Staffordshire 2014Read more about Staffordshire
This is the first PEEL Assessment of Staffordshire 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 it is outstanding at tackling anti-social behaviour. However, it requires improvement in the way it investigates 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.
Dru Sharpling, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
In making this first PEEL Assessment of Staffordshire Police I have taken into account the challenges to policing the area.
Staffordshire has varied geography ranging from the sparsely populated area of Staffordshire Moorlands to urban and densely populated areas, such as the city of Stoke-on-Trent, and the towns of Tamworth, Cannock and Burton-upon-Trent.
I have been impressed with the force’s outstanding approach to tackling anti-social behaviour, with consistent community engagement and highly effective partnership working arrangements. Staffordshire provides outstanding value for money. The force has reduced its spending considerably and at the same time continued to do an excellent job in fighting crime and keeping communities safe.
Despite the force having reduced its police officer strength by 23 percent since 2010, it has worked creatively to maintain a strong focus on improving service quality and putting the victim at the centre of policing. Victim satisfaction is one of the highest for England and Wales.
The force’s approach to crime-recording is good, with a high degree of accuracy. However, I have some concerns that quality of investigations in Staffordshire is inconsistent. Victims are not always kept up to date as investigations progress, and supervisors offer a limited amount of advice and direction to maximise the likelihood of a successful outcome. The domestic abuse inspection found the response to victims was less structured, and there was concern that victims of repeat incidents of domestic abuse may not be identified and their safety adequately addressed.
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 particularly interested to see how the force responds to the areas HMIC has identified for improvement over the next 12 months.
How well the force tackles crime
Staffordshire Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force requires improvement in investigating offending. It is outstanding at tackling anti-social behaviour.
Staffordshire Police has a structured and effective approach to assessing the threats, risks and harm faced by its communities. It has clear priorities, and aligns its operational activity to the pursuit of these.
Officers and staff place victims at the centre of much of their decision making, and are able to identify and address vulnerability – whether this relates to victims or perpetrators. Recorded crime rose by 3 percent in the year to June 2014, but victim satisfaction is high and stable at 89.8 percent (± 1.5 percent). The force is outstanding in its approach to tackling anti-social behaviour, with consistent community engagement and highly effective partnership working arrangements.
The quality of investigation in Staffordshire is inconsistent. Victims are not always kept up to date as investigations progress, and supervisors offer a limited amount of advice and direction to maximise the likelihood of a successful outcome. Integrated offender management in the county is better – the force is managing its most persistent offenders well, and is committed to strengthening this model further.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that the public could have some confidence that the police provided a good service to victims of domestic abuse. However, there was concern that victims of repeat incidents of domestic abuse may not be identified and their safety adequately addressed.
The value for money inspection found that there were arrangements in place with other forces for serious organised crime policing. These collaborations had enabled the force to save money, and to provide better equipped and more resilient specialist services to the public.
How well the force delivers value for money
HMIC commends Staffordshire Police on providing outstanding value for money. The force has reduced its spending considerably and at the same time continued to do an excellent job in fighting crime and keeping its communities safe. It is developing ambitious and innovative plans to become even more efficient and effective.
Staffordshire Police has made excellent progress. It has a secure financial position for the short and medium term. It has already made all the savings it needs for the whole spending review a year ahead of schedule, and it has also found all the savings it needs for 2015/16.
The force demonstrates a clear focus on value for money through low workforce costs and a continual drive for improving satisfaction even further, despite having the highest level of satisfaction in England and Wales. Officers and staff are developed to achieve excellence and are motivated to provide the best service they can, taking opportunities to make it even more efficient. While finance is an important factor, this is clearly not the only driver in the way the force serves communities. Through strong financial management and good leadership, the force is now in a position to start developing the detail around its longer-term plans through to 2020 to achieve even more savings. This includes the police and crime commissioner’s innovative and ambitious plans for wider public sector reform in Staffordshire.
HMIC is impressed that, despite the force having reduced its police officer strength by 23 percent since 2010, it has worked creatively to maintain a strong focus on improving service quality and putting the victim at the centre of policing. Crime has reduced, and victim satisfaction is one of the highest in England and Wales. The force makes good use of local partnerships to improve services and protect its communities. Plans for greater joint working in the future demonstrate that this work is set to improve even more.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Staffordshire Police has made some progress since our 2012 revisit. There has been sustained and effective leadership by chief officers and they have promoted a culture of integrity. Officers and staff know that high standards are expected of them but their understanding could be improved with practical guidance from supervisors. The force has effective systems in place to monitor use of force information and respond to intelligence about unprofessional behaviour, but all staff need to be confident that they can report wrongdoing.
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 who 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 who were satisfied with their experience was greater than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection found that, within the force control room, operators taking calls from the public were very aware of the importance of assessing the needs of victims. The domestic abuse inspection found that the force had good systems to identify repeat callers. Staff were trained to collect as much relevant information as possible, determining threat, harm and risk to a victim using an established set of principles. However, there were some concerns that the lack of an immediate formal assessment of risk meant that some victims may not have received the level of response and support they needed in a timely way.
The force has good crime-recording procedures in place when receiving reports of crime, meaning that victims of crime receive the service they should when they first report a crime. HMIC is also impressed with the accuracy of the decisions taken by the force when making no-crime decisions (cancelling a recorded crime); all of the records examined by HMIC were correct. This means the public can have confidence in the way the force records crime.