Gwent PEEL 2015
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC judges that Gwent Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. With strong support from partners, the force is effective at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. Good progress has been made since investigations of crime were found to require improvement in 2014; the force now manages investigations effectively. Similar improvements have been made in how the force protects vulnerable people form harm. They are now more readily identified and receive better support. The force understands and responds to serious and organised crime well. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so a year-on-year comparison is not possible.
Overall Gwent Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force prevents crime and anti-social behaviour effectively, and these are clear priorities for the force. These priorities are well understood by officers and staff who work closely with other organisations to solve problems in their neighbourhoods. Early intervention work to steer young people away from a life of crime is a major part of this approach.
When a crime has occurred, the force carries out high-quality investigations. This includes making sure victims are safe and keeping them informed about how their cases are progressing. The force works well to identify, investigate and bring dangerous and prolific offenders to justice. Preventing the most prolific criminals from committing further crime is central to the force’s efforts to protect communities.
Increasingly the force is focusing on so-called hidden crimes such as domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation in order to protect the most vulnerable people. The investigations into crimes and incidents involving vulnerable groups were judged as good in an HMIC inspection published in December 2015.
The force has a good understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime; however this understanding would be enhanced if more work was done with partner organisations to jointly assess the harm that organised crime groups can cause in communities.
A combination of highly-skilled and experienced staff in Gwent and collaborative working arrangements with neighbouring police forces provide a firm platform from which to disrupt and deter serious and organised crime.
The force has arrangements in place to ensure it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities.
How effective is the force at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe?
Gwent Police is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. The force has a commitment at all levels to increase the benefits of joint working and shares information effectively both at county and neighbourhood level. This keeps people safe, effectively manages harmful offenders and supports victims.
This commitment is explicit in both the force and the police and crime commissioner’s strategic plans; it is understood well by the workforce and is routinely translated into operational activity.
Direct, timely and secure lines of communication between the force and partner organisations are effective at supporting vulnerable victims and managing prolific offenders. Locally, strong ties with other service providers support grass roots joint working. This is having a positive impact on crime, anti-social behaviour and other issues that matter to local people.
Partner organisations are complimentary about the lead that the force takes in bringing public services together at all levels. The benefits are meaningful to victims, vulnerable groups and all the communities that Gwent Police serves.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and managing offenders?
Gwent Police’s approach to investigating crime and managing offenders is good. The force has made considerable progress in improving quality and standards since HMIC’s inspection of crime in 2014. Supervisors know what is expected of them. The force has improved the quality and timeliness of its service to victims and investigations are undertaken using firm guidance and frequent oversight by supervisors.
The force’s procedures for the initial investigation and allocation of complex and non-complex crime are effective. The needs of victims are well matched to the skills, experience and accreditation of investigators. The force has an effective programme in place to develop its detectives. This ensures the force retains an investigative capability in line with current and projected demands.
The force has boosted its capacity to retrieve digital evidence from devices such as tablets and smartphones that are increasingly being used in the commission of crime.
A joint venture with South Wales Police also ensures the capacity to examine crime scenes using forensics is maintained and there has been an increase in the identification of offenders attributed to forensic science.
The force takes the lead in working with partner organisations to ensure that sex offenders and other individuals who potentially present harm to communities are effectively monitored.
How effective is the force at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims?
Gwent Police has made good progress putting in place clear processes to identify repeat and vulnerable victims. The force makes accurate assessments of the risks victims face and their needs. Gwent’s response to victims is consistent and the force’s performance is judged to be good.
The force shares information effectively with partner organisations. This takes place either through the force’s referral unit or in the multi-agency teams established to support missing children and protect young people who are susceptible to sexual exploitation. The force’s response to missing children is good and HMIC found established arrangements to identify and tackle child sexual exploitation.
The standards of investigations have improved since they were last examined in HMIC’s crime inspection in 2014. Supervision is generally better and the force considers carefully the vulnerability of all victims, irrespective of the nature of the offence. Domestic abuse is a clear priority for the force, which has made good progress against its domestic abuse action plan.
As part of its wide-ranging service improvement plan, the force has also reinforced its commitment to victims. The force now updates victims with the progress of investigations routinely and additional support is put in place by partner service providers when necessary.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime, including its arrangement for fulfilling its national policing responsibilities?
Gwent Police is good at identifying and tackling serious and organised crime groups. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their effectiveness at tackling serious and organised crime, including a force’s arrangements for ensuring that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
The force is in the process of developing a deeper understanding of serious and organised crime. The current strategic assessment is predicated primarily on law enforcement data and plans are under way to include partner organisations to take this insight a stage further.
The force has tried and tested procedures in place to escalate the Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) that cause the most harm in Gwent to the regional organised crime unit. OCGs which are managed within the force are monitored by Lead Responsible Officers who draw on a broad range of tactics to limit the activity of offenders and reduce harm.
The force’s response to the high-level national threats in The Strategic Policing Requirement is determined by an assistant chief constable; firm structures are in place to establish the force’s readiness to address them.
The force takes part in a rigorous series of major incident training exercises with other forces in the region. Through simulated incidents the force has tested its response to a cyber attack and the large-scale mobilisation of officers in response to an emergency.
Areas for improvement
- The force should add relevant data from its partner agencies to its serious and organised crime local profile, and ensure that it has a local partnership structure in place with responsibility for tackling serious and organised crime.