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Devon and Cornwall PEEL 2016


How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 02/03/2017
Requires improvement

Overall, the effectiveness of Devon and Cornwall Police requires improvement. The force has clear priorities for reducing harm across the force area and protecting the most vulnerable people in the community. Its management of vulnerability and serious and organised crime is good. However, it needs to improve its approach to neighbourhood policing and aspects of crime investigation. Our overall judgment is a deterioration on last year, when we judged the force to be good in respect of effectiveness.

The force has an established neighbourhood policing structure, but it needs to be more consistent in its engagement with communities across the force area. It works well with partner organisations but needs a more effective approach to recording and solving problems.

The force investigates recorded crime effectively and manages victims well. It needs to improve its management of wanted persons, especially those listed as wanted on the police national computer. It also needs to be more effective in its management of registered sex offenders and in the way it reduces re-offending through integrated offender management.

HMIC’s 2016 crime data integrity inspection found that the force only recorded 81.52 percent of crime reported to it. HMIC judged the force to be inadequate in its crime-recording. That finding has been considered as part of our judgment of the force for this effectiveness inspection.

The identification and management of vulnerable people are priorities for the force. Governance is good and there are co-ordinated processes that provide safeguarding across the force area. The force has integrated its service with partner organisations and continues to invest in keeping people safe. It needs to make better use of civil orders designed to protect victims of domestic abuse.

The force’s management of serious and organised crime is good. Its understanding of local crime networks is evolving in line with the threats it is dealing with. There is good interaction with regional police specialists and partner organisations as well as engagement with the community. The force needs to ensure that staff working in local areas are fully aware of the serious and organised crime threat and know how to respond appropriately.

The force is reviewing different areas of work and making changes in response to an increase in the demand for its services. The use of mobile technology is increasing and there are plans to expand further to improve the service provided to victims. Some force systems do not link together effectively and there are data quality problems that do not best serve the needs of the organisation. The force must address these problems to improve its effectiveness.

Questions for Effectiveness


How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?

Requires improvement

Devon and Cornwall Police needs to improve how it prevents crime, tackles anti-social behaviour and keeps people safe.

There is a good geographic neighbourhood policing structure in place, with committed staff. Extensive dialogue with communities is evident, but the lack of a coherent engagement strategy and supporting profiles or analysis mean that staff are not always working in ways that are consistent or in line with established best practice. The force also needs to improve the timeliness and accuracy of information on the neighbourhood policing section of the force website.

The force needs to improve its problem-solving approach. There is a lot of activity taking place with partner organisations that is addressing local problems, but it lacks a well understood and consistently used problem-solving model. Such a model, supported by an appropriate strategy, recording systems and use of legal orders would make the force more effective.

The force continues to develop its neighbourhood policing approach. The police community management officer (PCMO) pilot and the creation of the alliance prevention department are both clear and positive signs of future intent. A continued approach to incorporating best practice from within, and beyond, the police service will support improved services.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that local policing teams consistently and effectively engage with local communities to understand their needs. It should supplement this with focused analysis to inform activity and prioritisation.
  • The force should adopt a structured and consistent problem-solving process to enable it to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour more effectively.


How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?

Requires improvement

Devon and Cornwall Police investigates recorded crime effectively, but its approach to reducing re-offending is fragmented and needs to improve.

The force has consistent control room processes that gather information, assess risk and allocate resources effectively. Crime scenes are usually attended quickly. The force investigates crime effectively, from the initial response to the subsequent handover, allocation and follow-on investigation. Investigating officers are appropriately supported by specialist technical and investigative services.

Officers and staff provide a good service to victims of crime, and satisfaction rates remain high, although they have declined slightly in recent years.

The force pursues wanted suspects and manages outstanding forensic investigations adequately in most cases. High-risk cases have force-level oversight and local supervisors co-ordinate investigative and arrest activity. However, the force needs to develop a fuller understanding of volume and risk in all cases. The procedures for reviewing and apprehending persons recorded as wanted on the police national computer (PNC) need to be improved. This is essential in order to keep the public safe from those who are among the most likely to commit crime.

There is an integrated approach to the management of the most harmful offenders. However, poor data quality and demand pressures in the team that manages registered sex offenders limit its ability to mitigate considerable risks to the public.

The force also needs to improve its integrated offender management (IOM) programme to ensure that its structure and remit provide the best possible protection for the public. Its current approach is narrow in its focus on acquisitive criminals, and there is scope for the force to use the IOM model to reduce harm as well as the volume of crimes committed by known offenders.

There is an overlap between the crime data integrity (CDI) and effectiveness inspections because the effectiveness of the force is affected by the volume of crime it has to manage. HMIC judged that because the force is not recording over 18 percent of the crime reported to it, it cannot be said to be effective in its overall investigation of crime. The outcome of the CDI inspection has influenced HMIC’s judgment in this part of the effectiveness inspection.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that the risks posed by registered sex offenders are managed effectively.
  • The force should ensure that those who are circulated as wanted on the police national computer (PNC) are swiftly located and arrested.
  • The force should consider widening its approach to integrated offender management (IOM) to maximise its impact on reducing threat, harm and risk. There should be clear measures of success which enable the force to evaluate how effectively it is protecting the public from prolific and harmful offenders.


How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?


Devon and Cornwall Police is good at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims. It defines vulnerability clearly and there is a good understanding among officers and staff. Assessments for risk and vulnerability are evident in all parts of the force and they guide the police response. There are appropriate structures and governance in place. The force understands the risks it is dealing with.

The processes in place to gather and share information, both internally and with partner organisations, are effective. The need to safeguard vulnerable victims and protect others at risk is well understood. Officers respond to victims and investigate crime well and the force is increasing its staff numbers to manage growing demand.

Partnership working is embedded and vulnerable people receive better protection from the co-ordinated approach taken. The complexity of the partnership area across two counties is effectively managed.

Victims of domestic abuse are provided with an appropriate service at initial response and by specialist teams. The force takes a proportionate approach towards domestic abuse offenders to try to reduce the harm they cause, but the use of legal orders to protect victims needs to be improved.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should review its use of Domestic Violence Protection Orders and Notices, and Clare’s Law, to ensure that it is making best use of these powers to safeguard victims of domestic abuse.
  • The force should improve its initial investigation of cases involving victims of domestic abuse and other vulnerable victims by providing responding officers with access to photographic and/or video-recording equipment to show evidence of injuries and crime scenes.


How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?


Devon and Cornwall Police is good at tackling serious and organised crime. Its strategic governance processes are effective and it has a good understanding of the breadth and scale of serious and organised crime across both counties. It has good intelligence gathering and analytical processes that are bringing serious and organised crime and vulnerability closer together, but needs to ensure that officers and staff fully recognise and understand the links between the two areas.

The mapping of organised crime groups is in line with national guidance and the force tackles sub-OCG crime groups with the active participation of officers and staff from across the force. The management of serious and organised crime is good and partnership working is integrated into the approach. The 4Ps methodology is used.

The force works with children and young people to prevent them getting involved in crime. The force uses legal orders available to help tackle serious and organised crime and monitors them appropriately. There is planned and effective engagement with the public that keeps communities informed.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should improve the awareness of organised crime groups among local officers and neighbourhood teams to ensure that they can consistently and reliably identify these groups, collect intelligence and disrupt their activity.


How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?


Devon and Cornwall Police has effective specialist capabilities.

The force has good plans to respond to the threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement (PDF document) and is prepared to fulfil its national policing responsibilities. The force regularly tests these plans and makes amendments following the lessons learned from such tests.

The force is well prepared to respond to a firearms attack. It has suitably trained staff and conducts regular exercises. There are clear plans in place to increase firearms capability and capacity, and the force is on track to meet target implementation dates.