Cheshire PEEL 2014
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Cheshire Constabulary has addressed a number of the areas identified in HMIC’s 2012 report, Revisiting Police Relationships. Chief officer leadership is strong, and there is an obvious climate of professionalism throughout the force. Wrongdoing is challenged, but work is necessary to develop policies and inform the workforce accordingly. Misconduct investigations are proportionate and there is a confidence across the constabulary that cases are handled fairly, and opportunities for learning are exploited. The counter-corruption unit is effective in protecting the force from corruption, but it has limited capacity. The National Decision Model, designed to help staff reach rational decisions, is well understood.
Further insights on legitimacy
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013) found that the proportion of respondents who that think that the force does an excellent/good job was broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales. The same survey over the same period also found that the proportion that agrees the force deals with local concerns was broadly in line with the figure for England and Wales. The force’s own victim satisfaction survey (12 months to June 2014) found that the proportion of victims that were satisfied with their experience was broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that operators answering calls from the public were polite, sympathetic and professional. The domestic abuse inspection found that there was a good understanding of domestic abuse, assessing risk and a strong focus on identifying repeat victims or those who may be particularly vulnerable. Formal risk assessments were undertaken at all incidents of domestic abuse and there were clear roles and responsibilities for dealing with victim safety.
As a result of the crime data integrity inspection, HMIC is seriously concerned that a notable proportion of reports of crime are not being recorded, and this means that victims of crime are not receiving the service they should when they first report a crime. HMIC is also concerned about the accuracy of the decisions taken by the force when making no-crime decisions (cancelling a recorded crime): too many of these are incorrect. The force needs to take action to improve, serve the victims of these crimes, and provide the public with confidence in the force’s crime data.
To what extent does the force ensure that the workforce acts with integrity?
There is strong leadership from the chief officers who set the tone for standards of behaviour. Members of staff are in no doubt about the way they are expected to behave at work. Staff and officers are prepared to challenge and are supported when doing so. The Code of Ethics developed by the College of Policing has been launched within the constabulary and the force has introduced a group that considers risks to the organisation, misconduct cases and trends. The National Decision Model, designed to help staff reach rational decisions, is well understood.
A bespoke social media policy still needs to be developed, and some other policies are not widely understood by the workforce. The constabulary has not undertaken survey work to understand how integrity issues affect public trust and confidence. Misconduct investigations are proportionate and there is a confidence across the constabulary that cases are handled fairly. The counter-corruption unit (CCU) is effective in the protection of force assets from corruption but is limited in capacity. The constabulary IT systems are monitored and all staff are undergoing a repeat vetting process in line with national guidelines. Drug testing and intelligence-led integrity testing are carried out.
What are the public perceptions of the force?
HMIC considers that there are two sources of data that give an insight into the public’s perceptions of their police force: the Crime Survey for England and Wales, and the Victim Satisfaction Survey.
The data for Cheshire Constabulary show that:
Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 63 percent of adults surveyed think that the police do an excellent/good job, which is broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales of 61 percent.
- 57 percent of adults surveyed agree that the police deal with local concerns, which is broadly in line with the England and Wales proportion of 60 percent.
Victim Satisfaction Survey (12 months to June 2014)
- 86.4 percent (± 2.2 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience which is broadly in line with the figure across England and Wales of 85.0 percent (± 0.2 percent).
To what extent does the force respond to calls for service appropriately?
The value for money inspection found the force had set a clear performance standard for response times for calls classed as ‘emergency’ and this had remained the same since 2010. The inspection found that during this time the proportion of calls attended within these standards for ’emergency’ calls had remained the same.
The crime data integrity inspection found that call-handling operators were polite, sympathetic, professional and treated people with respect leading to targeted questioning and good initial investigations.
The domestic abuse inspection found call handlers to be skilled in dealing with callers. They had a good understanding of domestic abuse, assessing risk and a strong focus on identifying repeat victims or those who may be particularly vulnerable. However, the inspection found that staff working at police station enquiry desks had not received sufficient training in identifying and dealing with domestic abuse victims. Call-handlers and supervisors managed resources and incidents well, ensuring that officers attending incidents of domestic abuse were given the relevant information. Frontline officers had received domestic abuse risk assessment training and some had had additional training in stalking and harassment. Formal risk assessments were undertaken at all incidents of domestic abuse, and there were clear roles and responsibilities for dealing with victim safety and the investigation dependent upon the risk level. Staff understood the risk assessment tool and applied their discretion and professional judgment when assessing the risks. However, there was some confusion of the levels of risk that should be recorded on the domestic abuse, stalking and harassment and honour-based violence (DASH) form.
The inspection into burglary dwelling investigations found that burglary dwelling incidents were being attended promptly, and that the standards of investigation applied by officers were good. However, crime scene investigators were not attending all burglary dwelling crime scenes. They were carrying out telephone assessments to decide whether or not to attend, and conducted scenes of crime examinations after conversations with colleagues and complainants.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity inspection examined 96 incident records and found that 90 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 90 crimes that should have been recorded, 62 were recorded. Of the 62, four were wrongly classified and 19 were recorded outside the 72-hour limit allowed under the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR). There was a need for improvement in the accuracy and timeliness of crime-recording decisions.
The force has a centralised crime-recording facility through which we have estimated that the force records approximately 22 percent of the total of its recorded crime. This facility involves operators within the force control centre who are trained to record reports of crime directly from members of the public which do not require the creation of an incident record. Our inspection of this function (a review of 18 calls from the public) found that of the 20 crimes that should have been recorded, 18 were of which 2 were classified wrongly, but all 18 were recorded within the 72-hour limit allowed under the HOCR.
The inspection also reviewed 71 no-crime records and found 42 records to be compliant with HOCR and the National Crime Recording Standard. As the records we reviewed related to offences of rape, robbery and violence, this was a significant cause for concern and was a matter of material and urgent importance.