Lincolnshire 2015Read more about Lincolnshire
This is HMIC’s second assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy with which Lincolnshire Police 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 Lincolnshire Police is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The extent to which Lincolnshire Police is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The extent to which Lincolnshire Police is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
Zoë Billingham, 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 Lincolnshire Police’s performance this year, including exceptional events and where I would like to see improvements next year.
I am satisfied with some aspects of the performance of Lincolnshire Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime, but there are areas in need of improvement in order to provide a consistently good service.
The force has an effective approach to crime prevention, tackling anti-social behaviour and disrupting the activity of organised crime groups. The time taken to allocate crimes for investigation has reduced; but the force needs to improve the quality of these investigations. It also needs to improve how it works with partners to reduce re-offending.
The force is good at identifying and responding to the most vulnerable people. However, our inspections found that it does not always involve the right level of specialist expertise or have appropriate supervision for complex cases involving domestic abuse and serious sexual offences. The force should also improve its response to missing children and child sexual exploitation by developing its understanding of the scale and nature of these issues. I have been reassured by the force’s response to our inspection findings and the steps it is taking to remedy the problems we identified.
While the force has made the necessary savings in recent years, at the time of our inspection I was concerned that the force was projecting a budget deficit after 2016. This would have meant that Lincolnshire Police would not have been in a position to maintain its workforce numbers. I am reassured that the force has reviewed its position and I will focus on this issue when I return to inspect the force’s efficiency in 2016.
I am pleased with the progress the force has made in reinforcing ethical and professional behaviour. It works well with its communities and partner agencies to understand and address local priorities. The force engages well with its communities through social media and tailored communication with minority groups for whom English is not their first language.
Description of force area
Lincolnshire Police provides policing services to the non-metropolitan county of Lincolnshire. Although there are some more affluent areas, Lincolnshire has a high level of poverty. Around 0.7 million people live in a mainly rural setting. Its urban areas include the city of Lincoln and the small towns of Boston, Grantham, Skegness and Spalding. The resident population is increased by university students and those who visit or travel through the county.
The proportion of areas in Lincolnshire 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 the size of the force area and the road network.
Over the spring bank holiday weekend, more than 300 officers from Lincolnshire Police and neighbouring forces were involved in restoring order at an unplanned and illegal rave event in Twyford Woods, near Grantham. Forty-three people were arrested for violence and public order offences and 21 officers were injured.
Lincolnshire Police entered into a contract in April 2012 with G4S, a private sector partner, to provide a range of business and some operational support functions, for example the control room and custody. The focus of this arrangement is not just on making financial savings, but also on supporting transformational change and continuous improvement.
The force works well with other forces within the East Midlands and is part of a successful collaboration that provides policing and support services, such as major crime, special branch and serious and organised crime and forensics.
The force is also part of the East Midlands Operational Support Service, a collaboration between Leicestershire Police, Northamptonshire Police and Nottinghamshire Police that is responsible for managing and deploying resources including firearms, dog sections, search and roads policing units.
In our effectiveness inspection, we judged Lincolnshire Police to require improvement in the way in which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force needs to improve the quality of its crime investigation and how it works with partners to stop re-offending. There is considerable commitment to put resources into the areas identified in HMIC’s 2014 crime inspection but there has been very limited progress in some areas. The force works well with others and has an effective approach to crime prevention and tackling anti-social behaviour. It generally provides a good service in identifying vulnerable people and responds well to them. However, there are several areas where improvement is needed. The force can fulfil its national policing responsibilities and works with other regional forces to disrupt the activity of organised crime groups. This is the first year HMIC has graded forces on their overall effectiveness so comparison of their year-on-year effectiveness is not possible.
Lincolnshire Police is partly prepared to face its future financial challenges. It has balanced the budget and has a good track record of achieving savings. However, at the time of HMIC’s inspection, the force’s financial plans beyond 2016 were projecting a budget deficit, meaning that a commitment made by the force to maintain current workforce numbers would not be achievable.
In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first previous spending review period, Lincolnshire was judged to be good.
The force has worked hard to establish an ethical culture across the organisation. It has supported the wellbeing of the workforce and ensures that complaints from the public are dealt with fairly and consistently, in a way that is free from bias.
Lincolnshire Police engages and communicates well with the communities it serves. The involvement of local people in policing activities, especially as volunteers, is commendable.
The force is not compliant with all aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Its use of Taser is fair and appropriate.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
Lincolnshire Police’s chief officer team communicates a clear sense of the organisation’s core purpose and aim of ‘policing with pride’. The workforce understanding of this future direction is less apparent and some of the workforce reported being anxious about the future beyond 2017 due to financial uncertainty over police funding.
Lincolnshire Police’s use of the performance appraisal system to link individual performance to force objectives is inconsistent. This system is used to identify talent and promote development.
Insights from other inspections
HMIC undertakes other inspections in addition to the PEEL programme. Since the last PEEL assessment there have been seven reports published on inspections that included Lincolnshire Police. 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 to the areas for improvement that HMIC has identified in the last year.
I will be particularly interested to see:
- the detail of the steps the force has taken to address the projected budget deficit after 2016;
- how the force improves its response to vulnerable people and child sexual exploitation;
- compliance with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme; and
- how the force continues to improve the quality of its investigations.
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?
Lincolnshire Police requires improvement in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
The force needs to improve the quality of its crime investigation and how it works with partners to stop re-offending. There is considerable commitment to put resources into the areas identified in HMIC’s 2014 crime inspection but there has been very limited progress in some areas. The force works well with others and has an effective approach to crime prevention and tackling anti-social behaviour. The force can fulfil its national policing responsibilities and works with other regional forces to disrupt the activity of organised crime groups.
The force is committed to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. It has a clear approach to prevention that is generally well understood throughout the force. However, the force still does not systematically learn from experiences or have a way to retain and share effective practice.
The way the force is investigating crime is changing. It has improved the time taken to allocate crimes for investigation and it has plans in place to improve the quality of investigations.
Where computers and phones need to be examined as part of an investigation there are significant backlogs which affect the time taken to bring offenders to justice.
The force uses restorative justice extensively and appropriately as a way of resolving selected investigations.
However, there needs to be greater integration with partners, improved prioritisation of those causing most harm and evaluation to define what success looks for the integrated offender management (IOM) scheme.
Staff throughout the organisation show a positive attitude towards protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and safeguarding victims. However, there is no co-ordinated or consistently well-supervised way of responding to reports of children who are missing or absent. In addition, the force’s understanding of the scale and nature of child sexual exploitation is not yet fully developed. Frontline staff do not yet have a good level of knowledge of the factors to identify cases and understand how to respond.
The force has an in-depth understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime, supported by highly skilled and experienced staff and a good relationship with the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, which provides specialist skills and resources. The force is good at disrupting the activity of organised crime groups.
The leadership has strong oversight of the force’s ability to respond to national threats, such as terrorism, serious cyber-crime incidents and child sexual abuse.
Its own arrangements for ensuring it can meet its national obligations in this regard (such as planning, testing and exercising) are good.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that Lincolnshire Police is partly prepared to face its future financial challenges. It has balanced the budget and has a good track record of achieving savings. However future plans beyond 2016 are projecting a budget deficit, meaning that a commitment made by the force to maintain current workforce numbers will not be achievable. In last year’s value for money inspection, which considered how forces had met the challenge of the first spending review period, Lincolnshire was judged to be good.
HMIC judges Lincolnshire Police to require improvement. The force has a good and growing understanding of current demand and the cost of the service it provides. It has entered into outsourcing arrangements, strategic private sector partnerships, and collaborative working. It is a low-cost force with a small workforce. A high proportion of the force’s funding comes from the police element of council tax. However, future funding beyond 2016 is uncertain and the current plan of maintaining workforce numbers is not achievable. It would result in a budget deficit, which could not be bridged by the use of reserves. Therefore, the force requires improvement in how efficiently it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
The force has robust financial management, accurate budgeting and a record of achieving planned savings. The savings requirement for the spending review period has been met. The force balanced the budget for 2014/15 achieving the £2.5m savings requirement. There is also a balanced budget planned for 2015/16 with clear plans in place to achieve these savings with no use of reserves.
However, the force and PCC has made a continued commitment to maintain current staffing levels and it is unclear how these levels can be sustained when faced with further savings requirements. At the time of inspection the force has no plans to use its general reserve to bridge the funding gap and the force reports a funding gap in 2016/17 and 2017/18. This means that the current plan to maintain workforce numbers is not achievable.
The force reports that it is developing its understanding of the possible impact that any further workforce reductions might have on the service provided to the communities of Lincolnshire. However these plans are not yet available to evaluate.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
The force works hard to fully establish an ethical culture. It supports the wellbeing of staff and ensures that complaints from the public are dealt with fairly and consistently in a way that is free from bias.
Lincolnshire Police engages and communicates well with the communities it serves. The involvement of local people in policing activities, especially as volunteers, is commendable. Training on the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) ensures that officers and staff are knowledgeable and have the skills required to treat members of the public fairly and with respect.
The use of Taser is fair and appropriate although the force is not compliant with all aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, however, there are advanced plans in place to introduce mobile data and body-worn cameras. Officers lack understanding of what constitutes reasonable grounds for a search and the force should ensure it acts swiftly to address these concerns.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
The chief constable and his chief officer team promote an ethical culture and the shared values of the organisation. These are well established and staff speak clearly about ‘policing with PRIDE’ in Lincolnshire (professionalism; respect; integrity; dedication; and empathy). There is less of an understanding of the Code of Ethics for those in more junior positions which the force intends to address by refreshing its internal messages to staff. This code was launched in April 2014 and sets out nine policing principles that should be applied by all officers and staff.
There is a positive approach to how the force considers health and wellbeing. Complaints and misconduct are generally dealt with in a fair and consistent manner.
When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that a range of methods are being used to support effective engagement. There is clearly a good understanding of local communities, although this information is not captured in a formalised way, which would enable it to be shared beyond the local neighbourhood team. The people of Lincolnshire can, however, be confident that the force listens to its communities, responds to them and provides effective means by which priorities and concerns can be raised.
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 that the police use them fairly and appropriately. HMIC found that the force is not complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and there is a lack of understanding by officers to what constitutes reasonable grounds for a search.
At the time of inspection, it is not: recording and publishing all outcomes; monitoring the impact of stop and search on young people and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups; nor is it providing opportunities for the public to observe officers using the power. However, the force has advanced plans in place to implement mobile data terminals which incorporate a new stop and search form. In addition, from April 2016 onwards it plans to distribute body-worn cameras to all frontline officers so they can record stops and searches and these will be shared with the newly formed stop and search scrutiny group.
More positively, it is clear that Taser-trained officers are aware of the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged), and understand its application. The model provides an important framework to decide to what extent police powers should be exercised ethically and proportionately.
The use of Taser is monitored and evaluated at a senior level and reviewed by qualified staff. The force uses Taser fairly and appropriately.
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.
Lincolnshire Police’s chief officer team communicates a clear sense of the organisation’s core purpose, as set out clearly on the force’s website through the ‘policing with pride’ slogan. Workforce understanding of the future direction is less apparent and some police staff and officers reported being anxious about the future beyond 2017 due to financial uncertainty over police funding.
Lincolnshire Police’s use of the performance appraisal system to link individual performance to force objectives is inconsistent. This is important as the organisation places a high value on the system and uses the appraisal to identify talent, promote development within the same rank and forecast future training requirements.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Lincolnshire Police.