Norfolk 2014Read more about Norfolk
This is the first PEEL Assessment of Norfolk Constabulary. 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 investigating offending, good at tackling anti-social behaviour and outstanding at reducing crime and preventing offending;
the efficiency with which the force carries out its responsibilities is outstanding; and
the force is acting to achieve fairness and legitimacy in most of the practices that were examined this year.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
In making this first PEEL Assessment of Norfolk Constabulary I have taken into account the challenges to policing this area.
Norfolk is the fifth largest county in England and Wales and has a predominantly rural population. Tourism is a major industry with millions of visitors drawn to the area each year. The county has an increasingly diverse population with the local agricultural industry over the last few years attracting substantial numbers of workers from Eastern Europe.
I have been extremely impressed by the force’s real commitment to neighbourhood policing which lies at the heart of its outstanding approach to preventing offending and reducing crime. The force has protected its local neighbourhood teams, which work very well with partners (including local councils) in coming up with creative long-term solutions to keep communities safe.
The force has an outstanding approach to preventing offending, targeting the most prolific offenders across the county. The force is good at investigating offending, and is committed to improving the quality of investigations, providing more training to staff aimed at improving the outcomes for victims. Norfolk has one of the highest detection rates in England and Wales.
There is a very strong focus on victim care, led by the chief constable. This ethos of protecting the most vulnerable is evident at all levels throughout the organisation. It is very effective at identifying and responding to emerging threats and risks to the community, with some excellent responses to so-called ‘hidden crimes’ such as child online grooming and human trafficking.
Tackling domestic abuse is a force priority and there is a strong focus on victims. The force has a robust process to identify those who are vulnerable (this could be because of their age or because they have been victimised before) so they can be provided with the correct level of support. There is a good standard of service for domestic abuse victims at the highest risk of harm. The force has recently invested resources to support those who are assessed as being at lower levels of risk too.
I have also been impressed with Norfolk’s response to the financial challenge. The force has performed exceptionally well in reducing its costs while maintaining the service it provides to the public. It is also planning for the long-term, taking the necessary steps today, so it is ready to meet future funding challenges.
Norfolk’s success is in part due to its considerable understanding of the demand it faces and the way it analyses and assesses this to decide how to provide policing effectively, as well as its collaboration with Suffolk Constabulary.
Officers and staff in Norfolk are aware of the boundaries between unprofessional and professional behaviour. Staff feel confident to challenge unethical and unprofessional behaviour thanks to a supportive culture and environment.
Despite these many positives I have concerns about the force’s approach to crime-recording, which is not as accurate as it should be.
Our intention is to examine specifically leadership 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.
Over the past 12 months, there have been a number of inspections made of Norfolk Constabulary with a recurrent theme; the force could do more to exploit opportunities to maximise the benefits of technology including the use of mobile data.
I am particularly interested to see how the force develops its partnership working in collaboration, most notably with Suffolk Constabulary, over the next 12 months.
How well the force tackles crime
Norfolk Constabulary is outstanding at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force is good at investigating offending. It is good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
Norfolk remains a low-crime county and victim satisfaction with policing services is also higher here than the average for England and Wales. The police work well with partners to prevent crime and reduce re-offending. Its approach to reducing and preventing offending is outstanding.
Neighbourhood policing remains at the heart of the force’s approach and safer neighbourhood teams understand their local communities’ concerns and priorities. There is a strong culture of preventative policing in Norfolk and despite financial cuts the force has continued to invest in dedicated and visible resources to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour in the neighbourhoods.
HMIC found a victim-focused approach to policing at all levels within the force, with a particularly strong emphasis on identifying and protecting the most vulnerable victims.
The force works well to investigate crimes and make sure offenders can be brought to justice effectively. HMIC was impressed by the way the force identifies and responds to emerging threats and risks to the community, with some excellent responses to so called ‘hidden crimes’ such as child online grooming and human trafficking.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that the public in Norfolk could have confidence that, generally, the police provided a good service to victims of domestic abuse and in doing so, helped to keep them safe. The force has a well-developed and effective response to high-risk victims of domestic abuse (those at high risk of serious harm or murder) and staff worked well with partners. The child protection inspection found that Norfolk had a strong commitment to child protection with a clear set of priorities and plans that support it, and strong leadership.
The crime inspection found that dealing with serious and organised crime was a strategic priority for Norfolk and it had identified a range of organised crime groups which were being tackled proactively. The inspection did find some inconsistency in the management of some of these groups operating in the county.
How well the force delivers value for money
Norfolk Constabulary’s response to the financial challenge of the spending review is outstanding. The force is determined to continue to provide a high-quality policing service to the public. It is planning for the long-term, taking the necessary steps today, so it is ready to meet future funding challenges in this ongoing era of austerity.
Norfolk has clear plans to meet its financial challenge for the spending review period. Importantly, the force is looking beyond this period and has already developed outline plans to achieve two-thirds of the £20m savings required over the next four years to 2017/18.
The force has performed exceptionally well in the first three years of the spending review. It has achieved the required savings while maintaining police officer numbers and improving performance. This can be attributed in part to its collaboration with Suffolk Constabulary. Norfolk’s success is also due to its considerable understanding of the demand it faces and the way it analyses and assesses this to decide how to provide policing effectively.
The investment that the force has made already to redesign the way it can provide local policing over the next four years, and the robust change programme it has in place – with a reputation for providing benefits – means Norfolk is well placed to meet future financial challenges. It has healthy reserves that provide it with a level of financial security into the long-term. Norfolk continues to provide a high quality policing service to its communities.
Crime has reduced over the spending review and the force has maintained one of the lowest levels of crime in England and Wales, while the level of victim satisfaction is high.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
There is clear leadership from the chief constable to create a climate of ethical behaviour, and staff and officers are familiar with ‘what you need to know’, a booklet issued by the chief constable, together with his counterpart in Suffolk Constabulary. This sets out what is expected in terms of standards and integrity. Staff are prepared to challenge inappropriate behaviour and feel the organisation will support them when doing so. There is insufficient rigour of the initial assessments of misconduct cases and a lack of visible supervision of subsequent investigations. There is currently insufficient capacity to prevent, reduce and investigate corruption matters effectively.
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 found that the proportion that agree 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 call-handlers were polite, helpful and professional. Police community support officers were required on a daily basis to speak to every victim of crime in their area from the previous 24 hours unless inappropriate. The domestic abuse inspection found that the force had good systems within its control room and an automated search facility identified repeat victims. The force had introduced a checklist of questions for call takers, which established immediate risk of harm, but did not cover previous abuse or vulnerability.
As a result of the crime data integrity inspection HMIC is 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. The force’s approach to no-criming (cancelling a recorded crime) is generally acceptable. However, there is room for some improvement if the force is to retain the confidence of the public in recorded crime data.
The child protection inspection found that Norfolk Constabulary had a strong commitment to child protection. However, management oversight, the recording and retention of relevant documentation, and the auditing of the effective use of police protection all require improvement.