Police forces must ensure the improvements they have made in tackling domestic abuse are replicated in services to protect and support all vulnerable victims

The extent to which a police force is successful at identifying, protecting and supporting those who are vulnerable is a core indicator of its overall effectiveness. In recognition of this, as part of its annual PEEL effectiveness inspection programme Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) graded all 43 police forces in England and Wales on how effectively they protect vulnerable people from harm and support victims.

Get the national overview and individual force reports

Police effectiveness 2015 (vulnerability)

A force may be judged as “requiring improvement” by HMIC where it exhibits shortcomings in certain areas, even if its performance in other areas is strong, and even if there are many elements of its service that HMIC consider to be good. HMIC judged 12 forces to be ‘good’, 27 forces to ‘require improvement’ and 4 forces to be ‘inadequate’ at protecting vulnerable people from harm and supporting victims. No force was judged to be ‘outstanding’.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham, who led the inspection, said:

“Victims of crime and anti-social behaviour who are vulnerable in some way are in greatest need of the police’s protection and support, but HMIC’s inspection found that most forces require improvement in how they protect and support them. As with all HMIC inspections, we immediately alerted forces where we found details of poor practice and risk, so that improvements could be put in place straight away.

“Whatever the overall judgment we came to, we know that there is hard work carried out by dedicated police officers and staff in every police force. We found many examples of committed and talented police officers and staff going the extra mile to meet the needs of vulnerable victims consistently, sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances, and I’d like to thank all those who work so hard in this often difficult and sensitive job.

“We were encouraged to find clear evidence that forces’ leaders, along with police and crime commissioners, have improved their response to domestic abuse since the publication of our report ‘Everyone’s Business’ 18 months ago. I want to see forces making the same sorts of improvements in the service they provide to all vulnerable victims.

“We witnessed a clear commitment from forces to improve the service they provide to vulnerable people generally. This determination now needs to translate into effective and consistent support and protection.”

Vulnerable people are, by definition, most at risk of significant harm if they are not well supported. This inspection examined how forces respond to and safeguard those who are vulnerable in some way, with a focus on missing and absent children and victims of domestic abuse, and how well prepared they are to tackle child sexual exploitation.

Any areas for improvement or recommendations as to how individual forces should improve the service they provide to vulnerable victims are set out in the 43 force-level PEEL Effectiveness (Vulnerability) reports.

Get the national overview and individual force reports

Police effectiveness 2015 (vulnerability)


  1. HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales, together with other major policing bodies.
  2. Findings from HMIC’s full 2015 PEEL Effectiveness inspection (including overall effectiveness grades for all 43 forces in England and Wales) will be published in February 2016. While the grade and findings set out in this report will contribute to this, given the critical importance of protecting and supporting vulnerable victims, HMIC decided to publish the vulnerability inspection results separately and in advance, so that forces could act upon the findings as quickly as possible.
  3. Forces were graded inadequate if we found serious weaknesses in the force’s arrangements to safeguard and investigate cases involving vulnerable people. The relevant force reports contain full details.
  4. HMI Zoë Billingham will be available for interview.
  5. For further information, HMIC’s press office can be contacted during office hours from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
  6. HMIC’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217 729.