Cambridgeshire 2016Read more about Cambridgeshire
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Cambridgeshire Constabulary. PEEL is designed to give the public information about how their local police force is performing in several important areas, in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year on year. The assessment is updated throughout the year with our inspection findings and reports.
The extent to which the constabulary is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The extent to which the constabulary is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
The extent to which the constabulary is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
I am satisfied with most aspects of Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s overall performance. However, there are some areas that the force needs to improve to provide a consistently good service.
I am pleased by the force’s response to the concerns I raised last year about its protection of vulnerable people. The chief constable and his team have made a concerted effort to drive improvement across the whole organisation in the way the force protects vulnerable people. Control room staff undertake effective risk assessments of calls for service and offences where the victim is vulnerable are investigated to a good standard by detectives or investigators with the right skills, and workloads are manageable. The force’s support to victims of domestic abuse is generally good.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is performing well in the way it prevents crime, and it has a good understanding of the threats facing the communities it serves. However, police community support officers are sometimes taken away from their principal role to support response teams, which limits the time they can dedicate to preventative work.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary still needs to make improvements to how it investigates some crimes. Although investigations are allocated to appropriately skilled investigators, the force needs to improve the quality and supervision of some investigations but I was encouraged to find that the force already has plans in place to do so.
The force is part of an integrated offender management scheme that has been successful in reducing re-offending and diverting people from involvement in organised crime. However, I would like to see local policing teams improve their knowledge of the identities of registered sex offenders, in order to better understand and take action to reduce the risk posed to their local communities.
The force is good at tackling serious and organised crime, and it works well with partner organisations and other forces in the region to disrupt organised crime groups. The force is also working well with schools to identify vulnerable young people who may be at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime.
The force is at an early stage in developing its wider understanding of additional likely demand. As well as developing better workforce plans for the future, it is aware of the need to better understand and tackle emerging crime types, such as cyber-crime. The force is already taking steps to address this. It works well with academia which is particularly evident in its innovative use of technology.
The force faces some future financial uncertainty and I will be interested to see the force complete more work to fully understand future demand from the public and to plan to meet this in as efficient and productive way as possible. While the force makes prudent assumptions about its future income and costs, it does not yet have detailed plans for finding sustainable savings to balance its future budget.
I commend Cambridgeshire Constabulary for its strong commitment to joint working, which is demonstrated by its mature and well-established collaborative work with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary. While the three forces can demonstrate that joint working is improving services to the public they do not yet have a comprehensive understanding of the financial benefits. The tri-force ‘futures team’ has undertaken research to explore options for effective policing in the future, and I look forward to seeing the outcome of this work and details of how the workforce will be equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to meet the likely future demands.
I am pleased treating people fairly and respectfully is integral to the Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s mission and values, and most officers and staff understand its importance. The force records and analyses information about police treatment of the public so that it can act on feedback to improve how it treats all the people it serves.
I am concerned about the force’s ability to identify, monitor and understand risks to the integrity of the organisation, including corruption. This is limited by the capacity and capability in the relevant units, which are shared with Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire forces.
In summary, I am satisfied that Cambridgeshire Constabulary provides a good service to the public, and I am very pleased with the progress the force has made in protecting vulnerable people. Although I have noted that the force has a rather limited understanding of the demands that it faces, I am reassured by the action it is taking to address this.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Cambridgeshire. The county is generally affluent, although there are some areas of deprivation. The force area is home to around 0.8 million people, who mainly live in the cities of Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough.
This resident population is ethnically diverse, with 10 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by students who study in the area’s universities and the large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure includes 159 miles of motorway and trunk roads.
The proportion of areas in Cambridgeshire that are predicted (on the basis of detailed economic and demographic analysis) to present a very high challenge to the police is broadly in line with the national average. The most challenging areas are generally characterised by a high concentration of people living, working, socialising, or travelling in the area.
Features that both cause and/or indicate a concentration of people include the number of commercial premises, including licensed premises and fast-food premises, public transport, and social deprivation. In some areas, these features are combined.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is in an alliance with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary. Each force has responsibility for providing particular services to all three forces. For example, Hertfordshire is responsible for providing operational support, Cambridgeshire is responsible for providing organisational support, and Bedfordshire is responsible for providing protective services.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary has appointed a new deputy chief constable and assistant chief constable within the past year.
Looking ahead to 2017
In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how Cambridgeshire Constabulary responds to this assessment and to the causes of concern and areas for improvement that HMIC identified last year.
I will be particularly interested to see:
- how the force improves the standard of its investigations; and
- how the force, working with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary, improves its ability to identify, monitor and understand risks to the integrity of the organisation, including corruption.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Cambridgeshire Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our overall judgment is an improvement on last year, when we judged the force to require improvement. The force has an effective approach to preventing and tacking anti-social behaviour and serious and organised crime. It has improved the service it provides to vulnerable victims. However, improvements are required in how it investigates crime.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. It has a good understanding of its communities and the threats they face. The force’s crime prevention activity is good, although community police officers are sometimes taken away from their core role to support response teams, which limits their ability to prevent crime and tackle anti-social behaviour.
The force works closely with partner organisations to reduce the threat from all types of crime. However, the force recognises that it could improve its analytical capacity and make better use of partnership data. It does not evaluate or assess all problem-solving operations to identify good practice and share this across the force area, but it has created a new team to focus on this work.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s effectiveness at investigating crime and reducing re-offending requires improvement. Although the force assesses incidents consistently, there are not always enough officers and staff available to respond to demand and the force is reviewing its resource allocation approach. The force needs to improve the quality of initial investigation and ensure that there is effective supervision. Although investigations are allocated to appropriately skilled investigators, they are not always carried out thoroughly, and often lack consistency, planning and supervision. However, those attending crime scenes generally exploit the forensic opportunities well.
The force needs to provide victims with a more consistent service and timely updates, as well as the opportunity to complete a victim personal statement.
The force does not manage ‘outstanding’ suspects successfully; it should use a broader range of options to do so. However, it participates in a well-structured integrated offender management scheme which has had success in reducing re-offending and diverting people from involvement in organised crime. Its handling of dangerous and sexual offenders is adequate, but more active enforcement would enhance its approach. Local police teams would benefit from greater awareness of the registered sex offenders in their communities.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims. It has a good understanding of vulnerable people in its area, and control room staff undertake effective risk assessment. Frontline staff are knowledgeable about domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation, and follow a clear procedure. The force discusses referrals promptly with partner agencies and contributes effectively to multi-agency safeguarding.
Support for victims of domestic abuse is generally good, although investigations into stalking and harassment are less effective. However, the force needs to understand the reasons why there are problems with evidential difficulties preventing further action in many cases where domestic abuse victims support police action.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at tackling serious and organised crime, working well with local and national partner organisations and other forces in the region to disrupt organised crime groups.
The force is doing some good work with schools to identify vulnerable young people who may be at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime. It shares success stories to reassure the public that it is tackling serious and organised crime effectively.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s specialist capabilities are effective. The force has good plans for ensuring that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities. It regularly tests its public order, firearms and civil emergencies response across the region and with partner organisations. The force is well prepared to respond to a firearms attack and is increasing its firearms capacity and capability to provide resilience and to support the national response.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Cambridgeshire Constabulary has been assessed as requires improvement in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
The force recognises it needs to improve its understanding of demand on its services and is already taking appropriate action. It is good at using its resources to meet demand and works well with other forces and partner organisations to improve efficiency and make savings. However, overall it needs to do more to fully understand demand and to plan for demand in the future. The force is already taking the right steps to address these issues. In last year’s efficiency inspection, Cambridgeshire Constabulary was judged to be good.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary requires improvement in its understanding of current and likely future demand on its services and it recognises that it needs to improve in this area. The force has explored good practice nationally and worked with the College of Policing to improve its approach. HMIC has seen some positive progress, but more work is needed.
The force acknowledges it could do more to understand where inefficient internal processes are leading to unnecessary demand on police time and resources. It is reviewing its governance processes to identify how it can reduce this unnecessary internal demand. It is also making progress in better understanding those demands that are less likely to be reported. The force is at an early stage in developing its understanding of likely future demand. In a strategic alliance with Hertfordshire Constabulary and Bedfordshire Police, the tri-force ‘futures team’ has undertaken research to explore options for effective policing in the future. There are some good examples of Cambridgeshire Constabulary working with local partner organisations to co-ordinate joint planning and activity in order to understand and manage both current and likely future demands.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at using its resources to manage current demand. It has recently invested additional resources in areas of increasing demand, such as the public protection directorate, to increase its capacity to investigate serious sexual offences and safeguard vulnerable children and adults.
The force has a strong commitment to joint working, which is clearly demonstrated by its mature and well-established collaborative work with Hertfordshire Constabulary and Bedfordshire Police. Cambridgeshire, together with its strategic alliance partners, has a very strong track record of joint working arrangements that bring about efficiencies. It has considered a range of collaborative approaches to maximise purchasing power, increase ICT inter-operability and share systems and infrastructure. The forces in this strategic alliance have an ambitious and innovative plan to work collaboratively in up to 50 percent of all policing functions, excluding local policing, by 2017. Further collaborative working is planned with four other forces and Cambridgeshire is also developing strategic partnerships with other emergency services and local government organisations to share resources and manage future demand together.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary requires improvement in the way it is planning for demand in the future. The lack of a comprehensive understanding of future demand and workforce capabilities limits its ability to plan for the future. The force does make prudent assumptions about future income and costs. It also has a successful track record over recent years of managing change and making the savings required. However, despite better than anticipated government grant for policing in 2016/17, the force still faces shortfalls in its budget every year until 2019/20. The force does not yet have detailed plans in place to assure itself that sufficient sustainable savings can be found.
It has given some consideration to how its future workforce and ICT capabilities will integrate. However, the ICT strategy for collaborative working is not yet aligned with workforce and service plans. Therefore, while HMIC found evidence that it is enabling the force to both do things it is already doing more efficiently and to improve the way it provides a service, this is not yet clearly understood by the force.
Overall, this means that the force is not in the position it was in 2015, when HMIC assessed its efficiency at keeping people safe and reducing crime as good, and it now requires improvement.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Cambridgeshire Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our findings this year are consistent with last year’s findings, in which we judged the force to be good in respect of legitimacy.
The force treats the people it serves, and its workforce, with fairness and respect. It seeks and acts on feedback to improve the services it provides and listens to the views of its workforce. It does good work on identifying and enforcing standards of behaviour. However, HMIC has concerns about the force’s ability to ensure that its entire workforce behaves ethically and fairly because of limited capacity in its anti-corruption and vetting unit (ACU).
Cambridgeshire Constabulary and its workforce have a good understanding of the importance of treating the people they serve with fairness and respect. The force has a new communications strategy and also records and analyses information about police treatment of the public, so that it can act on feedback and learning to improve how it treats all the people it serves. The force could improve its identification and understanding of the issues that have the greatest effect on public perceptions of fair and respectful treatment and to address this it is developing its independent advisory group.
Although the force is doing some good work on identifying and enforcing standards of behaviour, HMIC has concerns about the force’s ability to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and fairly. Its ability to identify, monitor and understand risks to the integrity of the organisation is limited by a lack of capacity in the ACU.
The force is in an alliance with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary. The alliance’s joint professional standards department (PSD), which includes the ACU, is implementing an improvement plan, drawn up after a serious gross misconduct court case collapsed over concerns about the quality of the investigation. The plan affects all three forces in the alliance. The force and alliance need to ensure that there are enough staff with the capability, with additional support, both to implement the new PSD/ACU improvement plan successfully and to handle daily business effectively.
During our inspection we found that the force had implemented too few of the recommendations we made in our police integrity and corruption report in 2014, which included recommendations for improving the capacity and capability of these units.
The force needs to communicate effectively to the whole workforce how serious an offence it is for officers and staff to abuse their position for sexual gain (taking advantage of their position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime). The alliance realises that a proactive approach to gathering intelligence is needed and it is planning to introduce a prevention strategy.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary treats its workforce with fairness and respect. It has an open culture in which the workforce can express their views. The force listens to feedback and consults staff associations and networks to understand the workforce’s needs. It manages individual performance well and supports workforce wellbeing, particularly through its preventative and early action in response to wellbeing concerns. The force needs to ensure that its acting and temporary ranks receive the training and support they need to deal with sickness management effectively. At the time of our inspection, the alliance was aiming to conduct an all-staff survey in June 2016, which should improve the force’s understanding of how the workforce feels it is treated.
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.
Police leadership is crucial in enabling a force to be effective, efficient and legitimate. This inspection focused on how a force understands, develops and displays leadership through its organisational development.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary has worked effectively with its workforce to refresh and redefine what it expects from its leaders, promoting a leadership style that trusts officers and staff to make decisions. This has continued under its new chief officer team. The force has taken the decision to move to a ‘trust and check’ approach; encouraging a more inclusive style of management. This display of trust emphasises the force’s leadership expectations. This encourages officers and staff to challenge senior leaders and to feel comfortable in doing so. The new chief officer team is working hard to ensure that officers and staff have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in terms of the refreshed leadership expectations.
The force uses a broad range of techniques to develop leadership skills, although it could perhaps do more to understand the skills, experience and background of its workforce, including implementing a formal management process to identify and develop talented officers and staff. The force has a strong focus on increasing the diversity of its leadership team, with positive results. The force would benefit from reviewing and evaluating this work regularly.
We found that the force is highly innovative and has a culture of working with academia. This is particularly evident in how it develops its information and communications technology, and in research commissioned from Cambridge University. Officers and staff are able to make suggestions and influence positive change throughout the force, the strategic alliance (a collaboration between Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary) and nationally. We found that the force evaluates some of its programmes, projects and initiatives well and makes this learning available to others.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Cambridgeshire Constabulary.