Gloucestershire 2016Read more about Gloucestershire
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Gloucestershire 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 requires improvement.
The extent to which the constabulary is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The extent to which the constabulary is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime requires improvement.
Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
While I am satisfied with parts of Gloucestershire Constabulary’s overall performance, there are several areas that are of serious concern to me.
The force needs to improve its approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, its investigative standards, and the protection it provides to vulnerable people. It lacks fundamental arrangements for tackling serious and organised crime and this must be addressed urgently. Although some improvements have been made in response to previous recommendations by HMIC, progress in other areas has been slow, and some aspects of the force’s position has declined.
I am deeply concerned that the force does not have essential tools in place to help it understand the threat from serious and organised crime, or to provide an effective response to this type of offending. This is particularly troubling as I set out many of the shortcomings in detail last year and the force has made little progress on them.
While neighbourhood teams communicate well with local people using a range of methods, their ability to build relationships and solve problems is affected because the force regularly reassigns them to cover other duties, taking them away from their routine preventative work.
The force has an inconsistent approach to allocating crimes for investigation. In some cases, investigators do not have the appropriate skills and experience to manage the complexity of the investigations they are assigned. However, it has made some progress in the way it protects those who are vulnerable from harm, and is making arrangements to build on this progress by including data held by partner organisations to develop its assessments of risk to its communities.
I am pleased that the force is well prepared to face its future financial challenges and it continues to make a considerable investment in its information and communications technology. This is part of its ambitious programme of modernising how it provides its services and supports its commitment to being at the forefront of addressing cyber-crime.
The force has a good understanding of the current and future demand for its services and it understands the capabilities of its workforce. I am pleased that the force’s financial and workforce planning arrangements are aligned and complement the focus on directing resources to areas of greatest risk. The force is intending to recruit a substantial number of police officers over the next three years to address the difficulty of directing resources to these areas and sustaining its commitment to neighbourhood policing.
The force has clearly defined values and expected behaviours that are well understood by the workforce. However, the force needs to improve how it looks for signs of suspicious behaviour and, in particular, its approach to managing the risk of officers or staff abusing their authority for sexual gain (that is, taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime).
The force will want to address the need for systematic analysis of the feedback that it receives from the people it serves, and seek feedback from the public about the services that it provides.
In view of these findings, I have been in regular contact with the chief constable. I do not underestimate the nature of the challenge, or the force’s commitment to providing a consistently good service to the people of Gloucestershire.
Gloucestershire Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Gloucestershire. Gloucestershire is generally affluent, although there are some areas of deprivation. The force area is home to around 0.6 million people, who live in a predominantly rural setting. Its urban areas include the city of Gloucester, and the towns of Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Cirencester. The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure includes 80 miles of motorway and trunk roads.
The proportion of areas in Gloucestershire that are predicted (on the basis of detailed economic and demographic analysis) to present a very high challenge to the police is very low compared to 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 which 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.
Gloucestershire Constabulary collaborates with Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Wiltshire Police on services including road network patrols, armed policing and dog support. The three forces have obtained a Police Innovation Fund grant from the Home Office to introduce a single information and communications technology infrastructure.
Looking ahead to 2017
In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how the force responds to this assessment and to the cause of concern and areas for improvement that HMIC identified last year.
I will be particularly interested to see:
- how the force makes progress in its approach to tackling serious and organised crime;
- how the force improves the consistency of its neighbourhood policing; and
- how the force improves the standard of its crime investigations.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Gloucestershire Constabulary requires improvement in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year, when we judged the force to require improvement in respect of effectiveness. Although some improvements have been made against HMIC’s 2015 recommendations, progress in other areas has been slow, and insufficient to warrant an improved grade. The force needs to improve its approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, its investigative standards and the protection it provides to vulnerable people. Its management of serious and organised crime is inadequate and must be addressed urgently.
Overall, Gloucestershire Constabulary requires improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force does not use intelligence well to identify threat or risk of harm within its communities, and its problem-solving activity lacks consistency. Neighbourhood officers are regularly reassigned to cover reactive duties, taking them away from their routine preventative work. This has a negative impact on their ability to conduct problem-solving activity and limits their ability to protect the public from harm over the long term.
There is a clear distinction between investigative standards in specialist CID departments and frontline uniform officers. With the exception of the Public Protection Bureau (PPB), a specialist CID unit which investigates crime associated with vulnerable victims, the process for allocating crime for investigation is unstructured and creates a risk that some victims will not receive the service they deserve. Although the force is addressing these problems through an improvement programme, progress is too slow.
The force has improved the service it provides to protect vulnerable victims, but it needs to do more. Its arrangements for monitoring sex offenders and violent offenders are effective, but there are weaknesses in its management of individuals who are wanted by the force.
The force’s response to serious and organised crime is inadequate and its overall position has declined. Although the force has made some progress in specific areas, it lacks basic arrangements for tackling serious and organised crime effectively. It has therefore been assessed as a lower grade than was assigned in HMIC’s 2015 effectiveness report, when we judged the force to require improvement.
During the 2015 inspection, we identified a cause of concern that the force lacked basic processes for identifying and tackling organised crime. This cause of concern remains, and the force must urgently improve the way it identifies and disrupts organised crime groups. Since HMIC’s last inspection, it has failed to respond to our recommendations. No structured threat assessment process has been introduced, engagement with partner organisations (such as local authorities or health and education services) is still insufficient and the force has failed to implement an effective approach to managing organised crime groups over their active lifespan. Without these basic arrangements, organised crime groups will continue to present a threat to communities in Gloucestershire.
The force has adequate leadership arrangements in place for ensuring its readiness to respond to national threats and to test its capabilities. In addition, the force has thoroughly assessed its response to the threat of an attack requiring an armed response, and has made good progress to increase its firearms capability.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Gloucestershire Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of how efficient it is in keeping people safe and reducing crime. HMIC found that the constabulary is very well prepared to face its future financial challenges. It has a good understanding of current and future demand for its services, and the force is keen to develop technical opportunities to improve its efficiency and effectiveness.
Gloucestershire Constabulary has a good understanding of current and future demand for the services it provides. This is based on a wide range of management information. The constabulary understands its current workforce capabilities and gaps. It has strong performance management arrangements in place and it is developing new methods of working to improve services and manage demand more efficiently. This is encouraging and builds on HMIC’s inspection of efficiency in 2015 when the constabulary was also judged to be good.
The constabulary adopts a flexible approach to the management of resources, which are aligned with areas of the greatest threat, risk and harm. Financial and workforce planning arrangements complement this approach; additionally, they focus directly on high and emerging areas of demand.
HMIC found that Gloucestershire Constabulary is very well prepared to face its future financial challenges. The constabulary is keen to develop technological opportunities to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. Over the course of the past year, it has made considerable investment in its information and communication technology (ICT); this investment has been made with the dual objective of digitising policing services and facilitating wider collaboration with neighbouring police forces.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Gloucestershire Constabulary has been assessed as requiring improvement in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our findings this year are not consistent with last year’s findings, in which we judged the force to be good in respect of legitimacy. The force has a well embedded ethical culture and identifies corruption risks from its own staff. However it could improve the audits of its IT systems and the way it addresses the risks of its workforce abusing their position for sexual gain. The force could improve how it learns lessons from previous incidents and the performance assessment process for officers and staff.
The force has well-embedded, clearly defined and well-understood values and behaviours that link to the Code of Ethics. Officers and staff clearly understand the expectation of treating people with fairness and respect, and the force has seen an improvement in public satisfaction over the past 12 months.
The force ensures that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It abides by national guidelines in relation to vetting, which is done to a good standard. Officers and staff show awareness of the required standards of behaviour. However, the force does not do anything beyond or different from its normal processes proactively to identify officers and staff potentially abusing their powers for sexual gain. The force’s anti-corruption unit acts on information that identifies potential corruption. Governance meetings between the professional standards department, the anti-corruption unit and the force’s appropriate authority have not been held recently, which poses a risk to the force.
The force works with communities in a variety of ways about outcomes of misconduct and corruption cases, and gross misconduct cases are publicised on the force website. However, we found no systematic analysis of the feedback received from communities.
The force seeks feedback and challenge from the workforce. The force has a process in place to undertake both annual and quarterly staff surveys. Although the results appear on the intranet, there are concerns about the communication of the survey results, the lessons learned and what actions have been taken as a result of the survey.
Staff spoken to generally had confidence in ‘fairness at work’ and grievance policies. However, the force acknowledges that confidence in the process has been eroded and that not all staff perceive the process as being fair and effective. The force needs to do more to be open and transparent in the decision-making process, allowing the workforce to see clearly that force policies are being followed and that there is consistency in the decisions made.
The force has a wellbeing board that is chaired by the chief constable. Wellbeing of staff is a key element of the force’s ‘people’ strategic objective within the strategic business plan, and it has been a topic of recent leadership days.
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.
After a leadership review led by the chief constable in 2015, Gloucestershire Constabulary has engaged effectively with its workforce to create a set of leadership values and expectations that are clearly defined at all levels. We found evidence that many in the workforce understand how the leadership expectations and behaviours relate to their individual roles. All staff have an annual personal development review and objectives are set. It was generally felt by staff, however, that the outcomes of these reviews were not consistently valued and were under-used for staff development and promotion.
Since the 2015 review, the focus has been on training in leadership values and the provision of a set of basic management training modules, to provide the foundation skills for leadership. The leadership values are well understood; however, the management training has yet to have an impact on the whole workforce. The force’s response to developing leadership capabilities has been slow. The force does not have a talent management scheme, and a leadership programme has been developed but not yet fully launched. As a consequence of the leadership programme and supporting initiatives being newly established, there is a gap in the force’s ability to identify and develop officers and staff who have the potential to become future leaders.
The force has demonstrated a clear commitment to innovation and challenges itself to seek out new ideas, approaches and working practices from across the police service and other organisations. Its understanding of diversity, however, extends little beyond an acknowledgement that it is about more than just protected characteristics, such as age, disability or gender reassignment. The force has not carried out an in-depth review of the workforce balance to identify any gaps, and plans to improve diversity are limited to a series of individual actions and initiatives.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Gloucestershire Constabulary.