deters organised criminals. Guidance on how to deal with potential cuckooing is available on the constabulary intranet.
The constabulary is fully engaged with the national modernising neighbourhood policing programme. It has good relationships with academia, national leads and other forces to develop its approach to problem solving. It has exchange agreements in place to allow officers to experience and identify good practice in other forces. A good practice section on the intranet allows teams to identify and share good practice internally. However, there is limited evaluation of what works in solving local problems. The constabulary is aware of this and it forms part of the overarching plan to develop neighbourhood policing.Summary for question 1
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it puts in place regular and active supervision consistently and records it appropriately, to monitor the quality and progress of investigations.
- The constabulary should reduce the backlog of crimes awaiting quality assurance to reduce the risk of delays in investigations and referral of victims to support services.
- The constabulary should improve its processes for the management of foreign national offenders so that it is effectively managing the risk.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of performance in this area.
Lancashire Constabulary requires improvement in investigating crime. The constabulary has completed detailed demand profiling and workforce planning, so it knows what resources and skills it has, and what it needs in the future. It has well-managed plans to ensure it has sufficient capacity to meet future investigative demand. In the short to medium term, the constabulary has used several ways of encouraging people to become investigators. It has recruited officers from other forces, changed some roles from police officer to police staff roles and recruited agency investigators. It has also set up a detective development pathway, providing people with an opportunity to spend three months in a variety of investigator roles before applying. In the longer term, work is under way with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to develop a direct entry route as part of the Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF). The constabulary reports that more people are now applying to be investigators.
Generally, crimes are allocated to appropriately skilled officers. However, we found several fraud investigations that had been on response officers’ workloads for over 18 months with little progress and update. Some officers felt that they had neither the time nor the skills to investigate them properly. The constabulary should ensure that fraud offences are being investigated in a timely and proper manner. A dip sample of work among detectives in the investigation hubs found they had the necessary skills.
Calls from the public are assessed using either the National Decision Making model or the THRIVE process (assessing threat, harm, risk, investigative opportunity, level of vulnerability, and opportunity for engagement). Some crimes are investigated over the telephone by the initial investigations unit. This is appropriate and an efficient way of resolving crimes where it is apparent that there are no viable lines of enquiry. As part of our inspection, we reviewed a small number of telephone investigations. We found that in all cases a telephone investigation was appropriate and there was good victim care.
Our inspection found that officers are attending crime scenes in time to ensure that they maximise early evidence opportunities. Our crime file review of a small number of investigations found that in 47 out of 60 cases all lines of enquiry had been identified and progressed. A further dip sample indicated that officers are securing evidence at crime scenes. Some officers stated that there was a shortage of some skills on teams, such as specially trained officers to support victims of serious sexual offences. This sometimes caused delays in deploying the most appropriate resource to an incident. However, the constabulary has a good understanding of the skills it has on each team and is filling gaps by training additional officers and adjusting the balance on a team when making posting decisions.
The constabulary has prepared well to meet the increasing threat from the criminal use of technology. It has invested £3 million in ensuring it has the resources and skills to maximise evidential opportunities from the growing demand for digital forensic examination. Frontline officers use a ‘digital house’ in their training to recognise evidence opportunities at crime scenes. This is a mock-up of an average home complete with all the technology that a modern home contains. Officers conduct a crime scene investigation and are taught what opportunities each device presents, and how to preserve that evidence.
To support this training, there are 13 digital device examination kiosks and 350 staff have been trained to use them. Fifty digital media investigators within the districts give additional support. Consequently, devices can be examined quickly and effectively. The constabulary has a highly developed digital investigations unit housed within the same premises as the UCLan forensic academy. This includes a cyber-crime unit. Improved processes, resources, training and awareness have seen waiting times for digital forensic examinations reduce from over 12 months to 8–10 weeks, with minimal backlogs. The digital governance board, chaired by an ACC, monitors performance and ensures any necessary action is taken.
Workloads within response teams are generally manageable. However, several factors are affecting the effectiveness and timeliness of investigations, with a potential impact on the force’s ability to bring offenders to justice and provide a high-quality service to victims.
We found that many officers and supervisors are struggling with the new Connect crime management IT system. Many said that their training was insufficient. Our inspection team found delays in filing completed investigations, meaning that workloads appear far larger than they are. Some officers lack the knowledge to use basic filters within Connect that allow them to see only those crimes that are live investigations. In 45 of the 60 cases we examined in our crime file review, there had been an effective investigation. However, we found that the quality of updates on crime reports was poor, as was the quality of some witness statements.
Frontline supervisors are not providing effective supervision of investigations. In our crime file review only 31 of 60 cases were judged to have had effective supervision. We examined numerous investigations and found little evidence of any supervisory footprint on crime reports and no evidence of investigation planning or guidance for officers. There was anecdotal evidence of some discussions taking place between officers and supervisors, but this was not supported by any written record. This means that inexperienced response officers are not getting the support and guidance they need to investigate crime in a timely, proportionate way. This was reflected in the lack of progress on some of the fraud investigations we looked at. The constabulary needs to assure itself that the system and policies are helping investigators and supervisors to investigate crimes in an effective and efficient way.
With the introduction of Connect, the constabulary was clear that it needed to have robust quality assurance processes in place to guarantee data quality. This is a positive approach. As the system develops, reassurance around data quality means that the workforce can make quicker and better decisions around protecting the public. To provide this quality assurance, the constabulary set up the investigations management unit (IMU) to check that all crime reports are properly completed. However, since February 2019, there has been a steadily increasing backlog of crimes awaiting checking by the IMU. At the time of our inspection the delay in the IMU was up to four weeks. The constabulary is fully aware of this backlog and has an action plan to reduce it.
We were reassured that there are several safeguards in place to ensure there are no delays in identifying vulnerability. For example, there are hourly checks for missing from home reports, which are prioritised; multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASHs) are picking up domestic abuse incidents swiftly and some MASHs are scanning logs daily to ensure that all vulnerability has been identified. In addition, officers can request from the IMU that a crime be checked and sent back to them as a priority.
The constabulary expects officers to continue with investigations while crimes are awaiting the IMU check. But if they do not fill in the crime report properly, they cannot see it on the Connect system. This means that some officers are keeping a written record of what they need to do or using another computer system. Others are waiting until the IMU check is done before continuing their investigation. This causes a delay in enquiries being carried out.
A dip sample of crimes and incidents in the IMU queue showed that there was very little progress or update recorded after the point of initial attendance. We found several examples of investigations where there had been no update since the crime had been first recorded.
After the IMU check, the data is uploaded to Lancashire Victim Services (LVS) within 24 hours. Due to the backlog, there can be up to a four-week delay in LVS receiving the data it needs. Although we found that frontline officers were effective in their safeguarding actions when attending incidents, the constabulary cannot be confident that victims are being offered the timely follow-up support they need. The constabulary should ensure that it reduces the backlog within the IMU and introduces interim processes so that there are no delays in victims receiving the support they need.
There is no effective management of compliance with the victims’ code of practice. Investigators set the contact requirements with victims on Connect. A task is generated when contact is due. We found some evidence of officers complying with this requirement, but in line with the general quality of information recorded, updates were minimal. Our crime file review found that often victims were being updated on the progress of investigations, but these updates were not always recorded on the system.
We are reassured that the constabulary is aware of these issues and is taking action. There is ownership of the problem at chief officer level and an action plan is managed through the improving the quality of investigations board (IQI), which is chaired by the head of crime. It is developing a range of business intelligence products for leaders and supervisors using the PowerBI system. The investigations dashboard was being introduced at the time of our inspection. This should make it easier for supervisors to understand their team’s crime performance.
The constabulary has processes to circulate and manage wanted persons. Supervisory scrutiny ensures that it is appropriate to circulate a person on the Police National Computer (PNC). The Connect IT system notifies the investigator when a person is arrested who is suspected of other offences but not yet circulated on the PNC. This provides opportunities to trace and interview offenders that might not come to attention if not formally circulated on the PNC.
A sergeant in each district has responsibility for assessing daily threat, harm and risk across the district and prioritising the five highest-risk offenders wanted for arrest. They are circulated on the PNC; their details are placed on the electronic briefing systems and the enquiries are tasked out to response officers. Response inspectors are held accountable for the location and arrest of these offenders and updates are required at the daily risk and threat management meetings.
There is insufficient scrutiny and governance surrounding foreign national offenders. There are some links between the constabulary and immigration enforcement through the dedicated international desk intelligence staff. However, there is limited partnership working to identify and manage foreign national offenders. Police and immigration enforcement staff are not co-located and so do not have the daily interaction and sharing of information that exists in a multi-agency team. The constabulary needs to ensure that it has a robust approach to managing the risk from foreign national offenders.
Frontline officers and those working in the investigation hubs have a good general awareness of released under investigation, and pre and post-charge bail powers. This is managed through PowerBI, criminal justice performance data and district checkpoint meetings, which are held monthly with chief officers.
There is clear governance around outcomes and data scrutiny via the IQI board and the ACC-chaired operations board. The force has conducted internal audit work to understand how it can improve case file quality. Criminal justice support staff are working with officers to improve their skills and knowledge of file building. There are regular structured meetings between criminal justice partners to discuss outcomes.
The force has provided training, support and information to officers to improve their knowledge of disclosure. In addition, disclosure training has formed part of the response officers’ training days.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 ensure there is sufficient capacity and capability within the referral unit to appropriately safeguard vulnerable people.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of performance in this area.
Understanding and identifying vulnerability
Lancashire Constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people and has made significant improvements since our last inspection. There is a clear strategy for, and definition of, vulnerability, which has been effectively communicated to the workforce. Officers and staff we spoke to had a clear understanding of vulnerability, including hidden harms. They were able to provide examples of using this understanding in practice, for example, building confidence with a regular missing child to enable them to disclose that their absence was due to abuse within the family. We found that involvement by frontline supervisors in supporting their staff to deal with incidents involving vulnerable people has improved since our 2017 inspection.
The constabulary analyses data from partners such as health and local authorities, so it has a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability across the county. This helps it to decide what action is needed. The commitment of police and partners to work together to share information and protect vulnerable people is best demonstrated in the merging of three local safeguarding boards to create a pan-Lancashire children’s safeguarding board. This will improve partnership working and information sharing and ensure a corporate response from all partners when dealing with issues affecting children.
A monthly protecting vulnerable people (PVP) board examines performance and monitors progress against the constabulary’s vulnerability action plan. PVP meetings are also held at a district level, so that local leadership teams understand and are accountable for the policing response to vulnerable people. Each district holds a daily risk and threat meeting. Led by a member of the local senior leadership team, the meeting enables examination of the demands on the district over the previous days and plans for the coming day. Protecting vulnerable people is a core element of this meeting.
Officers and staff in the force control room have received training and are able to recognise vulnerability. Our crime file review examined 44 logs relating to issues of vulnerability including domestic abuse and mental health. In 42 cases the call taker had assessed the information correctly, identified the vulnerability, recorded sufficient detail and determined an appropriate response. Our fieldwork supported these findings. We found that incidents that had missed the graded response target and calls that had been assessed as not requiring immediate or priority attendance were properly reviewed and followed up. No incidents that had been graded inappropriately or changes in risk or circumstance had been overlooked.
Responding to incidents
The constabulary has increased the number of officers on its initial response teams, who attend calls from the public. Our crime file review and fieldwork found that officers are attending incidents in time to protect vulnerable people. Data is produced daily to manage response time performance. It forms part of the daily risk and threat meeting. District senior leaders are held to account for their performance in responding to calls at monthly checkpoint meetings with chief officers. Where there is a delay in responding to a call, control room supervisors conduct regular reviews to monitor any change in the level of risk.
Across all districts we found that officers are very aware of their responsibilities to identify vulnerable people and situations. They provided examples of how they assess and identify risk and vulnerability on attendance. They have been trained to look for less obvious signs of vulnerability and the impact of incidents on everyone in a household. They record the details on referral forms to the MASH. Frontline officers use their handheld devices at a scene to record and submit referral information regarding vulnerable people and victims of domestic abuse. This included using body-worn video to record the conditions that children were living in and attaching photographs to PVP forms. This helps partners within the MASH to make more informed decisions around support and intervention.
Submitting timely information reduces any delays in getting people the support they need. For example, at many domestic abuse incidents there is either a child present or a potential impact on a child. Operation Encompass allows officers to make a direct referral to the child’s school on their handheld device so that safeguarding measures can be in place by the time the child attends school the following day. The constabulary has processes to ensure safeguarding referrals are completed properly in all domestic abuse cases.
In our 2017 effectiveness inspection, we concluded that the constabulary needed to improve the quality of information that attending officers identified and recorded. We are pleased to note that the quality of these initial risk assessments has improved. Staff and supervisors within the MASH quality assure referrals and provide feedback to officers and their managers on an individual basis. MASH staff stated that they had seen an improvement in the quality of PVP forms being submitted in the past 12 months.
Lancashire Constabulary has a policy of positive action concerning domestic abuse incidents. Frontline officers understand their responsibilities, and arrests are made where they are necessary and proportionate. The use of arrest and voluntary attendance is monitored through the district and force performance management framework. We found that officers had confidence in using body-worn video, although it is not yet personal issue. Officers are recording all evidence at scenes, in case the victim does not support further action but it is necessary to safeguard them. We found examples where the offender had been prosecuted successfully solely on the evidence of the officer and the quality of the body-worn video evidence.
People with mental ill health is an increasingly complex and demanding area for policing. It is best responded to in a co-ordinated way with the other agencies. NHS mental health services in Lancashire are facing significant financial challenges that impede partnership working. Despite this, senior leaders are making sustained efforts to improve the effectiveness of the constabulary’s partnerships. There are joint protocols in place with health service providers and the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) for the detention and transport of patients.
The constabulary accesses a 24-hour mental health helpline provided by Lancashire Care Foundation Trust, which is available to officers for information and referral advice. This is staffed by mental health professionals who provide advice and guidance to officers. We found that there had been an improvement in this service since our last inspection, but both police and partners feel that there is still more work to do to maximise its potential.
The constabulary has taken steps to improve the knowledge of frontline officers and staff. Each response team has officers who have had extra training and can advise and help colleagues in dealing with mental health incidents.
The constabulary is working well with partners from Lancashire Care Foundation Trust and NWAS in a pilot scheme in West division. The Psynergy Team is made up of a senior mental health nurse, a police officer and a paramedic. From 4pm until midnight each day, they offer a multi-agency frontline response service to calls involving mental health concerns received by either the police or NWAS. The team provides specialist care, improving patient experience and preventing unnecessary hospital admissions. The team triages the incidents on scene, identifying the most appropriate pathway to support the patient. This should lead to people receiving appropriate care more quickly, and better service user outcomes.
This pilot scheme has been evaluated by the agencies involved and found to be meeting its objectives in giving the most appropriate care for vulnerable people and reducing demand on individual services. It has reduced the need for the police to make an arrest under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 and transfer the patient to custody or the hospital A&E department. Work is continuing to further develop the scheme.
Supporting vulnerable victims
CSTs in each district are closely aligned to neighbourhood policing teams. CSTs work with statutory partners such as social services, health and housing to support people in need. Each morning, they review crime and call information to identify incidents in the last 24 hours where there are people who need their support.
There are clear guidelines for the continuing safeguarding of domestic abuse victims. High-risk victims are managed by staff within district safeguarding hubs working with independent domestic violence advisers. Initial response officers have responsibility for safeguarding medium and low-risk victims. The constabulary has given training to response officers to improve their safeguarding awareness.
The constabulary is proactive in the use of legal powers available to support victims. It makes good use of the domestic violence disclosure scheme, also known as Clare’s Law, and has also used domestic violence protection orders. All officers and staff we spoke to could explain the legislation and had confidence in applying for orders and giving advice to the public. Breaches of the orders are monitored through the daily risk and threat meetings and officers are tasked with arrest enquiries. Recent changes in legislation resulted in a decrease in the use of bail as a means of protecting vulnerable people. The constabulary has taken steps to improve understanding for officers and custody staff of the powers available. The constabulary reports that the use of bail conditions to safeguard victims of domestic abuse has increased as a result in recent months. The force has an overarching vulnerability action plan that incorporates its response to domestic abuse, which is appropriately managed and monitored.
The constabulary is committed to MASHs across the county and plays a core role in their effectiveness. Staff work well with embedded partners such as children’s services, housing and health to share information and manage risk. They are appropriately trained for their role, with some of the training being provided by the partners. There are opportunities to improve access to partners’ information. The constabulary and Lancashire County Council are developing a link between the police and council IT systems.
The introduction of Connect has made it difficult to assess accurately the demand on each MASH. The constabulary is aware of this and is developing PowerBI dashboards, which should resolve the issue. We found that workloads and demand in two of the three MASHs were manageable. Historically, the Lancashire County Council MASH deals with about 70 percent of the total volume of referrals in the constabulary and is currently below its resourcing levels. Despite this, there were effective measures to identify and prioritise high-risk cases, although we found that there was a slight delay in medium and standard-risk cases. Action has been taken to increase the number of staff, but the constabulary needs to ensure that it has sufficient resources to cope with demand in the medium to long term.
The constabulary has experienced increasing pressure on its multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) process, dealing with the highest-risk domestic abuse cases. The constabulary force management statement (FMS) reports a 34 percent increase in referrals between December 2016 and December 2018.
After a review, police and partners are piloting a new approach in South district. This takes a whole-family approach to understanding the causes of domestic abuse. Improved sharing of information helps to find better solutions for the family that will reduce the risk.
For example, in one case, a male had been arrested after attempting to strangle his partner. The MARAC team were able to speak to the victim and the offender while he was in custody. They found that the underlying cause of the violence was delays in accessing mental health support. The health representative on the MARAC team was able to fast-track therapy and support for both, which were in place alongside safeguarding measures before he left custody.
The constabulary uses feedback from victims to improve the service. For example, a survey of domestic abuse victims revealed that the most important thing for victims was how they were treated by the initial attending officers. In response, the constabulary has revised its training to frontline officers on dealing with domestic abuse.
The constabulary has reviewed how it manages offenders who pose a risk to children and vulnerable people. It has made changes so that it can meet predicted increases in demand. It has brought different offender management teams together to form district-based management of sexual offenders and violent offenders (MOSOVO) teams. The teams have not been established for long, and some staff still require training to manage sex offenders. The constabulary predicts that once all staff are trained, the caseload for each offender manager will reduce to around 35–40 offenders. Currently, there is some variation in caseloads across the districts, but we found that all were at a realistic and manageable level.
As of June 2019, the constabulary provided data to show that it has completed 82 percent of its risk assessments using the Active Risk Management System (ARMS) in the last 12 months. All offenders have received some form of risk assessment and so ARMS assessments are prioritised according to the level of risk the offender poses. The constabulary is aware that it needs to reduce the number of outstanding assessments, and the level is starting to reduce as staff in the new MOSOVO unit are being trained.
Neighbourhood policing teams are briefed on dangerous and sex offenders living in their areas. They are tasked by the MOSOVO teams to gather intelligence on those who pose the greatest risk. This means that any changes in circumstances between MOSOVO team visits are identified quickly.
We found that the constabulary has a well-resourced online child abuse investigation team that deals with all serious referrals of online abuse. The team has the skills it needs to be effective in identifying those who are sharing indecent images of children online. There are sufficient resources to develop intelligence and take prompt action to arrest offenders. It has good links with the regional organised crime unit if it requires additional resources or skills. We found turnaround times for indecent image referrals to be good, with an average time of two days for the execution of a warrant/arrest/interview of the suspect once a referral is received. It has developed good working relationships with schools in an innovative approach to identifying potential victims.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
Lancashire Constabulary has an adequate 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.
There are two areas where the APSTRA could be improved:
- it would benefit from stronger analysis and intelligence of armed criminals who present risks in Lancashire; and
- it did not include details of how rapidly armed response vehicles (ARVs) respond to incidents. This is important to determine whether the force has sufficient armed officers to meet operational demands.
Last year, we identified some areas where the constabulary’s APSTRA could be improved. For example, the constabulary had not published its own APSTRA and was reliant on an assessment of threats and risks affecting several forces in the region. This has now been rectified.
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 Lancashire are attended by officers trained to an ARV standard. However, incidents sometimes occur that require the skills and specialist capabilities of more highly trained officers.
We found that Lancashire Constabulary has good arrangements in place to mobilise officers with specialist capabilities should their skills be required. The constabulary has sufficient specialist capabilities in line with the threats and risks identified in its APSTRA. If, for any reason, specialist capabilities are not immediately available in Lancashire agreements are in place to seek the assistance of officers with specialist capabilities in other forces in the North West region. The constabulary is also working to develop additional arrangements in conjunction with West Yorkshire Police.
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. Consequently, 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.
Until recently, Lancashire Constabulary had joint arrangements in place with other forces in the North West region to share training and training facilities, which helped to standardise procedures as well as reduce costs. Lancashire Constabulary now provides standalone arrangements and has invested in a significant increase in the number of officers trained as ARV officers. We are, however, satisfied that the constabulary continues to work closely with other forces in the region to minimise the risk of developing isolated practices and procedures that are not recognised by other forces in the region.
We also examined how well-prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in Lancashire Constabulary are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. Also, Lancashire Constabulary 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.
In addition to debriefing training exercises, we also found that Lancashire Constabulary reviews the outcome of all firearms incidents that officers attend. 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