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South Wales PEEL 2018

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 27/09/2019
Good

South Wales Police is good at preventing and investigating crime. Prevention is at the core of the force’s approach to reducing crime and keeping people safe.

The force recognises the importance of working closely with communities. Officers and staff understand the importance of treating people with fairness and respect. The force has a strong understanding of the threats facing its communities. It is good at protecting the public from harm.

The force is good at understanding and identifying vulnerability. Officers and staff are aware of the importance of identifying and handling vulnerability appropriately. Protecting vulnerable people is a clear priority for the force.

The force needs to improve the ways in which it provides ongoing support to vulnerable victims. It needs to find long-term solutions to the challenges it faces to effectively support victims of domestic abuse.

The force is effective in managing those offenders who are known to pose a risk to vulnerable people. It has achieved a positive reduction in the number of registered sex offenders awaiting assessment.

South Wales Police is good at investigating crime and tackling serious and organised crime. These questions were not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2016 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.

Questions for Effectiveness

1

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

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with partner organisations, so that it can continually improve its approach to the 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

South Wales Police is good at prioritising prevention. Prevention is at the core of the force’s approach to reducing crime and keeping people safe. Force leaders have a clear vision for local policing. There is a strategy for neighbourhood policing which is focused on proactive prevention, in line with College of Policing guidelines.

The force gives neighbourhood officers and staff the resources and support they need to prevent crime. It is careful to monitor and reduce abstractions of officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) from neighbourhood duties to activities such as responding to incidents. A revised policy has been agreed and PCSOs are rarely abstracted. When officers are abstracted, it is usually to respond to incidents in their local area because they are the nearest available unit. Such abstractions do not appear to impact unduly on their ability to carry out neighbourhood activities.

Neighbourhood teams are proactive in their communities; they focus on preventing crime and anti-social behaviour before they occur. The force equips most officers and staff with the skills they need to carry out effective crime prevention activity and holds officers and staff to account for this.

Protecting the public from crime

South Wales Police is good at protecting the public from harm. The force understands its communities; it assesses threats effectively, using information which comes from a variety of sources (such as talking and listening to people in the community, and meeting with public and third sector partner agencies).

The force has a strong understanding of the threats facing communities from problems such as knife crime. It is taking steps to assess current, emerging and hidden threats through Operation Sceptre. Neighbourhood policing teams communicate with their communities at a variety of community meetings and events, and on social media.

The force has effective information-sharing arrangements with partner agencies such as the local authority and works closely with different agencies and communities to tackle problems. This collective approach attempts to identify and deal with the underlying causes of crime and anti-social behaviour, rather than just reacting to the symptoms. An example is the monthly multi-agency local problem-solving meetings, where the force discusses specific anti-social behaviour cases with partner agencies to aid effective prevention.

The force has introduced the OSARA problem-solving model for all neighbourhood officers to use. This model uses different steps based on outcomes, scanning, analysis, response and assessment. This was an area for improvement in 2016, which we are pleased to report has been successfully addressed.

We found some good examples of problem solving and the use of preventative tactics as part of the daily work of local officers. However, the quality of the information recorded within the OSARA plans varied. Some plans were detailed, with good supervisory oversight and evidence of evaluation. Others lacked detail and did not reflect well enough the extent of ongoing work to tackle problems. This means there is a risk that the force is not co-ordinating or evaluating work to address neighbourhood problems as effectively as it should.

Alongside its problem-solving work, the force is part of the All Wales Early Action Together programme. This looks to address the lack of early intervention preventative activity when adverse childhood experiences are evident. The force makes use of the powers and tactics which are available to help it to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. The force is increasingly using anti-social behaviour powers. It is also working to prevent online crime.

There are examples of the force holding meetings which illustrate some sharing of learning. They include problem-solving, community cohesion and local inspector meetings. But these meetings do not share information on a consistent and regular basis. The force needs to ensure that it both evaluates its prevention activity and shares it routinely. This was an area for improvement in 2016 and remains so.

Summary for question 1
2

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

Good

This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2016 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.

3

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

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force needs to ensure there is sufficient capacity and capability to promptly assess the ongoing risk for domestic abuse victims.
  • The force needs to act to ensure that the risk posed to other vulnerable persons impacted by domestic abuse is promptly identified and addressed.

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

South Wales Police is good at understanding and identifying vulnerability. The force has a clear definition of vulnerability. Officers and staff are aware of the importance of identifying and handling vulnerability appropriately. Protecting vulnerable people is a clear priority in both the police and crime plan and the chief constable’s delivery plan.

Officers and staff discuss vulnerability in the daily management meetings held in each Basic Command Unit (BCU). The force also analyses patterns of offending against vulnerable victims. For example, the force has developed a problem profile for county lines; this identifies the problems of vulnerability and hidden harm associated with county lines criminality. Vulnerability is also outlined in the 2018 strategic assessment, for which a MoRiLE assessment was used to assess and score crime types. (MoRiLE is the Management of Risk in Law Enforcement process. It was developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) to assess the types of crimes which most threaten communities and highlight where the force does not have the capacity or capability to tackle them effectively.)

The strategic assessment was reviewed in January 2019 and the priorities assessed as follows:

  • rape and serious sexual offences;
  • knife crime;
  • county lines;
  • domestic abuse;
  • child sexual exploitation and abuse; and
  • preventing and responding to terrorist and extremist threats.

Officers and staff receive training in how to identify hidden forms of vulnerability, so they can then look for signs. Staff from the MASH train the workforce about hidden forms of vulnerability. They themselves demonstrate a good understanding of the challenges presented by hidden vulnerability. Officers working in the early intervention hub have received training on adverse childhood experiences. As a result, they are better able to support children and families, and refer them to appropriate services.

The force has clear processes to identify repeat and vulnerable victims when they call the public services centre. Operators consistently check for warning markers in force systems. Callers are assessed for vulnerability using the THRIVE (Threat, Harm, Risk, Investigation opportunities, Vulnerability of the victim and Engagement level) risk assessment model.

In November 2018, the force changed the process for using THRIVE in the public service centre. The force had been using a separate THRIVE electronic document, and some staff felt this duplicated effort and was inefficient. However, when we visited the force as part of our pre-inspection activity, some call logs did not have a risk assessment.

In January 2019, the force added a THRIVE headings section to the system so that staff could easily access it. When we re-visited the public service centre during inspection fieldwork, staff were risk assessing calls appropriately and consistently using the THRIVE structure.

Responding to incidents

The force is good at responding to incidents promptly when vulnerable victims are involved. Attending officers complete a Public Protection Notice (PPN) for all cases involving vulnerable people. The PPN incorporates a domestic abuse stalking and harassment (DASH) risk assessment form. This is a national risk assessment tool which is used for reports of domestic abuse. DASH risk assessments are completed in 95 percent of all reports of domestic abuse. Additionally, officers consider the welfare of other people present in a household (such as children) when completing risk assessments. However, there is evidence to suggest that PPNs are not always checked by a supervisor.

The force funds mental health practitioners to work in a triage facility in the public service centre. The triage facility gives support, advice and guidance to officers who are dealing with incidents where mental ill-health may be a feature. Staff in the triage team have access to health records. This means they can support an effective response to victims. The triage team was established in January 2019, and the force is now evaluating it to assess its effectiveness.

Officers who we spoke to appreciate the importance of safeguarding vulnerable people when considering how to deal with suspects. They understood this is particularly the case when deciding whether to arrest or to use voluntary attendance. (Voluntary attendance is a police station interview that takes place when a suspect volunteers to help with an investigation but is not arrested.) To protect vulnerable victims, officers will make arrests, when appropriate, in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The arrest rate for domestic abuse in South Wales Police for the 12 months to 30 September 2018 is 31 percent. This is in line with the England and Wales rate.

Supporting vulnerable victims

The force needs to improve the ways in which it provides ongoing support to vulnerable victims.

Safeguarding of vulnerable victims is carried out by different teams, and officers were aware who had this responsibility. The force uses a programme called Police Watch to notify neighbourhood teams of vulnerable people. Members of the neighbourhood teams will follow up (for example, with a home visit). At the time of our inspection, the force had backlogs of PPNs awaiting secondary assessment.

While the force deals with high-risk incidents straightaway, during our inspection we found backlogs in the processing of medium and standard risk cases in two of the four BCUs. Responding officers put in place immediate safeguarding measures on these cases. But officers and staff in the BCU do not consider additional safeguarding measures until the secondary review has been conducted. There is some scanning of the backlog, to try to identify cases that may have been wrongly graded. But the system is not infallible. Consequently, the force does not know exactly what risk may sit in the backlog and safeguarding for some victims is significantly delayed. There may be unidentified high-risk cases.

The force is aware of the PPN backlogs and conducted its own review in late 2018. We revisited the force following our inspection, to check on progress. The force had allocated additional staff to process the backlogs, which had reduced. However, such arrangements are a short-term solution, and do not address the longer-term challenges of having enough capacity and capability to effectively support victims of domestic abuse. This is an area that we will keep under review.

The force makes good use of legal powers to protect victims of domestic abuse. These include domestic violence protection orders and the domestic violence disclosure scheme, also known as Clare’s Law.

Some areas of South Wales Police are covered by a MASH, where arrangements with partner agencies have enabled their establishment. Other areas have multi-agency arrangements, but these are not referred to under the same terminology. Neither the Vale of Glamorgan nor Neath have either sort of arrangement. However, partner agencies share the same office space for ease of information sharing and decision-making.

The force refers all high-risk domestic abuse cases to multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARAC). The force’s referral rate more than meets that recommended by Safelives. In some areas of the force, daily discussions are held within the MASH, using the available co-located partners and statutory agencies.

The full range of partner agencies that attend conventional conferences do not attend the daily discussions within the MASH. However, these discussions enable early interventions and safeguarding to be put in place straightaway. If a case warrants it, or a partner agency feels a more detailed discussion is needed, these cases can be transferred to the MARAC for further discussion.

The force uses surveys to collect feedback from victims. South Wales Police has also held survivor events, where feedback and learning are obtained from victims first-hand, for the benefit of all partner agencies. Feedback provided by victims of domestic abuse in 2017 and 2018 returned a 90 percent satisfaction rating.

The force is effective in managing those offenders who are known to pose a risk to vulnerable people. It has achieved a positive reduction in the number of Registered Sex Offenders (RSOs awaiting assessment; from 286 on 1 July 2017, to 18 on 1 October 2018. The Active Risk Management System assessment tool is used. Offender managers oversee and monitor the use of preventative orders. They enforce these orders when breaches are detected. Breaches of sexual harm prevention orders numbered 1 in 2017, and 10 in 2018, showing increased scrutiny of this type of offender. Neighbourhood teams are aware of the sex offenders living in their area and are expected to submit intelligence and carry out enforcement activity if breaches are identified.

The paedophile and online investigation (POLIT) team uses child protection software. This responsibility has recently been transferred from the digital forensic team. There are no backlogs in POLIT caseloads.

Summary for question 3
4

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

Good

This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2016 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.

5

How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?

Ungraded

Understanding the threat and responding to it

South Wales Police operates joint arrangements with Dyfed-Powys Police and Gwent Police to provide armed policing. This means that the standards of training, armed deployments and command of armed operations are assured in all three 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. The majority of armed incidents in South Wales Police area 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.

The availability of specialist officers in the South Wales Police area, in addition to the support available from Dyfed-Powys Police and Gwent Police, mean that the force has enough specialist capability. The force’s capabilities align well with the threats and risks identified in its APSTRA.

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.

This is an area where South Wales Police performs well. Close working between the three Welsh forces means that armed officers can deploy quickly and efficiently in the region.

We also examined how well prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in South Wales Police are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. The force also has an important role, along with other organisations, in designing training exercises that simulate these types of attack. These training exercises are reviewed carefully so that learning points are identified, and improvements are made for the future.

The joint firearms unit regularly debriefs incidents attended by armed officers. It has recently introduced an incident debrief and lessons learnt process which identifies themes and good practice, which is shared with the unit.

Summary for question 5