Nottinghamshire PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Nottinghamshire Police is good at reducing crime and keeping people safe.
It is good at protecting people who are vulnerable. But it needs to improve how it prevents crime and deals with anti-social behaviour.
The force needs to get a better understanding of its local communities. It also needs to improve how it assesses and shares good ways of working. It should talk to the public more when it sets its priorities. It should also update them following consultation. But it works well with other organisations to solve problems, and protect and support vulnerable people.
The force has a new policing model that’s neighbourhood-based. It has recruited more officers to help with demand and is planning more training for local teams. It should try not to move neighbourhood staff to help in other areas, as this makes it harder for them to deal with local problems. It isn’t easy for it to understand which problem-solving methods work best, as it doesn’t always record results. This could lead to different levels of service.
Nottinghamshire Police is good at spotting vulnerable people when they first contact the force. It has got better at responding to them. But it should improve how it responds to incidents that are less urgent, so that officers can assess if someone is vulnerable more quickly. Officers and staff treat vulnerable people well. The force regularly gets feedback from vulnerable victims to help it improve its approach. This includes those who don’t support police action. The force makes good use of its powers to protect people. Officers and staff are good at assessing risk at domestic abuse incidents and respond well to people with mental health problems.
In 2017, we judged Nottinghamshire Police as good at investigating crime and at tackling serious and organised crime.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Areas for improvement
- The force should work with local people to improve its understanding of local communities and show the action it has taken to address their concerns.
- The force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with other organisations, to improve its prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.
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
Nottinghamshire Police requires improvement in the way it prioritises crime prevention. The force changed its policing model in April 2018. Previously, its leaders were each responsible for specific business areas, whereas now they take responsibility for geographic areas: the city area and the county area. Each area is led by a superintendent. This model is becoming more established and staff support the new approach. In our 2017 effectiveness report, we said the force was good at preventing crime. But we asked it to improve in two areas: to improve its understanding of local communities, and evaluate and share effective practice routinely. The force has made minimal progress in these areas. As a result, the same areas for improvement are in this report.
The force recognises this and has renewed its focus on neighbourhood policing. It has adopted a new neighbourhood policing strategy based on the College of Policing’s neighbourhood policing guidance. The force has launched the strategy and appointed leads for the main areas. However, it is too early to assess how this may improve its approach. The force needs to communicate the plan across the organisation. During the inspection, officers and staff spoken to couldn’t explain to us the force’s vision for neighbourhood policing.
The force occasionally moves neighbourhood officers and staff from their main roles, on both a planned and reactive basis. It is unable to quantify the scale and effect of this on crime prevention activity. The need to take these officers away from their roles to support other police work hinders how effectively neighbourhood teams can tackle problems and prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. This means that the force sometimes relies on partner organisations to assist with preventative problem solving while it addresses more high-risk areas of demand. To create additional capacity, the force has increased police officer numbers by 80 (from 1,860 to 1,940 full-time equivalent posts). However, it has yet to achieve the full benefit of this investment, as officers undergo training before working independently.
The force recruits volunteers into a variety of roles such as neighbourhood watch schemes, cycle marking and student crime prevention. It does this well through its ‘citizens in policing’ programme. The Special Constabulary and cadets are also involved in some prevention activity and community projects. The force plans to increase its number of volunteers in support of its renewed focus on neighbourhood policing.
Training for neighbourhood teams is inconsistent across the force. It provides new recruits with induction training that adequately covers the skills needed to conduct effective crime prevention activity. However, the training for existing neighbourhood teams is variable. Some teams receive four training days per year alongside partner organisations, in addition to mandatory personal protection training. Others undertake mandatory personal protection training only. The force has undertaken a review. It has a good understanding of the training needed to give neighbourhood teams the right skills to provide a good level of service to the public. The training plan forms part of the revised neighbourhood policing strategy, which will develop this area in the future.
Protecting the public from crime
The force has some understanding of the threats facing its communities. It has well-established arrangements in place to work with public sector partners such as adult and children’s social care, and joint working is commonplace. The force adopts a multi-agency problem-solving approach to complex issues. Examples include the ‘vulnerable persons panel’ covering county areas and the ‘complex persons panel’ covering city areas. These panels bring together representatives of the main organisations. They work together to provide a better service to support vulnerable individuals, where traditional policing methods aren’t working.
However, there is a mixed picture of how much involvement communities have in setting local neighbourhood priorities. While some areas have active neighbourhood panels, we found that in most neighbourhoods the police determine the priorities after only limited consultation with partners and the public. The recent ‘police and crime needs’ survey provides a valuable insight into what the public’s priorities are. However, during the inspection we didn’t find any neighbourhood teams that had used this information to plan or provide services. The knowledge that beat managers and police community support officers (PCSOs) have of the priorities that are relevant to them is also limited. This may mean that neighbourhood teams aren’t as informed as they could be regarding the issues that matter most to the community.
The ‘police and crime needs’ survey is evidence of some progress in gaining a better understanding of communities and their concerns. But the force has yet to use this information to change the way it plans and provides services. There remains an inconsistent approach to giving feedback to communities on the action the force has taken, the results it has achieved and how the community can become more involved in solving problems. During 2018, we commissioned research into the public’s perceptions of their local police across England and Wales. Encouragingly, the findings for Nottinghamshire Police indicated that, although it doesn’t always engage communities in setting its priorities, it deals with what matters to them. The force could further enhance this.
The force employs local problem-solving tactics with public sector partners, such as education and substance misuse teams. It tends to base these on professional judgment rather than a systematic and evidence-led approach. Most neighbourhood-team leaders are aware of the OSARA (outcomes, scanning, analysis, response and assessment) problem-solving model. But beat managers and PCSOs are less aware of it. Neighbourhood teams use a variety of approaches to resolve anti-social behaviour cases, but there is no consistent method of recording activity. Some areas routinely use a shared online system accessible by partner organisations, while others use police systems. The lack of a clearly defined approach can lead to an inconsistent level of service for victims across the force. It also means the force may be losing opportunities to evaluate the outcomes of different approaches and learn from what works. During the inspection, we found that the supervision of problem-solving plans is variable across the force. It expects its new neighbourhood policing strategy to improve this in the coming months.
Nottinghamshire Police is generally in line with the England and Wales overall recorded levels of anti-social behaviour incidents. The force continues to make use of all available anti-social behaviour powers. These include civil injunctions and criminal behaviour orders. However, the data indicates a reduction in the use of anti-social behaviour powers from 443 per 1m population in the year to 30 June 2017 to 51 per 1m population in the year to September 2018. Neighbourhood teams don’t clearly understand the reasons for this reduction. The decline may be due to the increased involvement of local authority community protection teams in managing anti-social behaviour. The force has yet to explore whether the reduced use of anti-social behaviour powers has made it less effective. Its current focus is on analysing other areas of operational activity. Without this understanding, the force can’t be confident that it is using its resources effectively. The force recognises this gap and has recently approved the recruitment of analytical researchers to support neighbourhood policing teams.
In our 2017 effectiveness report we identified that the force needed to improve its approach to crime prevention and anti-social behaviour. We said that it should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with other organisations. The force uses a variety of tactics to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, including crime prevention staff discussing good practice in online forums. However, it has made only modest progress in evaluating and extending this learning more widely. It doesn’t routinely record or assess learning across the force, except when large-scale initiatives happen. This would help it improve its approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.Summary for question 1
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2016 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that a DASH risk assessment is carried out for all domestic abuse incidents to reflect the force policy change.
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
Nottinghamshire Police has a clear strategy for, and definition of, vulnerability. It communicates this effectively to its workforce. Officers and staff demonstrate that they understand how to identify and protect those who are vulnerable.
They consistently treat vulnerable people well. This includes victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse and people with mental health conditions.
The force has a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability. It works with partner organisations responsible for health, and adult and child safeguarding. Together they use and share data to develop a deeper understanding. The force has recently updated its analysis of child sexual exploitation across Nottinghamshire. This now includes data from partner organisations.
Officers and staff take proactive steps to reveal hidden forms of child sexual exploitation. The force works with interested parties, such as children’s services, youth justice and education, to prevent and reduce instances of children at risk of exploitation. The force assesses the risk, allocates actions to the most appropriate agency and monitors progress using a multi-agency tool which records activity that aims to divert children from risky situations. The force has introduced informal meetings to offer support and advice to victims and encourage them to report stalking and harassment at the earliest opportunity.
The force is good at identifying vulnerable people when they first contact the police. Control room staff apply clearly identifiable markers to force systems to highlight repeat victims, victims of domestic abuse and people with mental health conditions. This means, if they call again, the system will highlight their vulnerability and help to ensure the force provides the right response. The force has invested in training and mentoring for call handlers, who consistently use the THRIVE model of risk assessment. Staff record threat, risk and harm in more detail to ensure accuracy and consistency. This improved assessment of risk means that the force can determine its initial response to incidents more effectively.
Responding to incidents
Nottinghamshire Police attends incidents promptly where it has identified vulnerability during the initial call. However, where call handlers grade incidents as not requiring a priority response, the force isn’t always able to respond within 24 hours. The force is aware of this problem and has increased overall officer numbers to create additional capacity. The contact resolution and incident management unit helps deal with the work within the control room. Where appropriate, in agreement with the caller, staff make appointments for police to attend later. Local policing supervisors oversee these appointments, rather than the control room, and sometimes they don’t give them priority. We found that this recent change in working practices has resulted in delays in attending appointments. This may mean the force isn’t addressing aspects of vulnerability promptly.
In our 2017 effectiveness report, we said that the force should improve its response to incidents involving vulnerable people, particularly victims of domestic abuse. Since last year, it has put better processes in place. These make sure officers attend domestic abuse incidents more promptly, with scrutiny provided at daily management meetings. The police approach is good, with vulnerable people – particularly victims of domestic abuse and those with mental health conditions – receiving a good service. We found examples of early identification in the control room and in the review of case files.
When attending incidents, officers and staff use a structured process to assess risk to victims and other vulnerable people in the household. The force now uses electronic DASH (domestic abuse, stalking and harassment) risk assessments. In our 2017 effectiveness report, , the force data showed that the force submitted fewer risk assessments than other forces for the level of domestic abuse reported. This meant that the force may be missing opportunities to properly assess risk, and therefore safeguard some vulnerable victims. In July 2018, it made the completion of DASH mandatory for all domestic abuse reported, resulting in an increase in the number completed. However, the 2017/18 data shows that the force completed a risk assessment in only 32 percent of domestic abuse incidents, but for every reported domestic abuse crime. The force is actively monitoring compliance.
This will remain an area for improvement. During this inspection, we found good examples of effective safety planning. These included recording details of children who live at the household – whether or not they were present at the time of the incident – to assess wider safeguarding needs. Officers and staff clearly understand that it is their responsibility to identify these children and make referrals to other agencies for assessment and support. Staff in the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) review the risk assessments to provide consistency and accuracy. The independent domestic abuse advisers (IDVAs) provide an additional level of scrutiny to this process.
The force is effective at protecting victims of domestic abuse. Attendance is a priority. The force grades over 90 percent of the domestic abuse incidents it attends as an emergency or priority. Our inspection found that it doesn’t generally deal with domestic abuse victims over the telephone. The data shows that it does this less than the England and Wales rate. The force makes an arrest in around 27 percent of domestic abuse incidents, compared to the England and Wales rate of 31 percent. Its rate of offenders that were charged or summonsed for domestic abuse crimes in 2017/18 was 17 percent. This is slightly higher than the rate for all forces in England and Wales of 15 percent. It means that the force is pursuing perpetrators of domestic abuse well.
The force has a mental health triage process, which officers, staff and other agencies view positively. Two mental health street-triage cars operate from 4.00pm to 1.00am daily. A police officer and mental health professional in each car cover the force area, providing advice and responding effectively to vulnerable people with mental health concerns. Outside these hours, there are good links to professionals who provide mental health advice, and officers can call them directly when required. Awareness of mental health conditions among frontline officers and staff is good. There is regular training, with the involvement of mental health partners. The force works closely with mental health partners and contributes to the mental health crisis care concordat board to ensure a shared approach to people in crisis. There are plans to evaluate the mental health triage process within the next 12 months. The force’s own monitoring of the street triage process indicates that 4,000 incidents in the 12 months to January 2018 were deployed to, which equates to 48 percent of incidents where a mental health issue is identified.
Supporting vulnerable victims
Neighbourhood teams are involved in the continuing safeguarding of vulnerable victims. This includes children at risk of sexual exploitation, those with mental health conditions and repeat victims of domestic abuse. However, as described earlier, the force occasionally takes neighbourhood officers and staff away from their primary role, to support other police work. It isn’t able to quantify what effect this may have on how well it safeguards vulnerable people.
Nottinghamshire Police makes good use of available protective powers and measures to safeguard vulnerable victims. The number of domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs) granted has increased from 41 in 12 months to end of June 2017 to 90 in the 12 months to end of June 2018. Officers and staff have a well-developed and growing understanding of the value the orders provide in protecting victims. The force deals with breaches of DVPOs promptly to give victims this protection.
The force works with a range of partner organisations such as education, probation, health and children’s services. This is to make sure safeguarding arrangements are in place for vulnerable people. There are two MASHs: one covering the city area and the other the county area. Multi-agency safeguarding arrangements are comprehensive and accessible, with good sharing of information with partners at all levels. The force contributes well to both the city and county MASHs, despite them having different operating systems that reflect local authority working practices.
The multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) processes are effective. Each statutory agency takes responsibility for chairing the meeting on a six-monthly basis. This shared-chairing arrangement ensures all partners fully engage with safeguarding vulnerable victims. The force and its partners refer all high-risk cases to a MARAC. IDVAs also review medium-risk cases and, where necessary, regrade them to high and refer them to a MARAC. MARACs take place every two weeks at city, north and south areas, with cases discussed within 10 to 14 days. There is an equal split of referrals from partner organisations and police. The force attends a regional MARAC steering group that reviews processes to explore new ideas and innovative practice.
The force regularly seeks and uses feedback from vulnerable victims and service users to improve services. In our 2017 effectiveness report, we said that the force needed to ensure that its process to obtain feedback from victims of domestic abuse included those victims who do not support police action. In response, the force now conducts surveys of all domestic abuse and rape victims whether the victim is supporting a prosecution or not. The research and insight team runs the survey and achieves a high response rate. All feedback obtained is used by the force to continuously improve its service to vulnerable victims. It sends positive comments directly to the officer or staff member dealing with the victim. It forwards less-favourable comments to supervisors, who review the case to see what action is required. The force has also introduced this approach in relation to Clare’s Law applications, to gain feedback on timeliness of completion from application to disclosure; the satisfaction level of the applicant; and an understanding of whether or not the disclosure made any difference to the applicant.
The force’s processes are designed to manage the risk posed to the public by RSOs living in the area. The management of RSOs remains challenging for the force, due to their increasing numbers. At the time of the inspection, there was a backlog of 107 visits outstanding to medium and low-risk RSOs. The force is in the process of adopting a risk-based approach in line with national guidance, and plans to stop the annual visit to 500 low-risk RSOs. These individuals will be risk-assessed and subject to a yearly desktop review. Officers will not actively engage with them unless any intelligence or incident triggers a reassessment. The force intends to ensure neighbourhood teams are fully aware of the location of all low-risk RSOs in their areas. There remains a low risk to the public. However, the national practice of reactive risk management already allows forces to manage RSOs remotely on a case-by-case basis, on the authorisation of the head of department. The approach also ensures that specialist officers have more time to devote to the management of higher-risk offenders who pose the greatest threat to the public.
The force has access to specialist software to identify those who share indecent images of children online, and has introduced additional tools to tackle online crimes against children. This has resulted in an increase in the number of notifications it receives from both systems. This means that the force may be dealing with some cases without officers being aware of the full facts. This is a risk to the force’s integrity and affects the safeguarding of children, as cases on these systems may be higher-risk. The force is responding to referrals from the National Crime Agency, but this should not be at the expense of notifications received from its own software. The force is aware of this and is actively seeking solutions that include the addition of staff on short-term contracts.
The force routinely uses court orders to protect the public from dangerous and sexual offenders. The force reports that local courts issued 105 sexual harm prevention orders in the year to 31 March 2018. Nine of these orders were subsequently breached. The force actively manages breaches. It may wish to review this, to understand whether it is taking enforcement action with all breaches. The force should confirm that it has the necessary arrangements in place.Summary for question 3
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2016 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Understanding the threat and responding to it
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.
The force also has a good understanding of the armed criminals who operate in Nottinghamshire and neighbouring force areas. Nottinghamshire Police is alert to the likelihood of terrorist attacks and has identified venues that may require additional protection in times of heightened threat.
All armed officers in England and Wales are trained to national standards. There are different standards for each role that armed officers perform. The majority of armed incidents in Nottinghamshire are attended by officers trained to an armed response vehicle (ARV) standard. The force has sufficient ARV capability. However, we noted that, as an interim measure, it is adjusting shift patterns and paying overtime to ensure enough ARV officers are available. In time, this will be addressed through recruitment programmes.
Incidents sometimes occur that require the skills and specialist capabilities of more highly trained officers. Until recently, Nottinghamshire Police had collaborative arrangements in place with Leicestershire Police, Northamptonshire Police and Lincolnshire Police to provide specialist officers for deployment in the East Midlands region.
Nottinghamshire Police has recently withdrawn from these arrangements and will become dependent on its own armed capabilities. Agreements remain in place to seek the assistance of neighbouring forces when specialist capabilities are required.
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. 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 withdrawal of Nottinghamshire Police from these joint working arrangements means there is less certainty of specialist capability being available in the region. We are also aware that Derbyshire Constabulary operates independently from other forces in the region. This will be of interest to us when we next visit the constabulary.
We expect all forces in the East Midlands to work closely together to ensure that sufficient specialist capabilities are available to protect communities in the region.
We also examined how well prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in Nottinghamshire Police are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. Also, Nottinghamshire Police has an important role in designing training exercises with other organisations that simulate these types of attack. We found that these training exercises are reviewed carefully so that learning points are identified and improvements are made for the future.
In addition to debriefing training exercises, we also found that Nottinghamshire Police reviews the outcome of all firearms incidents that officers attend. This helps ensure that best practice or areas for improvement are identified. We also found that this knowledge is used to improve training and operational procedures.Summary for question 5