Skip to content

Help us improve our reports

Please fill in this survey about our PEEL inspection reports by 5pm on 25 October 2019.

Northamptonshire PEEL 2018

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 27/09/2019
Requires improvement

Northamptonshire Police is improving its approach to crime prevention. It needs to better analyse the information it has so it can allocate resources more effectively. It should also build on working more closely with communities to make it more effective in preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.

The force has improved its approach to problem solving since our last inspection. However, there is still more work to do in this area. Better and more consistent processes would help the force prevent more crime.

Northamptonshire Police doesn’t have the resources to investigate crime effectively enough. This has resulted in a backlog of crimes being allocated to investigators. There are plans for improvements, but the force has been slow to put these in place.

The force doesn’t support victims as well as it should. This is down to a lack of resources in some cases, and policies and standards not always being in place in other cases. The force doesn’t manage offenders effectively, which can sometimes present a risk to the public.

Northamptonshire Police needs to better understand the nature and scale of vulnerability. Since our last inspection, the force has got better at identifying vulnerability. However, it doesn’t consistently support all vulnerable victims.

Tackling serious and organised crime (SOC) is one of the force’s six priorities. It has developed a better understanding since our last inspection and continues to make improvements.

Questions for Effectiveness

1

How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?

Requires improvement

Northamptonshire Police has made some positive changes in its approach to crime prevention since our last inspection. It now has dedicated local policing teams working more closely with communities and organisations. It also has new plans, setting out clear objectives, which will build on this success. Crime prevention needs to be a priority when assigning tasks, and senior staff need to monitor this. Training should also be reviewed and updated when necessary.

We were pleased to see more of a focus on identifying hidden threats since our last inspection. The force now needs to tackle other threats, including cybercrime. There is evidence that the force has plans to do this.

Northamptonshire Police needs to use social media more effectively to engage with communities. This will help it work better with harder to reach communities.

New approaches to problem solving, including working more with other organisations, means the force has improved in this area since our last inspection. There now needs to be more consistency across the county. This includes analysing the effectiveness of activity and supervision, and sharing information with other organisations.

An early intervention pilot hub is offering good support to vulnerable children and their parents. A new initiative to divert young people from gang violence has also been introduced. Both schemes appear very promising and we look forward to the results.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should improve how it analyses information and intelligence. This will help it better understand crime and anti-social behaviour in Northamptonshire. It will then be able to target activity more effectively.
  • Local policing teams should communicate with communities regularly. The force should also problem solve with other organisations to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.
  • The force should share what it does well internally and with external organisations it works with. This would help improve its approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.

Detailed findings for question 1

2

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

Inadequate

The force can’t manage investigative demand effectively. Investigative demand exceeds capacity and capability, and during our inspection there were large backlogs in crimes yet to be assigned for investigation. We are concerned about the effect this is having on the service to the public.

Senior officers need to oversee and supervise investigations more, and standards need to be scrutinised. Investigations allocated to the criminal investigation department (CID) or specialist teams are generally well investigated, but this isn’t the case for volume crime investigations.

There are several different teams handling telephone investigations, which is inefficient. Call handling is good, but risk assessments are not always properly recorded.

While police attend emergency calls within the target timescales, this isn’t the case for ‘prompt’ graded calls. The lack of clarity about target timescales needs to be addressed.

The force is aware that it needs more trained investigators and is trying to address this. In the meantime, hundreds of cases are still waiting to be allocated and workloads are too high.

Victim care, support and safeguarding need to improve. Some victims wait for appointments for up to ten days and victims are not always kept updated on the status of their investigation. The force is changing its structures and practices to address these problems, but they weren’t in place when we inspected.

The force’s approach to suspect and offender management is not good enough. Arrangements to identify and apprehend suspects and offenders lack senior oversight.

Investigators would benefit from having a better understanding of their disclosure obligations. Improving the use of post- and pre-charge bail would improve criminal justice outcomes for victims.

Cause of concern

The force can’t manage current demand effectively. It doesn’t have enough capacity or capability to investigate crime as effectively as it should. This is affecting the service too often.

Northamptonshire Police is failing to respond appropriately to some vulnerable people. This means it is missing some opportunities to safeguard victims and secure evidence.

Recommendations

To address this cause of concern, we recommend that within 12 months the force should do the following:

  • To improve the effectiveness of its investigations, it should:
    • make sure senior officers clearly and effectively oversee crime investigations and standards;
    • make sure all crimes are allocated quickly to investigators with the appropriate skills, accreditation and support. They will then be able to investigate them to a good standard, on time;
    • make sure it is fully compliant with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime;
    • make sure it can retrieve digital evidence from mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices quickly enough to avoid delaying investigations;
    • make sure it uses bail and ‘released under investigation’ correctly to keep the public safe; and
    • make sure that people listed as ‘wanted’ on the Police National Computer are quickly located and arrested.
  • To improve its approach to protecting vulnerable people, it should:
    • improve call response and initial investigation for all vulnerable victims;
    • improve its response to missing and absent children by categorising information correctly, and regularly and actively supervise missing person investigations to properly safeguard victims; and
    • analyse information held on systems to better understand the nature and scale of vulnerability. It should then act on its findings relating to missing people, domestic abuse, human trafficking, modern slavery and child sexual exploitation.
  • To make sure it can meet demand, it should develop plans to address its current capacity, capability and efficiency problems. It should:
    • change its operating model to remove inefficient practices;
    • create a central record of the skills available within the existing workforce;
    • reorganise the workforce to make sure officers have the skills needed to meet demand; and
    • carry out a thorough assessment of current and future demand, covering all elements of policing.
Detailed findings for question 2

3

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

Requires improvement

Northamptonshire Police is committed to protecting vulnerable people. However, it doesn’t understand well enough the nature and scale of vulnerability. Officers and staff identify vulnerable people but could do more to act on their findings to help them provide appropriate support and protection. The force is leading an early intervention scheme, focusing on children of primary school age. If successful, this could be extended throughout the force.

Some vulnerable victims are affected by the delays in crime investigations. Several victims hadn’t been contacted and didn’t know when they would be. This means that they may not be properly safeguarded.

The force’s arrest rate for domestic abuse is higher than the rate for England and Wales. Yet the charge rate is lower than the national average. This may mean that victims are not receiving an effective service. Northamptonshire Police should use its own analytical findings to make improvements.

A team of specialist investigators aims to support the highest-risk domestic abuse victims. Yet they don’t have enough resources to support all high-risk victims. The force needs to introduce measures to improve victim care and safeguarding.

Northamptonshire Police works alongside mental health nurses to support people in mental health crisis and to reduce the number of people detained in police custody.

The force’s approach to identifying and reducing cases involving missing children needs to improve. Some children have repeatedly gone missing for extended periods and have been at risk of serious harm.

We are pleased to find the force has improved its approach to managing registered sex offenders (RSOs).

Cause of concern

The force can’t manage current demand effectively. It doesn’t have enough capacity or capability to investigate crime as effectively as it should. This is affecting the service too often.

Northamptonshire Police is failing to respond appropriately to some vulnerable people. This means it is missing some opportunities to safeguard victims and secure evidence.

Recommendations

To address this cause of concern, we recommend that within 12 months the force should do the following:

  • To improve the effectiveness of its investigations, it should:
    • make sure senior officers clearly and effectively oversee crime investigations and standards;
    • make sure all crimes are allocated quickly to investigators with the appropriate skills, accreditation and support. They will then be able to investigate them to a good standard, on time;
    • make sure it is fully compliant with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime;
    • make sure it can retrieve digital evidence from mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices quickly enough to avoid delaying investigations;
    • make sure it uses bail and ‘released under investigation’ correctly to keep the public safe; and
    • make sure that people listed as ‘wanted’ on the Police National Computer are quickly located and arrested.
  • To improve its approach to protecting vulnerable people, it should:
    • improve call response and initial investigation for all vulnerable victims;
    • improve its response to missing and absent children by categorising information correctly, and regularly and actively supervise missing person investigations to properly safeguard victims; and
    • analyse information held on systems to better understand the nature and scale of vulnerability. It should then act on its findings relating to missing people, domestic abuse, human trafficking, modern slavery and child sexual exploitation.
  • To make sure it can meet demand, it should develop plans to address its current capacity, capability and efficiency problems. It should:
    • change its operating model to remove inefficient practices;
    • create a central record of the skills available within the existing workforce;
    • reorganise the workforce to make sure officers have the skills needed to meet demand; and
    • carry out a thorough assessment of current and future demand, covering all elements of policing.
Detailed findings for question 3

4

How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?

Requires improvement

Northamptonshire Police has improved its approach to tackling SOC, but there is still more work to do. The force remains heavily focused on prosecuting those taking part in SOC, but it plans to improve its prevention, protection and preparation capabilities.

The force has a better understanding of SOC particularly for county lines, firearms and gang violence. The force shares information with other agencies more regularly. This will further enhance the force’s understanding of all SOC threats.

Northamptonshire Police lacks capability to be fully effective at tackling SOC. This is due to limited knowledge and skills around a range of tactics, particularly covert options. The force receives some tactical advice and support from the regional organised crime unit (ROCU), but it should draw on this support more often. The force would benefit from using financial tactics more to tackle SOC. It is now raising awareness of this subject among staff.

Northamptonshire Police has some initiatives in place to identify those at risk of being drawn into SOC and deter them from offending. The force has also run some operations to tackle county lines with other agencies to safeguard vulnerable people and to encourage joint working.

The force needs to improve its approach to managing organised criminals with other organisations to reduce re-offending. The force has only basic arrangements in place to manage some organised criminals’ activity in prison and on release.

The force uses social media and leaflet drops to raise the public’s awareness of SOC. It would benefit from targeting activity in areas where it needs more information from the public. The force aims to review its SOC investigations to inform future activities.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should develop a more detailed understanding of all threats posed by serious and organised crime. To do this, it needs to define what information it needs from other agencies. It should reduce the backlog of intelligence submissions awaiting evaluation and analysis. This would make sure it identifies and acts on all important information quickly.
  • The force should enhance its approach to the ‘lifetime management’ of organised criminals. This would minimise the risk they pose to local communities. This approach should consider additional orders, the powers of other organisations and tools to deter organised criminals from continuing to offend.
  • The force should better understand of the impact of its work on serious and organised crime across the ‘four Ps’. It must use learn to maximise the force’s disruptive effect on this criminal activity.
  • The force should assign capable lead responsible officers to all active organised crime groups. This must be part of a long-term, multi-agency approach to dismantling them. Lead responsible officers should take a balanced approach across the ‘four Ps’ framework and have a consistently good knowledge of available tactics.

Detailed findings for question 4

5

How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?

Ungraded

We have previously inspected how well forces provide armed policing. This formed part of our 2016 and 2017 effectiveness inspections. Subsequent terrorist attacks in the UK and Europe have meant that the police service maintains a focus on armed capability in England and Wales.

It is not just terrorist attacks that place operational demands on armed officers. The threat can include the activity of OCGs or armed street gangs and all other crime involving guns. The Code of Practice on the Police Use of Firearms and Less Lethal Weapons (PDF document) makes forces responsible for implementing national standards of armed policing. The code stipulates that a chief officer be designated to oversee these standards. This requires the chief officer to set out the firearms threat in an armed policing strategic threat and risk assessment (APSTRA). The chief officer must also set out clear rationales for the number of armed officers (armed capacity) and the level to which they are trained (armed capability).

Detailed findings for question 5