Lincolnshire 2016Read more about Lincolnshire
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Lincolnshire Police. 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 force is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The extent to which the force is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
The extent to which the force is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
I am pleased with the overall performance of Lincolnshire Police and the progress the force has made since last year. However, there are still some areas that the force needs to improve to provide a consistently good service.
I am very pleased to see how investigations and reducing offending have improved since our last inspection. There is still room for improvement in some investigations, but the force has good processes and leadership in place, which raises standards.
The force bases arrangements for initial investigations on an assessment of likely threat and risk of harm, and the way the force allocates crimes for further investigation generally works well. I would like to see better management of cases in which the offender is not arrested immediately.
The force continues to prevent crime and tackle anti-social behaviour well, with neighbourhood teams demonstrating a good understanding of the communities they serve and taking action to nip problems in the bud.
I am pleased with the progress that Lincolnshire Police has made since my assessment last year in its response to the most vulnerable people. However, there are still some areas that are of concern to me. The force is generally good at identifying vulnerable people at the first point of contact, and some aspects of its response to child sexual exploitation have improved.
However, it still does not have a complete understanding of the nature and scale of the problem, because it has too few analysts, its IT systems cannot identify vulnerability, and it does not always record domestic abuse accurately.
The force is good at protecting the people of Lincolnshire from threats from serious and organised crime, partly because of its access to an extensive range of specialist policing capabilities provided through the East Midlands Special Operations Unit. The force supplements this with investment in a more localised serious and organised crime unit and works to deter serious and organised criminals from re-offending.
I am impressed by the response of Lincolnshire Police to the difficult financial situation that it faces. Since my assessment last year, the force has improved the efficiency of its approach, and it provides a good service at one of the lowest costs per head of population in England and Wales. The force understands current, hidden and future demand well, and it has done commendable work to understand and raise awareness of modern-day slavery.
However, I am still concerned that while the force has worked hard to be as efficient as possible, its financial future remains uncertain. Lincolnshire Police has a small workforce and is very reliant on funding raised through the local council tax precept for policing, so its services could suffer if funding cuts lead to further losses of frontline police officers and police community support officers. The force needs to continue developing detailed plans of how it will provide services in this event.
I am reassured that the workforce understands the importance of treating the people of Lincolnshire with fairness and respect. The force has a good understanding of the importance of public feedback, and works hard to use this information to identify areas to improve. I was pleased to find that when the force recognised a decline in victim satisfaction, it looked at ways to improve contact with victims and witnesses.
Lincolnshire Police continues to promote an ethical culture that supports challenge and improvement. Officers and staff recognise that the abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) constitutes serious corruption, but I am concerned that the force is not actively gathering intelligence on potential abuse. The force’s capacity to look for signs of corruption more broadly is limited by a lack of staff, though it does respond quickly when problems are identified.
In summary, I am extremely heartened by the progress that the force has made in providing a good service to the people of Lincolnshire, but I continue to have some concerns about its future financial position.
Lincolnshire Police provides policing services to the non-metropolitan county of Lincolnshire. Lincolnshire has a high level of poverty, although there are some more affluent areas. The force area is home to around 0.7 million people, who 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 transport infrastructure includes 38 miles of motorway and trunk roads.
The proportion of areas in Lincolnshire 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 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. The police force area is large, relative to other forces in England and Wales, and it takes a comparatively long time to travel across the area by road, which increases the difficulty of providing police services.
In April 2012, Lincolnshire Police signed a contract with a private sector company that provides support services and some operational functions, including call handling.
Lincolnshire Police collaborates with other forces in the region on operational functions including roads policing, firearms, dog handlers, as well as tackling serious and organised crime and major crime.
A regional criminal justice service also handles crime file preparation, victims and witnesses, police-led prosecutions and the central ticket office. Forensic science services and legal services are also provided. In addition, Lincolnshire is part of a regional project that provides video links between police and courts, reducing the need for officers to travel.
A successful Home Office Police Innovation Fund bid has enabled the force to develop a joint fire and police headquarters, and set up a ‘blue light campus’ with fire and ambulance services in Lincoln. The force is exploring other opportunities to make efficiencies through this collaboration, such as providing joint call handling.
A new chief constable has been appointed within the past year.
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 improves the consistency of its response to vulnerable victims; and
- how the force plans to manage any future financial challenges.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Lincolnshire Police 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 crime, keeping people safe and tackling anti-social behaviour and serious and organised crime. It generally conducts investigations to a good standard, although it still needs to improve the service it provides to vulnerable people.
Lincolnshire Police is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. Neighbourhood teams are well led, and are briefed and assigned tasks on a daily basis. The staff in these teams are not re-assigned to other tasks outside their area, and so work with other organisations at a local level is effective. They have a good understanding of their communities. The force makes good use of Facebook, Twitter and LincsAlert to engage with the public. Local policing priorities are set mainly by panels of community members.
It continues to work well with other organisations to tackle anti-social behaviour. There are established monthly anti-social behaviour risk conferences along with weekly practitioner meetings between neighbourhood teams and key organisations, including the local authority and housing associations.
The force has made good progress in developing an evidence-based approach to providing services and it is making better use of effective tactics. However, the force’s analytical capacity and its ability to process intelligence and continually improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour are growing challenges.
Lincolnshire Police’s effectiveness at investigating crime and reducing re-offending is good. The quality of some investigations still needs to improve, but effective leadership and processes are raising standards.
Control room staff assess calls based on the level of threat, harm, risk and vulnerability faced by the victim, rather than simply by the type of incident. Most calls are attended within acceptable timeframes for the victims. The standards of initial investigations are good and important initial enquiries are generally completed well. Crimes are allocated to officers with appropriate skills. The force has substantially reduced the backlog of computers and telephones waiting for digital examination.
The force has a scheme that is equivalent to the integrated offender management scheme, which is good and growing. The scheme actively manages those offenders who pose a risk to the public. The force is adequately prepared to manage the risk posed by dangerous and sexual offenders.
However, when offenders are not immediately arrested, there is no force-level oversight of cases where there is a named suspect and no prioritised process to ensure that those offenders who cause the most harm are captured and dealt with quickly.
The force has invested in training for all staff whose role involves victim contact to keep victims at the centre of investigations. Victims are provided with a satisfactory service, including special measures, updates and victim personal statements.
Lincolnshire Police’s effectiveness at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims requires improvement. The force does not have a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability because it lacks enough analysts, the IT systems cannot record vulnerability and domestic abuse is not always recorded accurately.
The force is generally good at identifying people who are vulnerable through their age, disability, or because they have been subjected to repeated offences, or are at high risk of abuse, for example at initial contact and often responds well in meeting the needs of victims who are vulnerable. However, officers attending domestic abuse incidents are not always recording how children are affected and there is still an inconsistent approach to managing risk for missing and absent children. Not all frontline staff know how to identify and respond to possible child sexual exploitation.
Lincolnshire Police is good at tackling serious and organised crime. It assigns competent lead responsible officers to manage all mapped organised crime groups and works positively with a range of other organisations on gathering information and problem-solving. The force has a good understanding of the threats posed by serious and organised crime. There is good exchange of information at neighbourhood level between the police and other organisations, such as licensing teams, HM Revenue and Customs, Trading Standards and local authority staff.
Neighbourhood and response teams have a good awareness of the organised crime groups operating in their areas and are involved in intelligence-gathering and, where appropriate, disruption activity. Successful operations that dismantle organised crime groups are well publicised, using both the media and social networking. Neighbourhood policing teams help to spread messages, providing reassurance.
The force is developing its approach to managing serious and organised criminals to prevent them from re-offending and continues to deter people from becoming involved in crime, particularly through initiatives to support families.
Lincolnshire Police has assessed the threats identified in the Strategic Policing Requirement, although its analysis of cyber-crime and child abuse is more limited. It regularly exercises and tests its public order, firearms and civil emergencies response with other forces in the region and with organisations such as the military and the fire and ambulance services. The force shares lessons learned with the local resilience forum and also at regional and national level meetings. It has prepared business continuity plans in case of major disruption to services.
The force is part of the East Midlands operational support services collaboration, which has adequately assessed the threat of an attack requiring an armed response. Plans are in place to increase the force’s firearms capability by March 2017.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Lincolnshire Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force provides a good policing service to the communities of Lincolnshire at one of the lowest costs per head of population in England and Wales. It has a small workforce and a high reliance on local funding. It has entered into local partnerships, has outsourced to the private sector, and has undertaken extensive and wide ranging collaborative working. This means it saves money and brings a more efficient approach. HMIC considers that the force has done what can reasonably be expected to be as efficient as possible and yet it still faces an uncertain financial future due to its low funding base. It is likely that there will be service loss or degradation of policing services in Lincolnshire if further reductions are made to the workforce. In last year’s efficiency inspection, Lincolnshire Police was judged to require improvement.
Lincolnshire Police’s understanding of current, hidden and future demand is very good. The force uses a wide range of methods and approaches to understand demand across all areas. It recognises that it still needs to do more to encourage hard-to-reach individuals and groups to come forward. The force has done notable work to understand and to raise awareness of modern-day slavery.
The force uses its resources well to manage current demand, as HMIC also noted in 2015. It has a good understanding of the cost and quality of current service levels. It prioritises resources to meet demand and ensures its workforce has the right skills and capabilities.
The force has done what can be reasonably expected to become efficient and maximise value for money for the taxpayer while also providing an effective policing service to the communities of Lincolnshire. It provides one of the lowest costs per head of population police services in England and Wales in 2015/16, despite the force’s large geographic area and limited funds. It has a small workforce and a high reliance on local funding. It has entered into local partnerships, outsourced to the private sector, and undertaken extensive and wide-ranging collaborative work. This means it saves money and uses a more efficient approach.
However, the force is unlikely to be able to maintain the level of service it provides to the public in future if it has to make further savings by the last option available to it: further reducing frontline police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs). It is likely that there will be service loss or degradation of policing services in Lincolnshire if further reductions are made to the workforce.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Lincolnshire Police 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 continues to reinforce the importance of treating people with fairness and respect. However, its capability to investigate corruption and integrity proactively is limited because there are insufficient staff, although when problems are identified it responds quickly. The force treats its workforce with fairness and respect and has a clear focus on their wellbeing.
Lincolnshire Police and its workforce understand the importance of treating the people they serve with fairness and respect, based on the force’s well-established vision and values. The force has an engagement plan to help it seek feedback from across the communities it serves (especially on those issues that have the greatest impact on people’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment), to act on those issues and to demonstrate that it is doing so. However, the force could do more to demonstrate that it understands and responds to the wider public perception of fair and respectful treatment, particularly when involving those people who do not often come into contact with the police.
The force is working to improve trust and confidence in the police in communities where there are higher numbers of people from eastern Europe and other countries where English is not the first language. It engages with those who have less confidence in the police in order to increase their understanding of fair and respectful treatment, particularly those who may be fearful because of the police’s behaviour in their country of origin. The force recognised that victim satisfaction was negatively affected by a lack of information about the progress of an investigation and has now created a new team to improve contact with victims and witnesses.
Lincolnshire Police has continued to promote an ethical culture in which challenge and improvement are supported. The workforce are clear about expected standards of behaviour and feel able to challenge inappropriate behaviour. The force publishes details of gifts and hospitality to chief officers, and workforce business interests.
The force places significant emphasis on vetting to ensure the integrity of its workforce. However, its capability to investigate corruption and integrity proactively is limited because there are insufficient staff dedicated to this work, although the force responds quickly when problems are highlighted. The local counter-corruption threat assessment does not contain sufficient detail.
Although officers and staff recognise that the abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) is serious corruption, the force has not taken sufficient steps to understand the risk in detail. It does not seek intelligence proactively about potential abuse of authority for sexual gain from external sources or through monitoring its IT systems.
Published misconduct data on the force intranet is not always up to date, and relatively little prominence is given to police staff disciplinary matters compared with police officers’ misconduct. This impairs the force’s ability to engage fully with its workforce on the outcomes of misconduct cases and to spread preventative messages.
Lincolnshire Police is good at ensuring that it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. It has a culture that encourages feedback, and it listens to staff and acts to solve problems. The force has an adequate understanding of workforce perceptions through a range of engagement channels, including surveys, seminars, and meetings with staff networks and associations.
The force has a clear focus on wellbeing and takes a preventative approach to the wellbeing of the workforce. For example, the force is raising awareness about mental health, and is training supervisors to identify early warning signs. The force intranet shows officers and staff how to find and access a range of health schemes that make up a comprehensive and accessible wellbeing programme, and the website gives practical advice on accessing other support services. Lincolnshire Police is not able to demonstrate that its performance assessment process is fair and effective because performance development reviews are not taking place annually for all members of the workforce.
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.
Lincolnshire Police engages effectively with its workforce to create leadership expectations that are clearly defined at all levels, and has a culture that encourages appropriate challenge. However, more could be done to ensure there is a well-developed understanding of what the force expects from its leaders in the lower ranks and grades.
The force provides a broad range of leadership development programmes and has a clear rationale for the techniques it uses to understand the relative strengths of its leadership. This understanding could be used more effectively by ensuring its leadership development programmes address the gaps identified in its leadership capability.
The force is very effective in the way it challenges itself to seek out new ideas from across the police service and further afield. The workforce perceive their workplace to be innovative and report that they can suggest new ideas and working practices in a straightforward way. The force has built strong links with local academic institutions.
The force’s understanding of diversity extends beyond protected characteristics, and takes into account how diversity of background, experience and skills can strengthen leadership teams, and the chief officer team regularly reviews senior leadership teams to redeploy staff and officers, having evaluated their wider expertise, experience, background and skills.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Lincolnshire Police.