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Norfolk 2016

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This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Norfolk 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 is good.

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

Contact Zoë Billingham

HMI's observations

I am very pleased with the overall performance of Norfolk Constabulary.

I congratulate Norfolk Constabulary on its sustained excellent performance in preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour. The force works closely with partners, which helps improve its understanding of the threats posed to its local communities.

Norfolk Constabulary has maintained its local neighbourhood teams, despite cuts to its budget, to help prevent crime and engage with the public.

The force is good at protecting some of the most vulnerable people in the community including children, people with mental heath problems and the elderly. Norfolk Constabulary works closely with a variety of local partners, like councils and the health service, to protect those who are vulnerable and support victims. Control room staff are well trained and are thorough in assessing the risk to victims who call 999, so that they are best placed to ensure that they provide the right response tailored to victims’ needs.

The force is serious about bringing perpetrators of domestic abuse to justice, and to protect victims from further harm. Neighbourhood teams have responsibility for keeping vulnerable people safe, particularly those who have been victims of crime. However, there were sometimes delays in responding to domestic abuse incidents, and the investigations of cases involving children categorised as absent need to be more consistent.

I am reassured that the force’s initial investigations are thorough and that it investigates crime to a high standard. Norfolk Constabulary has an impressive high-tech crime unit with Suffolk Constabulary, investing in new technology and training to ensure that evidence can be secured from electronic devices to support prosecutions.

Norfolk Constabulary is good at protecting the public from the most prolific, serious and dangerous offenders. It seeks to prevent re-offending by encouraging offenders to face up to their behaviour and to understand the effect of their actions on others.

Norfolk Constabulary also works well with its neighbour, Suffolk Constabulary, to protect the public from serious and organised crime. It’s encouraging to see the two forces working together in this way, particularly as the types of crime they are tackling span wider geographical areas than just each force’s locality. I am also pleased to see the work the force is doing to help to prevent young people from being drawn into gangs.

I commend Norfolk Constabulary for having developed an excellent knowledge of demand for its services, including immediate incidents, such as 999 calls. I am pleased that the force actively seeks out so-called hidden demand and it is encouraging people to come forward to report crimes that are traditionally unreported like domestic abuse. I am particularly impressed by the way the force works with others to evaluate different approaches for dealing with demands.

I am very pleased to find that the force continues to collaborate with not only Suffolk Constabulary but also the fire and rescue service, local councils and mental health practitioners. In particular, the force’s trial of an ‘early help hub’ in South Norfolk which provides a single location where people can access public services for help is commendable.

I will watch with interest how Norfolk Constabulary looks at the skills of its staff and officers to make sure that knowledge is up to date to deal with other future crime trends, such as cyber-crime.

Norfolk Constabulary has demonstrated that it listens to feedback provided by the public and responds by addressing the areas identified for improvements.

I am reassured that that the force has a strong culture of ‘doing the right thing’, and that the workforce understands and has recently revised its vision and values to further support its approach. The vetting of new recruits is effective, and the force is taking action to address the backlog of people in its workforce whose vetting has expired. Norfolk Constabulary has effective processes to identify and intervene early in cases of potential corruption, and treats abuse of authority for sexual gain (that is, taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) as serious corruption.

Norfolk Constabulary uses a variety of methods to understand what the workforce perceives to be fair and respectful treatment, and takes action in response to the feedback it receives.

In summary, I commend the force on the service it is providing to the people of Norfolk.


Norfolk Constabulary provides policing services to the county of Norfolk. Norfolk contains some high levels of poverty, although there are also some highly affluent areas. The force area is home to around 0.9 million people, who live in a predominantly rural setting. Its distinct and generally small urban areas include the city of Norwich, as well as the towns of Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn.

The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, or travel through the county each year. The transport infrastructure includes 114 miles of trunk roads, an airport and sea ports.

The proportion of areas in Norfolk that are predicted (on the basis of detailed economic and demographic analysis) to present a very high challenge to the police is lower than 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.

Working arrangements

Norfolk Constabulary works with Suffolk Constabulary in a collaboration that covers operational policing services, such as major crime investigation, armed policing and roads policing, as well as business support functions such as human resources, finance and technology.

The force shares buildings with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, whose senior management team and integrated risk management team are situated in police headquarters at Wymondham.

Looking ahead to 2017

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 identified last year.

I will be particularly interested to see:

  • how the force reduces delays in its response to incidents involving domestic abuse;
  • how the force realises fully the benefits from its investment in technology; and
  • how the force equips its workforce with the necessary skills to meet the future demands for its services.


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

Last updated 02/03/2017

Norfolk Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Investigations are conducted to a high standard, and vulnerable victims receive a good service. The force is good at tackling serious and organised crime, and its approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour is outstanding. Our overall judgment is the same as last year, when we judged the force to be good in respect of effectiveness.

Norfolk Constabulary is outstanding at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. It has a good understanding of the threats to and risks of harm in the communities it serves, helped by its close working with partners, and it has achieved large reductions in the rate of anti-social behaviour in the county. Every neighbourhood is assigned a team of police officers and PCSOs, who are at the core of community work and whose primary role is to prevent crime and engage with communities. The force works closely with other partner organisations, such as local councils, in developing a range of effective ways to stop anti-social behaviour from escalating. It is clear that the force’s commitment to working with others improves the quality of policing services in its communities, an example being the introduction of the early help hubs that bring a range of public services together to provide help to families as soon as the need emerges.

Crime investigations are conducted to a high standard, and officers ensure evidence is collected and preserved effectively. However, the force needs to take action to reduce the backlog of crimes awaiting closure. Processes to track and arrest outstanding suspects and people who are wanted are very good. The force identifies and monitors those who pose the greatest risk to the community very well and it prepares thoroughly to manage the behaviour of dangerous offenders and sex offenders. The force has an impressive high-tech crime unit with Suffolk Constabulary and has invested in new technology and training to ensure that evidence can be secured from smartphones and other devices to support prosecutions.

The force is good at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims. It is effective at identifying risk and deploying resources appropriately to incidents that involve people who are vulnerable, and it works closely with partner organisations to protect those who are vulnerable or have particular needs. The force has one of the highest domestic abuse arrest rates and it prosecutes more domestic abuse offences than any other force in England and Wales, which means that victims are more likely to receive an outcome that better fits the severity of the crime committed against them.

Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies work closely together to provide an effective joint response to serious and organised crime. The force works well with partner organisations to identify and disrupt organised crime groups and actively manages criminals by imposing conditions on their financial, property and business dealings. It works with communities to help prevent young people from being drawn into gangs or organised criminality using programmes such as the Prince’s Trust and its own cadet scheme to work with young people who are likely to be disaffected.

Norfolk Constabulary is well prepared to meet the threats outlined within the Strategic Policing Requirement (PDF document) (SPR) and regularly tests its plans to ensure they are effective. The force is in a state of readiness to respond to an attack requiring an armed response, and reviewed this following the attacks in Paris in October 2015.

View the five questions for effectiveness


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

Last updated 03/11/2016

Norfolk Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force’s understanding of the current and likely future demand for its services is outstanding. It prioritises its activities effectively to manage demand and collaborates widely to achieve savings and improve services. It has sound financial and organisational plans and continues to identify savings and to invest in the future. In last year’s efficiency inspection, Norfolk Constabulary was judged to be outstanding.

Norfolk Constabulary is continuing to provide a cost-effective and efficient service to the public that keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force’s understanding of current and future demand for its services is outstanding and has highly effective processes to continue to develop its understanding. It is involved in the Better Policing Collaborative, a joint venture involving a number of universities as well as the organisation Skills for Justice, which gives it a better understanding of what works and allows it to make future decisions based on strong evidence. It has effective processes to help it understand and lessen the likely effect on its services of reducing resources in other agencies it works with. The force has a clear focus on protecting the vulnerable and identifying those crimes that victims may be reluctant to report, such as domestic abuse and modern-day slavery. Through consultation with the public, the force has a good understanding of the public’s expectations.

The force is good at using its resources to manage current demand. It makes effective decisions about using its resources in line with police and crime commissioner and force priorities. Its collaboration with other police forces, emergency services and public-sector organisations to provide savings and better services to the public is impressive, and includes sharing premises, costs and staff. In a collaboration with Suffolk Constabulary, three large software platforms have been installed across both forces to improve interoperability, reduce costs and increase efficiencies. The force uses software to model demand and staffing levels, but it needs to continue to develop its understanding of its workforce’s capabilities and identify and swiftly address any gaps to ensure it has sufficient capacity and capability to manage demand. It has a good understanding of the costs of its services, and is working with external consultants to help it understand what its spending achieves. The force continues to look for ways to improve its efficiency and save money.

Norfolk Constabulary is good at planning for demand in the future. It has developed financial and organisational plans that are practicable, credible, based on sound planning assumptions and focused on changing the way the force provides and improves services for the public. However, the force needs to ensure that it has identified the future skills required by the workforce to implement these plans.

Norfolk Constabulary has an impressive record of collaborating with other police forces and other public-sector organisations such as Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, local councils and mental health practitioners to improve the services it delivers. Although it is good at realising the benefits of its investment in most areas, it needs to do more to realise fully the benefits from its investment in ICT. However, its ability to fully utilise mobile technology is hampered by poor 3G and 4G coverage in the region.

View the three questions for efficiency


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

Last updated 08/12/2016

Norfolk 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 public and its workforce with fairness and respect. It ensures its workforce demonstrates ethical and lawful behaviour. A wide range of wellbeing services support the workforce.

Norfolk Constabulary is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. The force has a strong ethical culture that the workforce understands. It seeks feedback and challenge using local media, rural newsletters, social media, the police connect messaging system (through which the public can receive updates relevant to where they live), live web chats by chief officers, the force website, traditional links with local parish and district councils and local public engagement. The force also seeks feedback from those groups with less trust and confidence in the police, and makes use of the independent advisory group and independent custody visitor scheme, as well as liaison officers.

The force makes improvements based on the feedback it receives. For example, it has changed its guidance on the use of stop and search based on feedback on perceptions of fairness from the public and the independent stop and search scrutiny panel. It recognised an increase in the number of complaints from people with autism and now has a learning package to help the workforce understand autism and adapt their approach. The force has responded to the concerns raised by rural communities and has introduced a rural crime team using members of the Special Constabulary on horses and all-terrain vehicles to increase its visibility in remote areas.

Norfolk Constabulary is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force vets all people joining the organisation. It gives specific and detailed guidance on gifts and hospitality, notifiable associations, use of social media, information security and standards of behaviour. It also highlights lessons learnt from recent public complaints and misconduct investigations. The force uses a range of techniques to identify individual and organisational risks, including monitoring its own internal computer systems as well as open source information on social media.

The force recognises abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) as serious corruption. It is preparing its workforce, and partner organisations who support vulnerable victims, to recognise the signs of inappropriate relationships or behaviour.

Norfolk Constabulary is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. It uses the Ask the Chief email facility (which can be used anonymously), web chats with chief officers, staff leadership forums and seminars, online blogs by senior officers, specific forums and various staff focus groups to seek the views of its workforce. The force listens to the concerns raised by staff and takes action to address them. At the time of the inspection, it had plans to conduct a survey later in 2016 to better understand the views of the entire workforce.
The force is good at identifying and understanding the workforce’s wellbeing needs. It offers a wide range of wellbeing services, which it is looking to develop further by providing mobile health screening and occupational health drop-in centres. It is also taking preventative and early action to improve workforce wellbeing, through proactive work to raise awareness of stress and mental illness and holding workshops for staff to help them identify stress factors in themselves and others. However, the force needs fully to understand and take appropriate action to address the high levels of short- and medium-term sickness among officers and staff.

The force has made good progress in responding to last year’s findings and recently implemented a new way of assessing staff performance.

View the three questions for legitimacy

Other inspections

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.


Last updated 08/12/2016

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.

Norfolk Constabulary has worked effectively with its workforce to create clearly defined leadership expectations, which have recently been adapted as a result of the force’s joint working with Suffolk Constabulary. The force has a good understanding of much its workforce’s leadership capabilities, and uses a range of techniques to develop these where gaps are identified.

In order to ensure the force has strong leadership, the force, together with Suffolk Constabulary, has revised and recently re-launched its leadership and development programme to ensure annual staff appraisals are consistent and fair and that it identifies talent and develops its employees to be the best they can be. It adopts a range of approaches to support staff development and to address under-performance. The force actively engages with specialists and staff associations to help resolve any issues where they arise.

Norfolk Constabulary has a strong culture of innovation and a good track record of adopting best practice from (and sharing its own experience with) other organisations, including other police forces.

The force intends to use the newly revised leadership and development programme to assess the current leadership capability across the organisation, and to use this information to assess the diversity of its current leadership teams. In order to increase the diversity of skills and background experience, the force is looking to bring in talent from outside its own organisation.

View the three questions for leadership

Other reports

Last updated 24/10/2016

This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Norfolk Constabulary.

View other reports

Key facts – 2019/20

Force Area

2,079 square miles


0.914m people
up7% local 10 yr change


93% frontline police officers
92% national level
3.23 per 1000 population
3.69 national level
up3% 10yr change in local workforce
down5% 10yr national change

Victim-based crimes

0.05 per person
0.06 national level
up21% Local 5 year trend
up9% National 5 year trend


55p per person per day local
59p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

  • The constabulary shares many functions with Suffolk Constabulary to achieve savings and minimise reductions on frontline local services.
  • The constabulary has an increased focus on threat, harm and risk, reflected in the rise of reported domestic abuse crimes and serious sexual offences.

Police and crime plan priorities

  • Increase visible policing – More volunteers in policing, increasing opportunities for public engagement, leading to increased public confidence and perceptions of safety.
  • Support rural communities – Prioritising rural crime, increase confidence and increase levels of crime reporting for rural communities.
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  • Improve road safety – Tackling reckless driving using; education, enforcement, speed reduction leading to reduced levels of killed and serious injury collisions.
  • Prevent offending – Tackling violence and abuse; reducing domestic abuse incidents, tackling ASB, reducing reoffending and first-time entrants into criminal justice system.
  • Support victims and reduce vulnerability – Improve experiences and outcomes for service users, deliver appropriate response to those in mental health crisis, reduce the impact of drugs and alcohol on communities, support victims to disclose under-reported crimes.
  • Deliver a modern, innovative service – Support the police, giving them the right tools to fight and reduce crime, invest in new technologies and improve information-sharing.
  • Good stewardship of taxpayers’ money – Deliver an efficient policing service, achieving value for money and identifying opportunities for collaboration.