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Surrey 2016

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

Contact Zoë Billingham

HMI's observations

I am pleased with the overall performance of Surrey Police and with the progress the force has made since last year. However, the force still needs to improve some aspects of its service.

I am pleased that Surrey Police has made a huge effort to improving the service it provides to the most vulnerable victims, and this deserves high praise. The force has increased the number of officers and staff allocated to public protection roles, and I am impressed with its work in developing its response when a person goes missing.

These improvements were also reflected in the findings from our revisit inspection on child protection, although the force needs to do more to provide these improved services consistently.

Although there has been some progress in the way the force investigates crime and reduces reoffending, there is still more to do. It has improved how it investigates more complex and serious crimes: there has been an increase in specialist staff and supervision. However, too often the quality of investigations remains poor due to the fact that some frontline officers still do not have the skills to investigate some of the crimes they are allocated. The force recognises the need to improve investigations and it is working hard to do – but it will take time to recruit and train staff so that they have the necessary skills.

The force has also made improvements in how it protects the people of Surrey from threats of serious and organised crime. It now has a better understanding of the risks this high-end criminality poses – the starting point for effective action being taken.

I am pleased with the improvements Surrey Police has made in its efficiency since our inspection last year. One of the improvements put in place since last year has been how it uses its resources to deal with demand for service from the public more effectively. It works well with partners like local councils and the health service to improve how it manages demand.

Despite many good examples of efficiency improvements over the last year, the force does not yet have a complete understanding of all areas of demand and the changing scale and nature of future demand; it remains understrength in some departments, including neighbourhood policing and detective roles. The force recognises this and is taking active steps to address these concerns.

The force understands the importance of communicating with groups who may have less trust and confidence in the police and it uses a wide range of methods to seek feedback from the public.

We found that the force, in general, has a good approach to responding to corruption. It has instilled in its workforce an understanding of the behaviours and ethics expected of it, and has good vetting arrangements in place. There are areas that the force can improve upon however. We found that although the anti-corruption unit prioritises instances of officers and staff abusing their authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime), there is more the force can do to gather intelligence.

I am pleased with the steps the force has taken to make its workforce more representative of the people of Surrey. There is more to do, but the force does have other initiatives in train.

In summary, I am heartened by the progress that the force has made in providing a good service to the people of Surrey, but there are some aspects where I would like to see improvement.


Surrey Police provides policing services to the county of Surrey. Surrey is generally affluent, with limited areas of deprivation. The force area is home to around 1.2 million people, who mainly live in the urban centres which include the outskirts of Greater London, as well as the towns of Guildford, Reigate, Staines and Esher.

The resident population is ethnically diverse, with 10 percent from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit, socialise in, or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes 102 miles of motorway and trunk roads and major rail stations.

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

Surrey Police has collaborated in several functions with Sussex Police, through its Policing Together programme. This includes the operations command, specialist crime and IT support. There are plans to extend these opportunities through more sharing of backroom services and the development of a joint IT infrastructure serving both forces.

The Emergency Services Collaboration Programme seeks to manage demand on all three main blue-light responders more effectively, through relationships with East Sussex, West Sussex and Surrey fire and rescue services and South East Coast ambulance services.

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 areas for improvement that HMIC identified last year.

I will be particularly interested to see:

  • how the force continues to improve its safeguarding of victims and the most vulnerable;
  • how the force improves its investigations of less serious crime; and
  • how the force develops its understanding of all areas of demand, and of the changing scale and nature of future demand.


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

Last updated 02/03/2017

Surrey Police is good in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Our overall judgment this year is an improvement on last year, when we judged the force to require improvement.

The force still needs to improve how it investigates and supervises less serious crime. However, there have been marked improvements in the way it safeguards those who are vulnerable from harm and the way it supports victims. The force has also improved its response to serious and organised crime and has the specialist capabilities necessary to prepare for national threats.

Surrey Police is good at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. It is committed to keeping neighbourhood policing at the heart of its service. The force uses a structured problem-solving approach and works well with partner organisations. However, the force has a limited understanding of the threats facing its communities, and it needs to communicate more effectively with local people to obtain their views about neighbourhood priorities.

The way in which the force investigates crime and manages offenders still requires improvement. It has made some progress since last year. For example, it has increased the number of specialist staff investigating more complex and serious crimes, and has reduced the backlog of mobile phones and computers awaiting forensic examination. However, the force needs to improve the standard of investigation of less serious crime (such as minor criminal damage) and the supervision of these cases. The force recognises this and has provided additional training and mentoring for officers, and has employed agency staff in supporting roles. Nevertheless, some frontline officers and staff still do not have the skills to investigate some of the crimes that are allocated to them.

The force should also consider widening its approach to integrated offender management to maximise its impact on reducing threat, harm and risk. It also needs to ensure that suspects and offenders who are listed as being wanted on the police national computer, people who fail to appear on police bail, named and outstanding suspects, and suspects identified through forensic evidence are found quickly, and arrested.

Surrey Police is good at protecting people who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims. The force has made considerable improvements since 2015 and now has a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability in its local area. Officers and staff understand their responsibility to assess and safeguard vulnerable people at the earliest opportunity. The force responds well to vulnerable people based on its assessment of vulnerability and risk at the initial point of contact. Improvements to its IT systems would allow the force to make a more robust assessment of vulnerability and risk.

The force has also improved its response to serious and organised crime. It has a better understanding of the threats posed to its communities, and neighbourhood officers are used effectively to collect intelligence and disrupt organised crime groups in their areas. However, the force should take steps to identify those people who might be at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime, and work with other organisations to deter offending.

Surrey Police has good plans to ensure that it can respond to the threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement (PDF document), including firearms incidents. It collaborates with Sussex Police and the two forces have effective procedures to test their preparedness to respond to civil emergencies and public order incidents. The force has a comprehensive training programme for firearms officers and firearms commanders, which is often carried out jointly with other forces in the south east region.

View the five questions for effectiveness


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

Last updated 03/11/2016

Surrey Police has been assessed as good in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force is is taking steps to further its understanding of demand, particularly of emerging and so-called hidden crime. It has improved how it uses its resources to manage current demand since last year and is using them well. The force collaborates effectively with other forces and organisations in the region to improve efficiency. It has a good record of effective financial management and has sound financial plans for the future. In last year’s efficiency inspection, Surrey Police was judged to require improvement.

Surrey Police has improved the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime since HMIC’s 2015 inspection. It has undertaken a comprehensive analysis of some elements of current demand for its services, which it used to develop its new operating model. However, it does not yet have a complete understanding of all areas of demand and the changing scale and nature of future demand. It is undertaking further analysis of so-called hidden crime and emerging crime, such as child sexual exploitation, cyber-crime, hate crime and modern slavery. The force is also actively seeking to identify and address demands on police time from partner organisations, for example by having NHS mental health advisers in the police call centre to support police when dealing with incidents involving people with mental health concerns. The force is making a more rigorous risk assessment of the calls for police service that it receives in order to better prioritise its demands. However, because over 25 percent of non-emergency 101 calls were going unanswered as at April 2016, the force cannot be sure it has an adequate understanding of real demand.

The force is good in how it uses its resources to manage current demand, having improved since HMIC’s 2015 inspection. It has introduced a new operating model, which means it can allocate resources to each area based on known demand. The force has some understanding of workforce capabilities and gaps, but it remains under-strength in a number of departments, including the neighbourhoods and detective roles. It has a long record of successful collaboration with Sussex Police and other forces in the region in a range of policing and support operations, including operations command, specialist crime, HR, finance and IT support, which has improved efficiency and resilience. The force works well with partner organisations to improve how it manages demand for services, actively seeking to identify the source of demand and the most appropriate agency to respond. It has processes to regularly review its plans and the effects of any changes it makes.

The force is good at planning for future demand. It analyses resource allocation using demand data to assess changes and any likely impact on the resourcing model. The force has ambitious plans to improve its efficiency through collaboration with Sussex Police and other forces in the region, and recognises there are opportunities for further collaboration with other emergency services, the NHS and the local authority. It has a comprehensive IT strategy that it intends to implement jointly with other forces, which includes strengthening the IT infrastructure, body-worn video cameras and greater use of mobile data. It has effective financial controls and a good record of achieving planned savings and service improvements. Its financial plans are built on sound assumptions about income and expenditure, including inflationary trends. The force has rigorous procedures for assuring itself that its investments lead to the planned benefits and operational outcomes.

View the three questions for efficiency


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

Last updated 08/12/2016

Surrey 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 treats the people it serves, and its workforce, with fairness and respect. It has good systems in place to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Workforce wellbeing services are good.

Surrey Police and its workforce are good at treating all of the people they serve with fairness and respect. This is part of the vision for the force, which is understood by most staff. The force uses a wide range of methods to seek feedback and challenge from the public, including through its website and social media. Its website has been redesigned to make it easier for the public to find out how to make a complaint.

The force understands the importance of communicating with groups who may have less trust and confidence in the police. It makes use of surveys, the independent advisory group and professional reference groups, as well as complaints data and information from victim satisfaction surveys. A full-time analyst monitors feedback, trends and patterns in public complaints.

Surrey Police is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The Code of Ethics is well understood by most staff. There are good procedures for ensuring all staff, including volunteers and contractors, are vetted before being allowed access to force premises or information and for re-vetting staff on promotion or transfer to certain posts where they are exposed to more risk.

The force has a comprehensive package of e-training modules that provide clear guidance on acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. These modules include an introduction to professional standards, ethical decision-making, social media awareness, security matters and sexual misconduct. Supervisors and staff have a good understanding of the force’s policies on gifts and hospitality, notifiable associations and business interests.

Good systems to find and assess intelligence about potential corruption are in place and the force has an experienced and efficient anti-corruption unit (ACU). Its ‘in house’ anonymous reporting system is effective.

The force recognises that abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) is serious corruption. About 75 percent of the workforce have completed an e-learning module on abuse of authority for sexual gain, but the force does not reinforce this with further training or other information. The force should consider actively seeking intelligence on potential abuse from organisations such as women’s refuges or sex worker support organisations.

Surrey Police is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. The force seeks feedback about the workforce’s perceptions of how they are treated through a range of channels including staff surveys, the force intranet forum, a force suggestion scheme, regular meetings with unions, police federation, staff associations and staff networks, and exit interviews for those leaving the force. It has consulted widely about its change programme and changes have mostly been well received, but some frontline staff feel under pressure from high workloads.

The force has made a significant investment in wellbeing services. Its nurse-led occupational health team provides appropriate support for staff and will refer staff for physiological or psychological advice and treatment when required. Wellbeing services are well understood by staff and held in very high regard.

However, we found that the performance assessment process is not effective and does not provide a rigorous process for recognising those who are talented or under-performing or for ensuring its workforce are working towards agreed objectives. Generally the workforce do not feel engaged with the process or recognise its benefits.

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.

Since the new chief constable of Surrey took command in December 2015, he has carried out consultation and held leadership seminars with all those in the rank of inspector and above and their police staff equivalents. The seminars have been well received, but unsurprisingly the messages have not yet reached more junior officers and staff, with the result that they have limited understanding of the force’s leadership expectations.

The force has a limited understanding of leadership at all levels. A review of leadership skills has not taken place, so capabilities and any gaps in skills are not fully understood. However, the force has a good record of using surveys to gauge the views of its workforce and acts on the results of the findings.

At the time of our inspection, most officers and staff had a personal development review with their line manager, but the quality of these is mixed. Some of the workforce only have limited or generic personal objectives. Officers and staff do not generally feel engaged with the reviews, or recognise their benefits. The reviews are not used in the promotion process, to develop talent, or to manage poor performance.

The force has taken steps to ensure that its workforce is fully representative of the diversity within the communities it polices, but still has more work to do. There are a number of initiatives, many of which are in their infancy, aimed at addressing this.

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 Surrey Police.

View other reports

Key facts – 2019/20

Force Area

645 square miles


1.2m people
up7% local 10 yr change


90% frontline police officers
92% national level
3.30 per 1000 population
3.69 national level
down6% 10yr change in local workforce
down5% 10yr national change

Victim-based crimes

0.04 per person
0.06 national level
up3% Local 5 year trend
up9% National 5 year trend


57p per person per day local
59p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

  • Surrey is the most densely populated county in the South East, working closely with neighbouring force Sussex Police.
  • With 51 offences per 1,000 people, Surrey’s crime rate is 34.4 percent less than the England average, making it one of the safest places to live in the country.

Police and crime plan priorities

The new Police and Crime Plan for Surrey 2016-2020 was issued in August 2016 and contains 6 key priorities:

  • Cutting Crime and Keeping Surrey Safe – solving more crimes committed against vulnerable people and working in partnership to ensure safer communities
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  • Supporting Victims –improving how Surrey Police look after vulnerable victims, commissioning services that support victims and preventing cyber crime
  • Tackling Rural Crime – improving the non-emergency police contact number and ensuring good communication between police and rural communities
  • Making Our Town Centres Safe – partnership activity and funding to improve feelings of safety in town centres
  • Tackling the Threat of Terrorism – reviewing local and national plans to prevent terrorism, protect and prepare Surrey for any potential attack
  • Making Every Pound Count – making savings in the office of the PCC, scrutinising local savings plans and developing a new estates strategy for Surrey Police

The full plan can be found on the Surrey PCC’s website.