Sussex 2014Read more about Sussex
This is the first PEEL Assessment of Sussex 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 tackling anti-social behaviour. However, it requires improvement in the way it investigates crime;
the efficiency with which the force carries out its responsibilities is good; and
the force is acting to achieve fairness and legitimacy in most of its practices that were examined this year.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
In making this first PEEL Assessment of Sussex I have taken into account the challenges to policing this area.
Covering the rural and urban counties of East and West Sussex and the cosmopolitan city of Brighton and Hove. Sussex welcomes millions of visitors each year from the UK and overseas.
I have been impressed with the way Sussex Police’s dedicated neighbourhood teams prioritise anti-social behaviour and deal with it well. The force works well in partnership with others, such as the local councils, to reduce and prevent crime.
I am also impressed that Sussex Police has a very good track record of achieving savings. In spite of a difficult financial challenge, it has achieved more savings than it needed to over the spending review period. The force recognises that for it to maintain effective service provision in the future while responding to further austerity measures it cannot do this alone. Sussex is working closely and constructively with Surrey to develop a way of providing policing that allows the two forces to gain maximum benefits from working together, both in terms of financial savings and also to improve the quality of policing.
I am concerned that the force is not investigating crime as effectively as it should be. Police officers and staff who investigate crimes are not always adequately trained or supervised. However, recently Sussex Police has put more emphasis on effective investigation and is making officers and staff more accountable for the quality of their investigations. I am concerned that officers are not provided with sufficient information to deal with domestic abuse incidents as effectively as they should be.
I also have 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.
Over the past 12 months, there have been a number of inspections made of Sussex that have suggested a number of recurrent issues, in particular the need to improve supervision of crime investigations.
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
Sussex Police is good at reducing crime and preventing offending. The force requires improvement at investigating crime. It is good in tackling anti-social behaviour.
Sussex Police has mature and well-integrated partnerships focused on crime reduction and prevention. The force has completed a detailed assessment of victim vulnerability, allowing it to place victims at the centre of its activity. There have been overall reductions in crime of 3 percent over the past 12 months in Sussex. This is a greater rate of reduction than that for England and Wales. There have been reductions in the levels of anti-social behaviour, and Sussex and its partners use a wide range of powers to police this effectively.
Recently Sussex Police has put more emphasis on effective investigation and is making officers and staff more accountable for the quality of their investigations. The improvement in investigations has been limited by some misunderstanding of priorities among the workforce, insufficient allocation of resources and some examples of officers being responsible for investigations for which they are not trained or accredited.
The force is not investigating offending as effectively as it should be. It identifies victims of crime who are vulnerable, and influential partnerships provide a ready means of support for these individuals. However, those investigating crimes are not always adequately trained or supervised.
Further insights on effectiveness
The domestic abuse inspection found that Sussex was the first force to be awarded White Ribbon status, recognising its campaign to promote awareness of domestic abuse. Although there were some pockets of good practice, there were areas that required substantial improvement in order to provide a consistent service and minimise the risks to victims. The crime inspection found evidence that Sussex has made improvements in how domestic abuse is tackled.
The crime inspection found that Sussex had effective processes in place for dealing with organised crime, including regular meetings that ensured that investigations were progressed. However, there were extensive delays to investigations of more serious crimes due to a lack of capacity within specialist support services to examine telephones and computers.
The inspection on the Strategic Policing Requirement found that Sussex had, or had access to through collaboration with other forces regionally, the necessary capability to tackle terrorism, civil emergency, serious organised crime and public disorder, but not a large-scale cyber incident.
How well the force delivers value for money
Sussex Police is on track to achieve the savings required by the end of the spending review period. It has made good progress in developing collaboration plans with Surrey Police so that it is better placed to achieve savings in the future, while protecting the policing service it provides to the public.
Sussex is on track to achieve its required savings of £56.8m over this spending review period. It has plans in place to achieve further savings in 2015/16. Sussex has a very good track record of achieving savings. In spite of a difficult financial challenge, it has achieved more savings than it needed to over the spending review period.
The force recognises that, for it to maintain effective service provision in the future while responding to further austerity measures, it cannot do this alone. Sussex is working closely and constructively with Surrey to develop a way of providing policing that allows the two forces to gain maximum benefits from working together, both in terms of financial savings and also to improve the quality of policing.
Crime has continued to fall in Sussex throughout the spending review period at a lower rate than for England and Wales. In the year to March 2014, crime rates fell more than in England and Wales.
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Sussex Police has made good progress in communicating to all staff the importance of acting with integrity at all times while fulfilling their duties. The force has implemented systems to prevent and detect corruption effectively. The force also publishes data to show it is transparent in the way gifts, hospitality and business interests are dealt with. Investigations and the rationale for decisions in disciplinary cases are clearly recorded and carried out in an effective and timely manner.
Further insights on legitimacy
The Crime Survey of 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 police force deals with local concerns was less than 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 less than the figure across England and Wales.
The crime data integrity inspection identified that the quality of call handling was excellent, with almost all calls sampled judged to have been handled professionally and courteously. The domestic abuse inspection found that the force took domestic abuse incidents very seriously, and they were responded to as a high priority. Call takers in the control room had had training to help them gather as much information as possible, so that they could assess the risk to a victim and provide the most appropriate response. However, not all staff in the control room were trained to access all the police databases, meaning that the officer attending the incident may not have been provided with the most complete and up-to-date information.
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. HMIC is also concerned with the accuracy of the decisions taken by the force when making no-crime decisions (cancelling a recorded crime) as 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.