Durham PEEL 2014
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
There is strong and visible leadership from the chief officer team, promoting high standards of ethical and professional behaviour. Training is provided to staff to encourage a climate in which professional behaviour is encouraged and valued. Members of staff feel supported and have the confidence to challenge inappropriate behaviour. The force investigates allegations of misconduct and corruption effectively but improvement is needed in managing intelligence to protect the organisation from corruption. The force has made good progress on the recommendations from the 2012 HMIC report.
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 agrees 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 greater than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that a victim-centred approach was at the heart of policing in Durham and was widely understood by officers and staff. The domestic abuse inspection found that staff were trained to collect as much relevant information as possible to establish risk levels before deciding the most appropriate response; however dispatchers were routinely not always sending the nearest and most appropriate resource and attending officers were not being given sufficient background information. Staff working on the front enquiry desk had not received any specific domestic abuse training.
As a result of the crime data integrity inspection, HMIC is concerned that a notable proportion of reports 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 with 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?
The chief constable and deputy chief constable provide clear and effective leadership in promoting professional behaviour. Staff are supported in challenging unprofessional behaviour and have access to confidential reporting systems. Force policies include express reference to integrity matters and these are kept up to date. The workforce receives training about integrity and ethics, some of which is personally led by the deputy chief constable, and integrity issues are considered in the context of promotions and specialist posts.
The force has identified threats and risks from corruption, and has an effective action plan. Monitoring of force systems is limited. However, the force conducts random drug testing to identify substance abuse. The professional standards department and counter-corruption unit investigation staff are trained and effective, but there is a need to standardise the way intelligence is managed and to ensure more effectively the security of sensitive operations.
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 Durham show that:
Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 60 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.
- 63 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)
- 88.6 percent (± 1.8 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience which is greater than 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, and this had remained the same since 2010. The inspection found that during this time the proportion of calls attended within these standards for both ’emergency’ and ‘priority’ calls had remained on target.
The crime data integrity inspection found that a victim-centred approach was at the heart of policing in Durham and was widely understood by officers and staff.
The domestic abuse inspection found that victims of domestic abuse were identified by the force when a call from a member of the public was received at one of the force’s two communication centres. The force had good systems in place to identify repeat callers. Staff were trained to collect as much relevant information as possible to establish risk levels before deciding the most appropriate response. They also routinely researched police databases to gather available information about a caller, perpetrator, family or address to help officers attending the incident to assess the threat of harm to a victim and any children present. However, the inspection found that dispatchers were not always sending the nearest and most appropriate resource, and attending officers were routinely not being given sufficient background information. Although staff working on the front enquiry desk in police stations regularly received reports of domestic abuse, they had not received any specific training.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity Inspection examined 102 incident records and found that 104 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 104 crimes that should have been recorded, 88 were. Of the 88, five were wrongly classified and ten were recorded outside the 72-hour limit allowed under the Home Office Counting Rules. This is of concern as it means that some victims’ crimes are not being recorded and that these victims are not receiving the service they deserve (because, for example, certain victim support services are only triggered once a crime is recorded).