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West Yorkshire PEEL 2018

Effectiveness

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

Last updated 21/01/2020
Good

Force x is

Force x is

Questions for Effectiveness

1

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

Good

This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2017 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.

2

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

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that supervisors are equipped with the necessary skills needed for effective supervision of investigations and that there is sufficient capacity within the sergeant rank for intrusive supervision to take place.
  • The force should ensure that all evidence is retrieved at the first opportunity and initial statements are completed to a high quality to maximise the likelihood of investigations being conducted successfully.
  • The force should improve its ability to retrieve digital evidence from mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices quickly enough to ensure that investigations are not delayed.
  • The force should take steps to understand its investigation outcome data and to ensure that it is pursing justice on behalf of victims of crime.

Cause of concern

The capacity and capability for West Yorkshire Police to effectively deal with investigations involving vulnerability is a cause of concern.

Recommendations

  • The force should review its capacity and capability across the five district safeguarding units and ensure that workloads are manageable and aligned to demand and risk. It should also ensure that adequate welfare and support is available for the officers and staff working within them.
  • The force should ensure that officers and staff have appropriate professional skills and experience to investigate complex cases involving vulnerable victims and that these are supervised effectively.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of performance in this area.

Investigation quality

Improvements are needed to make sure that West Yorkshire Police has the right structures in place to meet investigative demand. Under capacity in detective capability is having a negative effect on the effectiveness of investigations, particularly those involving specialist safeguarding. This problem is not exclusive to West Yorkshire Police. 

We acknowledge the force’s work to increase its investigative capacity and capability (for specialist safeguarding) in the medium and longer term. The force has established a detective working group that is successfully using initiatives such as:

  • direct entry investigators – officers who directly enter the police to become a detective as opposed to the traditional route of being a constable first;
  • developing a comprehensive detective career pathway to improve the force’s skill base; and
  • reviewing recruitment, retention and wellbeing.

Nevertheless, detective and investigative resilience and capacity are flagged in red on the force’s strategic risk register.

Not enough officers are trained and have the necessary experience to lead and manage high-risk investigations. (Principally those involving serious sexual offences and child protection.)

In some district safeguarding units the majority of officers at constable rank were not detective accredited under the Professionalising Investigation Programme level 2. They didn’t all have specialist training – such as the serious sexual offences training and specialist child abuse investigator development programme (SCAIDP) – and were lacking experience.

Inexperienced officers need more support. For example, tutors should be available to support trainee investigators in their initial crime investigator development programme (ICIDP) accreditation. And supervisors should have the skills to make sure investigations meet standards, particularly when there is a safeguarding aspect, or they are dealing with vulnerability. This is having a negative effect – many supervisors spoke of high workloads which carried significant risk and long working hours without managerial or peer support.

The capacity and capability of patrol sergeants affects the quality and timeliness of investigations and supervisors. Supervisors told us about the high workload that comes with supporting newly qualified officers and their teams in day-to-day activities.

West Yorkshire Police may wish to review its training to sergeant rank, particularly patrol sergeants, to upskill and increase its capacity. Additionally, it could do more to allocate crimes involving vulnerable people to staff with appropriate skills and training. This was highlighted in the last two effectiveness inspections.

The force has five district safeguarding units aligned to the five local authority areas in West Yorkshire. More work is needed to understand the level of demand and risk in each, as specified in the cause of concern in our 2017 effectiveness report. A review would help the force:

  • make sure workloads are manageable;
  • align capacity and capability to demand and risk;
  • provide adequate welfare and support for officers and staff; and
  • establish effective working practices across different teams and departments.

The force uses THRIVE to assess calls for service and incidents, and to make sure the most appropriate teams are assigned to investigate crimes and respond to the needs of the victim. It has produced a policy document that covers all aspects of crime allocation and management that includes:

  • call handling and deploying resources;
  • initial investigation;
  • crime management; and
  • investigations plans.

The policy determines which crimes can be dealt with by resolution without deployment, over the telephone. It includes THRIVE, the national decision model (NDM) and solvability as factors that influence the decision to refer a case to the force crime management unit (the team that deals with telephone resolution).

West Yorkshire Police has one of the highest levels of telephone resolution in England and Wales – almost 50 percent of incidents were dealt with on the phone/in the station in 2018/19. In most instances, we found telephone investigations were used appropriately to resolve non-emergency incidents. They provide a good quality of service that leads to satisfactory outcomes for victims.

We are impressed by the improved quality of investigations since our last inspection in 2017. Our initial crime file review found there was ‘effective supervision’ in 44 out of the 66 cases where supervision was required. Since then, the force has improved the supervision and overall quality of investigations with:

  • Mastertask, an IT system that allocates, tasks and monitors the completion of actions for each investigation to improve crime management processes;
  • ‘we are all investigators’ training for officers and supervisors; and
  • better use of its performance framework – which gives an overview of the force and its accountability and can go down to district, team and individual level – to improve scrutiny and governance.

Our 2016 and 2017 effectiveness reports for West Yorkshire Police highlighted concerns about the quality of initial enquiries and handover of work between teams. Although we found the quality of handovers had improved, further improvements are needed.

The force introduced a handover policy and key investigative summary in May 2018. They highlight officers’ roles and responsibilities and outline what ‘first responder’ officers need to complete before handing an investigation over to the criminal investigation department (CID).

Officers’ feedback to us was that they aren’t generally allowed the time they need to carry out initial enquiries before they leave a crime scene and are deployed to the next incident. Initial enquiries include such tasks as taking statements from injured parties and witnesses. Officers will also make standard enquiries – for example, canvassing witnesses in an area house-to-house, reviewing CCTV and preserving scenes.

Statement quality seems to have deteriorated since the last inspection. Officers need more training to improve the basic skill of taking a statement from a witness or victim. Poor statements affect the quality of the subsequent investigation. They also adversely affect victims and their engagement, where statements need to be retaken due to poor quality and lack of detail.

The force provides a good service to victims of crime – our file review found there had been good victim care in 71 out of 90 cases. It has processes in place and good supervision to keep victims up-to-date on the progress of investigations. This is seen to be important. It was a focus for all the officers we spoke to during the inspection.

There had recently been a series of communications – in a variety of media including the intranet and internal blogs – to reinforce the importance of updating the victim and victim contact. The programme included ‘reflector’ workshops where victims of crime described their expectations in detail. Investigators also spoke about their experiences to create a ‘lessons learnt’ and service improvement training tool with officers and staff.

Supervisors receive monthly data that shows when victims are due an update on the progress of their crime. However, this is affected by sergeant capacity and capability due to workload pressure – some of the sergeants we spoke to didn’t feel they had the opportunity to effectively dip sample victim contact, statement quality and crime files for the officers they supervise.

The processing and examination of mobile phones and other digital devices was a recurring theme in our inspection. Some officers quoted turnaround times of up to 12 months. In many cases, changes to bail in the Policing and Crime Act 2017 mean that suspects have been/are released under investigation ‘pending forensic examination of digital devices’. This leads to delays and protracted investigations, which undermines victims’ confidence and can cause them to disengage with an investigation.

The force is currently reviewing demand in this area. It has increased its capacity by 18 staff and is reviewing processes to increase efficiency. It has also gained accreditation to ISO 17025, an international standard for testing and calibration laboratories, to make sure the forensic unit operates quality management systems and is technically competent. This is a higher standard than some other forces.

Nevertheless, the force should further improve its ability to retrieve digital evidence from mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices quickly enough to prevent delays to investigations.

Catching criminals

West Yorkshire Police has improved its policy and process for circulating and managing offenders on the Police National Computer (PNC). This has reduced the number of circulations and outstanding suspects. 

The force recently developed a ‘wanted persons’ application. It combines a range of data/information including:

  • those who fail to appear on police bail;
  • named and outstanding suspects;
  • suspects released under investigation but wanted for further enquiries;
  • suspects identified through forensic evidence; and
  • wanted suspects to related crimes.

The application reviews the data and generates a weighted score for every suspect, linked to the crime severity index. The scores are updated every hour. The information is readily available to officers and supervisors, and feeds into briefing meetings for the tasking of officers. Information can be filtered by offence, score and district.

The wanted persons application aims to:

  • make sure information is circulated in a timely fashion; and
  • focus officers’ time and energy on the right people and those causing most harm.

The monitoring of wanted persons and those released under investigation is reported to the chief officer team on a weekly basis. And the management of outstanding suspects is embedded in the force’s daily management processes, as well as its performance management framework.

Additionally, the application is driving activity within the districts to identify offenders who pose the greatest risk. Neighbourhood team officers have a proactive approach to tracing wanted offenders – they are briefed daily on their role in obtaining intelligence regarding those who are wanted.

The force has improved its relationship with immigration enforcement since our last inspection. It has also made process improvements in relation to:

The process for informing immigration about the arrest of a foreign national offender starts when the offender has been arrested and is in custody.

The force has a good working relationship with the immigration service at tactical and strategic levels – from immigration officers in custody suites to the chief immigration officer. For example, it is working with an immigration officer in Bradford to share intelligence and target wanted foreign nationals.

We found that West Yorkshire Police effectively:

  • monitors all the wanted foreign national offenders, working with the immigration service to locate and trace them;
  • completes ACRO submissions on a regular basis (where appropriate); and
  • works with the immigration service to promptly circulate on the PNC the details of offenders who have committed immigration offences.

The force recently reviewed its approach to managing and monitoring pre and post-charge bail, and suspects released under investigation. At the time of the inspection it didn’t have a standard policy or guidelines on bail in place.

A new bail policy has been drafted but not implemented. It will include:

  • greater responsibilities for custody inspectors for the authorisation of suspects released under investigation;
  • weekly monitoring of suspects released under investigation;
  • greater scrutiny and accountability at team and inspector level; and
  • improved monitoring of approved police bail.

Although staff and officers have had some training on the changes brought in by the Police and Crime Act 2017 regarding bail, it could have been more effective.

We understand that the force is implementing a new governance structure (that is, a regular meeting schedule). It aims to improve performance with data sets that let staff and officers see:

  • suspects released under investigation;
  • pre and post charge bail;
  • management of investigations
  • vulnerability checks;
  • evidential difficulties; and
  • Crown Prosecution Service charging issues.

The meetings will be chaired by the assistant chief constable for specialist policing and attended by all district commanders. In addition to performance improvement, it is hoped increased governance will put outcomes for victims at the front of the decision-making process.

The force is rolling out basic disclosure training, which is mandatory, to all frontline officers and staff. There was a 43 percent completion rate at the end of April 2019.

Officers’ awareness of the initiative was poor, despite the presence of disclosure champions. Their awareness of disclosure material on the force intranet was also poor. It contains extensive guidance including:

  • disclosure memory aids;
  • disclosure guidance on communications evidence;
  • a third-party disclosure policy;
  • social media guide to the retrieval of data;
  • disclosure of intelligence; and
  • redacting documents.

Further training is needed to make sure officers and staff understand disclosure rules and how they apply to their investigations or know where to access help and advice.

From April 2018 to March 2019, 17 percent of outcomes were classed outcome 16 (where there are evidential difficulties with the crime and the victim did not support police action), which is similar to the England and Wales rate.

For the same period, the force had a considerably larger proportion of investigations where the outcome had not yet been assigned (15 percent compared with the England and Wales rate of 8 percent). It had a larger proportion of investigations assigned outcome 15 (where there are evidential difficulties with the crime, but the suspect has been identified and the victim supports action), which is higher than the England and Wales rate – 13 percent compared with 9 percent.

These outcome rates may highlight a problem with file quality and the overall quality of investigation. The force must do further work to understand why it is an outlier for these outcomes and the effect it may be having on pursuing justice on behalf of victims of crime.

Summary for question 2
3

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

Good

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of performance in this area.

Understanding and identifying vulnerability

West Yorkshire Police has a clear definition of vulnerability, which is based on the College of Policing’s definition. Its policies provide unambiguous guidance and direction for safeguarding children, young people and adults. ‘Protecting the vulnerable’ is clearly explained in ‘the plan on a page’. It is one of the force’s five priorities. They are universally understood throughout the force.

Overall, officers and staff show a good understanding of vulnerability. Supervisors and chief officers have promoted its importance, understanding and how to identify it with regular training and communication.

The force has produced a safeguarding induction pack designed to be a ‘one stop’ document containing all the guidance officers and staff need to:

  • recognise vulnerability;
  • provide safeguarding; and
  • carry out an effective investigation while supporting a vulnerable victim.

The pack includes definitions of offences and crime types, recording standards, partner agencies that provide safeguarding support, minimum standards for investigation and victim support. It also covers a range of offences such as rape and serious sexual offences, child sexual exploitation, honour-based abuse, female genital mutilation, stalking and harassment, and missing persons.

The force is working to understand the nature and scale of vulnerability it faces through the force strategic threat and risk assessment (STRA) and the force management statement (FMS). It also uses partnership data and information such as:

  • data from health services to better understand mental health;
  • local authority information on looked after children to enhance the picture on children missing from homes; and
  • data from the probation service on sexual and violent offenders.

The force STRA uses MoRiLE scoring to identify which threats pose the greatest risk. As a result, the force has identified three themes to prioritise activity:

  1. vulnerability;
  2. crime; and
  3. organised crime.

The assessment of vulnerability contains detailed analysis to target activity based on threat, harm and risk in the following areas:

  • child sexual exploitation;
  • criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults; and
  • domestic abuse.

The force has developed strategic plans to promote vulnerability and safeguarding activity for these three areas. The plans focus on knowledge and intelligence gaps; the demand pressures outlined in the FMS; and performance indicators and outcomes. They are managed through the force’s governance structure, through the strategic safeguarding board chaired by the assistant chief officer for district policing.

The force works closely with partners to understand community threats and risk. It is good at sharing information about the nature and scale of vulnerability when it has been identified. It uses the FMS to consider complex and hidden crime demandin detail. It has used statistical projection, professional judgment and environmental scanning to make demand projections for the next four years. This influences strategic planning on:

  • training and development;
  • workforce planning and staff profiling;
  • informing the intelligence picture/gaps in crime types such as domestic abuse, modern slavery and human trafficking; and
  • the criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults.

Responding to incidents

The force’s initial response to incidents involving vulnerable people, particularly victims of domestic abuse, is generally good. The THRIVE process is well embedded – we found that call handlers had a comprehensive understanding of its principles. They were applying them to assess the level of harm individuals faced, making sound decisions and taking the right course of action to support callers.

The force’s command and control system can place flags on repeat callers and repeat locations. It can also place markers (in relation to vulnerability) against incidents linked to domestic abuse, mental health, vulnerable adults or children at risk of child sexual exploitation. The force uses this to highlight to officers responding to incidents where vulnerability is involved so they are aware of the specific risks or vulnerabilities.

Additionally, an allocation flow chart has been developed for domestic abuse cases to make sure the appropriate resource is deployed. It considers risk factors, the complexity of the investigation and vulnerability of the victim.

All frontline staff and officers undergo safeguarding training as part of a rolling programme of training and communication. It includes:

  • guidance on immediate safeguarding actions at the scene when dealing with an incident that involves significant vulnerability;
  • ‘through the eyes of a child’ – directing officers attending domestic abuse incidents to consider what life is like for the child in that environment; and
  • how to make referrals to external agencies for victim support.

We witnessed call handlers promptly identify victims’ vulnerability at the first point of contact using THRIVE and the NDM. They gave appropriate advice on keeping victims safe and preserving evidence for potential forensic opportunities. And they could explain the rationale behind the incident grading process in terms that callers understood, helping to manage expectations. Risk is routinely re-assessed within the customer contact centre in cases where the response was delayed. These incidents are subject to a further THRIVE assessment and in cases of domestic abuse will be reviewed by the supervisor to ensure risk and harm are appropriately managed and assessed.

The information recorded by call handlers was accurate, when compared with the information provided by the caller, in the files we reviewed. The assessment of incident grading was found to be appropriate in all but one case from the 90 incidents reviewed.

Officers use a DASH form in their initial response to domestic abuse cases, and the national risk assessment matrix for missing persons reports.

The DASH form is completed using a handheld device. It gives officers step-by-step guidance. When complete, it is automatically sent to the supervisor for review and quality assurance. Medium and high-risk DASH assessments receive further scrutiny through the multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASHs), where they are examined within 24 hours. Standard assessments are reviewed within the safeguarding units.

West Yorkshire Police shows a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability due to mental health, which it has developed in conjunction with
partner organisations.

The force has a definition of ‘mental health crisis’. It gathers information and data on mental health problems from sources including:

  • mental health flags on the command and control system;
  • missing persons who have a mental health qualifier;
  • detainees in custody who have a mental health qualifier;
  • mental health data on DASH reports; and
  • suicide data.

This gives the force a comprehensive understanding of the nature and breadth of incidents involving mental health crisis it deals with.

The force’s mental health policy details its response to such incidents. It aims to give officers clear guidance and direction, including:

  • helping officers and staff recognise mental ill health and learning disabilities so they can respond appropriately and treat people with mental ill health and learning disabilities with dignity and respect;
  • providing guidance to officers and staff on how to deal with individuals who have mental ill health or learning disabilities;
  • explaining how they should communicate, question or interview individuals who have mental ill health or learning disabilities, so they are achieving best evidence; and
  • providing information on the force’s protocols with mental healthcare trusts. 

Wakefield district hosts a monthly high-intensity user forum which is attended by Yorkshire Ambulance Service, mental health services, liaison and diversion health services, and West Yorkshire Police. Vulnerable individuals who frequently present to the police are identified and reviewed. Forum attendees create joint, bespoke plans on how these individuals can be supported. The forum has resulted in better working relationships between services, and a better understanding of people in mental health crisis and the demand on service provision.

Partners and the police feel that this initiative provides enhanced arrangements for a more effective service to support people with mental health conditions.

The level of support officers get from mental health practitioners varies from district to district. All districts have a 24-hour ‘single point of access’ number for the police to call for information and advice. And mental health hub nurses are co-located at some police stations at peak demand time.

Some districts have street triage teams. Bradford district is running a pilot with the NHS trust to train some nurses as special constables who can also provide a mental health triage service.

The force has made some limited, district-specific evaluations on mental health triage services but has yet to carry out a force-wide evaluation. It has submitted a bid to the N8 Policing Research Partnership, a consortium of forces and academic researchers for this comprehensive evaluation.

Officers and staff in the customer contact centre have a good understanding of the importance of taking immediate action (where necessary) to protect those with mental health conditions. Extensive training has been given to staff and officers including:

  • a mental health e-learning package; and
  • bespoke training for dealing with crisis situations, such as acute behavioural disturbance.

Body-worn video has been in place for several years. It is mainly used to respond to incidents involving domestic abuse and vulnerability, particularly when collecting evidence ‘through the eyes of a child’.

Voluntary attendance is regularly used as an alternative to arrest. There are several voluntary attendance suites throughout the force. However, the fact that they are remote from custody presents problems – for example, when completing biometrics and obtaining charging advice.

Staff we spoke to were confident using voluntary attendance and had received training on it and when appropriate. Its use is monitored by the force.

The information we reviewed demonstrates the force makes correct use of its powers of arrest to protect vulnerable victims and witnesses, particularly in domestic abuse cases. 

Supporting vulnerable victims

Neighbourhood policing teams are closely involved with the continuing safeguarding of vulnerable victims. This is part of a focus on vulnerability throughout West Yorkshire Police. We found they have a good understanding of local vulnerability. They could provide details of vulnerable adults, children at risk of child sexual exploitation, high-risk victims of domestic abuse and high-risk domestic abuse offenders.

Neighbourhood policing teams will use tactics such as cocooning (a tactic to protect victims that involves visiting houses near the victim’s address to gather further intelligence, identify witnesses and offer crime reduction advice and reassurance) to safeguard victims of domestic abuse.

In cases where prosecution is not possible or practical, West Yorkshire Police makes use of alternative legislation and powers to protect vulnerable victims. This includes domestic violence prevention notices and orders (DVPNs and DVPOs).

The force has taken a proactive approach to the issue of DVPOs, working with the supervisor from the DVPO team to review custody records and identify cases that may be suitable for consideration of an order. Where this is the case, the supervisor contacts the relevant officer in the case to discuss options. The DVPO team has the role of raising awareness and encouraging appropriate use of DVPOs in the force more generally by visiting the districts’ domestic abuse teams. The focus is on using DVPOs properly and where required, rather than just looking at volume.

The force produces performance data down to district level that provides details of DVPN applications, including unsuccessful ones. (All applications are submitted to a detective inspector before seeking approval from a superintendent.) Additionally, the force monitors DVPO breaches.

During 2018, the force DVPO team had 204 DVPOs granted and five not granted at court. This represents a 98 percent success rate.

The force has invested in a dedicated DVPO team, based in Leeds, who will build the cases and present them to the district judge. This has improved quality and professionalism of submissions.

The follow-up to a DVPO is provided by referral to independent domestic violence advocate (IDVA) services and signposting to local authority and other agency support. The integrated offender management team develops an offender management plan and the neighbourhood policing team is tasked with monitoring the victim (through local contact and visits). If the offender breaches the plan, the most appropriate resource at the time will respond. That could be a neighbourhood policing officer, patrol or CID.

West Yorkshire Police has a clear policy for Clare’s Law enquiries. It has taken steps to raise awareness of Clare’s Law internally and externally. 

In January 2019 the force launched a local media campaign to encourage the ‘right to ask’ which resulted in a rise in the number of applications. This was supplemented by an internal information campaign to raise awareness of legislation and police responsibilities. The campaigns also contributed to a rise in the number of ‘right to know’ notifications, which have also been generated via the MARAC process.

  • Currently the force has 0.11 ‘right to ask’ applications per 1,000 population, which is in line with the England and Wales rate of 0.11 per 1,000 population.
  • Currently the force has 0.23 ‘right to know’ applications per 1,000 population, which is higher than the England and Wales rate of 0.14 per 1,000 population.

The force and its partners show a clear commitment to protect potential domestic abuse victims and their children through Clare’s Law. We found evidence of the most appropriate agency proactively disclosing information in the MASH.

West Yorkshire Police has clear processes to manage pre-charge bail in domestic abuse cases and safeguard victims. While the force is unable to provide specific data on pre-charge bail in domestic abuse cases, its use of pre-charge bail has increased over the last year.

There is an acceptance within safeguarding teams that the criminal justice route is not always the most suitable for incidents involving domestic abuse, but conditional bail is used when vulnerability requires it. The use of pre-charge bail is subject to review by the audit team. They can then amend records for ‘released under investigation’ if necessary, to ensure all safeguarding is in place, with accountability through the strategic safeguarding group.

The safeguarding arrangements for offenders are reviewed, with a formal risk assessment, before offenders are released from custody. Signposting them to agencies and partners for help and support also happens prior to their release.

West Yorkshire Police shows a positive commitment to working with a range of partner organisations to protect vulnerable people. We saw and heard many examples of the force working in collaboration with others, including the five MASHs. In general, the partners we spoke to expressed confidence and trust in the force. The structure of each district MASH lets partner agencies share information in a timely fashion when a child or adult is at risk.

A good example of partnership working is the multi-agency child exploitation meeting in Kirklees district. The meeting covers child criminal exploitation and child sexual exploitation. It lets partners escalate concerns from other agencies. The process considers the top ten victims, offenders and locations, developing problem-solving plans to manage and resolve the behaviours and circumstances that contribute to offending, along with a dedicated police officer within the child sexual exploitation team. The meeting occurs every six weeks.

The force has a good approach to the MARAC process with established systems and processes, and effective partner engagement and action. The MARACs operate from the five local authority areas. Each has a slightly different way of operating, based on demand.

MARAC meetings are attended by agencies including children’s services, adult social services, IDVA services, substance misuse support, offender support, probation and mental health services. The agenda includes:

  • all high-risk cases;
  • medium-risk cases where there have been six incidents within a 12-month rolling period or four incidents within a calendar month (classified as a rapid repeat); and
  • referrals from the police and other agencies including social services, and health and education.

We found a disproportionately high number of domestic abuse reports are flagged as medium risk in West Yorkshire. The number of cases discussed at MARAC meetings (66 per 10,000 adult females) is one of the highest in England and Wales. (The range for England and Wales is from 6 to 69 cases discussed per 10,000 adult females). This concerns us. However, we acknowledge the continuing work and reviews with partners to improve triage and decision making, and more effectively manage them.

All five districts have introduced daily MARAC or daily risk assessment meetings to address the level of risk and volume. The strong partnership arrangements in each of the meetings have improved the force’s capacity to deal with the increased volume of medium-risk cases and its capability to identify high-risk cases.

The daily risk assessment meeting in Leeds is impressive for:

  • the quality of information shared;
  • attendance;
  • shared ownership across all agencies with a lead appointed for each case; and
  • meaningful actions tailored to each case. For example, making sure all relevant parties are aware of a situation and good practice in informing GPs (by letter) that a victim is subject to abuse.

The meeting also benefits from excellent information from housing, rotating the chair role and a dedicated presence from probation.

West Yorkshire Police pays great attention to victim satisfaction rates for domestic abuse offences. It uses an independent company to survey victims of domestic abuse. Overall satisfaction ratings were reported at 84.4 percent in the 12 months to April 2019, with satisfaction for treatment reaching 92 percent. The force responds quickly to victims (where possible) when issues have become apparent in the survey.

It has worked on raising officer and staff awareness of victim care, as well as feedback on the ‘quality of service’ received by victims. For example, screen savers show victims’ comments on their experience of West Yorkshire Police. They are also included in a training package on the force intranet.

The force also takes part in the national victim satisfaction group – attended by over 30 forces – where good practice and learning are shared.

Kirklees district domestic abuse team includes a domestic violence support worker to make sure victims are appropriately supported through the criminal justice process. They offer the victims extra support, which can help reduce attrition rates. They also share knowledge, learning and understanding of the issues victims face with officers to help them adapt their approach to suit the victims’ needs.

The force recently introduced a domestic abuse IDVA car in Kirklees district. A specialist officer from the domestic abuse team partners with someone from the IDVA service (rather than general patrol staff) in the vehicle. This approach means:

  • the victim receives appropriate support; and
  • a specialist investigator can be first on scene to help secure and preserve evidence and direct early arrest enquiries.

Kirklees district recently started working with a specialist agency to provide specific support for men who suffer abuse.

The force’s protecting vulnerable people plan identifies four areas for improvement for managing registered sex offenders (RSOs):

  1. embed the active risk management (ARMS) process to ensure RSOs are effectively managed in line with national guidance;
  2. ensure that where eligible, appropriate use is made of ‘reactive management’ so public protection staff can focus on those posing the greatest risk;
  3. introduce the use of triage tools to improve the monitoring of RSO online activity; and
  4. introduce remote monitoring capability to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of monitoring RSO online activity.

West Yorkshire Police is currently managing 2,898 RSOs. The force is working with the probation service, the integrated offender management team and the prison service to develop effective release plans for these offenders.

The force has enough capacity and capability to deal with demand within the management of sexual offenders or violent offenders unit. Its medium-term financial plan (MTFP) plans to provide funding for ten additional staff.

Of the 2,898 RSOs:

  • 87 are classed as very high risk;
  • 429 high risk;
  • 1,142 medium risk;
  • 1,113 low risk; and
  • 127 reactive management.

The force has not moved away from dealing with reactive management cases for lower risk offenders. While they do not receive home visits, these offenders are monitored and subject to annual notification requirements at a local police station. (They are required to go to a police station once a year for the force to re-evaluate the risk they pose and to inform the force of any changes in circumstances.) Any intelligence or change to their circumstances triggers a review of the risk assessment. This can result in an increase to their risk level, or the reintroduction of home visits.

The multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) and MAPPA strategic management board oversee the management of sexual offenders and violent offenders. The head of unit attends a quarterly meeting and produces a quarterly performance report. The force uses the standard ARMS and RM2K risk assessment models.

As of April 2019, there were five police assessments and 66 Probation Service assessments outstanding for lower risk offenders. This is an improvement on the previous quarter. The performance trajectory for the previous 12 months also shows improvement. The force is contacting lower risk offenders where an assessment has not yet been completed. The potential level of risk is considered as part of a prioritisation process.

The force has a 95 percent compliance rate for risk assessments. This performance indicator is a standing agenda item on the strategic management board. Monitoring has moved away from a focus on visits to a more bespoke approach involving integrated offender management and specific action plans.

West Yorkshire Police has the capability and capacity to proactively identify and deal with offenders sharing indecent images of children. The abusive images assessment hub (AIAH) was introduced in January 2016. It sits within the force’s intelligence portfolio, protective service crime.

The AIAH records, risk assesses and researches indecent images and movies of children referred into the force from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) command, which is part of the National Crime Agency. All intelligence packages created by the AIAH are allocated to the five geographic districts. They all have dedicated police online investigation teams (POLITs) apart from Kirklees. Their POLITs are responsible for progressing any investigations, including executing the warrant, arresting the suspect and building the file.

The safeguarding team does this in Kirklees district, where there is no POLIT. The force may wish to review this arrangement to make sure that high-risk investigations of this nature are dealt with in a timely fashion, with the appropriate skill set.

West Yorkshire Police routinely uses preventive ancillary orders for dangerous offenders. There are currently in place within West Yorkshire:

The force accepts that better use could be made of sexual risk orders. It has started a pilot with two new civil order clerk posts attached to the violent and sex offender register (ViSOR) unit. They will build cases and present all civil order applications to court in conjunction with legal services. Monitoring these orders is part of the daily management meeting process in each district. 

We are impressed by the awareness neighbourhood officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) have of vulnerable people and offenders in their area. We are also impressed by the proactive involvement that neighbourhood teams have in safeguarding vulnerable victims and offender management.

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

The force has an adequate 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.

There is one area where the APSTRA could be improved:

  • It could include details of how rapidly armed response vehicles (ARVs) respond to incidents. This is important to determine whether the force has enough armed officers to meet operational demands.

The force had not published its own APSTRA and was reliant on an assessment of threats and risks affecting some other forces in the region. This has now been rectified. 

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 West Yorkshire Police are attended by officers trained to an ARV standard. However, incidents sometimes occur that require the skills and specialist capabilities of more highly trained officers.

As a consequence of the terrorist threat, West Yorkshire Police has received Home Office funding as part of a programme to boost armed policing in certain parts of England and Wales. We established that the force has fulfilled its commitment to the programme by increasing the availability of ARVs.

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.

West Yorkshire Police has sufficient ARV officers and specialist capabilities in line with the threats set out in the APSTRA. It also has tried and tested procedures in place to work with neighbouring forces on joint armed operations.

We also examined how well prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in West Yorkshire Police are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. Also, West Yorkshire 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.

We found that West Yorkshire Police regularly carries out debriefs of incidents attended by armed officers. However, it does not identify best practice and areas for improvement on every occasion. We recommend that the force reviews operational debriefing procedures. This will help ensure that opportunities to improve are not overlooked.

ARV officers can have a positive effect. It is important that, at the start of each shift they are provided with up-to-date information that is relevant to their role. In West Yorkshire Police, we found that opportunities are being missed to provide this information to ARV officers and use their patrols to good effect.

Summary for question 5