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Sussex PEEL 2018

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 20/01/2020
Good

Sussex Police’s approach to neighbourhood policing has improved but it could do more to understand the threats facing its communities. The force identifies opportunities to work with local communities to understand them better. But they are limited to certain groups at present. When community problems are identified, prevention officers and staff work effectively with partner organisations to find solutions.

The force continues to improve its ability to identify vulnerable people. Once officers and staff arrive at an incident, they assess victims’ vulnerability well. The force is good at managing offenders who are a risk to vulnerable people. These include registered sex offenders and people sharing indecent images of children online.

The force is getting better at uncovering hidden harm. For example, it identified a record number of honour-based incidents this year. Also, we were pleased to see it has improved its arrest rate for perpetrators of domestic abuse considerably since 2017.

However, the force needs to improve its management of risk. Increased demand is affecting the force’s ability to attend incidents and investigate crimes promptly. A lot of callers to its non-urgent police 101 number hang up. Risks to victims during these delays aren’t always managed as effectively as they could be.

Questions for Effectiveness

1

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

Good

The force has a clear strategy for neighbourhood policing. It is about to invest in 100 extra police community support officers (PCSOs) after the recent confirmation of a rise in council tax funding.

Prevention teams are no longer responsible for specific ‘beats’. They each cover one of six larger districts in the three divisions: West Sussex, East Sussex, and Brighton and Hove. Staff are given responsibility for specific community groups such as faith groups or elderly people to focus on in their districts. But they haven’t received any extra training for this.

Prevention enforcement teams give extra support. The force accepts that they will be taken away on other commitments about half the time, unlike other prevention staff who are ‘protected’ by force policy.

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) incidents continue to fall: 23.44 per 1,000 population compared to 27.79 per 1,000 population nationally. However, the force could do more to use ASB powers more effectively.

The force’s approach is reactive: demand is led through calls for service. However, once the force has identified patterns and issues, prevention staff work effectively with partners to find a solution.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should work with local people and partner organisations to improve its understanding of local communities.
  • The force should ensure that it spends more time on proactive prevention activity to prevent crime and disorder.
  • The force needs to ensure that it applies a more consistent approach to its prevention model across all three divisions.
  • The force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with partners, to improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.

Detailed findings for question 1

3

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

Requires improvement

Officers and staff understand how to identify vulnerable people. The force also actively uncovers hidden harm. For example, it identified 149 honour-based incidents in the year ending 2018, the highest nationally.

However, Sussex Police needs to take significant action to improve its management of risk to vulnerable victims of crime.

In August 2016, Shana Grice was stalked and then murdered by Michael Lane in Brighton and Hove. Sussex Police apologised for how it handled the case, and was investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The force accepted recommendations made by the IPCC in 2017 and 2018. These included improvements to how staff and officers are trained in the use of risk assessments and how best to safeguard victims.

In April 2019, we published our findings from our inspection of how Sussex Police managed stalking and harassment. We found it had made some improvements, but still had much more work to do.

Our 2016 effectiveness inspection raised concerns about the force carrying out some risk assessments of domestic abuse victims by phone. In our 2017 inspection, we found that the force had changed the process to ensure that risk assessments were carried out face to face.

But, in this inspection, we found that the processes to manage risk were once again ineffective. Domestic abuse victims were often left for days without seeing a police officer. Risk to those victims was not being managed effectively. We also found that some investigations involving vulnerable people took too long. The force also wasn’t reassessing any continued risk to some of those victims.

Cause of concern

Sussex Police is failing to manage risk effectively. In the force control room, some vulnerable victims are left without police attendance for considerable periods of time. Some victims may not be getting through to the police at all because on average 43 percent of calls to 101 are abandoned. Some investigations involving vulnerable people are taking a long time, without any reassessment of risk to the victim. This means that the force is missing opportunities to safeguard victims and secure evidence.

Recommendations

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

  • improve its management of risk;
  • ensure that staff and officers fully understand risk, and risk assessments such as THRIVE and DASH, through effective training;
  • review its processes in the control room to ensure risk is mitigated where possible and vulnerable victims see police quickly enough;
  • improve the quality of investigations involving vulnerable people, ensuring that the workloads of specialist investigators are always manageable and that such investigations are subject to regular and active supervision;
  • ensure all staff and officers dealing with vulnerable victims put measures in place to effectively manage initial and continued risk to victims, and record their actions; and
  • change its 101 call handling processes to reduce the number of callers who hang up.
Detailed findings for question 2

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 organised crime groups 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). They 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