Cumbria 2015Read more about Cumbria
This is HMIC’s second assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy with which Cumbria Constabulary keeps people safe and reduces crime. PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) gives you information about how your local police force is performing in several important areas. It does this in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year-on-year.
The extent to which Cumbria Constabulary is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The extent to which Cumbria Constabulary is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The extent to which Cumbria Constabulary is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
Michael Cunningham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
This year, for the first time, we have assessed leadership across the force. The assessment has led to a narrative rather than graded judgment, which is summarised below.
Read more about my assessment of Cumbria Constabulary’s performance this year, including exceptional events and where I would like to see improvements next year.
I am satisfied with most aspects of the performance of Cumbria Constabulary in keeping people safe and reducing crime. However, I have concerns about some parts of the service provided by the force.
The force is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour with neighbourhood teams working well with partner organisations to resolve local problems. However, I am concerned that training to respond professionally to vulnerable victims is not having the desired impact and the force’s understanding of serious and organised crime has limitations. I am also concerned that the management of offenders is inconsistent and the force needs to improve its investigation of crime.
The force has been able to demonstrate good financial management by achieving the savings required from the previous spending review period, while maintaining a high-quality response to calls for service from the public. The new workforce model, improved local partnership working and increased use of technology aims to ensure that the force can work more efficiently, and continue to provide effective policing to the people of Cumbria with fewer resources.
I am pleased to see that there is a positive culture within Cumbria Constabulary that encourages the workforce to behave professionally and ethically. I am also reassured by the way in which the force has acknowledged and responded to the issues we have raised.
Description of force area
Cumbria Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Cumbria. Although there are some very affluent areas, Cumbria generally has a high level of poverty. Around 0.5 million people live in a predominantly rural setting. It has small, distinct urban areas that include the city of Carlisle, and the towns of Barrow-in-Furness, Workington and Penrith. The resident population is increased by university students and by the very large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure also includes major rail stations and sea ports.
The proportion of areas in Cumbria that are predicted to present a very high challenge to the police is higher than the national average. These are characterised by social deprivation or a concentration of commercial premises (including licensed premises), and in some cases both. Providing services across the entirety of the force area is hindered by its size and the road network.
Serious and widespread flooding across the force area during December 2015 presented significant operational challenges for the force. There were three major floods within a one month period, and the force was instrumental in protecting life, property and livestock, and supporting communities across Cumbria.
Force training is now provided through collaboration with Lancashire Constabulary. The force also collaborates with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, which has funded police officers to provide policing on the Sellafield nuclear fuel processing facility. Cumbria officers are seconded to the north west regional organised crime unit to support initiatives tackling serious crime across the north west region.
In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Cumbria Constabulary to require improvement in the way in which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. Neighbourhood teams work well with partner organisations to resolve local problems. The force should improve its investigation of crime, and its management of offenders is inconsistent. In relation to the level of service to vulnerable people requiring the services of the force, the organisation needs to ensure that all officers and staff have fully understood the training which they have previously been given to ensure they respond sensitively and appropriately. The force has a good understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime but more work is needed to improve the knowledge and awareness amongst front line officers and staff to gather intelligence and disrupt organised crime groups as part of an orchestrated, longer-term plan to dismantle them.
This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.
HMIC found that Cumbria Constabulary is well prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and accurate budgeting it is successfully making the savings required of it, and is well placed to continue to do so, while maintaining a high-quality response to calls for service from the public. It has plans in place to achieve further savings through to 2018/19. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces met the challenge of the previous spending review period, Cumbria was judged to be good.
There was a positive and supportive culture within Cumbria Constabulary that encouraged its workforce to behave professionally and ethically. Cumbria Constabulary understands its communities, treats them with fairness and respect and engages with them effectively.
While the use of Taser is fair and appropriate, improvements are required regarding elements of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
Chief officers provide clear leadership and direction in the force. It has a good understanding of its capacity and capability at all levels, having conducted a leadership assessment in 2014. The assessment identified gaps in capability at middle management level and the force recognised that it needed to improve line management capability.
The force is developing leadership skills through co-ordinated leadership training programmes. It has set out clear expectations for the performance of its workforce that have been communicated in a variety of ways. However, Cumbria could do more to ensure that its communications are effective, as some of the workforce reported an over-reliance on use of emails and online messages.
Insights from other inspections
HMIC undertakes other inspections in addition to the PEEL programme. Since the last PEEL assessment there have been four reports published on inspections that included Cumbria Constabulary. More detail on some of these inspections can be found under the Other inspections section.
Looking ahead to PEEL 2016
In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how the force responds to this assessment and the areas for improvement that HMIC has identified in the last year.
I will be particularly interested to see:
- how the force develops its approach with partners to improve its management of offenders under its integrated offender management programme;
- how the force improves the quality of its investigations of less complex crime and enhances the quality of its case prosecution files;
- how the force improves the assessment of and response to vulnerable people;
- how the force improves the understanding and application of police powers of stop and search;
- compliance with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme; and
- how the force responds to the recommendations identified during the firearms licensing inspection.
In May 2016, like the majority of forces in England and Wales, the force will see the second elections for its police and crime commissioner.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Overall Cumbria Constabulary requires improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The constabulary is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. Neighbourhood teams work well with partner organisations to resolve local problems. The constabulary should improve its investigation of crime. How it manages offenders is inconsistent. The training of staff to respond professionally to vulnerable victims is not having the desired impact; and the constabulary’s understanding of serious and organised crime has limitations. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.
Neighbourhood teams in Cumbria tackle crime and anti-social behaviour effectively; they work closely with partner organisations to prevent local problems escalating and provide solutions. The constabulary could improve how it evaluates the impact of its tactics to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. The constabulary has good schemes to divert young people away from crime. These include the ‘it’s your choice’ scheme and a ‘prevent and deter’ panel, which help young people to learn from their mistakes and use rehabilitation as an alternative to appearing in court.
Complex crime investigations are of a good standard and detailed investigation plans help direct investigations to positive outcomes. By contrast, the investigation of crime that is less complex, but that occurs more frequently, is less assured. HMIC established that investigators of these crimes receive training on joining the constabulary; however, there is nothing in place to maintain and improve standards.
HMIC has concerns over how the constabulary obtains and shares intelligence in relation to vulnerable people. The effectiveness of training provided to officers and staff to keep vulnerable people safe is also uncertain.
There is scope to involve the workforce more actively in preventing and disrupting serious and organised crime. The constabulary’s standards of offender management fall short of Home Office best practice and require improvement. The risks presented by registered sex offenders are not always managed effectively.
The constabulary is fulfilling its commitment to national policing responsibilities and has recently conducted an exercise with other regional services to test preparedness for a major incident.
Overall Cumbria Constabulary requires improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that Cumbria Constabulary is well prepared to face its future financial challenges. Through robust financial management and accurate budgeting it is successfully making the savings required of it, and is well placed to continue to do so, while maintaining a high-quality response to calls for service from the public. It has plans in place to achieve further savings through to 2018/19. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces met the challenge of the first spending review period, Cumbria was judged to be good.
HMIC judges Cumbria Constabulary to be good. The constabulary is working well to improve its efficiency. It has a proven record of robust financial management and providing planned savings.
The constabulary has analysed the current demand on its services and identified areas where it can work differently in order to make more efficient use of police resources. The constabulary has a change programme which is intended to deliver a significant re-organisation of how policing will be provided across the county in the future. New arrangements should make the constabulary more efficient in how it allocates its resources. In the future, it will seek to focus resources according to risk, rather than responding to all requests for service. There is a plan to streamline and improve frontline policing services, while making substantial cuts to the budget.
In the longer term, the constabulary has a secure financial position. Careful management of budgets and a considered approach to managing change has allowed the constabulary to meet the challenges of austerity and invest in its estate and new technology. The constabulary has financial and workforce plans to meet the required future budget reductions, recognising that its current approach to demand will not be sustainable when resources reduce.
The constabulary aims to be a smaller, more agile organisation. To achieve this, it will need to implement planned improvements (including to its communication centre), working with local public sector organisations to reduce demand, and aligning future skills requirements to workforce plans.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
There is a positive and supportive culture within Cumbria Constabulary that encourages all staff to behave professionally and ethically. Cumbria Constabulary understands its communities, treats them with fairness and respect and engages with them effectively.
While the use of Taser is fair and appropriate, there is further work required regarding key elements of the Best Use of Stop Search scheme and recording of reasonable grounds for search before they are compliant.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
There is a positive and supportive culture within Cumbria Constabulary that encourages all staff to behave professionally and ethically. Senior leaders are clear on the expected standards of behaviour and the workforce has a good understanding of force standards.
The wellbeing of staff is seen as important and the responsibility of managers. There is a good system of support for staff through the internal trauma-related, incident management network of counsellors.
The occupational health unit is seen as visible and proactive. Most staff we spoke to were familiar with the Code of Ethics and the firm expectation on them to apply the code during their duties.
When HMIC looked at how well the constabulary understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found that officers and staff understand the importance of treating people with courtesy and respect, and the link with public confidence. They also have a good understanding of the issues and concerns of their communities. The constabulary effectively engages with the public through conventional surveys, face-to-face meetings, digital technology and social media. There is a healthy involvement of local people in policing activity, and the constabulary is looking to boost recruitment to the special constabulary to previous levels.
Stop and search and Taser are two ways that the police can prevent crime and protect the public. However, they can be intrusive and forceful methods, and it is therefore vital the police use them fairly and appropriately. HMIC found that Cumbria Constabulary is only partially compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. According to officers we spoke to, it was clear that there was a lack of understanding on how to record the reasonable grounds for a stop and search.
Taser is being used fairly and appropriately by Cumbria Constabulary.
How well has the force performed in our other inspections?
In addition to the three core PEEL pillars, HMICFRS carries out inspections of a wide range of policing activity throughout the year. Some of these are conducted alongside the PEEL inspections; others are joint inspections.
Findings from these inspections are published separately to the main PEEL reports, but are taken into account when producing the rounded assessment of each force's performance.
As part of HMIC’s annual all-force inspections into police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) in 2015, HMIC assessed how well led forces are at every rank and grade of the organisation and across all areas inspected in PEEL. We reviewed how well a force understands and is developing its leaders; whether it has set a clear and compelling future direction; and how well it motivates and engages the workforce.
Cumbria Constabulary has set out clear expectations for the performance of its workforce. The constabulary has communicated these in various ways, including personal visits by chief officers to police stations and publications on the intranet. However, Cumbria could do more to ensure that its communication is effective, as some staff reported an over-reliance on use of emails and online messages.
The constabulary has created a new leadership and skills framework, which sets out a programme of training and development opportunities for staff at all levels. HMIC welcomes this development and encourages the constabulary to monitor the effectiveness of each programme against the constabulary’s objectives.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Cumbria Constabulary.