Warwickshire PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Warwickshire Police is good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB).
The force has a new neighbourhood policing strategy. It has professionalised the role of its safer neighbourhood teams, which work well with partner organisations. We note that a joint initiative recently won a national Tilley award.
The force is good at protecting the public from crime. It uses a wide range of orders in this respect.
The force needs to improve the quality of its investigations. This is a cause of concern. It needs to have the right structures, staffing and skills in place to investigate crimes effectively. It also needs to make sure that it allocates crimes to staff who have had the right training. We note that the force has made strenuous efforts to clear backlogs in its investigative processes. It is also recruiting a substantial number of investigators.
The force needs to improve its approach to catching criminals and resolving investigations. It also needs to put solid processes in place so that it prioritises those suspects who cause the most harm.
The force is good at protecting vulnerable people. The workforce understands hidden harm and looks for signs of it. The force always aims to attend reports of domestic abuse in person. It is good at managing sex offenders.
The force is good at tackling serious and organised crime (SOC). SOC and county lines criminality are prioritised because vulnerable people and communities are affected by criminals who transition in from other policing areas. The force is proactive in its approach to organised crime groups (OCGs), gangs and networks. As well as identifying those who are at risk of becoming involved in SOC, it tries to steer them in a more positive life direction.
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
Warwickshire Police prioritises crime prevention. It has 33 dedicated safer neighbourhood teams, giving good coverage across its communities.
Safer neighbourhood teams focus on problem solving and early intervention in response to community needs. This approach aims to reduce demand on resources and prevent repeat problems.
The force has a new neighbourhood policing strategy. Its local policing model comprises four building blocks:
- understanding communities;
- engaging with communities;
- prioritising and tasking; and
- problem solving.
Officers have enough time to focus on problem solving, with chief officers giving leadership.
The force is expanding problem-solving training beyond neighbourhood teams. Although the approach is yet to become widespread, we spoke to detectives who use problem-solving approaches in their work. Throughout 2018, leaders hosted events to engage partners in this work.
The force has professionalised the role of safer neighbourhood teams. It has trained all staff in problem solving. And it uses continuing professional development (CPD) and training days to share learning. Staff are committed to both problem solving and crime prevention.
The force does not routinely deploy neighbourhood officers to non-emergency incidents that are unrelated to their community problem-solving role. Safer neighbourhood teams do not retain the responsibility for investigating crimes, nor do they attend incidents that are unrelated to their core community-focused role. Neighbourhood officers are appropriately involved in responding to force-wide risks, such as SOC.
A dedicated tactical lead holds officers to account for their activity, as do problem- solving advisers, a performance management framework, local managers, and tasking and co-ordinating processes. These arrangements give the force oversight of prevention activities.
The force sets neighbourhood priorities through public consultation. Neighbourhood teams manage these, alongside the force’s strategic priorities. Public consultation on these priorities takes place through quarterly forums (which are particularly important for those who do not use social media), and also internet-based voting. Safer neighbourhood team activities are then reported back to communities through social media and the forums.
These methods identify community priorities for the next quarter and are just one part of the scanning stage of the force’s problem-solving approach. Scanning is an essential component of the national OSARA (Objective, Scanning, Analysis, Response, Assessment) problem-solving model. By having ‘problem solving at the heart of everything we do’, the force makes sure that it understands the scale of the threats facing its communities.
Protecting the public from crime
The force is good at protecting the public from harm.
The force has a good understanding of community needs using area beat profiles. These profiles include information about population, demographics and deprivation levels, together with crimes, intelligence, offenders and incidents. Officers check these profiles regularly to help them understand the threats facing their communities.
Beat profiles have helped the force to identify an emergent Portuguese community. They have also been used to inform work with Eastern European communities. The profiles contain some partnership information from councils, including housing and census data. However, the force and local authorities report that information sharing remains an area that needs further development. This is also the case when tackling SOC, as detailed later in this report.
The force uses SARA (scanning, analysis, response, assessment) as its problem- solving model. All safer neighbourhood team officers and staff (and their managers) have been trained in SARA, and have follow-up CPD.
Officers are encouraged to share effective practice through problem-solving co-ordinators and at development days. Supervisors keep problem-solving plans under regular review. Co-ordinators quality assure them to identify good practice.
SARA provides a common language, together with a framework, for police and partners to understand threats and put long-term solutions in place. Supervisors and co-ordinators review, score and assess each problem-solving plan to make sure that its aims are met. These reviews also identify learning. Co-ordinators record this learning in the ‘what works’ section of the problem-solving system. This system includes toolkits and examples of good practice.
Safer neighbourhood teams gave us many examples of working with partners, such as local authorities, housing providers and charities, to tackle problems. These ranged from drug use and knife crime to ASB and homelessness. Earlier this year, one partnership problem-solving initiative, which addressed begging in Leamington Spa, won the neighbourhood category Tilley Award. (The Tilley Awards celebrate problem-orientated projects that have achieved success in resolving issues faced by the community, police and partners.) The initiative offered insight into the reasons why people give money to those who beg.
The force makes appropriate use of preventative tactics to tackle crime and ASB. In late 2018, the force convened a civil interventions board to improve the use of court and civil orders. The work of this group was incorporated into problem-solving governance arrangements, led by the assistant chief constable (ACC).
Civil order applications often require multi-agency support. Harm hubs co-ordinate them to improve consistency and expertise. These hubs include problem-solving co-ordinators, licensing and ASB specialists.
The force uses a wide range of orders. But it may not be recording where partners have used their powers, tactics and interventions. Members of the harm hub teams reported difficulties in securing support from the Crown Prosecution Service to apply for criminal behaviour orders. To help address this, a barrister has given advice to the hubs to improve the standard of applications. This expertise helps to make the hubs an effective community safety resource.
The force has been working with colleagues from Durham Constabulary and the College of Policing to improve its approach to prevention and problem solving. The force’s work with Durham has enabled it to benchmark its progress against the national strategy for problem solving.
The force evaluates plans before it closes them, in order to identify learning and to try to quantify any resulting demand or financial savings. (For example, the force’s use of dispersal orders in Leamington Spa reduced ASB reports by 30 percent.) The force is developing a comprehensive problem-solving evidence database against which to test and evaluate its future prevention activity.
These activities demonstrate the force’s commitment to continuous improvement in this area.Summary for question 1
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Cause of concern
The force does not have the capacity or capability to investigate crime effectively and this is affecting the service being provided to the public. There are failings in the way that crimes are being investigated.
To address this cause of concern, we recommend that within six months the force should:
- improve how it responds to reports of crimes, allocates them, (ensuring investigations are allocated to appropriately trained and supported officers) and that it reviews this allocation appropriately throughout the investigation;
- ensure regular and active supervision of the quality and progress of investigations. This supervision should be properly recorded;
- improve its ability to retrieve digital evidence from mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices quickly enough to ensure investigations are not delayed;
- take steps to better understand the data relating to its crime outcomes and put actions in place to ensure that it is effectively pursuing justice on behalf of victims;
- improve its understanding of suspects released under investigation and the management of those released on bail;
- introduce consistent processes to effectively manage the risk posed by suspects who are under investigation but have not yet been arrested or circulated as wanted on the PNC; and
- introduce effective arrangements to ensure it complies fully with its disclosure obligations.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Currently, the force does not have the structures, staffing and skills it needs to investigate crime effectively. Nor does it always allocate crimes to appropriately trained staff.
‘Omnicompetent’ detectives, rather than teams of specialist and generalist investigators, investigate a range of different crime types. This approach is intended to increase both investigative capacity and capability. The model requires investigators to have the skills and accreditation necessary to investigate a broad range of crime types effectively.
However, the model has not been fully implemented. We found examples of officers investigating more complex crimes without the training and accreditation to do so confidently. Response officers were carrying complex cases, such as fraud, with multiple lines of enquiry that their core role prevented them from investigating effectively.
Some investigators lack the necessary training and accreditation for specialist investigations (such as those involving children and serious sexual offences). And those with the necessary training are not routinely compiling the required portfolio of evidence that is necessary to obtain formal accreditation. The force lacks sufficient mentors to support newly trained officers in their development. The force also has a large number of vacancies in investigator roles. These will only begin to be filled as recruitment plans take effect.
Some officers were struggling to manage their workloads. And some investigations dated back many months. Inspectors found cases that had exceeded statutory time limits for bringing a suitable charge.
The force has made significant efforts to clear backlogs at various stages in the investigative process. It has cleared allocation backlogs in the investigation management unit (IMU), so that cases are now assigned promptly. The telephone investigation unit is effective in its management of less complex cases. Incident progression teams (IPTs) swiftly manage some activities in the earlier stages of investigations. The force has reviewed investigation workloads in some parts of the county, so that officers and staff only follow up the most appropriate lines of enquiry. There has been learning for both supervisors and staff that is now being shared. The workload review has substantially reduced investigative caseloads in some, but not all, areas. Staff report that digital forensic backlogs contribute to lengthy investigative delays. In some cases, these delays can be up to 12 months.
The force’s action plan sets out how it will develop its investigative model, incorporating learning from the earlier caseload review. Investigator recruitment includes Police Now opportunities (whereby the force directly recruits new officers to train them as detectives). These opportunities are proving to be popular with prospective candidates. The force’s commercial partner is also reviewing investigative demand. This review will give leaders the evidence they need to make decisions on further improvements in this area. However, wider changes brought about by the termination of the strategic alliance between Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police need to be resolved first. These changes are explained in greater detail later in this report. Some of these changes include decisions about offender management, harm hubs and the investigative command structure. The force’s ‘Evolve’ project team is managing the programme of work relating to the alliance termination, so that changes are appropriately scheduled and interdependencies managed effectively. The work of the Evolve team is explained later in this report.
Despite the force’s dip-sampling, training and reviews, there were poor standards of supervision of investigations. Supervisors marked case reviews as completed but gave little meaningful direction for officers to act on. In our review of crime files, we found that only 22 out of 60 investigations had been the subject of effective supervision.
In 16 of those investigations, we found evidence that the investigation was not effective. In two cases, we raised issues that needed immediate attention. Supervisors and staff spoke of workload and demand pressures. They said these affected their ability to investigate all cases in as timely and effective a manner as they would wish.
Investigators and response officers understand the importance of early evidence gathering. Both report the transfer of good-quality investigation handover packages between departments. (A handover package is the collection of information, such as statements, lines of enquiry and other evidence, that is passed from one team to another during an investigation.)
The force’s use of body-worn video is not good enough to secure early evidence, despite policies encouraging its widespread use. The inconsistent use of this equipment is an obstacle. This and other factors (such as early arrest and effective support to victims) can influence investigative outcomes.
The force has carried out research to understand investigative outcomes. It has used the findings to make improvements in areas such as the use of outcome 16 and arrest in domestic abuse cases. (Outcome 16 is one of several crime outcomes introduced in April 2014.) According to this framework, every crime that the police record will, eventually, get a police outcome. Outcome 16 relates to those cases recorded as having evidential difficulties despite a named suspect being identified. In Outcome 16 cases, the victim does not support (or withdraws support for) police action. This can be for a variety of reasons such as delays in the investigation, lack of support to the victim, or loss of victim confidence in the investigative process. The force is continuing its work on improving its investigative outcomes.
Our crime file review, conducted in late 2018, identified that the force fails to pursue justice appropriately when victims do not support a prosecution. The force acknowledges that it needs to do more in this area.
The force has improved officers’ understanding of evidence-led prosecutions. It has done this through training and raising awareness. We found examples of improved performance in this area. We also found that officers understand the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime and the importance of victim contact. But inconsistent recording practices mean that officers are not capturing victim updates on force systems in a way that the force can then analyse and understand them. Therefore, the force cannot be confident that investigators are updating victims appropriately in all cases.
There is little performance information available at the individual investigator level. Team-level information is also limited. This makes it difficult for the force to show that its investigations are prompt and effective, and secure the best outcomes for victims. However, victim feedback is largely positive, notably in areas such as telephone investigation, domestic abuse and hate crime.
The force’s approach to catching criminals and resolving investigations requires improvement.
The force has good processes for circulating wanted suspects on the PNC. It also has a daily accountability process at detective chief inspector (DCI) level.
The force has among the lowest numbers of wanted suspects who are registered on the PNC in England and Wales.
Neighbourhood beat profiles include details of offenders who have been arrested in the last 72 hours. These profiles also give intelligence updates about those who represent the greatest harm to the public. Officers and staff know who is wanted, and they pursue suspects diligently.
Either the investigating officer or local supervisor manages those suspects who are not shown as wanted on the PNC. The force cannot confidently report on the numbers of non-PNC suspects sought, nor the level of risk or vulnerability presented by this cohort.
The force has no consistent processes in place to make sure that it prioritises effectively those non-PNC suspects who represent the greatest risk to the public. And it is not collating this information force-wide. This additional information could give useful indicators in other areas. It could show whether, for example, the force is progressing higher-risk investigations expeditiously and whether it is effectively managing higher-risk suspects (such as perpetrators of rape and domestic abuse) in all areas. The absence of such data means that the force does not pursue such suspects as effectively as it should.
The force has an effective process for managing foreign national offenders. The crime system auto-populates the wanted foreign national referral process at the criminal records office. A member of staff in the force intelligence bureau (FIB) is responsible for this work. However, the process relies on officers entering the correct data during the custody booking-in process. The FIB’s single point of contact sometimes (but not always) takes corrective follow-up action.
The workforce has an appropriate level of awareness of foreign national offender arrangements.
The force has suitable governance and oversight in place. It uses pre-charge bail, primarily in higher-risk cases. However, officers reported a reluctance to apply for pre-charge bail or to seek the authority to extend bail, even for higher-risk cases. Instead, they preferred to use RUI legislation.
The force has yet to put in place performance arrangements to make sure that it complies with national guidelines on the use of bail and RUI. Performance arrangements would allow it to better manage investigations and supervisor reviews. It would help the force to meet both statutory and victim expectations. It would also improve the force’s own understanding of crime outcomes. The force has worked to raise awareness, and staff do understand bail legislation. The force has also developed processes to help it better manage RUI.
The force’s disclosure training mostly takes place through online training with the National Centre for Applied Learning Technologies (NCALT). Uptake is high. The force has also introduced a one-day disclosure training course. However, we found varying levels of understanding of disclosure. Supervisors lacked knowledge of the disclosure process. Criminal investigation department (CID) teams have few disclosure-trained officers. There is no central quality assurance to make sure that disclosure obligations have been effectively discharged. For officers, queries from the Crown Prosecution Service are the main source of feedback about disclosure shortcomings. This means that the force is unlikely to be complying fully with its disclosure obligations.
The force is reviewing its crime performance. It is seeking to remove barriers to better investigative outcomes. One such example is the improved use of the THRIVE risk-assessment tool in the control room. (THRIVE stands for threat, harm, risk, investigation opportunities, vulnerability of the victim and the engagement level required to resolve the issue.)
The force is aware of its investigation problems and is working to address them. It has appropriate governance in place to support these improvement activities.Summary for question 2
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Areas for improvement
- Improvements must be made to the quality of incident risk reassessments when deployment delays occur, so that safeguarding support can be prioritised. This action should be addressed promptly.
- The force should implement the necessary processes to share information with schools in relation to children affected by domestic abuse incidents, to ensure information is shared as quickly and effectively as possible.
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
The force uses the College of Policing’s definition of vulnerability. The force’s emphasis on vulnerability is clear and evident in both its latest strategic assessment and its control strategy. Chief officers promote awareness of vulnerability. The force’s vision is ‘Protecting people from harm’. Officers and staff showed a clear understanding of vulnerability. The force’s systems and processes reinforce this.
Officers gave several examples of working with local partners to proactively identify and safeguard vulnerable people. These included visits to schools, and businesses such as hotels, as well as speaking to taxi drivers and pub door staff to educate them about recognising the signs of vulnerability, exploitation and hidden harms.
Following our 2017 inspection, the force reviewed its approach to domestic abuse as part of a wider vulnerability improvement plan. The force holds frequent forums to review its progress against its strategic priorities, and to assign resources to them. These forums are known as tasking meetings. The force also analyses data to understand specific risks (such as hate crime, SOC, and child exploitation).
Partnership strategic assessments, and research funded by the police and crime commissioner (PCC), help the force to understand risk. However, the force is hindered in developing a comprehensive force-wide understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability by technical issues involving data retrieval.
Comprehensive beat profiles and effective partnership problem-solving activities go some way in enabling the force to address technical weaknesses. These approaches help the force to identify areas of greatest need, and to target problem-solving interventions accordingly.
Hidden harm, such as child sexual exploitation (CSE) and modern-day slavery and human trafficking (MSHT), feature in the force’s control strategy.
The force’s central multi-agency team works to identify potential victims of criminal or sexual exploitation. The force has hosted several partnership problem-solving events, promoting public and partner awareness of hidden harm. It has also identified and mapped its first modern-day slavery OCG.
Response and neighbourhood staff understand hidden harm, and actively look for signs. The force has given ‘look beyond the obvious’ training so that staff can identify hidden vulnerability. Officers can access a vulnerability handbook on their handheld mobile devices via the force’s intranet. The force is also giving ‘domestic abuse matters’ training to all. The force’s proactive team conducts patrols and works with neighbourhood officers in key areas to generate intelligence about county lines vulnerability.
Control room staff use the THRIVE model to identify vulnerable victims and manage risk. Staff are trained in its use. They can access prompts that the system gives for a range of higher-risk scenarios (such as incidents involving missing persons, firearms or mental health issues). Staff also make effective use of other police and intelligence systems to identify the main threats relating to each incident. Supervisors regularly review call and incident logs to check that all risks have been properly identified. Despite these measures, a recent audit by the force showed that only 49 percent of incidents had an adequate THRIVE assessment.
Although the force command and control system cannot automatically flag repeat and vulnerable victims, it can store a location-based marker to help identify them. This method is often used for repeat victims of domestic abuse, or where a potential threat to life exists. The force makes appropriate risk assessment and grading decisions.
Although control room staff do not work alongside mental health agencies, they can call a 24/7 advice line when dealing with people in crisis. But this can lead to delays, which means that officers spend excessive periods dealing with incidents that might be better resolved by mental health services. The force is introducing new methods later in 2019, as explained elsewhere in this report.
Responding to incidents
The force responds effectively to emergency incidents. And it carries out effective risk assessments. The force assesses callers’ needs based on the THRIVE model.
The force does not deal with domestic abuse incidents by telephone, but always aims to attend such reports in person. A review of incidents showed that not all callers had received an appropriate or timely response, potentially putting victims at risk of further harm. Some incidents that call handlers initially graded as needing a prompt response (priority 2) were not attended within agreed timescales. Supervisors’ incident log entries tended to explain the delay rather than reassess the risk.
In our 2017 inspection, we raised as an area for improvement the problem of risk reassessment when attendance delays occur. Our 2019 inspection found that this remains an area of weakness for Warwickshire Police. The force must take swift action to make sure that risk reassessments are consistent and effective, particularly for higher-risk incident types.
The force has worked to improve officers’ understanding of the importance of thoroughly risk-assessing reports of domestic abuse. Officers use domestic abuse, stalking and harassment (DASH) risk assessments to assist them with this process.
All DASH assessments are completed face to face. Supervisors review every DASH assessment. The controller cannot close any relevant control room incident until a DASH assessment has been completed. Harm assessment units (HAUs) use these risk assessments to share information with partners, such as schools and social services. HAUs report that the quality of completed assessments is good. Daily management meetings (DMMs) feature updates on any DASH assessments that are missing or that fall below the required standard. This focus has substantially improved quality. While some supervisors comply with these robust scrutiny requirements, others regarded the focus as a disproportionate use of their time. DASHs are completed for 95 percent of domestic-related crimes and incidents.
Some partners have adopted the DASH template for consistency with police processes.
HAUs carry out background checks on receipt of DASH forms. Cases involving children are referred to children’s (or education) services, to raise awareness that a child has been involved in a domestic abuse incident. The force is not, however, part of the Operation Encompass scheme. This is a scheme that facilitates the exchange of information between police and schools when a child may have been affected by domestic abuse, so that additional support can be provided. The CSE/missing persons team is co-located with children’s services partners. This makes referrals straightforward. High-risk domestic abuse cases are referred to the domestic abuse risk officer (DARO). The harm investigation team, staffed by PIP2-trained investigators (or those who are working towards PIP2 accreditation in line with the College of Policing guidelines), investigates most medium and high-risk domestic abuse crimes. The CID investigates those involving serious injury or sexual offences.
The force does not have a mental health triage arrangement in place at present. As a result, officers sometimes spend a lot of time managing the response to people experiencing mental ill health who might be better served by professionals from other sectors. The force is working with the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, clinical commissioning groups and the Warwickshire Cares: Better Together Board to implement a triage service. Since our inspection, the force has secured NHS Executive Board approval to implement an out-of-hours triage service. This will be introduced in August 2019.
Officers have a good knowledge and understanding of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act Code G 2012, which concerns statutory powers of arrest. The force DMM reinforces the need for positive action at domestic abuse incidents.
Since early 2018, the force has had a 12-point domestic abuse action plan in place.
Over a two-year period, the arrest rate has improved from 8 percent to 32 percent, and is now a little above the England and Wales rate, while the charge/summons rate has fallen to slightly below the England and Wales rate.
Despite this focus, we found domestic abuse cases that pre-dated the domestic abuse DMMs with limited progress made on them. The force should review older domestic abuse cases to make sure that officers are managing them effectively. The force cannot provide data on the use of voluntary attendance for suspect interviews.
The multi-agency harm hub oversees an integrated victim management approach. This approach co-ordinates effective police and partner support for people who have mental health needs. Safer neighbourhood teams have a good understanding of this process. This understanding avoids duplication of effort, and makes sure that effective, long-term safeguarding and preventative solutions are put in place. Beat profiles capture this activity, enabling good organisational awareness. However, there is no mental health representative within the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH). Officers also spoke of difficulty in engaging child mental health services. Officers report that the threshold at which mental health professionals will become engaged appears to be particularly high in Warwickshire.
Supporting vulnerable victims
Response officers manage standard and medium-risk domestic abuse investigations. They are also responsible for safeguarding. Safer neighbourhood teams visit medium-risk victims and advise them about available support. Response officers also check compliance with bail and other orders, and update risk management plans (RMPs). RMPs are effective.
The force takes what it calls an ‘integrated victim management’ approach to support the most vulnerable victims. This involves police working with (and co-ordinating the activity of) any relevant partners, such as housing, mental health services and charities. We found examples of this integrated approach offering co-ordinated partnership care to victims. Working with integrated victim management colleagues, the harm investigation team manages medium and high-risk investigations involving vulnerable people. The CID deals with those involving grievous bodily harm or sexual offences. The CID also safeguards victims (along with relevant victim support partners). Response teams carry out welfare checks on victims, too.
The force makes appropriate use of domestic violence protection notices (DVPNs) and domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs). It produces tasking plans for each type of order. Welfare checks are allocated through force briefings. The tasking plans include details of prohibitions, warnings and photographs.
A dedicated civil orders single point of contact presents applications and breaches at court. This helps to secure high success rates in court. Any new DVPN is alerted automatically through force systems to the single point of contact, and to supervisors and managers in the harm hub.
The force can readily report on the number of applications made. But it cannot confidently report on breaches. The social media campaign #SpaceToBreathe also raises awareness of some of the safeguards that are available to support victims of domestic abuse. The force has effective processes in place for the ‘right to ask’ and ‘right to know’ schemes, also known as Clare’s Law. The force has no processing backlogs.
Officers have a good understanding of pre-charge bail and RUI. But some officers report that the force’s management of bail and RUI is ineffective. Officers question the benefit of pre-charge bail when conditions are rarely checked and breaches have little consequence.
While the force aims to use pre-charge bail for all high-risk domestic abuse cases, this does not always happen. The force cannot report confidently on the levels of RUI, despite monthly custody sergeant follow-ups. Currently, it is reviewing all ‘live’ RUI cases.
The harm hub makes more consistent use of pre-charge bail to safeguard the highest-risk victims of domestic abuse. The length of time it takes to obtain a charging decision can, however, pose a challenge to continued bail extensions and enforcement.
The force has an effective county-wide MASH process. Although education, housing and mental health are not co-located, suitable arrangements are in place for joint discussions and decisions.
The HAU is the force’s contribution to the MASH. It was established two years ago and is now well integrated into the MASH. The HAU reviews all reports where vulnerability is a factor. It checks partner systems to make sure that all risks are identified and managed. DAROs are also based in the MASH. There are minimal backlogs and staff move flexibly between roles to manage changes in demand.
Some social care partners reported that too many single-agency social care visits take place. This is due to a lack of CID resources, even when thresholds are met. Staff have the skills for their roles and there is evidence of further professional skills development taking place too. All officers spend some time in the MASH to raise their awareness and understanding of the work in this area. MASH team members also give force-wide training and briefings.
ICT systems in the MASH allow for the tasking and sharing of information between partners. Every month, two multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs) take place (one in the north and one in the south of the county). MARACs bring together social care workers and other domestic abuse professionals to develop support programmes. The harm hub’s detective inspector chairs the MARACs. All high-risk domestic abuse cases (involving those who are at risk of serious harm or murder) are referred to the MARAC. The MARAC also reviews some standard and medium-risk cases, to prevent their escalation. The force is considering a daily video conference MARAC. This would give early and co-ordinated safeguarding support while a suspect is in custody and should lead to improved levels of victim engagement.
The force surveys a variety of victim groups, with a view to improving its services. Those surveyed include victims of domestic abuse, hate crime, violent crime, rape and burglary. Their experience is considered from initial call through the investigation to the criminal justice process. Surveys often highlight further issues experienced by victims, so that these can be tasked.
The alliance’s multi-agency strategic and tactical serious sex offences groups include a sexual assault referral centre, and health and independent advocates.
In June 2018, a victim satisfaction group was established by the force. This group carried out a victim survey to help improve victim services. A rape and serious sexual offences working group also looks for good practice and opportunities to improve services. There are, however, no formal feedback processes to which partner agencies can contribute. The force uses lessons learned to inform training and service changes. This leads to improvements in levels of victim satisfaction.
The force’s management of sex offenders is effective. The ratio of offenders to offender managers results in achievable caseloads. Offenders are risk assessed promptly using the active risk management (ARMS) risk-assessment process. Trained offender management officers schedule and conduct visits to offenders at regular intervals.
There is a backlog in the completion of ARMS risk assessments that are the responsibility of the probation service. This backlog consequently makes the risk assessments completed by the force less comprehensive than they could be. Offender managers are trained in risk assessment, managing sexual offenders and violent offenders, and investigation. The force’s offender managers carry an investigative workload involving cases where new images or other evidence have been discovered during their regular visits to registered sex offenders (RSOs). Neighbourhood officers can access information about RSOs through the force’s briefing system. During our inspection, they showed an appropriate awareness of RSOs in their areas.
The force is effective in its approach to identifying those who share indecent images of children online. It also shows a proactive approach to reducing this threat. It takes on other investigations that might appear to be low risk (because of the type of image), but which involve a high-risk individual (such as those with professional access to children).
The force has seen improved use of court and civil orders since setting up a civil interventions board. The ACC chairs the board. A review of cases shows that the force makes appropriate use of ancillary orders and other powers to protect the public.Summary for question 3
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that lead responsible officers (LROs) maintain up-to-date management plans for all active organised crime groups as part of a long-term, multi-agency approach to dismantling these groups. LROs should adopt a balanced approach across the ‘four Ps’ framework (pursue; prevent; protect; prepare), and they should have a good understanding of available tactics.
- The force should continue to improve its understanding of the impact of its work on serious and organised crime across the ‘four Ps’. It should also make sure that it learns from experience to maximise its disruptive effect on this criminal activity.
- The force should enhance its approach to the lifetime management of organised criminals to minimise the risks they pose to local communities. This approach should include routine consideration of ancillary orders, as well as the powers of other organisations, and other tools to deter organised criminals from continuing to offend.
Warwickshire Police has a good understanding of the threat posed by SOC. It uses the MoRiLE (management of risk in law enforcement) process every six months to assess the various types of organised crime as part of its strategic assessment cycle. The force’s intelligence requirement details the level of threat that is presented by different types of SOC.
SOC and county lines are recognised as force and community safety partnership priorities. Local and force tasking processes focus on control strategy priorities, intelligence gaps and newer areas of risk. These include MSHT, county lines, CSE and urban street gangs (USGs).
The force holds a daily threat identification meeting. At this meeting, officers review demand over the past 24 hours, consulting cross-border and regional intelligence units to fully understand threat, harm and risk.
The work of CSE and missing persons teams has considerable crossover with SOC, and the criminal exploitation of children. For example, the CSE team worked with hotels and B&Bs as part of the multi-agency ‘something’s not right’ campaign. This led to a hotel licence suspension, child abduction warning notices and other work to safeguard ‘at risk’ young people. The force also briefs community safety and other partners about newer threat areas, so they know what signs to look for.
In January 2019, the force published two updated SOC local profiles. Each profile outlines local problems and issues. While they include some local authority and other partnership data, the profiles note that some agencies are still reluctant to share data.
Community safety partners chair the SOCJAGs. These groups inform and use these profiles to help identify and manage OCGs. The groups also have action plans. When necessary, joint action group members put separate tactical partnership arrangements in place when a more rapid response is needed to a threat. The joint action groups’ plans and minutes reflect the fact that partners work well together. But the minutes too frequently state that ‘no information was received from partners’. All partners should commit to promptly addressing this weakness.
The force makes effective use of a range of sources to develop its understanding of threats. It reflects newer threats (such as cybercrime) in the control strategy and police and crime plan, and offers training and partnership work. But the force has no analytical capability for cyber-dependent crime.
The force carries out traditional intelligence collection and open source research. It uses communications data and shares intelligence with SOCJAG members. It co-locates its local intelligence units with neighbourhood teams. This facilitates the tasking and briefing of intelligence needs. The FIB is well connected with the regional organised crime unit (ROCU) and other surrounding forces. The force’s daily threat identification meeting includes the dedicated source unit. This way, decision makers know about daily intelligence needs. And they can effectively work with intelligence assets.
The force is involved in the county lines intelligence collection matrix. This is led by the National County Lines Coordination Centre, which profiles all active lines on a monthly basis. The force uses this information to map county lines and brief officers through tactical tasking and coordinating groups (TTCGs). The TTCGs provide a good forum for the force to maintain contact, and exchange relevant intelligence, with ROCU colleagues. The force has seconded an analyst into the regional organised crime threat assessment team, to help it better understand available intelligence. These arrangements help the force, and SOCJAG partners, to understand the threats posed by SOC.
The force has effective OCG management processes. The organised crime group management unit (OCGMU) reviews all active OCGs and instigates activity according to national guidelines. The unit acts as the point of contact with the regional organised crime threat assessment team. This team also approves the archiving of OCGs.
The force proactively identifies new OCGs, gangs and networks. This informs the force’s tasking process. The force promptly maps all OCGs. It has 16 mapped OCGs, which equates to 28.3 mapped OCGs per million population (April 2018 data). The force also records the impact of 5.3 USGs per million population (September 2018 data).
Unlike some forces, Warwickshire Police does not routinely count USGs within its OCG numbers. Most mapped OCGs are involved in drugs supply. Recently, the force mapped the first OCG linked to MSHT in the region. The number of OCGs that the force has mapped is lower than the rate across England and Wales (35 OCGs per million population). But the force manages the significant impact from OCGs that travel from other force areas, and that are involved in CSE, county lines and serious acquisitive crime (acquisitive crime involves an element of theft).
The force identifies its intelligence needs through organised crime group management (OCGM) meetings, and through force and local TTCG meetings. These needs are then tasked through line managers to local officers to action. The OCGMU gave good examples of the safer neighbourhood teams providing intelligence that helped the force to identify and tackle OCG activity. (For example, the teams’ identification of new groups led to mapping, operations and arrests.) Response officers also spoke of briefings about OCGs in their patrol areas, and of supervisors tasking them to get intelligence. Officers showed an awareness of the risks relating to SOC. And they gave us operational examples. This indicates that relevant local, regional and partner resources support efforts to tackle SOC.
The force is impacted by county lines from other policing areas (known as ‘imported’ lines). The National County Lines Coordination Centre’s monthly national reports on OCGs and county lines often refer to dated information. The FIB then has to contact other forces directly, to get the latest information on lines that affect Warwickshire.
The force has started to use the drug harm matrix to score county lines and identify gaps. In Warwickshire, there are 18 active lines, two of which are linked to USGs and two to OCGs. The ROCU reviews all high-threat groups. These processes help the force to better understand and tackle county lines.
Serious and organised crime prevention
The force works to prevent SOC, and to identify those who are at risk of being drawn into it. The PCC funds youth diversionary schemes, such as the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust programmes, to empower young people to lead more fulfilling lives. The force uses a matrix of indicators to identify those who would most benefit from such schemes. Safer neighbourhood team officers and other professionals can also nominate people for them.
The force runs operations with relevant partners, such as housing and social care, to protect vulnerable people who are at risk of cuckooing. (‘Cuckooing’ is the process of establishing a base from which to deal drugs, as part of county lines criminality. The base is established in the home of a vulnerable person or local drug users. Drug debt, threats and violence may be used as coercion.) These operations offer support, including substance misuse referrals.
The force works with partners, such as the youth offending team and Barnardo’s, to offer interventions and support to young people who are at risk of being drawn into SOC. Police schemes (including the cadets and the youth academy) also target young people who may be at risk. The force is introducing Operation Impression, a knife crime initiative, to all schools in Warwickshire.
The OCGMU has developed a database to capture all methods of diversionary activity, intervention and support. There are good examples of prevention activity across the force. The director of intelligence and problem-solving co-ordinators are exploring how to tailor prevention activities to address SOC risks in specific areas. This tailoring will enable the force to better understand the effectiveness of prevention activities and their impact on SOC.
The FIB works with the regional prison intelligence team to disrupt OCG members who are in prison. No OCG nominals are registered on the lifetime offender management scheme. But the alliance has one person on the programme and the LRO knows that nominations can be suggested for the scheme. The offender manager unit monitors the activity of SOC nominals, both in prison and upon release.
The OCG portal encourages LROs to consider a range of orders. But there is little evidence of LROs using orders to control SOC offenders. There are no serious crime prevention orders (SCPOs) or gang injunctions in force. However, there is evidence of their consideration, and the OCGMU was writing three SCPO applications at the time of our inspection. The force reports that SCPOs and gang injunctions are proving difficult to secure.
The force cannot give an overview of all the orders that it is using to prevent SOC. But it does have plans in place to develop a database of orders. This will incorporate organisational learning about what works.
The force regularly communicates with the public about SOC, as well as organised crime operations and county lines investigations. It communicates through traditional and social media, and community messaging. It has hosted partnership events to raise awareness of SOC and to develop a force brand, called ‘Protect’, to communicate key messages.
The force communicates with victims directly, or through schools, community groups and other forums. Its communications include coverage of days of action (high-profile operations involving enforcement and prevention activities), and the results of successful prosecutions. The force consults relevant partner agencies, such as community safety partners, on joint media strategies. It has publicised partnership use of closure orders in order to discourage others from involvement in organised crime. Such communications help the public to be vigilant, and to prevent SOC.
Disruption and investigation
The force’s disruption and investigation of SOC are effective. A shared ACC governs the alliance’s agenda on SOC. The alliance’s director of intelligence also provides support. The Warwickshire ACC contributes governance of local SOC activity.
The force has identified SOC as a control strategy priority. It has well-established strategic and tactical partnership arrangements in place. SOCJAGs have a partnership chair, although their work is still heavily police led. Nevertheless, these groups are active and well attended. They give good direction and oversight of partnership activity to tackle SOC.
The force is good at managing OCGs. The TTCG and OCGMU offer effective forums for the management of OCG threats. OCGs are prioritised and tasked through these forums using OCG scoring, MoRiLE assessment and professional judgment. County lines are prioritised using similar methods, together with assessment against the drugs harm matrix. The force contributes data to the national county lines intelligence collection process. From this, it creates a monthly county lines operational profile.
One LRO manages all the OCGs for the force, except those that are subject to investigation by the SOC unit. The LRO is the DCI who heads up both the offender management unit and proactive teams. The LRO is held to account by the senior responsible officer (SRO). This is the detective superintendent responsible for safeguarding, offender management and investigations.
Both officers inform the tasking, OCGM and DMM processes to ensure effective management of SOC issues. While there is potential for OCG demand to outstrip LRO capacity, support is available for the LRO from colleagues who can deputise in this role. Both the LRO and SRO are relatively new to their posts, and neither have had structured training. They have accessed development through the alliance’s director of intelligence, and from other forces and the ROCU. They have also attended alliance and partnership events. The LRO is responsible for managing effective four P plans, with support from other colleagues who are responsible for completing the actions detailed in the plan.
The whole workforce can access the alliance-wide OCGM intranet. This holds all relevant information about OCGs, including the ‘OCG on a page’ briefing document, ‘four P’ plans and intelligence. There is a standard template for ‘four P’ plans. The LRO assesses actions within the plans using a ‘red, amber, green’ colour scheme to show progress.
The consistency and quality of ‘four P’ plans varied across several Warwickshire OCGs. Several plans were not completed on the standard template. Nor were actions rated according to the colour scheme. This may indicate that a single LRO does not have enough capacity to meet the OCG demands facing Warwickshire Police.
Despite this, the investigation of OCGs is suitably varied and considers an appropriate range of tactical options. These range from covert ROCU-level capabilities to low-level problem solving and disruption.
The force is currently running one operation in collaboration with the ROCU. The more local aspects of the operation are being dealt with at neighbourhood policing and SOCJAG partnership level. The force has limited covert surveillance capability, and the threshold at which it can access more specialist ROCU support is very high. This may lead to some missed opportunities to collect covert intelligence. However, the allocation of finite force and regional resources to operations is decided at covert asset management meetings, according to the value of such tactics in any given operation. And the LRO knows how to access covert and overt tactical options.
The force uses financial investigation and intelligence to remove assets from OCGs. It actively identifies county lines risks and takes effective measures to reduce their impact on vulnerable people. Neighbourhood teams are also involved in managing county lines and OCGs. Threats to life feature as a priority in threat identification meetings and DMMs.
The force records disruptions using national guidelines. The OCGMU manages disruptions. Officers can tell the central team about disruptions by email and through the OCGM site. The force does not review intelligence or crime systems to identify activity linked to OCGs that may amount to disruptions so it may be missing some of these.
The force records 0.8 disruptions per OCG, which is one of the lowest rates in England and Wales. It scrutinises disruptions with the OCGM and the ROCU. It should be noted that both the ROCU and the SOC unit are claiming disruptions of Warwickshire OCGs that are being tackled by these units.
There is little evidence that the force analyses the impact of its activity on OCGs across the ‘four Ps’. Some learning is shared at a local level through the fortnightly SOC and LRO meeting, the OCGMU and the TTCG. But the force has no central repository in which to record what works, or to capture corporate learning. However, the force refreshes MoRiLE scoring after operational activity, so that it can reassess and reprioritise threat.
The LRO plans to develop a database of what works as part of the repository for SOC orders. Recently, the force recruited a new lead for organisational learning who will guide the force in the development of a range of learning opportunities. These will include lessons learned from what works in tackling SOC.Summary for question 5
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Response to threats
Warwickshire Police operates joint arrangements with West Mercia Police to provide armed policing as part of the strategic alliance. These arrangements are likely to terminate when the alliance between the two forces comes to an end.
The force has an adequate understanding of the potential harm facing the public. The force’s APSTRA, which is currently jointly compiled with West Mercia Police, 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.
However, we identified an area last year where the APSTRA could be improved. The assessment does not include an analysis of how quickly armed response vehicles (ARVs) respond to armed incidents. This is important to determine because it provides an indication of whether or not the force has sufficient armed officers to meet operational demands. It is disappointing that the force’s APSTRA still doesn’t contain this information. It is a shortcoming that we expect the force to address.
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 Warwickshire are attended by officers trained to ARV standard. However, incidents sometimes occur that require the skills and specialist capabilities of more highly trained officers. We found that Warwickshire Police currently has good arrangements in place to mobilise specialist officers should their skills be required. On these occasions, the force is reliant on its current and effective collaboration arrangements with West Mercia Police to provide this capability. Additional support can also be drawn upon from the regional counter-terrorist unit. It is now working to develop alternative arrangements for the future.
Understanding of demand
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 current arrangements in place with West Mercia Police mean that the standards of training, armed deployments and command of armed operations are consistent in both forces. Armed officers can deploy rapidly and effectively in both forces. However, the existing arrangements are due to end with the termination of the strategic alliance. The force must ensure that it has sufficient armed policing capabilities, ARV officers and access to specialist officers to meet the threats set out in the APSTRA. It is essential that future plans continue to adequately safeguard the public from firearms threats. The force is revising its APSTRA to make an accurate assessment of its future requirements. This includes how best to work with other forces in the region, and the counter-terrorist unit, in the future. We will monitor this carefully.
Our inspection also examined how well prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in Warwickshire Police are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. Also, Warwickshire 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 Warwickshire Police reviews the outcome of all firearms incidents that officers attend. This helps ensure that best practice or areas for improvement are identified. Additionally, this knowledge is used to improve training and operational procedures.
It is important that, at the start of each shift, ARV officers are provided with up-to-date information that is relevant to their role. They can then have a positive effect in disrupting the activity of OCGs and other armed criminals. We found that, on most occasions, ARV officers are provided with up-to-date information enabling them to use their patrols to good effect.Summary for question 5