Norfolk PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Norfolk Constabulary is good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour.
It makes a priority of crime prevention. Its new local policing model should enable designated officers to focus on neighbourhood problems. But it is too early to say how successful this new model will be. The force’s neighbourhood policing strategy aligns with the local police and crime plan.
Norfolk Constabulary needs to improve the way it investigates crime. We reviewed investigation files and found that the force has not effectively supervised all investigations. Specialist departments supervise investigations better than non-specialist departments. Better supervision would ensure that officers and staff work to a consistently good standard. This would help to improve outcomes for victims of crime.
The force is good at protecting vulnerable people. It has a thorough understanding of the ways in which the population it serves is vulnerable. The force seeks out hidden harm and looks for vulnerability from the moment a person contacts the police. It responds promptly to incidents involving vulnerable people.
The force is good at tackling serious and organised crime.
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
Norfolk Constabulary prioritises crime prevention well. The force changed its local policing model in April 2018. It has removed all 146 PCSO posts and created 96 officer and staff roles in neighbourhood policing. Beat manager roles have been created and provide local areas with a police officer dedicated to working in a specific neighbourhood. At the time of our inspection, we found that the force had filled most of the new beat manager posts. A small number were still being recruited. This meant that some of the safer neighbourhood teams and beat managers were still in the process of establishing strong links with local communities. We found that staff in the control room would not directly deploy beat managers away from their main role unless exceptional circumstances arose, such as a major incident. Because beat managers are rarely diverted from their roles, they can focus on crime prevention and problem-solving in their local areas.
The force has a clear neighbourhood policing strategy, based on the College of Policing’s neighbourhood policing guidance and aligned with the local police and crime plan. It emphasises the importance of the force taking a broad approach to providing neighbourhood policing. Supervisor and practitioner booklets have been produced to help neighbourhood policing officers and staff with their daily work. However, at the time of the inspection, we found the force had not yet communicated the strategy, or the guidance, to the wider workforce.
The force has held training on crime prevention and problem-solving. However, we found that some officers who had recently moved into neighbourhood policing roles had not yet received it and did not have any specific skills or knowledge in these areas. The force has a plan to deal with this gap in training and deepen the knowledge of neighbourhood officers and staff through twice-yearly professional development events.
The force needs to fully implement the new local policing model, and evaluate its effectiveness in preventing crime, to be sure that it is giving the public a good service. At the time of our inspection it was too early to determine how successful the new model might be. We will continue to monitor this area closely through our inspection work.
Protecting the public from crime
Norfolk Constabulary has a sound understanding of the threats its communities face. Its analytical capability is strong. The performance and analysis department, run jointly with Suffolk Constabulary, analyses a range of police and partnership data. This enables the force to continue improving its knowledge of crime and anti-social behaviour. Beat managers receive practical products, such as maps of anti-social behaviour hotspots, to help their crime prevention work. Neighbourhood profiles are developed locally and made available on the force’s intranet. The force actively works with its partner agencies to understand more complex and hidden threats, like the exploitation of children for sexual and criminal purposes. An example of this is Operation Gravity which is the force’s partnership approach to addressing the impact of county lines drugs dealing. We found that neighbourhood policing teams had a clear understanding of hidden harm, both in general and in their beat areas.
The force takes a structured approach to problem-solving, using the SARA model. It records its problem-solving plans on its main crime and intelligence system. Officers and staff understand the importance of taking a structured approach to problem solving to effectively prevent criminal activity. However, we found the force makes only minimal use of the ‘assessment’ aspect of SARA. Problem-solving and crime prevention activity, and sharing best practice, are not evaluated consistently throughout the force. The joint performance and analysis department carries out some evaluations of specific problem-solving initiatives. But we found little evidence that evaluation was being done routinely at a local level, or that this was then shared more widely throughout the force or with other organisations. The force could take a more structured approach to evaluating its neighbourhood policing activity and sharing the learning from this to improve its work on preventing crime.
The force uses its powers to tackle anti-social behaviour well. In 2017/18, the force had the third highest use of anti-social behaviour powers in England and Wales. The figure was 83.9 uses per 100,000 of the population. Operational partnership teams run jointly with other agencies manage the tactics used to deal with anti-social behaviour. Where tactics like community protection notices are used, the local authority rather than the police often takes the lead. This is because, when tactics are being considered, the partner agencies at the outset identify the most appropriate organisation to manage, respond and enforce these powers.
The force works with partner agencies through an early help hub (EHH) structure. This is in place in all seven districts in the county. EHHs include representatives from the force’s local operational partnership teams and other agencies. The EHHs develop early intervention tactics and proactive problem-solving approaches. In some districts, EHHs are co-located in council buildings to make their work even more effective.
We found that the EHH structure aids the effective understanding of community threats, harm and risk through a dynamic process of exchanging information. We were particularly impressed with the partnership work within the South Norfolk EHH, which runs an innovative scheme called community connectors. Dedicated staff provide support and advice to local people who may be facing difficulties or who feel isolated. Community connectors can refer cases back through the EHH, so the right support is offered at an early stage to prevent problems getting worse. The result has been a visible reduction in demand for both the police and partner agencies.Summary for question 1
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Areas for improvement
- The force must ensure that staff with the right skills are investigating crimes thoroughly, leading to satisfactory outcomes for victims. It should review its approach to the provision of investigative training, development and guidance. The force should also consider how a professional lead for investigations would give consistent oversight.
- The force should improve how it allocates crime, ensuring that investigations are allocated to appropriately trained and supported officers, and that this allocation is appropriately reviewed throughout the investigation.
- The force should ensure regular and active supervision of the quality and progress of investigations. This supervision should be properly recorded.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
The quality of Norfolk Constabulary’s investigations is inconsistent. Crimes allocated to specialist departments, such as child abuse, are investigated thoroughly. Through regular supervisory discussions and reviews, staff are held to account to make sure they have carried out investigations to a good standard. But the quality of investigations allocated to non-specialist departments is much lower. There is little evidence of effective supervisory oversight to ensure that staff are working to a consistently good standard and focusing on providing a satisfactory outcome for the victim.
As part of this inspection, we reviewed 60 files from recent investigations. In 45 of the 60 files we found that the investigation was effective. But 27 of the 60 were either ineffectively supervised, or had no supervision recorded on them. Detailed supervisory comments were often only included towards the end of an investigation, before submitting a case for closure. Few investigation plans were documented on the force’s crime system. Where they were recorded, plans were often superficial and did not assist in the case making progress. In 16 of the 60 files, not all investigative lines of enquiry had been pursued. This may mean that opportunities to provide the best outcome for the victim are missed.
The investigations management unit allocates crimes to supervisors. It follows a standard procedure to ensure cases are sent to the right teams. However, we found that aspects of the standard operating procedure are out of date. Supervisors receive no guidance on how best to review and allocate crimes within their teams once they receive them. Nor do they receive guidance on what to do if they do not feel that their team is the most suitably skilled to carry out the investigation. There is an opportunity to discuss the reallocation of investigations at the force’s daily management meeting. However, we found that this was not widely understood or used by the workforce.
During fieldwork, we found examples of officers who lacked investigative qualifications or training dealing with serious and high-risk crimes. These included two neighbourhood patrol officers who were investigating high-risk domestic abuse cases. We also observed that, although custody investigation unit staff generally cannot carry out follow-up enquiries outside the police investigation centres, they were responsible for complex cases which required further investigation. The force should improve its approach to both the initial and subsequent allocation of crimes. It must be sure that the most appropriately skilled officers are investigating these cases, based on the levels of risk and complexity.
Our 2017 effectiveness inspection gave the force an area for improvement. This was to ensure that it put appropriate supervision in place to consistently monitor the quality and progress of investigations involving vulnerable people. As part of our inspection this year, we considered this matter, under the area of how effective the force is at investigating crime. The force has not made enough progress. It must do more to ensure that supervision is consistent and appropriate in all investigations – not just those that involve vulnerable victims.
In Norfolk Constabulary, accredited detectives make up 76 percent of its 379 investigator posts. Officers and staff are working towards completing the required national accreditation standard (PIP2) for these roles, to fill the remaining 91 positions. The force has clear plans to train investigators through a detective and investigator career pathway and another for specialist qualifications. But we found that there had been no development of investigative skills and knowledge beyond departments that deal with serious and complex crimes. We found that there is no clear professional lead who has oversight of investigations standards throughout the force as a whole. The investigations policy is overdue for review, and most of the workforce is unaware of the document. The force needs to improve its approach to investigative training and development to include both the county policing and joint justice commands, as members of the workforce in these areas also carry out a range of crime investigations. This will enable senior leaders to be sure that staff with the right skills are investigating crimes thoroughly, leading to satisfactory outcomes for victims.
A desk-based unit investigates low-level shoplifting, making off without payment and criminal damage offences. We found that this unit is reducing demand on frontline officers and the control room. These crimes are being allocated and investigated appropriately. The force is reviewing the work of this unit and is considering giving it more types of offences to investigate.
The force has observed an increase in crimes which are finalised where a suspect has been identified but the victim does not support an investigation. In 2016/17, these made up 15.3 percent of all crimes. In 2017/18, this figure had risen to 20.6 percent. This is higher than the England and Wales rate of 16.1 percent. The workforce has a good understanding of the importance of considering victimless prosecutions. However, investigators told us that they have found it difficult to get the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) locally to pursue such cases.
The quality and recording of victim contact varied throughout investigations and departments. In 49 of the 60 files that we reviewed for this inspection, victims received good care. A strategic working group, which the head of joint justice services leads, is assessing ways to develop data collection, monitoring and workforce understanding, to further improve compliance with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.
The force has effective processes to pursue and manage offenders. Its oversight of suspects released on bail or under investigation is satisfactory. A clear process is in place to locate and arrest outstanding named suspects, and those circulated as wanted on the Police National Computer. The list of suspects is discussed and allocated at morning tasking meetings. The force uses a prioritisation matrix to concentrate on those people who pose the highest risk.
A monthly strategic meeting monitors pre-charge bail and suspects released under investigation. The joint performance and analysis department produces data that shows the use of bail and suspects released under investigation in each command. The force is working towards breaking down this information further, so that local supervisors can review their team’s performance in this area. A bail management team within the joint justice command monitors the use of bail. It gives support and advice to the workforce on the effective use of bail legislation. We consider this to be good practice. This team is based in the force’s custody suites and can offer immediate guidance on the appropriate application of bail to investigators who are dealing with detainees. It carries out monthly dip samples of the use of bail. It also provides feedback to both investigating officers and the strategic working group, to ensure that bail is being used effectively.
The force works effectively with immigration authorities to manage suspects who are foreign national offenders. We found a particularly good example of this in the police investigation centre at Wymondham. Immigration staff are working within the custody investigation unit there and actively review the circumstances of detainees, to provide support to investigators at an early stage.
Norfolk Constabulary is well placed to ensure that the workforce discharges its disclosure obligations fully and to a good standard. A comprehensive training plan includes both online and face-to-face packages. A network of disclosure champions provides local advice and guidance. A joint disclosure unit with Suffolk Constabulary reviews case files and gives feedback to investigators to help raise disclosure standards. Norfolk Constabulary also has a specialist disclosure team within its child abuse investigation unit to work on complex cases. A joint disclosure improvement board with Suffolk Constabulary meets monthly. The force recently
held an event with representatives from the CPS and the judiciary to discuss disclosure matters.
Analysis of investigative outcome data forms a fundamental part of Norfolk Constabulary’s performance framework and force management statement. The force has carried out detailed analysis on a range of crime types. This identified lower positive outcome rates for offences such as rape, violence with injury and robbery. This information has helped the force to identify ways to achieve better outcomes for victims. This includes placing a detective sergeant into the local CPS’s rape and serious sexual assaults team. The officer reviews all the case files that are submitted. They act as a liaison point between the police and CPS to ensure that all the necessary information to provide the best chance of a successful prosecution is documented appropriately within each file. In 2016/17, Norfolk Constabulary had a charge rate of 18.5 percent for all crime. This decreased to 15.5 percent in 2017/18. However, this is higher than the England and Wales rate of 10.3 percent.Summary for question 2
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
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
Norfolk Constabulary has a comprehensive understanding of the nature and scale of the vulnerability it faces. It analyses police and partner data effectively to continue to improve the service it provides to vulnerable people. The force has a vulnerability strategy in place that covers a four-year period from 2016 to 2020. This is being updated. The force uses the College of Policing’s definition of vulnerability. This states that “a person is vulnerable if as a result of their situation or circumstances they are unable to take care of or protect themselves, or others, from harm or exploitation”. We found that although the workforce could not explain this definition well, they did understand what vulnerability meant for them in terms of doing their job. The force has taken part in the pilot for the College of Policing’s vulnerability training and is developing its own training package, based on this.
Officers and staff work actively to uncover hidden harm. During fieldwork, we found good examples of this. They included neighbourhood patrol officers who had attended an incident and noted signs of a victim being subject to controlling and coercive behaviour. These officers later visited the victim’s home address, discovered that the victim was doing forced labour and put immediate safeguarding actions in place. This victim has continued to receive support from the police and from partner agencies.
The force is good at identifying vulnerability at the first point of contact. A new telephony system means it can prioritise non-emergency (101) calls, based on vulnerability. The control room makes effective use of markers placed on both the incident and crime and intelligence management systems to identify repeat and vulnerable callers. Call handlers use the THRIVE risk assessment tool to identify vulnerability and deploy the appropriate resources to an incident.
A mental health triage team, based in the control room, assists call handlers and supports officers attending incidents that may involve people with mental health conditions. The team is well established. It consists of six mental health nurses and a drugs and alcohol practitioner. They are on duty from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week. The force also has a pilot running in which two staff from the domestic abuse safeguarding team work in the control room to provide similar support for domestic abuse incidents. Both triage services have access to partner agencies’ data, which they can give the call handlers and attending officers. This makes the service more effective from the initial point of contact.
Responding to incidents
Norfolk Constabulary responds well to incidents involving vulnerable people. It answers both 999 and 101 calls in a timely manner. The force previously recognised that it was not always seeing victims of domestic abuse promptly, which may have caused some victims to disengage. At the time of the inspection, we found that, to address this problem, the force recently introduced a policy to grade as priority all domestic abuse incidents that do not require an immediate response. This means a target attendance time of no more than one hour. We found that, although this has improved attendance for domestic abuse incidents significantly, it has affected the force’s overall attendance for calls graded as a priority. A review is taking place to understand more fully the effect of this decision on domestic abuse investigations, safeguarding and on call handling more widely.
Officers use the DASH risk assessment process when they attend domestic abuse incidents. Force policy requires completion of DASH forms only for current or previous intimate relationships, or at the professional assessment of the attending officer. We found that officers understand this clearly and know how to submit additional adult and child risk assessments through the force’s crime and intelligence system,
Norfolk Constabulary has a voluntary attendance rate for domestic abuse suspects of 7.2 percent. This is lower than the average for England and Wales, at 10.3 percent. In 2017/18, the force had an arrest rate of 43 percent for all domestic abuse crimes. This was in line with 2016/17 and was higher than the England and Wales rate. The force’s rate of offenders who were charged or summonsed for domestic abuse crimes in 2017/18 was 16 percent. This is in line with the rate for all forces in England and Wales. It means that the force is pursuing perpetrators of domestic abuse well.
Supporting vulnerable victims
Beat managers are involved in safeguarding vulnerable victims, although we found that this applied more often to anti-social behaviour than domestic abuse incidents. Operational partnership teams working in the EHHs have effective oversight of anti-social behaviour issues that involve vulnerable people and give the task of safeguarding in these cases to beat managers. Beat managers are informed about high-risk domestic abuse cases at their daily briefings. The force could make more active use of neighbourhood officers in providing continuing safeguarding support for domestic abuse victims.
In our 2017 effectiveness inspection, the force had an area for improvement. This concerned its use of domestic violence protection notices and orders (DVPNs and DVPOs) and Clare’s Law. We asked the force to review this and ensure it was making best use of these powers to safeguard victims of domestic abuse. The force has since evaluated its use of DVPNs and DVPOs. During fieldwork, when speaking to the workforce, it was clear they had a good understanding of the use of the powers. We found also that they applied them whenever the circumstances were appropriate. A peer review assessed the way the force manages and uses Clare’s Law. The recommendations arising from this review have been put into practice. This has improved oversight of the use of this power and the force’s ability to move resources into the team when demand is high. There has been a major reduction in the backlog of cases awaiting disclosure. The level is now manageable. We are reassured that the force has addressed this area and made satisfactory improvements.
The force has sound partnership working arrangements with a single multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) based at County Hall in Norwich. We found that the workforce has a good understanding of the role of the MASH. Officers and staff contact the MASH when attending incidents or dealing with investigations to obtain guidance. This includes seeking advice about the suitability of conditions for pre-charge bail. Daily multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs) are held within the MASH. All high-risk domestic abuse cases are discussed here with partner agencies. During fieldwork, we observed three high-risk cases being discussed at a MARAC. We found vulnerability and risk being covered effectively. Both police and partner agencies received clear advice on what actions to take.
The MASH secondary assessment of risk covers all medium-risk domestic abuse cases to ensure that the grading is accurate, and the level of safeguarding is appropriate. We found a substantial backlog of cases waiting for secondary assessment of risk. A process has been put in place to prioritise crime over non-crime incidents. But the force needs to assure itself that this backlog is not causing unnecessary delays in giving vulnerable victims the right level of safeguarding.
The force carries out a range of surveys involving different crime types to understand the views of victims, including those who are vulnerable. A victim survey co-ordinator is being recruited into the MASH to help survey victims of domestic abuse. The force also has a panel for victims of domestic abuse that helps it to gather feedback and improve local practices.
The force manages offenders who pose a risk to vulnerable people well. The backlog of offenders awaiting risk assessment has reduced since our 2017 effectiveness inspection. During fieldwork, we found only five now outstanding. Staff in the public protection unit actively consider the use of additional or ancillary powers, such as sexual harm prevention orders (SHPOs) and sexual risk orders (SROs). In 2018, the force issued 147 SHPOs with ten recorded breaches, and three SROs with no recorded breaches. Their daily briefings give neighbourhood patrol officers and beat managers a good understanding of dangerous and sex offenders within their areas. Officers can access the relevant information on these offenders and submit intelligence through the crime and intelligence management system.
The force routinely monitors the child protection services system within the intelligence unit run jointly with Suffolk Constabulary. We found this system being accessed regularly. Information is then sent to the safeguarding children online team to investigate and manage cases appropriately.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. However, Norfolk Constabulary had two areas for improvement in the 2016 effectiveness inspection.
First, the force needed to further develop its serious and organised crime local profile in conjunction with other organisations. This would enhance its understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime and inform joint activity aimed at reducing this threat. Second, it needed to enhance its approach to the lifetime management of organised criminals to limit their offending.The force has worked hard to develop its ability to tackle serious and organised crime. We found that it had requested a peer review, which was carried out in April 2018 by the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s serious and organised crime programme.
The peer review was completed jointly with Suffolk Constabulary as the two forces have a joint serious and organised crime command.
The force has a comprehensive local profile in place. It has experienced difficulties with routinely obtaining data from some partners. However, it has built strong links with a range of organisations and is now consistently using partnership data within its local profile. The force has reviewed its approach to lifetime offender management, working closely with the prisons and probation services and the regional organised crime unit. A regional lifetime offender management meeting is held each month. This meeting identifies individuals who are being released from prison and require lifetime offender management. The force visits them and assigns a local contact. The force is also managing three serious crime prevention orders jointly with Suffolk Constabulary. We are satisfied that the force has suitably addressed these areas for improvement.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Understanding the threat and responding to it
Norfolk Constabulary has a joint arrangement with Suffolk Constabulary for armed policing. This means that the standards of training, armed deployments and command of armed operations are assured in both forces.
The force has a good understanding of the potential harm facing the public. Its APSTRA conforms to the requirements of the code and the College of Policing guidance. The APSTRA is published annually and is accompanied by a register of risks and other observations. The designated chief officer reviews the register frequently to maintain the right levels of armed capability and capacity.
All armed officers in England and Wales are trained to national standards. There are different standards for each role that armed officers perform. Officers trained to an armed response vehicle (ARV) standard attend most armed incidents in Norfolk. But some incidents require the skills and specialist capabilities of more highly trained officers.
On a joint basis, Norfolk Constabulary and Suffolk Constabulary have the capability to deploy specialist officers should they be needed. We have some concerns about the sustainability of these arrangements, however.
Working with others
It is important that effective joint working arrangements exist between neighbouring forces. Armed criminals and terrorists have no respect for county boundaries. As a consequence, armed officers must be prepared to deploy flexibly in the knowledge that they can work seamlessly with officers in other forces. It is also important that any one force can call on support from surrounding forces in times of heightened threat.
The joint working arrangements in place between Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies mean that ARVs respond efficiently and rapidly to armed incidents. But we have concerns about the availability of specialist capabilities. It is encouraging that agreements are in place for forces in the east of England to support each other with specialist capabilities when required. But because of the low level of risk, and the high level of training and other overheads associated with specialist officers, we believe there is a better way for the force to provide specialist capabilities. We recommend Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies to work with other forces in the east of England to develop a regional specialist capability. As well as reducing costs, this is more likely to guarantee the availability of specialist officers in line with the threats set out in the APSTRA.
We also examined how prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in Norfolk are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. Norfolk Constabulary has an important role also 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 recorded and improvements are made for the future.
We found that Norfolk Constabulary could improve its procedures to brief armed officers and learn from the incidents they attend. Officers would benefit from better intelligence about armed criminals and other relevant information when they begin their shifts. Similarly, although the force regularly debriefs incidents that armed officers attend, suggestions of how things could be done better are not always followed up.
The force should review its operational briefing and debriefing procedures. This will help ensure that no opportunity is missed to deploy armed officers effectively and make operational improvements.Summary for question 5