Cleveland 2014Read more about Cleveland
This is the first PEEL Assessment of Cleveland Police. In making this assessment I have used my professional judgment to consider the evidence available from inspections undertaken in the past 12 months.
The available evidence indicates that:
in terms of its effectiveness, in general, the force is good at reducing crime and preventing offending, and is good at investigating offending. However, it requires improvement in the way it tackles anti-social behaviour;
the efficiency with which the force carries out its responsibilities is good; and
the force is acting to achieve fairness and legitimacy in some of the practices that were examined this year.
Michael Cunningham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
In making this first PEEL Assessment of Cleveland Police I have taken into account the challenges to policing the area.
The area covers four local authorities: Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton-on-Tees. Two prisons are situated in the area: HMP Kirklevington Grange and HMP Holme House. The area is a major production centre for the chemical industry which results in the large scale transportation by road, rail and sea of hazardous substances.
I have been impressed with the strong victim focus the force has. It works well with local partners to make the best use of resources. The force is focusing resources on providing support to victims of domestic abuse and in pursuing domestic abuse perpetrators.
Cleveland has made excellent progress in achieving its required savings. It has carried out extensive assessments of the demands and risks that it faces and has transformed the way it provides policing to obtain better value for money from fewer resources.
I have concerns that the incidence of anti-social behaviour in Cleveland is very high and the force does not have a clear understanding of the reasons behind this. While call-handling staff have received training in recognising domestic abuse, there is a lack of knowledge about repeat victims and some lacked understanding about the complexities of domestic abuse.
I have serious concerns about the force’s approach to crime-recording, which is not as accurate as it should be.
Our intention is to examine leadership specifically as part of future PEEL Assessments, once criteria have been established. This will allow us to take account of the College of Policing review of leadership that is currently underway.
In common with other forces, there is a need to develop a better understanding of the changing demands for police services.
I am interested to see how the force responds to the areas HMIC has identified for improvement over the next 12 months. I will be particularly interested to see the following developments:
- addressing the recommendations from the crime data integrity inspection report;
- an improved understanding of and approach to anti-social behaviour;
- consistency of investigations; and
- an increased understanding of repeat and vulnerable victim definitions within call-handling.
How well the force tackles crime
Cleveland Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force is good at investigating offending. It requires improvement in tackling anti-social behaviour.
Cleveland provides an effective service in preventing crime and reoffending. Overall, crime has fallen in Cleveland at a similar rate to across England and Wales as a whole over the past four years, although crime rates remain higher than those of England and Wales. HMIC found that the force works well in targeting resources to tackle crimes, although sometimes short-term problems divert the focus away from tackling force and community priorities.
HMIC found that the force has a strong victim focus and there is a clear commitment to improving the quality of victim care. The force works well with local organisations to make the best use of resources by planning and delivering joint responses to fighting crime.
However, the incidence of anti-social behaviour in Cleveland is very high. It is by far the highest rate per 1,000 population in the country and more than twice the England and Wales rate. The area also saw one of the biggest increases in reported incidents in England and Wales last year. HMIC is concerned that the force does not have a clear understanding of the reasons behind this very high incidence or why it is continuing nor was the force able to demonstrate what it is doing to tackle the situation at a strategic level. This is an area that requires improvement.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that, although there was much effective work being done to tackle this problem, there were several areas for improvement for Cleveland to address before it could have confidence that a consistently good service was provided to victims of domestic abuse to minimise the risk to them. The crime inspection found evidence that Cleveland Police was focusing resources on providing support to victims of domestic abuse and pursuing domestic abuse perpetrators.
The crime inspection found that the force had an effective process in place for identifying, monitoring and disrupting organised crime groups. Neighbourhood teams were involved in managing and disrupting the criminal activity of low-level crime groups in their areas.
How well the force delivers value for money
HMIC found that Cleveland Police has made excellent progress in achieving the savings it needs while working hard to protect its frontline crime-fighting roles. It has had one of the largest reductions in police officer numbers, and has transformed the way it provides policing to get better value for money from fewer resources.
Cleveland has made excellent progress in putting itself in a secure financial position. It is working hard to reduce costs and to provide a service to its local communities that offers value for money. The force faced a difficult challenge: it needed to save 21 percent of its total spending over the four years of the spending review. It responded well, and is on track to make all the savings it needs, as well as having found more savings for 2015/16. Importantly, the force has started to develop ambitious plans for achieving savings beyond 2016. The changes being put into place are an ambitious approach to transform the way the force provides policing, involving considerable change to the way the force works. The force has carried out extensive assessments of the demands and the risks that it faces; this is being used to redistribute resources and to reshape the way it provides policing. Frontline crime-fighting roles are being protected as it makes the cuts and neighbourhood policing remains the foundation of the force’s approach. Cleveland is making good use of its partnerships and collaboration with other organisations to ensure that savings are being made without damaging the service to the public. Cleveland is well placed to face the future financial challenges.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
The chief constable and chief officer team exhibit strong and clear leadership, promoting high standards of ethical and professional behaviour. The force generally has good systems and policies about integrity, and has plans to improve further its monitoring procedures through its internal ethics committee. The force is considering collaboration with another force to increase its professional standards department capacity. The force has made considerable efforts to identify threats and vulnerabilities within the force through the people intelligence board and ethics committee.
Further insights on legitimacy
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013) found that the proportion of respondents who 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 agree that 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 the victim call-back process to be comprehensive. The domestic abuse inspection found that call handlers and dispatchers had received some training in recognising domestic abuse but there was a lack of knowledge of the definitions of a repeat or a vulnerable victim. Some staff and officers lacked a full understanding of the complex issues and variety of forms that abuse can take.
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.