Our inspection assessed how good Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary is in ten areas of policing. We make graded judgments in nine of these ten as follows:
We also inspected how effective a service Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary gives to victims of crime. We don’t make a graded judgment in this overall area.
We set out our detailed findings about things the force is doing well and where the force should improve in the rest of this report.
Important changes to PEEL
In 2014, we introduced our police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) inspections, which assess the performance of all 43 police forces in England and Wales. Since then, we have been continuously adapting our approach and during the past year we have seen the most significant changes yet.
We now use a more intelligence-led, continual assessment approach, rather than the annual PEEL inspections we used in previous years. For instance, we have integrated our rolling crime data integrity inspections into these PEEL assessments. Our PEEL victim service assessment also includes a crime data integrity element in at least every other assessment. We have also changed our approach to graded judgments. We now assess forces against the characteristics of good performance, set out in the PEEL Assessment Framework 2021/22, and we more clearly link our judgments to causes of concern and areas for improvement. We have also expanded our previous four-tier system of judgments to five tiers. As a result, we can state more precisely where we consider improvement is needed and highlight more effectively the best ways of doing things.
However, these changes mean that it isn’t possible to make direct comparisons between the grades awarded in this round of PEEL inspections with those from previous years. A reduction in grade, particularly from good to adequate, doesn’t necessarily mean that there has been a reduction in performance, unless we say so in the report.
HM Inspector’s observations
I am satisfied with some aspects of the performance of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary in keeping people safe and reducing crime, but there are areas where it needs to improve.
These are the findings I consider most important from our assessments of the force over the past year.
Crimes reported by the public are accurately recorded, and in most cases, victims of crime receive an acceptable response
I am pleased to see the progress that the force has made in the overall accuracy of its crime recording. It correctly records more than 96 percent of reported crime, which is an improvement since our previous inspection.
And the force is working hard to make sure that victims and witnesses are treated in line with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.
We found good work with partners to protect victims of domestic abuse and child criminal exploitation
Partnership work to protect children from being exploited and victimised was present across the force. There has been a real focus both on this and protecting and supporting victims of domestic abuse.
Despite these positive findings, capacity to meet all demand is stretched. We found that delays occurred, and these had adverse effects. The force doesn’t always meet demand quickly enough. This is clear from the first point of contact, as the time the force takes to answer a call from the public is often too long. There can then be delays in officers arriving at incidents in which members of the public need their help.
We also found that there were delays in commencing investigations into some types of less serious crime. There is a risk this could lead to the force losing evidence. During our inspection, we found backlogs of work, some in critical areas. The force has used extra resources and made better use of technology to reduce some of these backlogs as part of developing a permanent solution.
Neighbourhood police officers are often taken away from their core tasks
The force also uses neighbourhood police officers to respond to calls and carry out some crime investigations. This means that those officers are less visible in their areas and less able to find out what matters most to local communities and carry out preventative and problem-solving work.
We also found that neighbourhood officers didn’t consistently use a structured problem-solving model, which resulted in fewer opportunities to learn and share best practice.
The force prioritises resources according to its understanding of risk, but it struggles to fully manage the wider effect of demand on the way it carries out its activities
Overall, we found that the force was managed efficiently. It has one of the lowest amounts of funding per head of population in England and Wales, which influences the decisions leaders have to make about where to focus resources. For example, it prioritises 999 calls over non-emergency calls, and it puts any staffing increases in place in units that deal with more complex and serious crimes.
It has taken action to address its most high-risk problems, such as backlogs in assessing risk to vulnerable people. But it now needs to satisfy itself that it is using all resources in the most effective way. In particular, it needs to anticipate and guard against the unintended consequences of moving work from one area of the force to another. This is necessary if it is to replicate its strong performance in some higher-risk areas with a consistently high day-to-day response for the public.
My report sets out the more detailed findings of this inspection. I will continue to check the force’s progress in addressing these in the coming months.
HM Inspector of Constabulary
Reducing crime assessment
We have identified seven themes underpinning a force’s ability to reduce crime effectively which, taken together, allow an assessment of the extent to which the force is doing all it can to reduce crime. This is a narrative assessment, as police-recorded crime figures can be affected by variations and changes in recording policy and practice, making it difficult to make comparisons over time.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary accurately records crime and uses this data well. This helps it identify where crime is most likely to occur and focus preventative activity in those areas.
Other factors contributing to the force’s ability to reduce crime are:
- The force works well in partnership to identify and support young people at risk of exploitation.
- It has a good understanding of the demand it is facing and a plan to develop the skills it needs in the workforce.
- By providing support and updates to victims of crime, they are more likely to support the investigation.
I am pleased that the force is addressing the right areas of policing to reduce crime.
But the following areas may negatively affect the force’s ability to reduce crime:
- The force needs to make sure it identifies its arrangements for finding out the issues that are most important to communities.
- It needs to make more effective use of neighbourhood policing teams so they are more visible and involved in their communities.
It needs to take faster action in response to some calls for service and in investigations.
Providing a service to the victims of crime
Victim service assessment
This section describes our assessment of the service Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary provides to victims. This is from the point of reporting a crime and throughout the investigation. As part of this assessment, we reviewed 90 case files.
When the police close a case of a reported crime, it will be assigned what is referred to as an ‘outcome type’. This describes the reason for closing it.
We also reviewed 20 cases each when the following outcome types were used:
- A suspect was identified, and the victim supported police action, but evidential difficulties prevented further action (outcome 15).
- A suspect was identified, but there were evidential difficulties, and the victim didn’t support or withdrew their support for police action (outcome 16).
- When the police decided that further investigation against a named suspect wasn’t in the public interest (outcome 21).
While this assessment is ungraded, it influences graded judgments in the other areas we have inspected.
The force usually answers emergency calls within expected timescales, but it doesn’t always identify repeat victims, and it needs to improve the time it takes to answer non-emergency calls
When a victim contacts the police, it is important that their call is answered quickly and that the right information is recorded accurately on police systems. The caller should be spoken to in a professional manner. The information should be assessed, taking into consideration threat, harm, risk and vulnerability. The victim should also receive appropriate safeguarding advice.
The force answers calls within expected timescales most of the time. When call handlers answer calls, they don’t always assess victims’ vulnerability using a structured process. They don’t always identify repeat victims, which means this information isn’t taken into account when considering the response victims should receive. Call handlers don’t always give victims advice on crime prevention and on how to preserve evidence. This can lead to losing evidence that would support an investigation. It can also mean missed opportunities to prevent further crimes against the victim.
The force doesn’t always respond promptly to calls for service
A force should aim to respond to calls for service within the timescales it has set, which are determined on the basis of the level of prioritisation given to the call. It should change call priority only if the original prioritisation is deemed inappropriate, or if further information suggests a change is needed. The force’s response should take into consideration risk and victim vulnerability, including any information obtained after the call.
The force responds to calls appropriately but not always within set timescales. It doesn’t always inform victims of delays, so it doesn’t always meet their expectations. This may cause victims to lose confidence and disengage from the process.
The force’s crime recording is of a good standard when it comes to making sure victims receive an appropriate level of service, and it is overseen by the force’s senior leaders
The force’s crime recording should be trustworthy. It should be effective at recording reported crime in line with national standards and have effective systems and processes in place that are supported by its leaders and backed up by the right culture.
The force needs to have effective crime-recording processes in place to make sure that all crimes reported to it are recorded correctly and without delay.
We set out more details about the force’s crime recording in the ‘crime data integrity’ section below.
The force makes sure it allocates investigations to staff with suitable levels of experience
All forces and constabularies should have a policy to make sure investigations are allocated to suitably trained officers or staff. Its policy should also establish when a crime isn’t to be investigated further, and it should be applied consistently. The victim of the crime should be kept informed of who is dealing with their case. They should also be fully informed about the decision to close the investigation.
We found the force allocated recorded crimes for investigation according to its policy. In all cases, it allocated the crime to the most appropriate department for further investigation. It kept victims updated during the course of the investigation.
The force carries out effective and timely investigations
Police forces should investigate reported crimes quickly, proportionately and thoroughly. Victims should be kept updated about the investigation and the force should have effective governance arrangements in place to make sure investigation standards are high.
In most cases, the force carried out investigations in a timely way and completed relevant and proportionate lines of inquiry. Investigations were usually well supervised, and victims were updated throughout. Victims are more likely to have confidence in police investigations when they receive regular updates.
A thorough investigation increases the likelihood of the perpetrator being identified and a positive end result for the victim. In most cases, the force took victim personal statements, which gives victims the opportunity to describe how the crime has affected their lives.
When a victim withdrew support for an investigation, the force didn’t always consider progressing the case without the victim’s support. This can be an important method of safeguarding the victim and preventing further offences from being committed. The force usually considers using orders designed to protect victims, such as a domestic violence protection notice (DVPN) or a domestic violence protection order.
The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime requires forces to carry out a needs assessment at an early stage to determine whether a victim needs additional support. The force usually carries out this assessment and records the request for additional support.
The force doesn’t always assign the right outcome type, consider victims’ wishes or hold an auditable record of those wishes
The force should make sure it follows national guidance and rules for deciding the outcome type it will assign to each report of crime. In deciding the outcome type, the force should consider the nature of the crime, the offender and the victim. Leaders throughout the force should support and oversee these decisions.
When a suspect has been identified and the victim supports police action, but evidential difficulties prevent further action, the victim should be informed of the decision to close the investigation. We found that the force always informed victims in these cases. But it didn’t always consider investigative opportunities before filing the crime. The force used this outcome incorrectly on some occasions.
When a suspect has been identified but the victim doesn’t support or withdraws their support for police action, the force should hold an auditable record from the victim, confirming their decision. This allows the investigation to be closed. In some of the cases we reviewed, there was no evidence of the victim’s decision. This means there is a risk the force may not be fully representing and considering victims’ wishes before closing investigations.
When a suspect has been identified and the police decide that further investigation isn’t in the public interest, the force should consult the victim and inform them of the decision. But the force didn’t consult all victims beforehand, and it didn’t always inform them of the decision to take no further investigative action. This means victims may not always fully understand why the force didn’t progress their report.
Crime data integrity
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary is good at recording crime.
We estimate that the force is recording 96.7 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.5 percent) of all reported crime (excluding fraud). This is a statistically significant improvement compared with the findings of our previous 2019 inspection where we found that 91.3 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.4 percent) of all reported crime was recorded. We estimate that, compared to the findings of our 2019 inspection, this improvement means that the force recorded an additional 9,600 crimes for the year covered by our inspection. We estimate that the force didn’t record a further 6,000 crimes during this same period.
We estimate that the force is recording 95.6 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.7 percent) of violent offences. This is a statistically significant improvement compared with the findings of our previous 2019 inspection, where we found that 89.9 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.6 percent) of violent offences were recorded.
We estimate that the force is recording 97.3 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.9 percent) of sexual offences. This is a statistically significant improvement compared with the findings of our previous 2019 inspection, where we found that 91.0 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.1 percent) of sexual offences were recorded.
Areas for improvement
Areas for improvement
The force needs to improve its recording of crimes involving vulnerable victims
The force doesn’t record all crimes in cases involving child protection or vulnerable adults. We reviewed 70 cases and found that the force should have recorded 48 crimes but it had only recorded 38. It is important that the force keeps accurate records and that it records crimes against vulnerable victims. This helps make sure it fully investigates crimes and identifies and brings offenders to justice. It also helps to ensure that crime figures and data are complete.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to improve how it records crime when antisocial behaviour is reported
We reviewed 50 cases in which victims had reported antisocial behaviour. We found the force recorded 15 of the 33 crimes it should have recorded. Victims of antisocial behaviour are often abused and tormented for substantial periods of time, and crime is often committed by neighbours. Failing to record crimes and provide an effective service to tackle antisocial behaviour can mean victims live in fear in their own homes while being subjected to long-term abuse and torment by people living next door or in the local community.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to improve how it records equality data
The force’s data for victims of crime shows that age and gender are well recorded, ethnicity is less well recorded and other protected characteristics aren’t well recorded. The force should be collecting this information to understand the extent to which each protected group is affected by crime, how this differs from those without the protected characteristics and whether a different response is needed for those victims.
In this section, we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force records crime.
The force is good at recording most sexual offences, but it doesn’t always record rape offences correctly
The force records most sexual offences correctly. But it doesn’t always record reports of rape appropriately. Rape is one of the most serious crimes a victim can experience. Therefore, it is especially important that crimes are recorded accurately to make sure victims receive the service and support they expect and deserve, and to ensure crime figures and data are accurate.
Recording data about crime
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary is good at recording crime.
Accurate crime recording is vital to providing a good service to the victims of crime. We inspected crime recording in Hampshire and Isle of Wight as part of our victim service assessments (VSAs). These track a victim’s journey from reporting a crime to the police, through to the outcome.
All forces are subject to a VSA within our PEEL inspection programme. In every other inspection forces will be assessed on their crime recording and given a separate grade.
You can see what we found in the ‘Providing a service to victims of crime’ section of this report.
Engaging with and treating the public with fairness and respect
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary is good at treating people fairly and with respect.
Area for improvement
Areas for improvement
The force should make sure the community’s concerns are reflected through structured, local priority-setting
Neighbourhood policing teams could make better use of the information they gather when speaking to members of the community to inform priority-setting in local areas. The force should share local priorities with the public, review priorities after a set time and update communities on progress. This is important as it allows communities to have their voices heard on policing activity.
We found the force identified priorities through police data and partnership information. But there wasn’t consistent communication with the public to show why the force chose these priorities and what action it had taken.
The neighbourhood policing teams use a variety of ways to stay connected with communities (in some cases, beat surgeries allow residents can have one-to-one conversation with the teams) but far fewer priorities result from this. We didn’t see a structured approach to neighbourhood policing teams gathering information on matters that concern the public or using this information to identify local priorities that the force then attempts to address.
When these interactions with the community reveal problems such as antisocial behaviour, the force mainly deals with these in an unstructured way. This can result in neighbourhood policing teams addressing the most recent community problems first, rather than the most important ones.
Community courts give young volunteers opportunities to contribute to the criminal justice process
Hampshire Community Court runs peer courts, allowing young volunteers to be involved in restorative justice. The community courts decide outcomes for suitable first-time offenders aged 10 to 17 who have admitted the offence.
There are 6 courts, run by 40 volunteers, which operate across the force area. While the courts don’t have any criminal court powers, the programme aims to be formal in style but restorative in nature. Volunteers must be aged 14 to 25, and they take on the roles of panel members, victims’ advocates and respondents’ (offenders’) advocates.
The panel makes directions by way of community resolutions and youth cautions. For example, the offender may have to learn something related to the crime, be referred to the youth offending team for additional support or carry out some reparative work. The offender’s progress is monitored, and the victim is kept updated.
Offenders who attend the community court may be more likely to understand and respect the justice outcome given by their peers. Community courts in Hampshire see approximately 50 offenders a year, many of whom never reoffend.
Supervisors routinely review stop and search records, body-worn video and use of force forms through a dedicated system developed to automate feedback and identify themes
Each month, all sergeants and inspectors in the force must review the records and body-worn video for two stop and search encounters. Each inspector must also review the use of force form and body-worn video for two incidents in which force has been used.
The force has developed an IT application for recording these reviews. A template leads the reviewer through the process to make sure they obtain all the relevant information. The review identifies whether the stop and search or use of force was:
Feedback is automated to the officers and their line managers.
The application allows the force to monitor the reviews it completes and identify key themes. By reviewing use of force, it recently found that officers often don’t take control of subjects at an early enough stage in the interaction.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to treating people fairly and with respect.
The force understands how to treat people with fairness and respect and why this is important
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary is committed to improving the quality of interaction between the police and the public when using powers such as arrest, stop and search or use of force. Officers and staff receive initial training on unconscious bias and how to de-escalate confrontational situations. The force has recently extended the mandatory annual officer safety training from one to two days, with a far greater emphasis on scenario-based learning.
Frontline officers and staff have received refresher training on using stop and search powers. This training encourages them to have a greater appreciation of the impact of stop and search on people subject to the procedure.
We viewed several randomly selected body-worn video (BWV) clips of officers using stop and search powers. In these incidents, the officers acted professionally and treated people fairly and with respect.
When assessing how the force treats members of the public who call the contact management centre, we found all call handlers acted politely, appropriately and ethically. They used clear, unambiguous language without apparent bias.
The force monitors the way it uses stop and search powers well, using data and internal and external scrutiny
The force uses data to understand how it uses stop and search powers. It can split the datasets in various ways to analyse ethnicity, gender, age and the rate at which it finds prohibited items. Through statistical analysis, it can describe the characteristics of a population using 60 variables from a range of census data. It compares this information with its stop and search data to gain insight into any disproportionality. It then reviews the resulting data at an internal scrutiny meeting.
External scrutiny comes from 12 district stop and search scrutiny panels made up of diverse people from local communities and a force-wide office of the police and crime commissioner panel. Both panels include independent advisory group members, and all participants have received training in stop and search powers.
District scrutiny panels receive local stop and search data, and they can view stop and search BWV clips. Southampton district is the first panel to publish its review findings alongside stop and search data on the force website. Other districts plan to do the same. This is a positive step for better transparency. The office of the police and crime commissioner panel scrutinises themes such as stop and search conducted on young people or searches by specific departments. Both types of panel provide feedback to officers.
The force could enhance its work in this area by using its website to better publicise its understanding of any disproportionality in the way it uses stop and search powers and what steps it is taking to reduce this.
During our inspection, we reviewed a sample of 159 stop and search records from 1 January to 31 December 2021. On the basis of this sample, we estimate that 79.2 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 6.2 percent) of all stop and searches by the force during this period had reasonable grounds recorded. This is broadly unchanged compared with the findings from our review of records from 2019, where we found that 88.8 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 4.3 percent) of stop and searches had reasonable grounds recorded. Of the records we reviewed for stop and searches on people from ethnic minorities, 21 of 24 had reasonable grounds recorded.
The force has made improvements to the way it records, understands and scrutinises use of force
We can estimate how many use of force reports should be submitted based on the number of arrests a force makes. This is because arrests usually involve use of force – for example, because of officers using handcuffs. In the year ending 31 March 2021, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary only recorded 5,489 use of force incidents compared to an estimated 23,263 use of force incidents that occurred.
The force acknowledges this problem and has recently introduced technology that allows officers to record use of force on their handheld electronic devices. This has resulted in better recording compliance.
An internal use of force tactical group, made up of officers and staff, assesses data and reviews BWV when force has been used. It also provides feedback on tactics. The group identifies themes, which are then used to inform training in conflict management and the use of force.
An external panel independently scrutinises use of force. The panel has a diverse membership and is chaired by an academic in ethics. The chair selects BWV clips in which officers used force when arresting suspects. And during each meeting, panel members view the incidents. Themes have included violence against women and girls, incidents in which the arrested person is Black and incidents in which the arresting officers are new in service. Panel members give feedback on the use of force and make recommendations, which are given to the relevant officers.
Preventing crime and anti-social behaviour
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary requires improvement at prevention and deterrence.
Areas for improvement
The force should make sure there is a clear strategy and direction for neighbourhood policing and that officers and staff at all levels understand it
The force doesn’t have an overarching plan or governance structure to specifically identify and implement best practice in neighbourhood policing.
When the force identifies improvements it needs to make, it applies them inconsistently.
For example, the force carried out a review that highlighted the need to complete community profiles describing the make-up and priorities of local communities.
These profiles are important as they help forces focus their efforts on communities’ needs. In most areas we visited, the force hadn’t created these profiles.
The force should consider creating a strategic plan, overseen at chief officer level, to support the structured implementation of the College of Policing neighbourhood policing guidelines and associated training packages.
Without this, senior leaders won’t know what steps they need to take to improve neighbourhood policing and how effective those steps are once implemented.
Areas for improvement
The force should routinely evaluate and share effective problem-solving practice. It should identify and analyse crime and antisocial behavioural problems that neighbourhood teams and other organisations can work to prevent
The force’s use of a structured problem-solving model is inconsistent, and there is limited evidence of the force evaluating or sharing good problem-solving practice.
During our fieldwork, we found that the force was increasingly using a structured problem-solving model to record activity-targeting priorities (managed through the district tactical planning meetings). This is positive and indicates that the force recognises the benefits of this approach.
Neighbourhood policing officers and staff had recently completed problem‑orientated policing training, but there was little evidence of a structured problem-solving model in use at this level. We found that some neighbourhood policing teams approached problems in an unstructured way and didn’t explore opportunities to devise a broader and potentially more effective approach.
There is no process in place to conduct structured evaluation of problem-solving activity. At the time of our inspection, the force had recently made a new location for completed plans on its intranet. This could be used to share good practice, but it was empty.
Areas for improvement
The force should make sure it sticks to its abstraction policy for neighbourhood police officers. It should monitor abstractions and take action to protect neighbourhood policing activity
During our fieldwork, many neighbourhood officers, particularly constables, told us they couldn’t spend enough time carrying out visible patrols, engaging with the public or conducting preventative and problem-solving work.
To reduce demand in the investigation centres, neighbourhood officers conduct more crime investigations than they did before the force introduced new allocation processes in June 2022. At the time of our inspection, most officers had about ten active investigations.
Many officers told us about other demands on their time, such as supporting staffing levels on response and patrol and clearing backlogs of calls for service. They said there are sometimes short-notice changes, which curtail planned problem-solving activity or partnership work.
This means that neighbourhood constables on their beat are less visible to the public. And they can’t dedicate as much time to solving local problems and engaging with the public.
Abstraction means diverting officers to duties that aren’t part of their core duties, not necessarily emergencies, for an extended period. The force aims to keep the level of abstraction below 10 percent, but it accepts it hasn’t met this target, particularly during busy times of the year. Some officers we spoke to estimated they were spending 50 percent of their time away from their neighbourhood policing roles.
The effect of this is a perception in neighbourhood teams that the force doesn’t value their work. Some neighbourhood staff we spoke to weren’t confident or motivated to carry out their roles.
The force uses data to conduct targeted work with schools to raise awareness of knife crime and reduce serious violence
The Safer Schools initiative identified the top 20 schools in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight with the highest level of risk factors for vulnerability to crime. Each of those schools has received a targeted plan of action that covers serious violence and exclusion.
Initial pilot funding has been replaced with money from drug seizures, which pays for two education partnership managers. Both have worked as teachers and have held strategic roles in education. They work with local schools to carry out the plan, and they liaise with the four unitary local authorities and headteachers’ forums.
They have built programmes in these higher-risk schools that involve bringing in speakers who have previously been involved in gang culture and knife crime. These speakers then run community sessions with young people.
For schools that don’t receive this level of support, the force has developed an educational partnership team led by an inspector. The partnership team creates educational resources that these schools can use.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to prevention and deterrence.
The force tackles crime and vulnerability by focusing on high demand and on vulnerable locations, groups and people, including repeat victims
The force uses local performance management and tasking meetings to focus activity on its priorities. Operational staff were clear about their priorities.
It uses analysis to identify which top repeat offenders, locations and victims to focus on. And it reviews its progress in addressing these issues as part of the district tactical planning meeting. This means local commanders can know how successfully the force is tackling these problems.
The force has a clear focus on reducing violence against women and girls. There is a strategy for this, which is supported by clear leadership and monitoring at a senior level.
To tackle crime and reduce vulnerability, the force works with partners such as local authority community safety officers, housing providers and charities. We saw this taking place in the form of structured partnership meetings and through local, day‑to‑day working relationships.
The force works in partnership to intervene in the causes of offending and to reduce vulnerability
In addition to the Safer Schools initiative, there are strong partnership arrangements across the force area designed to protect children from child criminal exploitation.
In Portsmouth, a pilot scheme called the Early Help Hub involves Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary personnel working with partners (such as Portsmouth City Council and healthcare workers) to support troubled families to reduce domestic abuse, missing person incidents and involvement in criminal or antisocial behaviour.
There are also specific, targeted operations designed to reduce serious violence involving young people. These include Operation Ruin in Basingstoke, which involves officers working with children’s services to identify activities to divert those at risk of being drawn into gang violence and knife crime. The force also targets gang members under Operation Witch using a range of policing tactics, including a gang injunction.
Responding to the public
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary requires improvement at responding to the public.
Areas for improvement
The force should ensure call handlers use and correctly record structured initial triage and risk assessments so they can prioritise calls and give the most appropriate response
Call handlers don’t consistently record a structured triage and risk assessment. As part of our victim service assessment, we found that in 37 of the 62 calls we reviewed, no structured triage and risk assessment was recorded. This may result in victims’ needs not being properly assessed, based on the information recorded. Without a comprehensive risk assessment, it may be more difficult to prioritise calls at times of high demand.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to make sure call takers give appropriate advice on preventing crime and preserving evidence
We found that call handlers didn’t give callers appropriate crime prevention advice in 10 of the 28 relevant cases we reviewed or advice on preserving evidence in 8 of 26 cases. This could lead to the force losing evidence that would support the investigation and missing the opportunity to prevent further crimes against the victim. We know the force has planned training for all call handlers on preserving evidence, and several call handlers on each team will receive additional in-depth training to help them give advice to colleagues.
Areas for improvement
The force should improve the time it takes to answer calls from the public and reduce its abandonment rate
The force fails to answer calls quickly enough on too many occasions. The percentage of non-emergency calls in which callers disconnect the call before they get an answer, known as the abandonment rate, is too high. The force told us that the average abandonment rate for the 6 months ending 31 October 2022 was 38 percent. This is compared to the national contact management strategy standard of 5 percent for forces in which the initial non-emergency call is answered by a switchboard.
The abandonment rate has increased since our last inspection. Some call abandonment can be attributed to callers being redirected to the Single Online Home reporting facility, which allows callers to report routine matters via the internet. But the increase in online reporting doesn’t account for the overall high abandonment rate.
On 31 May 2022, the Home Office published data on 999 call answering times. Call answering time is the time taken for a call to be transferred to a force and the time that force takes to answer it. In England and Wales, forces should aim to answer 90 percent of these calls within 10 seconds. We have used this data to assess how quickly forces answer 999 calls. We do acknowledge, however, that this data has only been published recently. As such, we recognise that forces may need time to consider any differences between the data published by the Home Office and their own.
According to this data, the force hasn’t always been able to answer 999 calls promptly. Between 1 November 2021 and 30 September 2022, the force answered 65.4 percent of 999 calls it received within 10 seconds, which is below the target of 90 percent in 10 seconds.
Abandoned calls may mean callers give up trying to contact the police, which could lead to crimes going unreported and victims not being supported.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to attend more calls for service in line with its target response times
The force fails to attend emergency and priority calls for service within its target response times on too many occasions. The force assigns a grade to incidents that need police attendance, according to the level of threat, harm and risk. The most urgent incidents are assigned grade 1. The target response time for grade 1 is 15 minutes. The force told us that from 1 April 2022 to 31 October 2022, it attended 65.2 percent of grade 1 calls within its target time. Incidents requiring a priority response are assigned grade 2. The target response time for grade 2 is 60 minutes. The force told us that from 1 April 2022 to 31 October 2022, it attended 57.2 percent of grade 2 calls within 60 minutes. We checked 14 incidents in which there had been delays and in 4 of these, the caller hadn’t been told of the delay.
Failing to attend calls within target response times may put victims at risk, result in lost evidence and undermine public confidence in the police.
Rapid video response gives some domestic abuse victims an alternative way of speaking with officers
Rapid video calling is a new initiative the force has introduced to support victims of domestic abuse. When the control room receives a report of domestic abuse, the call handler confirms that the victim is safe and no children were present during the abuse. If that is the case, the victim can then speak with an officer over a video link.
The control room passes the report to a dedicated officer, who sends a link to the victim to start the video call within 30 to 60 minutes. This means the victim doesn’t need to download a specific app to their phone. The officer gathers the details from the caller and prepares a statement that the victim can sign digitally. The officer then stores the video interview on the force system, where an investigating officer can view it.
The force sends the victim a survey on their experience of using the reporting method. It has received very positive feedback as victims don’t have to wait for an officer to attend before making the report.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force responds to the public.
Officers are good at identifying and responding to vulnerability when attending incidents
Response officers look for signs of vulnerability when they attend incidents. This might be children exposed to domestic violence or elderly people who may be at risk of exploitation. The force told us that in the past 12 months, referral forms submitted by officers to the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) had increased by 18 percent. The referral forms are of high quality and help staff in the MASH identify support for vulnerable people.
When call handlers identify a caller as a repeat victim or as vulnerable, they record it in almost all cases. But they don’t always make checks to identify vulnerability or repeat victimisation
We found that call handlers carried out checks to establish if callers, or others involved, were vulnerable in 53 of the 62 calls we reviewed. When they identified vulnerability, they recorded it in almost all cases: 28 of 30 calls.
Call handlers completed checks at the first point of contact to see if the caller was a repeat victim in 52 of the 66 cases we reviewed. When they identified repeat victims, they recorded this information in 14 of 16 cases.
The force has a good understanding of the well-being needs of its contact management staff and officers who respond to emergency calls
Contact management staff often speak to callers who are in a distressed state, and response officers are deployed to traumatic incidents. The force gives them good levels of welfare support via the trauma risk management process. The force has a mental health team, which routinely checks incidents to make sure officers and staff are offered trauma risk management support, online support and counselling.
We particularly liked how the force allocates a well-being inspector to serious and traumatic incidents. The inspector’s sole role is to ensure the welfare of the officers and staff both during and after the incident.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary is adequate at investigating crime.
Areas for improvement
The force should make sure there is an auditable record of victims’ decisions and their reasons when they withdraw support, and that it documents whether it has considered evidence-led prosecutions in all such cases
When the force identifies a suspect, but there are evidential difficulties, and a victim withdraws support for an investigation (outcome 16), the force should take a record of the victim’s decision, such as a signed statement. This is important as it explains the victim’s wishes and the reasons why they don’t wish to support a prosecution. We only found evidence of this taking place in 3 of the 20 relevant cases we reviewed.
In some circumstances, even when a victim doesn’t support a prosecution, the police may still act on their behalf. In the cases we reviewed, we found seven cases in which this would have been suitable. The force only took action in four of these cases.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to put in place governance and monitoring processes to make sure it uses outcomes appropriately and complies with force and national policies
As part of our victim service assessment, we reviewed a sample of cases to check that the force was using the correct recognised codes which indicate how the investigation had been finalised.
We found that the force had made an incorrect decision in 9 of the 20 applicable cases we reviewed, where it was deemed not to be in the public interest to continue with the case (outcome 21).
We reviewed 20 cases in which the force had identified a suspect, and the victim supported police action, but evidential difficulties prevented the prosecution of a named suspect so the case was closed (outcome 15). Six of those cases had been incorrectly finalised.
This means the force may not fully understand how investigations are being concluded, and victims may not receive the right service.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force investigates crime.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary conducts thorough and effective investigations into most crimes
As part of our victim service assessment, we found that officers had completed an effective investigation in 82 of the 90 cases we reviewed. They made arrests without delay in 23 of the 24 relevant cases we reviewed, and the force allocated all (90) investigations to appropriately skilled investigators.
The force has a strong focus on victim care. There is a governance board, chaired by a senior officer. This board has given officers and staff information and resources so that they are aware of the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (the Victims’ Code), and can carry out their responsibilities under the code. The force gave victims of crime an appropriate level of service in 84 of the 89 relevant cases we reviewed. Case officers gave regular updates about the investigation in 58 of the 59 relevant cases we reviewed.
The force supports victims of crime well
We found that appropriately trained staff dealt with victims and referred them, where appropriate, to support services. But some staff we spoke to struggled to identify the different support services that are available for diverse groups.
The force has governance arrangements to improve the standard of investigations and to develop capability and capacity for the future, but many investigators report high workloads
There are management processes in place to review overall performance in respect of the quality of investigations. These examine how to improve investigations in particular geographic areas or according to types of crime. They also consider how to address issues that affect the whole force. For example, the force has recently put plans in place to improve the way it recovers evidence from digital devices and to improve staff compliance with the Victims’ Code.
A programme, known as Operation Olympus, is in place to make sure the right type and numbers of personnel will be in place to carry out quality and timely investigations. This has already involved setting up prisoner-handling teams in each of the investigation centres. We were told this has had a positive effect on the timeliness of investigations and investigators’ workloads.
But there are still challenges. Investigators’ shift patterns don’t always meet demand, and many detectives are still being trained. As of 31 March 2022, accredited investigators filled 59 percent of the force’s 367 PIP 2 investigative roles. Officers told us that workloads are high and that overtime is frequently used to manage demand. We acknowledge the improvement plans the force has put in place, but it will need to reduce the pressure on staff if it is to maintain improvements.
Delays in commencing investigations into some types of less serious crime can lead to the force losing investigative opportunities
Officers in the triage hub assess reported crimes that don’t need an urgent response, before sending them to the most appropriate team. In some cases, this will be the force resolution centre, where officers carry out desk-based investigations. If they identify an offender, or if there are further inquiries they can’t make, they will reallocate the investigation to a more appropriate team.
During our fieldwork, we found unacceptable delays caused by a backlog of work in both the triage hub and the resolution centre. At one point, there was a 9-day delay in the triage hub and a delay of more than 40 days in the resolution centre. Staff told us this led to the force losing some investigative opportunities, such as gathering CCTV evidence.
The force used additional staff and overtime to halve these backlogs while we were conducting our inspection. But these delays are still too long, and the force needs a sustainable solution to maintain this reduction and to stop backlogs building up again.
Protecting vulnerable people
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary is adequate at protecting vulnerable people.
Areas for improvement
The force should reassure itself that it has effective arrangements to manage its response to those who are vulnerable as a consequence of mental ill health
The mental health trusts that cover the force area have put in place resources to support the police response to those suffering from mental ill health. They also fund these resources. There is a mental health rapid response vehicle staffed by medical professionals during peak demand hours.
Officers can also speak to a mental health professional through a dedicated phone line. But some officers told us that when they contact the dedicated line, it often takes half an hour for the professional to research the case and provide advice.
There is a private ambulance service that attends incidents and takes responsibility for people who officers have detained for assessment under the Mental Health Act 1983.
Some officers told us that the length of time it takes for the private ambulance to respond has increased substantially over the past year due to staffing issues. They said there had been far more occasions when officers couldn’t wait for the ambulance and had to take the detained person to the nearest A&E department to wait for an assessment.
This means vulnerable people may not receive a timely and appropriate response. It also means police officers are more likely to have to use force to restrain a vulnerable person in crisis while awaiting a mental health assessment.
The force has monitoring arrangements with mental health trust partners, but police representation isn’t at a strategic level. There hasn’t been a comprehensive review of how effective the current governance arrangements are.
Areas for improvement
The force should reassure itself that multi-agency risk assessment conference arrangements consistently operate in line with national guidelines and that the arrangements encourage partners at all levels to actively participate
Multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs) are meetings in which organisations plan how to protect people at high risk of domestic abuse. Any participating organisation can provide a chairperson and refer cases for the meeting to consider. Single organisations shouldn’t decide not to accept a referral to the meeting.
During our fieldwork, we established that almost all these meetings are chaired by a police officer. We were told there is a reluctance to take over this responsibility among other partners who are involved in working with victims of domestic abuse. We also learned that the process for accepting referrals sits with the police alone, without any multi-agency involvement. This isn’t in line with best practice. These factors suggest that the MARAC process may overly rely on the police.
At the time of our fieldwork, there was no process in place to systematically track and evaluate the impact of actions from the meetings.
The force recognised some of these problems and has invested in additional officers and staff, who were just starting in their roles during our inspection. The force intends that these staff will raise awareness within the force and with its partners about the role of MARACs and track and evaluate agreed actions. The true impact of these roles is yet to be established.
The force should review its MARAC working arrangements and make sure its processes are compliant with approved practice.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force protects vulnerable people.
The force is committed to understanding the needs of vulnerable people and to protecting them
The force has a clear commitment to protecting vulnerable people. Types of vulnerability are addressed by plans modelled on the National Vulnerability Action Plan, which is best practice. The force’s harm and vulnerability board, chaired by a senior officer, oversees progress against these plans.
The force has a variety of ways to collect feedback from victims and learn from good practice. There are examples of this that have led to the force improving the way it responds to vulnerable people.
Senior leaders work well with strategic partners to protect vulnerable children. There is good exchange of information and joint working to develop shared strategies.
Officers and staff we spoke to during our inspection were knowledgeable about how to identify vulnerable people. The force has been promoting the importance of child‑centred policing among its personnel, including carrying out internal reviews and promoting further improvements. The force and staff in the MASH told us that this has brought about an increase in the number and quality of referrals.
Capacity to meet vulnerability demand is stretched
Officers in specialist teams that investigate crimes against vulnerable people told us of excessive workloads, with overtime being routinely used to manage high caseloads. Some supervisors said they didn’t have enough time to support their staff.
As part of our inspection, we learned of significant backlogs in assessing referrals into the MASH. There are also backlogs in some aspects of the force’s response to dealing with dangerous and sexual offenders.
The force has now reduced these backlogs to more manageable levels. But it must make sure it closely monitors plans to prevent backlogs reoccurring in these important areas.
The force works closely with other organisations to safeguard vulnerable children
The force’s missing, exploited, trafficked team (METT) works across the force with local authority partners to give support and diversion to children at risk of crime and exploitation. It also identifies and investigates those who seek to exploit or abuse children and young people.
There are standardised arrangements to identify young people at risk. Both the METT and local authority partners have dedicated resources to put support and diversion arrangements in place for vulnerable young people.
The METT investigates the circumstances and people around a vulnerable young person to identify those it suspects of exploiting or abusing children. Where appropriate, it takes enforcement action or uses ancillary orders such as child abduction warning notices or sexual harm prevention orders.
There are governance arrangements in place to monitor the effectiveness of the actions that the METT and its partners take in respect of each young person they work with.
The force uses available powers to safeguard vulnerable people
The force has training and procedures in place to help staff recognise when a person is vulnerable and what action to take.
It has given extra training to more than 400 domestic abuse champions in the force, who each regularly review a sample of how colleagues have dealt with victims of domestic abuse. There are also domestic abuse review panels in each district. These panels conduct structured reviews of how well the force has responded to incidents of domestic abuse. In both cases, feedback is given to the attending officers and their supervisors. This feeds into organisational learning.
Officers make good use of their powers of arrest at incidents related to domestic abuse. The proportion of these incidents in the force area that resulted in an arrest was 36 percent in the year ending 31 March 2022. This was higher than the proportion across all forces in England and Wales, which was 29 percent. In our victim service assessment, we reviewed seven cases in which the force should have considered evidence-led prosecution or using an ancillary order such as a DVPN, domestic violence protection order or stalking protection order. We found that the force had done so in six of those cases.
We were impressed with the approach the force takes to domestic abuse involving its own personnel as either perpetrator or victim. A panel of senior investigators oversees domestic abuse cases involving an officer or staff member. There is also a well-publicised support network and a dedicated independent domestic violence adviser available to support members of the workforce who are victims of domestic abuse.
Dedicated resources support all victims of domestic abuse in cases where an arrest has been made
All high-risk domestic abuse victims receive support from an independent domestic violence adviser, who works with the victim to find out how to address their specific needs.
The force has built on this work by putting domestic abuse support teams in each investigation centre. When an offender is in custody, team members make sure that the victim of abuse receives the right updates and referrals to support organisations. They also consider and apply for any orders or notices, such as DVPNs, which help the victim have space from the perpetrator.
Officers based in each district are responsible for checking that the conditions of any orders are being complied with.
If a victim indicates that they don’t want to co-operate with the police investigation, a member of the domestic abuse support team will speak to them to find out why. We were told that in some cases this intervention had changed the victim’s mind.
Managing offenders and suspects
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary is adequate at managing offenders and suspects.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to make sure there is sufficient governance and supervision to carry out nationally recognised risk assessments quickly enough. It should ensure that it uses regular, comprehensive intelligence checks to mitigate any risks posed by overdue risk assessments
The force has dedicated management of sexual and violent offender (MOSOVO) teams, which identify, manage and mitigate the potential risks posed by registered sex offenders and other dangerous offenders in the community. Offender managers perform a key role in MOSOVO teams.
For each registered sex offender, offender managers complete active risk management (ARMS) assessments and risk management plans, and they conduct home visits. MOSOVO teams use ARMS assessments to understand in detail the nature of the risks that registered sex offenders pose and to establish opportunities to stop them reoffending. These assessments should take place in a home setting once a year or when there has been a significant change in circumstances.
Offender managers draw up risk management plans using material from the ARMS assessments. They aim to develop lines of inquiry to address risk and put in place safeguarding procedures. Home visits allow officers to test accounts given by registered sex offenders, conduct risk assessments and examine registered sex offenders’ digital devices.
We established at the start of our inspection period that the force wasn’t properly managing the potential risks that registered sex offenders posed. This was because there were many overdue home visits. The force has since put in place several measures to reduce this backlog. It expects to reduce it further because it has now recruited more officers.
But it needs to make sure it carries out regular intelligence checks to manage any risk these backlogs may pose. As part of our fieldwork, we reviewed 12 cases in the backlog. We found that the force had only carried out relevant intelligence checks in one of those cases.
The force needs to make sure it reduces backlogs in overdue ARMS assessments and that there is supervisory oversight of the required intelligence checks. This should include registered sex offenders subject to reactive management. These registered sex offenders are no longer visited by an offender manager, but intelligence checks are needed to keep an informed picture of any increase in risk they may pose.
Areas for improvement
The force should make sure it deals with cases involving suspected online offenders promptly. It should introduce a system of intelligence checks to improve its risk assessment process for cases involving online child abuse awaiting enforcement action, such as arresting a suspect
The force receives referrals from the National Crime Agency and other law enforcement agencies relating to people suspected of accessing, possessing, making, taking or distributing indecent images of children online.
Officers from the force’s internet child abuse team prioritise action against identified individuals using a nationally approved digital risk prioritisation tool. The force allocates some cases assessed as low risk to investigators in one of the police investigation centres.
Our early fieldwork found that staff in the internet child abuse team felt very busy. There were some cases that had been waiting too long for enforcement action. We also found that the team wasn’t carrying out a formal review process of cases waiting for enforcement action.
The force has addressed the backlog and leaders have approved an increase in staffing. But the new review process doesn’t include making and recording periodic intelligence checks for outstanding cases. These checks are important as they help the force make sure an individual’s circumstances haven’t changed, especially their access to children. Carrying out these checks would inform the force of any change in the risk a suspect poses, which may mean the force needs to take action sooner.
The force uses a structured approach to reduce reoffending by domestic abuse perpetrators
Each policing area in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight has a high-harm team, which tackles priority issues. The teams work intensively with persistent domestic abuse offenders through Project Foundation. The force selects subjects based on a risk score calculated using a range of factors, such as addiction, alcohol abuse and housing. It allocates those scoring above a certain threshold to one of the high-harm teams.
The force works with the subject initially through support, but if that fails, it uses targeted enforcement. It reviews activity in respect of each Project Foundation subject every 28 days to establish if there is still meaningful work it can do.
Repeat domestic abuse offenders who aren’t selected through this method are referred to a diversionary programme that that the force provides through the Hampton Trust.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force manages offenders and suspects.
The force effectively pursues outstanding suspects and wanted persons to protect the public from harm
The force prioritises and monitors outstanding suspects. It discusses suspects it considers to be high priority at daily force management meetings. It also includes them in briefings to officers and uses a daily ‘arrest car’ to find them.
Our victim service assessment identified that the force is arresting suspects promptly. There is an emphasis on early and continued action to find the highest-priority offenders, with well-understood processes to circulate and pursue suspects on the national database.
These investigations remain open while the force is still seeking a suspect. This proactive approach reduces the risk of further offending. Victims are kept safe, and the force can progress investigations.
The force has an effective integrated offender management programme
The force works with partners such as the probation service to operate an integrated offender management programme. It identifies and manages offenders who pose the greatest risk of further offending, under the national strategy’s new cohorts: fixed, flex and free. It uses an approved methodology to calculate the impact of its work on the cost of crime. This gives a better understanding of the benefits of effective offender management.
There are good governance arrangements and support given to cohort members to prevent reoffending. This includes three integrated offender management houses, which give some cohort members housing security. The force also uses electronic tagging to help some cohort members comply with the terms of their release.
Officers and staff dealing with dangerous offenders are trained to nationally recognised standards
Officers and staff responsible for managing people who pose a risk to the public because of sexual or violent behaviour have been trained to the relevant national standard. This includes using recognised risk assessment tools to evaluate the risk posed by those suspected of online sex offending. But high demand means the force doesn’t always stick to target time frames for further action.
We were encouraged to see that the force complies with authorised professional practice by using two offender managers to make unannounced visits to offenders. This means there is a greater chance that it will identify any concerning behaviour and the public will be protected.
We found good working relationships with partners in social services, which helped to manage safeguarding and assess risks to vulnerable victims at an early stage. Considerations about suspects’ welfare were in line with approved guidelines.
Officers and staff have access to technology and support to help them find and prioritise digital devices as part of their monitoring arrangements. This is important as it helps the force gather evidence about potentially criminal behaviour in an effective and focused way.
The force uses bail well to manage offenders and reduce the risks to victims
Changes to bail legislation in 2017 initially resulted in unintended consequences: more suspects who previously would have been released with bail conditions were instead released under investigation (RUI). This meant cases took longer to investigate, and victims didn’t feel they received any protection. More recent legislative changes have mitigated some of these effects, but it is still important that forces can monitor the use of bail.
The force uses pre-charge bail appropriately and complies with national guidance. If the force changes pre-charge bail to RUI, the duty inspector must authorise this and the rationale for that change must be recorded.
The force has created an IT process to manage all bail and RUI cases. It has a dashboard that displays information from the custody system, such as case progression, important dates and offences. For greater scrutiny, this information feeds into the force’s performance framework at local policing area level and at force performance meetings.
Disrupting serious organised crime
We now inspect serious and organised crime (SOC) on a regional basis, rather than inspecting each force individually in this area. This is so we can be more effective and efficient in how we inspect the whole SOC system, as set out in HM Government’s SOC strategy.
SOC is tackled by each force working with regional organised crime units (ROCUs). These units lead the regional response to SOC by providing access to specialist resources and assets to disrupt organised crime groups that pose the highest harm.
Through our new inspections we seek to understand how well forces and ROCUs work in partnership. As a result, we now inspect ROCUs and their forces together and report on regional performance. Forces and ROCUs are now graded and reported on in regional SOC reports.
Our SOC inspection of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary hasn’t yet been completed. We will update our website with our findings (including the force’s grade) and a link to the regional report once the inspection is complete.
Building, supporting and protecting the workforce
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary is good at building and developing its workforce.
An equality and inclusion caseworker is available to support staff from underrepresented groups
The force recognises the link between feelings of exclusion and an individual’s well-being. An equality and inclusion caseworker is available to intervene at an early stage to work with individuals from underrepresented groups who may not feel included in the workplace.
The caseworker also gives first-line managers advice and guidance on how best to support or manage officers and staff with protected characteristics. During our fieldwork, we heard examples of how the caseworker had helped to resolve potentially difficult situations.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force builds and develops its workforce.
The force promotes an ethical and inclusive culture at all levels
The force has an ethical culture and environment, led from a senior level. The deputy chief constable presents a quarterly ethics session called ‘draw the line’. Each session has several topics for discussion, such as acceptable behaviour on team nights out.
Staff networks have representatives at a senior level. They help the force support officers and staff from diverse backgrounds.
There is training for leaders about abuse of position for a sexual purpose. This focuses on identifying where abuse of position for sexual purpose may be taking place and what leaders should do when they identify these concerns.
Many members of the workforce have attended ‘inclusion matters’ training. This gives information on culture, biases, microaggression, peer intervention and how to challenge behaviours. From this, some officers and staff have progressed to accredited qualifications in equality and inclusivity through the Chartered Management Institute.
The force uses ‘confide in us’ – a confidential line for personnel to report concerns about colleagues’ behaviour. The force told us that between April 2021 and April 2022, it received 124 reports through this line. This shows that officers and staff report unacceptable behaviour and trust that the force will address it appropriately.
The force has a well-established ethics committee with an independent chair. Officers and staff submit ethical dilemmas to the committee for discussion, and findings are published on the force intranet site. Unfortunately, when we asked frontline personnel about the committee’s work, few of those we spoke to knew anything about it. The force should consider how it can raise awareness of the ethics committee in the workforce.
The force uses a quarterly magazine to promote professional behaviour
Reputation Matters is a quarterly publication produced by the force’s professional standards department (PSD). It is available to staff online or in a printed format.
At the time of our inspection, it had recently covered topics such as:
- outcomes of serious investigations conducted by the PSD;
- advice from staff associations on common issues they encounter;
- information on the wider work of the PSD, such as vetting procedures and the work of the complaints resolution unit; and
- the use of WhatsApp and social media.
The publication shows transparency in the PSD’s work and encourages staff to think about professional standards and behaviour.
The force understands and responds to the workforce’s views and needs, and it develops effective plans to improve well-being
The force provides staff with the opportunity to give their views on how it performs. It carries out a regular staff survey to measure its performance. There is high staff involvement in the process. The force told us nearly half of all staff responded to the 2021/22 survey.
The force also gathers workforce sentiment through regular intranet surveys. Recent surveys have sought views on topics such as standards of appearance, the effects of the cost-of-living crisis on personnel, which areas of financial well-being advice are most useful and whether a rank structure prevents challenging poor behaviour. The views then inform policy-making decisions and well-being provision.
The force aims to equip new recruits to support their own well-being. A new recruits’ initiative ‘fit for duty, fit for life’ is a 12-week programme, funded by the police and crime commissioner, which is open to all new officers and staff. The programme is designed to promote better overall well-being by developing behaviour that supports this, including exercise, diet and hydration. Evaluation from the first cohort of 44 police officers has shown they were concerned about diet, cardiovascular health and hydration.
The force maintains and improves the workforce’s well-being, but pressures of work mean officers and staff can’t always make full use of that provision
Staff were generally positive about the well-being provision and support accessible to them. Psychological screening is available for personnel in high-risk roles, and this has been expanded to include more officers. This helps the force identify where officers and staff may need greater support.
There is a support structure for those with neurodiversity. The force employs a neurodiversity adviser and has 25 trained members of the workforce designated as dyslexia assessors. The force told us that in the year ending 31 March 2022, the dyslexia assessor group assessed and supported 165 colleagues with dyslexia, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. New officers have the option to be screened during the recruitment process. When a neurodiverse condition is identified, the force puts reasonable adjustments in place before that person starts their learning phase, with a follow-up assessment when they start operational duties.
There are governance and oversight structures at both local and force levels. These use data from the well-being metrics dashboard to monitor the success of its well-being provision and to identify trends.
At the time of our inspection, the force and the University of Portsmouth were carrying out work to fully evaluate the force’s three-year well-being programme. It was looking at both the processes and results of the programme and investigating the difference it has made to officers and staff. This is positive in helping the force understand what works and what else it may need to consider.
But some members of the workforce told us that heavy workloads had an effect on their well-being, and this meant they didn’t have time to participate in many of the force’s preventative well-being initiatives.
The force is building a workforce for the future
The force has a three-year workforce development strategy. As of 30 June 2022, it had recruited 94 percent of its allocation for new officers to support the Police Uplift Programme, with nine months of the programme left.
The force usually provides development or training programmes to address any needs that are identified through personal development reviews. But some personnel see the force’s current system as cumbersome. This is because data about training needs must be extracted from a personal development review system and put into another HR system to keep track of training requirements.
The strategic resource management board considers which areas of recruitment to prioritise. For example, it identified a shortage of detectives in investigative roles. In response, the force has used the degree holder entry programme to successfully run a direct-entry detective route.
The force’s retention scheme allows officers who are due to retire to apply to remain in the force for up to five years longer but still take some pension benefits. Officers can return to the same or lower rank and have the option to apply to work part-time. This is a good way to retain experience when a large proportion of frontline officers are new to the police service.
When people leave the force, they are encouraged to complete an exit interview. The force collates the findings from these interviews and senior leaders consider this information. The force has identified themes as to why people are leaving, and it plans to address them.
Learning and development opportunities are available to the workforce
The force has a talent management strategy, which provides development opportunities for police officers and staff.
- Firefly is a leadership programme the force runs in partnership with Hampshire County Council. People embark on a 12-month development programme that focuses on the development of leadership skills and completion of a work-based project, followed by a presentation of findings to senior leaders.
- The potential development programme is designed to identify and support non‑rank officers and staff with potential. It aims to develop them to make a formal talent pool for both rank progression and move personnel into roles at similar levels to gain experience.
- The advance programme aims to develop a diverse pipeline of potential leaders who aspire to inspector and chief inspector ranks and police staff equivalents.
- The force may help personnel who wish to carry out academic study. Each year, senior officers and police staff can apply for funded places to study for a postgraduate degree in applied criminology and policing at the University of Cambridge. Officers and staff who wish to undertake academic study with a research project that will benefit the force can apply for up to 25 percent off their tuition fees.
- Learning and continuing professional development opportunities are available to officers and staff. A training needs assessment informs how the force provides structured training, and it manages this through its strategic training prioritisation board. Staff have access to webinars and online content for self-directed learning.
The force understands the costs of external training, but it doesn’t cost internal training courses. It should consider doing this in the future so it can have a full understanding of its training costs.
Tackling workforce corruption
We now inspect how forces deal with vetting and counter corruption differently. This is so we can be more effective and efficient in how we inspect this high-risk area of police business.
Corruption in forces is tackled by specialist units, designed to proactively target corruption threats. Police corruption is corrosive and poses a significant risk to public trust and confidence. There is a national expectation of standards and how they should use specialist resources and assets to target and arrest those that pose the highest threat.
Through our new inspections, we seek to understand how well forces apply these standards. As a result, we now inspect forces and report on national risks and performance in this area. We now grade and report on forces’ performance separately.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary’s vetting and counter corruption inspection hasn’t yet been completed. We will update our website with our findings and the separate report once the inspection is complete.
Strategic planning, organisational management and value for money
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary is adequate at operating efficiently.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to understand demand in more detail. It should reassure itself that when it moves resources to meet demand, it fully understands the effect on the wider organisation and services to the public
The force is facing real challenges in dealing with all its demand in a timely way. We found, for example, that its initial response to the public wasn’t always quick enough. There were delays in some investigations and in dealing with some areas of vulnerability.
During our inspection, we found that the force flexed its resources to meet the demand challenges it faced, based on its assessment of overall risk and prioritisation. But it wasn’t clear that the force had an effective process in place to consistently monitor the effect that these decisions had on the wider workforce demand or service delivery.
For example, the force used neighbourhood officers to meet unmet demand elsewhere in the organisation. This meant those officers didn’t have enough time to spend in their areas, and this affected patrol visibility and problem-solving. We didn’t see the force measuring or managing the effect on neighbourhood policing in any effective way.
We recognise that the force is using the resources at its disposal to manage demand and that it was carrying out work to understand this in more detail. But moving resources from key areas to address demand challenges should be supported by a review process and effective analysis. The force needs to assure itself that processes are in place to monitor resources and demand effectively. This will help it make sure it can mitigate the effect and support its workforce and communities more effectively.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force operates efficiently.
The force has an effective strategic planning framework to make sure it tackles issues that are important locally and nationally
The force has an effective strategic planning process, and there is a good structure for managing force performance. These include tactical planning meetings, area performance meetings and monthly performance updates. There is clear alignment with force plans, control strategy and the police and crime commissioner’s plan. Effective meetings and decision-making support this framework.
The force communicates its priorities to its personnel, but we found that not all officers and staff understood all senior leaders’ decisions. Leaders should make sure the workforce understands those strategic decisions and that they clearly communicate the decisions they make and provide supporting rationale. This will help the force manage demand and achieve the priorities set out in its policing plan.
The force understands capability and capacity
The force has conducted some promising work to understand capability and capacity. It has invested heavily in bringing forward its recruitment through the Police Uplift Programme. But this does negatively affect the force’s capacity during times of high demand because of the amount of protected learning time new officers must complete. The force has shown it has plans to address capacity problems, but it will take time to put these plans in place.
We found that the force responded to capacity issues on a day-to-day basis. It generally responded well to the challenges it faced. But as stated above, it moves neighbourhood officers to meet demand when the number of outstanding calls reaches a certain level. This affects how well these officers can perform their main roles, so the force needs to consider more sustainable solutions.
We found that officers worked overtime to manage workloads, and they couldn’t take owed rest days without significant notice. The force has made progress by giving supervisors access to apps that provide performance data. These will help give the force a better understanding of the capability and capacity challenges it faces.
We were pleased to see that the force is investing in its data tools and making progress to understand the workforce in more detail. The force recognises that in order to understand capability and capacity, it needs effective systems to manage its resources well. It is putting in place solutions to achieve this.
The force makes the best use of the money it has available, and its plans are both ambitious and sustainable
The force has a balanced medium term financial plan, based on realistic assumptions about future costs with a sufficient level of reserves. It has improved efficiency through collaborated functions in its enabling services – for example, the force shares HR and finance teams with Hampshire’s council and fire service.
The force has made a conscious decision to not set out a detailed plan about how it will achieve the savings identified over the life of its current medium term financial plan.
It has a mature budgeting and planning process, through which it has previously identified and achieved savings. It will use this process to set out detailed plans when the funding and operational landscape becomes clearer.
The force is one of the lowest-funded forces in England and Wales, and it already operates a lean and efficient policing model. This presents a challenge when it considers further efficiencies. But it will ultimately need a more detailed plan so it can set out the challenges it faces in its funding and resourcing.
The force can show it is continuing to achieve efficiency savings and improve productivity
The force is committed to making savings and finding more efficient ways to work. It has invested in its IT and gives its workforce up-to-date technology to improve productivity.
The force is improving its understanding of the data it holds by investing in improved data technology. At the time of our inspection, the force was developing a number of apps to improve effectiveness. It was also carrying out further work to give better insight into the productivity of its resources and the benefits of its investment.
About the data
Data in this report is from a range of sources, including:
- Home Office;
- Office for National Statistics (ONS);
- our inspection fieldwork; and
- data we collected directly from all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
When we collected data directly from police forces, we took reasonable steps to agree the design of the data collection with forces and with other interested parties such as the Home Office. We gave forces several opportunities to quality assure and validate the data they gave us, to make sure it was accurate. We shared the submitted data with forces, so they could review their own and other forces’ data. This allowed them to analyse where data was notably different from other forces or internally inconsistent.
We set out the source of this report’s data below.
Data in the report
British Transport Police was outside the scope of inspection. Any aggregated totals for England and Wales exclude British Transport Police data, so will differ from those published by the Home Office.
When other forces were unable to supply data, we mention this under the relevant sections below.
The dotted lines on the Bar Charts show one Standard Deviation (sd) above and below the unweighted mean across all forces. Where the distribution of the scores appears normally distributed, the sd is calculated in the normal way. If the forces are not normally distributed, the scores are transformed by taking logs and a Shapiro Wilks test performed to see if this creates a more normal distribution. If it does, the logged values are used to estimate the sd. If not, the sd is calculated using the normal values. Forces with scores more than 1 sd units from the mean (i.e. with Z-scores greater than 1, or less than -1) are considered as showing performance well above, or well below, average. These forces will be outside the dotted lines on the Bar Chart. Typically, 32% of forces will be above or below these lines for any given measure.
For all uses of population as a denominator in our calculations, unless otherwise noted, we use ONS mid-2020 population estimates.
Survey of police workforce
We surveyed the police workforce across England and Wales, to understand their views on workloads, redeployment and how suitable their assigned tasks were. This survey was a non-statistical, voluntary sample so the results may not be representative of the workforce population. The number of responses per force varied. So we treated results with caution and didn’t use them to assess individual force performance. Instead, we identified themes that we could explore further during fieldwork.
Victim Service Assessment
Our victim service assessments (VSAs) will track a victim’s journey from reporting a crime to the police, through to outcome stage. All forces will be subjected to a VSA within our PEEL inspection programme. Some forces will be selected to additionally be tested on crime recording, in a way that ensures every force is assessed on its crime recording practices at least every three years.
Details of the technical methodology for the Victim Service Assessment.