More consistency needed across policing to better prevent homicide
Most police forces effectively identify patterns and causes of homicide, and allocate the right resources to prevent it, but there is still too much inconsistency in how policing tackles homicide prevention, a new report has found.
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His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) carried out an inspection of homicide prevention, jointly supported by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the College of Policing and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
The inspectorate found several examples of good practice, including clear and effective leadership in some forces, which helped to co-ordinate activity and make sure all causes of homicide were tackled. But inspectors were concerned by the inconsistency across policing.
The report also warned that the current system for homicide data collection from forces was preventing sufficient and accurate information being submitted to the Home Office. Until this is resolved, the Home Office, and in turn forces, may only have a partial understanding of homicide and its causes. For example, the link between drugs and homicide may have been overstated.
Other issues highlighted included:
- Some forces didn’t understand the threat in their area, so couldn’t effectively prevent homicide.
- Not enough forces were found to be engaging and contributing to the homicide prevention framework.
- Most forces didn’t have a way of quickly identifying learning following incidents of homicide, and too often recommendations weren’t effectively communicated to frontline staff.
- Forces weren’t communicating effectively with young people via social media, and this may be increasing fear of crime unnecessarily among older people.
- Forces rely on social media platforms that young people are less likely to use, resulting in prevention messages being lost or communicated disproportionately to older people.
- Forces were failing to protect the public by not allocating resources to properly manage potentially dangerous people.
In order to improve forces’ contribution to the prevention of homicide, HMICFRS made recommendations to both chief constables and the Home Office.
The recommendations include chief constables ensuring they produce regular analytical reports concerning death investigation and quickly identify lessons from homicides.
His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Andy Cooke, said:
“It’s encouraging to see the examples of good practice happening across forces in the prevention of homicide. However, for all the positives, homicide prevention is hindered by the lack of consistency in each force’s approach.
“When dealing with such a serious and devastating crime as homicide, it is absolutely vital that forces and partner agencies work closely and effectively together.”
Nerys Thomas, Head of Research Analysis and Knowledge Sharing at the College of Policing, said:
“While there are many great examples of police forces working well to identify patterns and prevent homicide there is still more to do. The College of Policing will continue supporting all forces to engage with and add to the homicide prevention framework so we can share good practice across the country.
“Through using this framework to connect forces and encourage partnership working, we can ensure the most effective and efficient tactics are being deployed by forces in preventing such devastating crimes.”
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for homicide Chief Constable Kate Meynell said:
“We welcome this report and will look to progress the recommendations. We are working closely with the Home Office to understand any emerging themes in homicides and what prevention opportunities there maybe for policing and the wider system to make a positive difference.
“The new homicide prevention framework goes beyond catching those responsible, but rather it equips police forces with the tools and tactics they need to stop it happening in the first place.
“Policing cannot take on the extensive societal issues that lead to homicide alone. Many of the levers for prevention of homicide will sit elsewhere and we are encouraging all agencies to work alongside us so that collectively, we develop meaningful assets and play our part in preventing homicide.”
The IOPC’s Acting Deputy Director General, Kathie Cashell, said:
“Any death resulting from a homicide is a tragedy and we are committed to working with partners across policing to identify areas for improvements in the way police forces work to prevent homicides.
“The IOPC has used data from referrals we receive, as well as recommendations we have made as a result of our investigations and reviews, to help inform this hugely important piece of work.
“This report offers a chance for forces to make changes that will help build on the good work already being done to prevent homicides and save lives.”
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- The homicide prevention framework was developed by the NPCC, after the College of Policing requested forces share how they were preventing homicide.
- For further information, please contact the HMICFRS Press Office on 0300 071 6781 or HMICPressOffice@hmicfrs.gov.uk.