South Wales 2016Read more about South Wales
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of South Wales 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.
Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
I am very pleased with the overall performance of South Wales Police.
South Wales Police is good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour. Neighbourhood officers engage well with local people and have a thorough knowledge of their issues and concerns.
I am very pleased with the improvements that South Wales Police has made in the way it protects vulnerable people from harm and how it supports victims. The force now has a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability among people in South Wales. It has trained staff to identify repeat and vulnerable victims when they first contact the force, and this means that the most vulnerable people are receiving an appropriate response.
South Wales Police is good at investigating crime and keeps the victim at the centre of its investigations. The force also has effective arrangements to pursue outstanding offenders and reduce reoffending.
I am reassured that South Wales Police is good at tackling serious and organised crime. The force maintains detailed assessments of organised crime groups, which would be further improved by including data from partner organisations. Local officers are aware of those involved in organised criminality in their area and are fully engaged in the force’s disruption activities. The force has several initiatives to deter young people from becoming involved in serious and organised crime.
I am particularly impressed by the understanding that South Wales Police has of the current demands for its services, including so-called hidden demands such as internet crime. The force uses this understanding to inform the deployment of its resources, including those to prevent anticipated demands. It is also developing a clear picture of likely future demands. The force has also worked with partner organisations to improve the routing of requests for services to the most appropriate organisation.
The force has good systems for understanding the capabilities of its workforce, which enables it to match operational skills to current demands. It understands the knowledge and skills that will be required in the future and has plans for developing these.
I recognise that the force has investment plans for achieving greater efficiency in providing its services. The force will be aware that it is facing a potentially sizeable shortfall in its budget next year and I am confident that it will put in place effective contingency arrangements.
The force seeks feedback from the people of South Wales, including those who have less trust in the police, and it uses this feedback to improve its practice.
I am satisfied that South Wales Police’s vision and values are clear and well understood by the workforce. The force is good at maintaining ethical and lawful behaviour in its workforce, and its vetting complies with national guidance.
The force supports the physical and mental well-being of staff and officers through its occupational health team. However, officers and staff expressed mixed views about how far the workforce is included in decision-making, and the force does not currently have a consistent mechanism (such as a staff survey) for understanding the issues that the workforce sees as having the greatest impact on how they are treated.
In summary, the force provides a good level of service to the people of South Wales. I commend the force for maintaining its performance since my previous assessment.
South Wales Police provides policing services to the areas of West, South and Mid-Glamorgan. South Wales has a high level of poverty, although there are some more affluent areas. The force area is home to around 1.3 million people, who mainly live in the cities of Cardiff and Swansea as well as smaller towns.
The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, commute into, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes 115 miles of motorway and trunk roads, major rail stations, air and sea ports.
The proportion of areas in South Wales 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 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 not large, relative to other forces in England and Wales, however, it takes a comparatively long time to travel across the area by road, which increases the difficulty of providing police services.
South Wales Police collaborates with Gwent Police, including a shared mobile data platform and scientific investigation unit, shared strategic command cover and legal services, as well as collaboratively procured technology systems.
The force works as part of the all-Wales counter terrorism unit and has a joint firearms team with Gwent Police and Dyfed-Powys Police.
The Welsh Policing Estates collaboration is drawing up options for a joint estates service for policing in Wales, to reduce costs, enhance resilience and make service improvements.
In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how South Wales Police 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 will address the anticipated shortfall in its budget; and
- how the force will improve its understanding of the issues that are of greatest concern to its workforce.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
South Wales Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force has an effective approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. It is also effective in the way it investigates crime and protects vulnerable people, particularly victims of domestic abuse. It is good at tackling serious and organised crime. It has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities and has assessed each of the threats in the Strategic Policing Requirement. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year, when we judged the force to be good in respect of effectiveness.
South Wales Police has a dedicated local policing model and understands the threat or risk of harm within the communities it serves. The force uses a problem-solving model but the quality of its application is inconsistent. Neighbourhood officers can concentrate on their neighbourhood policing role and are not routinely taken away to cover reactive duties.
Neighbourhood staff have good local knowledge of their community and are aware of community concerns and intelligence about criminal activity. Neighbourhood teams engage well with their communities using a range of methods, and staff have a high level of understanding of local problems. South Wales Police has a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability in its local area and describes vulnerability as being the ’priority of priorities’. The force is able to identify repeat and vulnerable victims when they first contact the force, and it uses a risk-assessment process to grade calls based upon the level of threat and risk of harm. The force is good at investigating crime and keeps the victim at the centre of investigations. It has effective arrangements in place to pursue outstanding offenders and to reduce re-offending. However, there are inconsistencies in the way it selects offenders for its integrated offender management scheme.
South Wales Police is good at tackling serious and organised crime. Organised crime groups are mapped and scored appropriately and consistently using the national assessment tool, with all mapping up to date.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
South Wales Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force has an excellent understanding of demand and places it at the heart of how it operates, plans and works with partners to identify, predict and tackle demand, and how it deploys resources to meet demand. It has systems in place to understand its workforce gaps and capabilities, meaning it can match operational skills to demand in real-time, and for longer term planning and deployment of resources. The force’s investment plans should lead to greater efficiency and service improvement, but the force is currently showing a gap in its budget from 2017/18 onwards.
South Wales Police has an excellent understanding of its demand in all areas. Demand is at the heart of the force’s understanding of how it operates, how it plans and how it deploys. Senior officers understand their demand data and the effect that the different types of demand (e.g. internal, hidden, proactive) have on the force, its partners and the public.
The force is beginning to use its data to understand trends and to send officers in advance to meet anticipated demand. It works well with partners at a senior level to ensure collective responsibility for demand, and that misdirected demand is understood and avoided. The force uses its resources effectively to manage current demand and uses its understanding of demand to allocate resources accurately. It has systems in place to understand its workforce gaps and capabilities, which means that operational skills can be matched in real-time to demand and allows longer term planning and deployment of resources. The force also reviews the effect changes have on the service it provides.
The force has developed strong collaborations with other forces, private industry and local communities to deal with demand more efficiently. It is planning actively for demand in the future and takes account of public satisfaction in these plans. The force is planning to work with private sector partners on the proactive policing pilot to predict future demand in a more comprehensive and accurate way.
The force’s investment plans should lead to greater efficiency and service improvement. However, the force reports that by 2019/20 it potentially faces a budget gap of £10.2m for revenue and £17m for capital with low or no contingency and £9m general reserves.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
South Wales 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 has worked hard to understand and ensure its values and behaviours are in line with all elements of the Code of Ethics. Treating people fairly and with respect is central to the force’s approach and forms the basis of all training. The force’s public engagement strategy outlines how it will engage and communicate with communities. It seeks feedback and challenge from the people it serves about the extent to which it treats them with fairness and respect.
South Wales Police is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. Its vision and values are clear, understood by staff and fully in line with the Code of Ethics, and its policies reflect this. The force identifies and works with people who have less trust and confidence in the police and seeks feedback from communities using a wide range of methods. It acts on learning and feedback to improve how it treats the people it serves and usually shares this learning across the force, and sometimes more widely with partner organisations and other police forces.
The force is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It takes vetting seriously and follows national guidance, in order to try to ensure that it recruits ethical officers, staff and volunteers. It has clear policies on business interests, notifiable associations, gifts and hospitality, and the use of social media. However, it does not routinely follow up on business interests that have been refused. The force ensures the public can access detailed information on the outcomes of public hearings. It also actively informs the workforce at all levels about the outcomes of gross misconduct hearings and misconduct meetings.
The force has a clear desire to treat its workforce with fairness and respect, but its current performance assessment process is ineffective. It plans to conduct a staff survey and introduce a more effective performance development review system, but these gaps should be prioritised. The force takes positive action to identify and understand the wellbeing needs of its workforce and provides support for staff who have physical or mental health issues.
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.
South Wales Police has worked with its officers and staff to develop its leadership expectations, and these are understood at all levels throughout the organisation. The force is able to act constructively to deal with any leadership problems. A structured leadership training programme with a range of development opportunities is available for police officers and staff of all ranks and grades, and the force has a wide pool of potential senior leaders. The force could do more to understand its skills and capacity throughout the organisation, although its plans for a new performance development review process is a positive step.
The force is proactive in seeking new ideas and working practices from other forces and non-police organisations, while its continuous improvement programme encourages staff to submit suggestions and ideas. The force would benefit from bringing all its good practice together centrally into one place for staff. The force has increased successfully the number of female police officer recruits and those from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, but more work is needed to develop leadership teams that are diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity as well as background and skills. There are too few female officers in the force’s middle and senior ranks.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of South Wales Police.