Metropolitan PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Overall, the Metropolitan Police Service could be more effective at reducing crime and keeping people safe. Performance across the areas we assessed is mixed.
While the force is outstanding at tackling serious and organised crime (despite the worrying high levels of some crime types) and is good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour, we remain concerned about how the force protects vulnerable people, in particular how it protects children from registered sex offenders (RSOs) and generally how well the force investigates crime.
The force is good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour. Once its new model is fully staffed, it should provide a higher standard of crime prevention and problem solving force-wide. It works well with other organisations to tackle local problems. It uses a good range of tactics. But it needs to get better at understanding how it uses anti-social behaviour powers.
The force needs to get better at investigating crime. It should train its staff to investigate to a consistently good standard and use risk assessments reliably. It should review how it allocates investigations. This will help make sure that it gives vulnerable people the right level of response. It also needs to improve how it gathers early evidence.
The force doesn’t protect vulnerable people well enough. It needs to have more sex offender managers. And it should brief local officers about medium- and low-risk sex offenders. It should use its powers more effectively to protect victims of domestic abuse. It should also collect feedback from vulnerable domestic abuse victims to improve its response.
The force’s approach to tackling serious and organised crime is outstanding. It has an excellent understanding of these threats. It has enhanced this by bringing in an intelligence expert and local organised crime advisers. The force has many diversionary activities. It disrupts and investigates serious and organised crime to a high standard.
The force works well with its partners to understand and tackle serious violence. It uses good tactics and recognises that stop and search isn’t the only option. Serious violence remains a significant problem, but the force is working hard to address it.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
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
The Metropolitan Police Service has an effective approach to neighbourhood policing. In January 2017, the force changed its approach to neighbourhood policing and crime prevention. It changed its structure from 32 policing boroughs, which aligned to the 32 local authorities in London, to 12 BCUs. This was one of the largest structural changes ever undertaken in British policing. The new approach puts a greater focus on crime prevention and community engagement. Each BCU now has departments for neighbourhood policing, response, safeguarding and criminal investigation (CID), and some support and leadership roles.
The model works well in areas where the BCUs are fully staffed and have good relationships with local organisations and the local authority. Full staffing is two dedicated police officers and one police community support officer (PCSO) for each ward. This provides sufficient capacity for officers to carry out effective crime prevention activities. However, the planned increase in officer numbers isn’t yet complete. This means these high standards of crime prevention and problem solving are not in place everywhere. The force should make sure it completes its planned increases of officers and PCSOs.
The force has provided training to neighbourhood officers in problem solving and tackling anti-social behaviour through a two-year force-wide programme. Officers in the well-resourced BCUs are proactive in preventing crime. This includes working with hard-to-reach groups, youth projects and faith groups. Officers take individual responsibility for engagement with their communities and problem-solving activity. We noted some positive examples of high-quality problem solving and work that is bringing communities together.
Protecting the public from crime
The force has a good understanding of the threats its communities face. It leads activity across a range of organisations – including local authorities, independent advisory groups (IAGs), faith groups and charities – to understand local threats and problems. These include anti-social behaviour, youth violence and shoplifting. There are lots of positive examples of the force working with these organisations to understand complex or hidden threats such as modern-day slavery and county lines.
Frontline officers are increasing their understanding of the signs of modern slavery and county lines activity, and schools’ officers provide advice about warning signs in young people. The force has more work to do to build the confidence of officers to look for hidden harm such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Intelligence and performance analysts and researchers are moving back to BCUs, having been a central function for many years. The force has tested this move and seen positive results. We will assess the success of this change in a future inspection.
The force has an effective approach to problem solving. It uses the SARA (scanning, analysis, response, assessment) problem-solving model and an information and communications technology (ICT) system (Airspace) to manage and investigate anti-social behaviour and to store local problem-solving plans. The force works well with local authorities and shares information effectively. It is part way through the introduction of a partnership and prevention hub in each of the BCUs. Staff at the hubs work closely with a wide range of organisations to prevent crime. They also update and manage information-sharing agreements. An example of good practice is the joint crime prevention approach with the London Fire Brigade. The force has trained firefighters in crime prevention and the fire service now provides crime prevention and health advice during ‘fire safe and well visits’. This means that a wider group of people are reached than if the force were solely responsible for this.
The force uses a variety of tactics with local authorities and organisations to prevent crime. It uses ‘MetTrace’, giving out kits to people in neighbourhoods affected by burglaries. The kits include SmartWater property-marking equipment, crime prevention advice and signs to put up. The force uses initiatives such as ‘autumn nights’. We spoke with dedicated ward officers who demonstrated their focus on dealing with the underlying causes of crime and anti-social behaviour. This includes working with youth clubs and schools to speak with young people, leafleting the communities with advice specific to the problems in that area, and carrying out test purchases of fireworks, knives and second-hand mobile phones (to see if they have previously been stolen). This is positive.
The force needs to improve its understanding of its use of anti-social behaviour powers. The Trident team has a good understanding of how effectively it uses these powers against gang members, but this isn’t the case at a neighbourhood level. The force doesn’t collect data centrally that would allow it to scrutinise its use of anti-social behaviour powers (such as the number and circumstances of each power used) to make sure that they are being used effectively. In November 2018, it started work to understand its use of these powers. Until the force has completed this work, it can’t be sure that it uses anti-social behaviour powers effectively.
The force has an effective approach to preventing online crime, including hate crime. Its FALCON cyber protect team sends out protective messages to the public about staying safe online. The force’s economic victims of crime unit – provided jointly with City of London Police – works to prevent victims of fraud and online crime being targeted by criminals again. The force also has an online hate crime hub. This reviews every hate crime report (many of which are online), builds prosecution cases, supports victims when there are language barriers and works with charities that support victims. The hub provides training to local officers and third-party reporting sites. It has strong links with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), civil groups, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and local officers throughout the force. The force works hard to make sure it doesn’t miss victims of online hate crime and that the right organisations support them.
Last year we said the force needed to routinely evaluate and share effective practice, both internally and with partner organisations. This year we found positive evidence of this happening at several levels. There are regular meetings of BCU commanders as well as regular meetings and conferences involving neighbourhood inspectors, which focus on sharing best practice of preventative tactics. In January 2017, the force and MOPAC carried out a ‘pathfinder’ review of its two pilot BCUs. This was to test the effectiveness of its approach to crime prevention, neighbourhood policing and response. It used this evaluation to make changes that improved neighbourhood policing and crime prevention performance in these BCUs.Summary for question 1
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Areas for improvement
- The force needs to ensure staff are provided with suitable training and support to be able to risk assess incidents correctly, and to improve the quality and consistency of crime investigations.
- The force needs to review its current allocation policy to ensure that those involving vulnerability receive the appropriate response.
- The force should improve its ability to retrieve digital evidence from mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices quickly enough to ensure investigations are not delayed.
- The force should continue to seek to increase the capacity and capability of qualified detectives and senior investigating officers to improve the quality of its investigations.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
For the past three years, the force has needed to improve the quality of its crime investigations. The previous way of working relied on separate teams performing individual functions as part of the investigation process. Not enough time was available at each stage and a handover culture had developed. As a result, many different people handled each investigation. This was inefficient, could negatively affect evidential opportunities, failed to recognise the needs of the victim and could ultimately lead to a loss in public confidence.
The force recognised that it needed to change its response to crime and considered how best to manage increasing demand and complexity with fewer available staff and resources. It has recently completed implementation of the new transformation portfolio, which has brought with it a new way of working. This includes digital reporting, remote investigations that no longer require the physical deployment of an officer, as well as the structural boundary changes with 12 new BCUs. We believe these changes can improve how the force responds to crime.
The force is encouraging victims to report more crimes online. Eleven percent of all reported crime now comes via the new digital 101 online portal. However, the force hasn’t trained the 101 online crime staff in how to create crime reports, and information recorded on reports often lacks detail. Many crimes still come via the traditional route into one of the three force control rooms. Staff assess incidents for complexity, threat, harm and risk. High-volume, low-risk crimes are allocated to the telephone and digital investigation unit (TDIU) to be managed remotely. This has positively assisted in managing demand for the force, because the TDIU now deals with 45 percent of all crime. But staff within both units have limited investigative training and experience. The effect of this is that victims may not be receiving an appropriate response. The force needs to train its staff to be able to assess incidents correctly and improve the quality and consistency of crime reports.
The TDIU has been able to close 80 percent of the crime reported to it without further investigation. However, we are concerned that the unit appears to be closing crimes, rather than conducting effective investigations, and is not always identifying vulnerabilities. The force needs to review its current allocation policy to ensure that those involving vulnerability receive the right response. We found that there is a poor understanding, use and recording of the THRIVE+ risk management tool across many of the units that manage investigations. We also found that those who do consider it use it more as a deployment than a risk assessment tool. The force should make sure that all staff understand and consistently apply the THRIVE+ tool because this would improve their investigative response.
The force’s transformation portfolio has had a significant effect on frontline policing within the BCUs. Response officers now carry an investigative workload and retain ownership for volume and priority (PIP 1) crimes, which is something they haven’t been responsible for in years. The force created investigative training packages in support of the transition. This included ‘Mi-Investigation’, which aimed to provide the necessary development for uniformed officers to undertake volume and priority investigations effectively with less supervision. However, the provision of Mi-Investigation training for frontline officers has so far been inconsistent. This means that there are differences in standards of investigation between BCUs, which means the public doesn’t always receive the same standard of service.
The force also temporarily allocated 60 detective sergeants to the response teams to provide suitable investigative supervision and guidance. This was a necessary step, because we found evidence of some crimes being missed by response officers (crimes that had not been recorded at the time of the initial report). The force needs to be confident that the appropriate mentoring and coaching has been conducted before it releases the detective sergeants back to their teams.
Qualified detectives manage the more complex and high-risk investigations (PIP 2). These detectives are now working from safeguarding hubs and investigation units within the BCUs, rather than in central teams. This is positive because it should assist in identifying and managing risk at a local level. However, crimes are still swapping back and forth between response and CID. Some areas are using the duty inspector as the final decision maker and we see this as good practice.
Caseloads within CID have reduced. This should mean that detectives can spend more time on investigations and provide a better service to victims. But caseloads within safeguarding units have increased – often to 20–30 investigations per officer. These are crimes involving greater risk and requiring more victim liaison. Some of these more specialist officers haven’t received the required training for their role. We also discovered that this has caused significant staff welfare problems resulting in resignations in some areas. The force needs to review its crime allocation processes, because response officers are dealing with more complex crime than expected and CID appears to have a low caseload, while safeguarding has a disproportionately greater share.
Standards of investigation are inconsistent. We noted that investigations by detectives and specialist units tend to be of a higher standard than those by officers in the TDIU or in response teams. The force needs to ensure that it is not missing investigative opportunities or risk in high-volume and low-priority crime. Some BCUs have also created their own local resolution units or investigation pods. The force should reassure itself that it isn’t duplicating the role performed by the TDIU. Data from our crime file review showed that 80 percent of crimes had an effective investigation. Eighty-three percent of the cases reviewed had all lines of enquiry identified and pursued. However, supervision of investigations is inconsistent. Data from our crime file review showed that 32 percent of crimes had ineffective supervision.
Demand for qualified detectives has been increasing. A detective resilience group was set up to address the identified shortage. This focused on the high turnover of staff within CID and the lack of a defined detective career pathway that could attract more officers. The force has made good progress in reducing the detective shortfall and has filled 90 percent of established posts. It allows for direct entry into CID. This has seen diversity increase with 50 percent of direct entry CID candidates being female and 38 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. This is positive.
However, the force still doesn’t have enough qualified senior investigating officers. This leaves it with a significant gap in its capacity to manage serious and complex crimes (PIP 3) and to provide independent advice, support and review for high-profile, complex, serious and organised or major crime investigations (PIP 4). The force needs to ensure that it reaches its required numbers within the next three to five years.
The force only completed the BCU restructuring in February 2019. This means that in some areas there has been little time for new working practices to become established. We welcome the introduction of 12 new detective superintendents with responsibility for improving performance. They should bring the culture change needed to improve the standard of investigations.
The way staff gather forensic evidence from scenes of crimes varies. There are examples of the force closing crimes early, with evidential opportunities being missed. There are 180 fewer frontline examiners than three years ago, and crime scene examiners now only attend 50 percent of the burglaries investigated. Forensic opportunities are also being limited because there are insufficient local officers trained in the use of the forensic download kiosks. This equipment extracts data from digital devices such as mobile phones. This means that evidence may be lost because victims or offenders could delete data before specialists are able to extract it. It also delays investigations, because officers must wait for the central team to complete the work. The force is also experiencing delay with exhibits submitted to the forensic laboratory for analysis, with standard submissions taking an average of 170 days to complete. Such a delay could potentially compromise prosecutions.
Although we only assessed a small sample of case files, the quality of the investigations we reviewed were generally of good quality. The file review highlighted that in most cases the investigation was effective (72 out of 90 files reviewed), with investigative lines of enquiry identified and pursued (75 out of 90 files reviewed). Victim care was good (78 out of 90 files reviewed). The service victims receive also varies. The force generally achieves a better level of service for victims of more serious crime and those assessed as vulnerable. Most crime reports we examined were compliant with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime. We found evidence of detailed police contact, but references to victims’ needs and victim personal statements were often absent. There is, however, good evidence that appropriately trained staff interview victims and witnesses.
Unfortunately, the force doesn’t gather data about cases where the victim doesn’t support a prosecution. So, although it is concerned that the CPS doesn’t seem to pursue such allegations, it doesn’t have accurate information to fully assess this. Work has commenced to correct this lack of information. Local criminal justice champions seek to improve case quality in investigations where the victim doesn’t want to proceed, so as to improve the likelihood of a prosecution being pursued by the CPS. There is positive evidence of the force pursuing crimes, using evidence from body-worn video and call centre transcripts, despite victims being unwilling to support a prosecution.
The Metropolitan Police Service is generally good at actively pursuing and managing its higher-risk offenders. However, it still needs to improve how it catches criminals and resolves investigations. Since our last inspection, the number of outstanding warrants has increased. The force has the highest numbers of persons wanted on the PNC, compared with all forces within England and Wales, and is above average per 1,000 population (2.1 compared with the 1.1 national average). This is poor management and fails to deal with the risk posed by named outstanding offenders.
The force is seeking to improve its performance and has created a new online dashboard to provide details of those who remain outstanding. It aims to arrest the most prolific offenders first, because these are causing the most harm. Neighbourhood teams know the outstanding subjects in their area, which is positive. The force has a small team to trace the most difficult to find offenders. But it needs to do more to actively reduce the numbers and mitigate any risk.
The force makes positive use of the available processes to refer foreign nationals to ACRO. There is also a semi-automated process in the force custody suites for checking overseas criminal records. Fifty percent of the force’s wanted offenders are foreign nationals. The force works well with other organisations to track offenders who have fled the country and in managing foreign offenders.
Our 2018 custody inspection identified that the force manages its bail responsibilities well. However, it found that detainees released under investigation (RUI) aren’t always given sufficient explanation of what this means or the implications. One problem is that the force’s crime-recording and custody systems don’t interface with each other. This will be remedied once the force implements its Connect ICT programme – which will unite seven databases. The force can then consider differences between bail data and RUIs. It will also help the force to focus on the timeliness of investigations, risk and vulnerability. The force has made improvements in the use of both pre-charge and post-charge bail, which suggests that it is managing the risk posed by offenders better.
During the fieldwork, we identified that some specialist units don’t necessarily deal with their own cases. This is at odds with the handover culture the transformation portfolio is trying to eliminate. The violent crime task force arrests are dealt with by BCU staff, for example. But BCU officers are releasing some known violent and knife criminals under investigation or with no further action. This means that opportunities are being lost to take dangerous offenders off the streets or to monitor their activities through the correct use of the Bail Act 1976. When the task force subsequently processed their own prisoners, there was a noticeable improvement in the investigative outcome. The force must recognise these findings and ensure that it responds appropriately to deal with its high-harm offenders.
The force’s investigation and performance portfolios conduct regular reviews of its performance data. Its investigative outcome data for the 12 months to September 2018 show that:
- 56 percent of investigations get completed with no suspect identified;
- 27 percent have the investigation completed and prosecution prevented;
- 12 percent result in action being taken; and
- 5 percent haven’t yet been assigned an outcome.
These figures are broadly in line with the national average. The force must continue to analyse its data to help bring more offenders to justice and achieve the best possible outcomes for its victims.
The force is aware of its responsibilities towards disclosure and in the past few years it has been under intense scrutiny regarding disclosure compliance. This follows the courts dismissing two high-profile rape cases because the prosecution hadn’t disclosed evidence retrieved from mobile devices to the defence. The force subsequently reviewed all active rape and sexual assault cases to ensure full disclosure. All staff have been provided with some level of disclosure training. But some response officers don’t yet appear to fully understand their disclosure responsibilities. They view the requests from CPS as unrealistic in terms of volume of material to be reviewed and the deadlines set for submission. However, understanding and confidence levels should get better as response officers become used to managing their own investigations under the new model. The force plans to increase the number of disclosure champions from 170 to 500. It also has 47 Super Disclosure officers who deal with file quality issues and provide the link with CPS. The force continues to struggle with some aspects of disclosure such as high volumes and issues of complexity. It isn’t alone in this and a national working group has been set up to consider disclosure issues in a digital age.Summary for question 2
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Cause of concern
The Metropolitan Police Service is failing to effectively manage the risk posed by medium and low-risk registered sex offenders in line with approved practice.
- The force takes immediate steps to increase the number of officers and staff within offender management so that they can manage medium and low-risk offenders in line with authorised professional practice.
- The force should ensure that frontline staff are aware of the registered sex offenders in their area, so that they can play a part in monitoring and managing them.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its initial assessment and response to incidents involving vulnerable people by ensuring that staff working in call handling understand and apply consistently the THRIVE+ risk assessment tool.
- The force should review its use of DVPOs, DVPNs and Clare’s Law to ensure that it is making best use of these powers to safeguard victims of domestic abuse.
- The force should implement a process to get feedback from vulnerable victims of domestic abuse.
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
The force has a clear definition of vulnerability. Its strategy for protecting vulnerable people is much more effective than the one it had previously. It now has a good governance structure and a head of profession, with individual leads for each strand of vulnerability. The force provides officers with detailed guidance on how to recognise vulnerability. Each BCU commander sets five vulnerability priorities based on the risks in each area. Although few of the officers and staff we spoke with could quote a definition or describe the force strategy, most had a clear understanding of vulnerability and the steps they would take to protect vulnerable people. The force should communicate its strategy and definition of vulnerability more effectively.
The force has worked hard to develop its understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability in London. It recognises that certain crimes are under-reported, such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage. It is working with MOPAC, charities and local authorities to understand this better. The force knows it has more work to do to understand the scale of online child sexual exploitation and the viewing of indecent images of children online.
Last year we said frontline officers didn’t have a good enough understanding of newer threats such as modern slavery. This year we found a much more positive picture. Frontline officers in most of the places we visited are proactive in looking for hidden harm. They had received recent training about recognising vulnerability and we could see an improvement in their understanding of hidden harm such as modern slavery and county lines.
Call handlers in the control centres (the force has three control rooms throughout London and takes calls for British Transport Police and City of London Police) don’t always identify vulnerable people at first point of contact. We found instances where they missed obvious signs of vulnerability and didn’t pass on the call appropriately. This is despite the force being much better equipped to identify vulnerable people than in previous years. Some 20,000 officers and staff (including call handlers) have received safeguarding awareness training since April 2017. But there is still more to do to make sure that call handlers don’t miss the signs of vulnerability.
The force still has work to do to change attitudes and behaviours in how staff handle calls. Call handlers still focus on the amount of time it takes to deal with each call instead of properly assessing vulnerability and risk. Despite this, there are examples of good practice, particularly call handlers contacting the crisis assessment team for help in identifying risk relating to callers with mental health problems. Without effective use of a risk assessment model, it is more difficult for staff to prioritise risk and justify their decisions, which means they may not be giving incidents the appropriate priority and response.
The force now has safeguarding teams in each BCU that cover all aspects of safeguarding, including child sexual exploitation, mental health, safeguarding investigations and missing persons. Safeguarding teams support frontline officers and staff well when they deal with vulnerable people. The organisations the force works with (such as local authorities and charities that support vulnerable people) told us the safeguarding teams were a positive development. The force has not yet fully resourced all these teams, which means there is an inconsistent approach to safeguarding across the BCUs. The force should ensure that it resources the safeguarding teams to the agreed levels with appropriately trained staff.
Responding to incidents
The force generally responds to incidents quickly enough to keep vulnerable people safe. Frontline officers understand vulnerability much better than previously, and this is leading to better outcomes for victims and vulnerable people, but there is more work to do. In some BCUs, officers complete domestic abuse, stalking and harassment forms on their handheld devices. These are quality checked by supervisors and then sent to the safeguarding team. This process and scrutiny appear to work well, but some areas are still using paper forms that create duplication (officers must input details electronically from the paper copy, with the paper copies collected the next day). This is inefficient and means that risk to victims could be missed if not all the original detail is accurately copied.
Response teams that include a mental health professional are better able to triage and respond to incidents involving mental health. In Central South BCU, there is a crisis assessment team that carries out assessments and takes people home if needed, freeing up response officers to carry out other duties. Where this is in place, the system works well. In 2019, the force introduced a mental health advice line, staffed by mental health professionals with access to bed management services. This provides mental health advice and access to medical records of patients known to the local trust. The force carried out an assessment of some of its mental health triage. It found that in 79 percent of cases that were triaged, officers didn’t have to use section 136 powers or have a person informally admitted to mental health facilities. When the crisis assessment team attended an incident, they avoided having to use a section 136 or convey a person to a hospital in 48 percent of cases.
The force’s domestic abuse arrest rate is 34.6 percent, which is higher than the England and Wales average of 31.8 percent. However, its use of voluntary attendance – when a suspect is interviewed at a police station but is not under arrest – is almost double that of the England and Wales average. The force should make sure it understands why it uses voluntary attendance in a higher proportion of domestic abuse cases so that it doesn’t put victims at risk. Officers in the safeguarding teams usually use pre-charge bail in cases of domestic abuse, to protect victims, and this is positive.
Deployment to domestic abuse incidents is mandatory. However, response officers don’t have to attend all vulnerable victims, which means they could miss risk and fail to safeguard. The force understands that this is a gap and is working to understand the effect of this and how it can make improvements.
The force works with health professionals and local mental health trusts to respond to incidents involving people with mental health conditions. But the support of other organisations isn’t always available. Officers can spend a long time waiting with people who have mental health conditions for assessments, or for secure facilities to be available. The Serenity integrated mentoring team, which consists of police officers and mental health professionals, has carried out detailed work to understand why some people with mental health conditions are repeat callers and ‘high-intensity users’. These individuals require several organisations to work together to support them, and police spend a lot of time dealing with them. The team has also carried out work to understand how they can reduce demand in this area and this is having a positive effect on the number of high-intensity users.
Supporting vulnerable victims
Neighbourhood teams are involved in the ongoing safeguarding of vulnerable victims and make referrals to other services by attending multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs) where the police, local council and other organisations discuss how to support vulnerable people. When BCUs are appropriately resourced, the safeguarding of vulnerable victims is of a better standard than in those BCUs that aren’t yet fully resourced.
The force should make better use of legal powers to protect victims of domestic abuse. This is still an area for improvement. The force uses a small number of domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs) compared with the number of domestic abuse incidents it attends. Some officers don’t seem to understand how to use DVPOs. The force is addressing this. In one BCU we visited, the safeguarding unit has a team that deals with all DVPOs, which has resulted in a marked increase in their use. This isn’t in place across all safeguarding units.
The force contributes effectively to the multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASHs) in each local authority area. These teams are in local authority offices where dedicated officers work alongside local authority partners. Relationships are supportive, and the work of the police MASH teams is highly regarded by the local authorities.
Officers refer all high-risk domestic abuse cases to MARACs, as well as cases that meet other criteria. The force doesn’t have quotas for referrals. SafeLives, a domestic abuse charity that provides statistics to help organisations improve their approach to domestic abuse, recommends that the number of cases the force should refer to MARAC should be 13,370. The actual number of cases discussed was 11,508. This is an increase of 389 since the previous year. The force is working with SafeLives to improve the number of referrals made.
The force doesn’t routinely collect feedback from vulnerable victims of domestic abuse on their experience of the police. It has started work on a victim survey, but this isn’t yet in place. The force uses satisfaction surveys from MOPAC to obtain feedback about their services. Without asking vulnerable victims of domestic abuse about the service they receive from the force, it can’t reassure itself that it is offering the most appropriate services and it may miss opportunities to improve. The force should accelerate its work to produce a vulnerable victim of domestic abuse survey.
In March 2018, we published a national child protection post-inspection review. This inspection found that specific teams in the force closely manage high- and very high-risk RSOs. The force also has a new system, ‘Operation Beat,’ for briefing officers and staff about high- and very high-risk RSOs in their local areas to address a concern raised in a previous report about the oversight of RSOs. Briefings about each high-harm RSO are produced by teams for local officers and PCSOs to use. This is positive and local officers we spoke with were aware of high- and very high-risk RSOs in their areas. But the force doesn’t yet have an effective approach to managing medium- and low-risk RSOs. It doesn’t usually contact them unless an incident takes place. And it doesn’t brief local officers about their presence. Failure to brief local officers regarding low- and medium-risk offenders is a missed opportunity to use frontline staff in the wider collection of intelligence on those who might pose a risk to children.
We remain particularly concerned about how the force manages RSOs. In some cases, sex offender managers are managing more than 100 offenders each (a reasonable number is around 50 RSOs per manager). This is significantly more than we found in 2016 (when the figure was between 50 and 60 offenders each). Across London, the average consistently remains at 60 offenders per
offender manager. We welcome the increase in the number of officers who manage sex offenders, but the force needs to do further work to make sure that it can effectively protect children from those who pose a risk to them. This should include increasing the number of officers and staff within offender management so that they are able to manage RSOs in line with authorised professional practice (APP). Our other recommendations are contained within the national child protection post-inspection review report.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
The force has a comprehensive understanding of serious and organised crime threats in London. Tackling serious and organised crime, county lines and modern slavery are priorities for the force, as set out in its control strategy. This strategy determines how the force will use its resources to tackle crime. It uses MoRiLE to assess intelligence from a wide range of law enforcement and public and private organisations, to inform the force strategic assessment.
The force has a detailed understanding of newer threats. Over the past year, it has focused on modern slavery and county lines. It has established a virtual-currency working group, which brings together several organisations to better understand the threat posed by organised criminals’ use of virtual currencies. The force works with the National Cyber Crime Unit and other forces to understand the links between cybercrime and organised criminality. The force also has a dedicated firearms threat desk (Viper), which links all firearms intelligence and incidents together using data from other organisations, the dark web, and overt and covert operations. It uses the databases of other organisations to identify new and emerging threats, and shares this information across the force and with other interested agencies. This is good practice.
The force shares data well about serious and organised crime with many other organisations. These include regional organised crime units, the National Crime Agency (NCA), other police forces, local authorities and international organisations. It uses partner data to produce local profiles of serious and organised crime that cover the whole of London. It prioritises the production and reassessment of these profiles according to threat and risk in the local areas. Serious and organised crime local profiles are produced for each BCU. The area commanders own these profiles and work closely with partners to develop and implement action plans to tackle local serious and organised crime issues.
The force gathers and uses intelligence effectively to increase its understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime. The current head of intelligence and covert policing is on secondment from another government agency. She has significantly enhanced the force’s approach to gathering intelligence. The force has recruited an extra 60 analysts and increased their training, moving analysts back to local areas so they can focus on issues there. This has been welcomed by officers and local partners. The force can now link together data such as automatic number plate recognition, communications data and online intelligence about organised criminals much better than before. The force is using this enhanced approach to share intelligence and identify organised crime threats with other organisations.
The force understands the gaps in its intelligence and uses regular force meetings and its organised crime advisers to make sure all teams that need to be aware of the gaps are informed. It works with the NCA, forces from other countries, charities, IAGs and a range of other organisations to fill these gaps. The force sets out where it has gaps in its intelligence. Its force intelligence teams co-ordinate the work to fill these gaps, oversee the work being done, and inform senior officers of the current gaps.
The force is good at identifying new organised crime groups (OCGs). It has established organised crime advisers in each of its 12 BCUs over the past two years to provide the link between local organisations, local officers and the force teams that tackle serious and organised crime. These officers are all experienced detectives from the specialist crime command. They gather local intelligence about organised crime, produce local profiles with the force’s intelligence teams and make sure that they assess identified OCGs quickly. The force told us that it had identified and mapped 41 OCGs in this way in 2018. We think this is good practice. Neighbourhood teams know what the OCGs are in their areas and how to report their activity. Officers told us they had received recent training to help them spot signs of county lines.
The force has a dedicated team that is responsible for mapping, re-scoring and archiving OCGs. The team works closely with the sensitive intelligence unit and the organised crime advisers to make sure that OCG mapping and assessment are prompt and current so that disruption activity against OCGs is taken at the first opportunity. The force also uses the gang violence matrix and the gang-related incident tracker system to make a full assessment of the threat and risk that gangs pose in London.
Serious and organised crime prevention
The force has many innovative prevention programmes that aim to divert those at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime. It identifies those who are at risk of being drawn into gangs using the gang violence matrix, which scores gang members based on offending and victimisation. Those rated ‘green’ are deemed suitable for diversion activity. These schemes are tailored to the lifestyle of those involved. Some receive mentoring and coaching, some help with training and others benefit from sports programmes.
The force uses the ‘London gang exit’ service to divert 16 to 24-year-olds away from gangs. This is funded by MOPAC and run by the Safer London foundation. It also uses ‘Divert’, a custody programme designed to divert 18 to 25-year olds away from criminality and organised crime using guidance and support tailored to each person and offering education, training and employment opportunities. This project started with staff and volunteers from the force. It has been so successful (with a re-offending rate of just 8 percent) that it is now Home Office funded.
The Trident team works with many youth groups including ‘Premier League kicks’, a group of 13 football clubs that work with children. The force also works with several organisations that focus on supporting and safeguarding exploited young people, families and victims of organised crime. These projects demonstrate very positive practice by the force, allowing people to give evidence, move away from criminal exploitation and learn new life skills.
The force uses a range of tactics to tackle organised crime. The violent crime task force is a team of officers funded by MOPAC whose job it is to tackle violence and knife crime. The force also has the long-established Trident team that tackles gun crime and gangs. These teams work closely with the violence reduction unit run by MOPAC, which tackles underlying causes of violence and gang-related crime. They use a range of tactics, such as intelligence-led operations to arrest organised criminals and people who regularly carry weapons. The teams also work well with communities and frontline officers to increase understanding about using warrants and orders to tackle gangs and organised criminals. These teams have had noticeable successes in tackling gang violence and seizing weapons.
The force has developed an effective protect and prevent response to cybercrime and fraud. The Falcon unit (the force’s response to fraud and cybercrime) works with several other organisations to divert talented children away from cybercrime. The force is the pilot for an intervention panel that MASHs, local authorities, schools and the force itself can refer children to. The force also founded the economic victims of crime unit with City of London Police. This unit helps vulnerable victims of fraud and cybercrime to protect themselves against further attacks. The success of this unit has meant that two other forces have requested that it support vulnerable victims of fraud and cybercrime in their areas, with more forces joining during 2019. This is very positive.
The force manages offenders effectively to prevent organised criminals re-offending. It uses a good range of tactics to manage organised criminals while in prison.
The offender management teams work effectively with the prison intelligence units. They work together to identify activity to disrupt criminal activity and make sure
that criminal networks cannot establish themselves in prison. The team also assess high-harm individuals to identify opportunities to reduce their criminal activity while
The Trident gang command offender management unit oversees a central repository of all the orders it has against organised criminals. The unit is responsible for drafting orders and monitors compliance, working with officers to arrest anyone found breaching them. The force uses serious crime prevention orders (SCPOs), violent offender orders and stand-alone anti-social behaviour orders to disrupt serious and organised criminals while in custody or on release. The force currently has 134 people with active SCPOs, of which 40 to 50 are in the community with the remainder being in custody. The force also uses enhanced prison release licences to disrupt gang violence and organised criminals. Using one team to manage all orders to disrupt serious and organised criminals is good practice.
The force communicates well with the public about serious and organised crime. It publicises successes and provides advice to communities. For example, the force has strong links with the Romanian police force and charities to provide protective advice to vulnerable communities in Romania. It uses social media effectively and MOPAC publicises successes from the violent crime task force on its social media accounts. The force uses independent advisory groups (IAGs) that scrutinise its work and pass on messages to the public. Local officers have set up email accounts with businesses to provide advice and to inform them of the tactics of OCGs in their area, such as their use of forged banknotes. Officers attend council meetings to pass on advice and information about OCGs, and visit schools to warn children of the dangers of carrying knives and getting involved in gangs.
Disruption and investigation
The Metropolitan Police Service is good at managing and prioritising activity to tackle organised crime. The specialist crime command decides monthly which serious and organised crime threats to focus activity on, and holds to account the teams that carry out this activity. This group decides on fast- and slow-time tasking requests, so can start activity against organised criminals very quickly if needed. It has 18 teams of officers who focus on serious and organised crime in its specialist crime command, and four teams within its Trident unit that focus on gang crime including county lines. Other meetings about OCGs take place at a local level, with oversight monitored centrally by the force’s intelligence team.
The force co-leads the London serious and organised crime partnership board with MOPAC, which includes a range of organisations such as City of London Police, housing, health and the London Fire Brigade. The board uses the serious and organised crime profile produced by the force to guide its activities along with the joint action plan that sets out how the partnership will share intelligence and work together. Its focus is tackling county lines activity, cybercrime and protecting vulnerable victims of organised crime. This is a supportive group and we found evidence of co-ordinated work between local authorities and the force to tackle county lines and modern slavery to link the response of each organisation to organised crime.
The force has capable lead responsible officers assigned to every mapped OCG, all of whom are of at least detective inspector rank with experience in specialist crime. Senior leaders regularly hold these officers to account. They use a broad range of overt and covert tactics against OCGs and the force uses its resources to support other forces to tackle county lines gang member who live in London but commit crimes in other parts of the country. This is positive. The force has used the Modern Slavery Act legislation effectively in tackling county lines to discourage gang members’ involvement. The plans we reviewed during our insight and inspection were of a high standard and covered protect, prevent and prepare activities as well as pursuing criminals.
Neighbourhood officers are involved in good activity to disrupt OCGs. Operation Eskimo, for example, involved several organisations disrupting a county lines gang: seizing weapons, drugs and property, and making several arrests. Almost all the officers we spoke with have a good understanding of the gangs that operate in their areas and can demonstrate activity to collect intelligence, carry out reassurance patrols and take an active part in planned operations. Some neighbourhood officers have a good understanding of OCGs too, but this isn’t evident in all areas. Organised crime officers have increased local officers’ understanding significantly, but local officers told us that, without full resources in place in the new structure, they have little time for proactive work against organised criminals.
The force uses financial investigations and asset recovery effectively to disrupt and dismantle OCGs. Each OCG that the force has assessed has an accredited financial investigator assigned to it. The force uses account-freezing orders to disrupt organised criminals. This tactic has been highly successful. The force’s cybercrime team, prison intelligence and offender management units also use financial investigations. Lead responsible officers are trained to look for proceeds of crime opportunities where the force can seize financial assets from criminals. This is positive.
The force uses its mapping process to record disruptions to organised criminal groups. It assesses how effective its resources have been in disrupting organised crime so that it can learn from each operation and make improvements. The force regularly uses this information to review how it tackles organised crime through its serious crime investigation review group. The force has an academic bursary scheme that supports academic research into serious and organised crime, child sexual exploitation and cybercrime. This is good practice.
The force has devised an effective method for assessing the impact it has on serious and organised crime. This is good practice. It uses various measures such as referrals, judicial restrictions, seizure of assets and disruptions. The force also measures its prevent activities such as how much money it seizes from criminals.
This means it has a good understanding of the effect it has on serious and organised crime.
Tackling serious violence
Tackling serious violence from knife and gun use in London is a priority for the force. It recognises this is a problem that cannot be solved by the police alone and has carried out detailed analysis of the causes of serious violence with other organisations. It works closely with MOPAC, community safety partnership boards and local authorities to produce plans to tackle knife and gun crime together, which are specific to the problems in each area. The force uses information-sharing agreements effectively. It is part of the ‘information sharing to tackle violence’ initiative with all the local health authorities in London and the London Ambulance Service, all of which share anonymous data about injuries, weapons used and locations to understand knife and gun crime better.
The force uses many tactics to prevent knife and gun crime, such as working with retailers to reduce the availability of knives and carrying out operations to recover firearms that have been stolen outside London. It also uses stop and search and weapon sweeps (searches of areas where weapons may have been dropped or hidden) to target those who habitually carry weapons. It uses intelligence to target areas most afflicted by gun and knife crime. The force recognises that stop and search is just one of many measures to help tackle knife and gun crime.
The force is working with other organisations to develop an effective response to knife and gun crime. It set up the violent crime task force (VCTF) in April 2018, with extra funding from MOPAC to target knife crime. This team works effectively with the long-established Trident team that targets gun crime and gangs. The force has a wide range of investigations taking place into knife and gun crime within its serious crime investigation teams. These teams work well together with Trident teams, Viper teams (who deal with criminal use of firearms) and the VCTF.
The force uses many tactics to divert young people away from gangs and knife and gun crime. It has several teams that work with secondary schools, community groups and many other organisations to provide training material to help teachers and those who work with children to understand the causes of serious violence. The force has committed to safeguarding those at risk of serious violence. It has invested significantly in more schools’ officers. The force has also trailed a youth diversion programme in police custody, which identifies and supports children who are at risk of serious youth violence. Often the same children are victims of criminal exploitation. These are positive initiatives to keep young Londoners safe.
There has been a reduction in the number of murders in London where knives and guns were used during the previous 12 months compared with 2017/18. Although knife and gun crime remain a significant problem in London, the force and its partners are working together to tackle this. They use many diversion schemes for young people, effective information sharing and a well-resourced team that tackles knife crime. We think this joined-up approach is very positive.Summary for question 4
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Understanding the threat and responding to it
The Metropolitan Police Service 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 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.
Last year we identified an area where the force’s APSTRA could be improved. This focused on the joint working relationship between the Metropolitan Police Service, City of London Police and British Transport Police, all of which have an important role protecting London residents, the business community and the travelling public in the capital. Although the three forces work well together, they do not share an APSTRA that would focus on the entire threat in London and potentially leave the three forces in a stronger position to address it. Although this joint assessment does not currently exist, we were told that it is in development.
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 London 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.
Because of the terrorist threat, the force has received Home Office funding as part of a programme to boost armed policing in certain parts of England and Wales. We established that the force has fulfilled its commitment to the programme by increasing the availability of ARVs.
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. Therefore, 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.
The force has sufficient ARV officers and specialist capabilities in line with the threats set out in the APSTRA. It also has tried and tested procedures in place to work in support of neighbouring forces on joint armed operations.
We also examined how well prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in the force are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. Also, the Metropolitan Police Service has an important role in designing training exercises with other organisations that simulate these types of attack. The force reviews these training exercises carefully so that learning points are identified and improvements made for the future.
The force 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 operational debriefing procedures. This will help ensure that opportunities to improve are not overlooked.
Most importantly, we recognise how the Metropolitan Police Service has responded to recent terrorist attacks. Armed officers have acted professionally and selflessly to protect individuals from those intent on committing atrocities.Summary for question 5