North Wales PEEL 2016
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
North Wales has been assessed as good in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force has an effective approach to preventing and investigating crime, and it is good at tackling serious and organised crime. However, it needs to improve the support and safeguarding it provides to vulnerable people. Our overall judgment this year is an improvement on last year, when we judged the force to require improvement in respect of effectiveness.
North Wales Police is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. It has worked hard to solve problems, consulting the public in order to understand the threats and risks faced by ordinary people.
The force is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. It has recognised the need to understand vulnerability in its area. It works with determination to ensure that offenders are brought to justice. The majority of investigations are allocated to appropriately skilled officers and staff.
North Wales Police requires improvement at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims. The force is good at understanding the nature and scale of victims’ vulnerability, but response officers sometimes fail to conduct all of the initial safeguarding actions. Some specialist investigations are still being allocated to officers who do not have the necessary training or experience to deal with them.
The force is good at tackling serious and organised crime. It works with partners to understand serious threats, but this co-operation needs to be developed at a senior partnership level. Crime groups are prioritised appropriately, and officers manage them until they no longer present a threat. There are effective projects in place to deter people from becoming involved in serious and organised crime, and the force monitors criminals to prevent them from re-offending.
The arrangements that the force has in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities are good. It has effective leadership responsible for planning its response to Strategic Policing Requirement threats, in collaboration with other emergency services and partner organisations. It has assessed the threat of an attack which requires an armed response and has arrangements in place for reviewing its firearms capability.
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
North Wales Police is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. It understands the threat and risk faced by the public. The force can demonstrate a good understanding of the communities it serves, including some which are hard to reach. It is aware of some complex, emerging or hidden threats, and works with partner organisations.
North Wales Police engages effectively with local communities in order to understand their policing priorities. It uses a range of methods to seek the views of the public. The force is good at problem-solving, using a combination of tried and tested locally established ways of working, and formal problem-solving models.
The force uses a range of tactics and interventions to prevent crime and reduce anti-social behaviour, and shares information with partner organisations. However, it requires some improvement in the area of using best practice and its own learning to improve the service to the public.
Areas for improvement
- The force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with partners, continually to improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
North Wales Police is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. It is also effective in bringing offenders to justice.
The force provides a good initial response. Officers at the first point of contact identify and prioritise crime scenes, and gather forensic evidence. The force allocates the majority of investigations to appropriately skilled officers and staff, but on some occasions officers without the necessary skills and experience are allocated to high risk and complex cases.
The quality of subsequent investigations is mostly good. The force has adequate intelligence and forensic capabilities to support investigators and has sufficient capacity to examine digital devices.
North Wales Police is good at pursuing suspects and offenders, including people who are wanted by the police and outstanding suspects. It is also good at reducing re-offending through the use of effective integrated offender management. However, it requires improvement in its approach to follow national guidelines in order to identify the risk posed by foreign nationals.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that all crimes are allocated promptly to investigators with the appropriate skills, accreditation and support to investigate them to a good standard.
- The force should ensure that the number of registered sex offenders awaiting assessment is reduced following the introduction of additional specialist resources.
- The force should ensure that checks are routinely conducted to verify the identity, nationality and overseas convictions of arrested foreign nationals.
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Overall North Wales Police requires improvement at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims. There are some positives. The force consistently identifies vulnerable and repeat victims at the first point of contact and is good at assessing the risks involved and allocating the correct response. This was a concern in our 2015 effectiveness report which has now been addressed. These measures mean that North Wales Police is now recording more cases of vulnerability than ever before.
The force is also good at understanding the nature and scale of vulnerability in its area, and has taken some action to ensure that frontline officers and staff understand how to identify vulnerable people. However, despite these improvements since our 2015 effectiveness report, HMIC found that response officers sometimes fail to safeguard victims appropriately.
Some specialist investigations are still being allocated to response officers who do not have the necessary training or experience to deal with complex investigations, including some cases involving serious sexual offences and high-risk domestic abuse. This situation arises because of a lack of capacity within the specialist teams.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that response officers become more proficient in completing risk-assessments at initial response and that there is sufficient supervision.
- To improve the quality of investigations involving vulnerable people, the force should review the workload of its specialist teams to ensure that they have sufficient capacity to deal with all complex and high-risk cases. Such investigations should be subject to regular active supervision. This review should be undertaken as soon as possible.
- 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.
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
North Wales Police is good at tackling serious and organised crime (SOC). The force has a SOC local profile which considers traditional crime and new and emerging threats. The profile has been compiled using a range of intelligence sources and partner information.
The force takes an inconsistent approach to the recording of management plans for all its known organised crime groups (OGCs). It does, however, work well with other forces and the regional organised crime unit, and makes good use of the Government Agency Information Network.
The force assigns officers to oversee the management of OCGs, and has a partnership board structure in place. However, partners do not regularly take part in this process. The force must ensure that it records all disruptions to OCGs according to national guidance.
The force has a number of effective projects in place to deter people from becoming involved in SOC and it actively manages serious and organised criminals to prevent them from re-offending. It communicates regularly with the public about SOC.
Areas for improvement
- The force should further develop its serious and organised crime local profile in conjunction with partner organisations to enhance its understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime and inform joint work aimed at reducing this threat.
- North Wales Police has a force-wide partnership board structure but should ensure the attendance of partner agencies at these meetings in order to enhance intelligence sharing and promote an effective, multi-agency response to serious and organised crime.
- The force should assign capable lead responsible officers to all active organised crime groups as part of a long term, multi-agency approach to dismantling them. These officers should have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, and adopt a ‘4Ps’ structure for OCG management plans.
- The force should improve its understanding, across the government’s national 4P framework, of the impact of its activity against serious and organised crime, and ensure that it learns from experience to maximise the force’s disruptive effect on this activity.
How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Overall North Wales Police has effective specialist capabilities.
The force has the necessary arrangements in place to ensure that it can fulfil its national policing responsibilities. It has clear and effective leadership arrangements in place for planning its response to Strategic Policing Requirement threats, and robust arrangements in place for testing those plans.
North Wales Police conducts regular exercises with other emergency services and partner organisations and has robust business continuity plans to enable it to continue responding to threats in the event of a major disruption to services.
It has comprehensively assessed the threat of an attack requiring an armed response and has clear and robust arrangements in place for reviewing – and if necessary increasing – its firearms capability.
North Wales Police was not identified as a force requiring an increase in firearms capability as part of the national armed policing uplift programme. However, the force has independently assessed the threat of an attack requiring an armed response, and has made plans to increase its firearms capability.