Warwickshire 2016Read more about Warwickshire
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Warwickshire 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 pleased with the overall performance of Warwickshire Police and the progress the force has made since last year. However, the force still needs to improve some aspects of its service.
The force has made good progress in the way it protects vulnerable people. I am particularly pleased with its improved response to reports of missing children, which now demonstrates a greater understanding of the factors that increase the risk of harm to children.
I welcome the force’s introduction of a multi-agency safeguarding hub which brings together partner organisations to support vulnerable people. It will want to build on this positive step by addressing the delays in referring people to the services they need.
The force is generally good at investigating crime and, since last year, it has increased its capacity to undertake specialist investigations, which are carried out to a good standard and, in particular, its ability to review digital evidence. The force will want to match this improvement by ensuring that the quality and supervision of investigations undertaken by neighbourhood and response teams is consistently good.
The force’s neighbourhood teams generally engage well with local people and listen to their concerns and the force would benefit further from carrying out fuller evaluations of its problem-solving activities to understand which approaches could be used to address similar problems elsewhere.
I am pleased with the improvements Warwickshire Police has made since last year in its approach to serious and organised crime. The force now works well with other organisations to disrupt and investigate organised criminality, and to limit the harm it causes. However, it needs to improve the evaluation of its disruption activities, and its neighbourhood teams could be more involved in disrupting the activity of organised crime groups. I am pleased by the force’s work with other organisations to discourage young people who may be tempted into criminal lifestyles.
Warwickshire Police, as part of its alliance with West Mercia Police, has a good understanding of the current and likely future demands for its services. This understanding includes so-called hidden demands and new and emerging crimes such as modern slavery and human trafficking.
The alliance has also carried out a comprehensive assessment of the skills of the workforce. Its understanding of demands and workforce skills has informed changes to the composition of the workforce and the development of the knowledge and skills that will be needed to meet the future demands for services.
The force’s financial plans are prudent, allow for investment in the future, and are linked to its programme of organisational change. The workforce is involved in the change programme and is encouraged to be innovative.
The force regularly clarifies and reinforces acceptable standards of behaviour with its workforce, and makes clear when standards fall short of expectations. I am pleased with the force’s commitment to the well-being of its workforce, and I welcome its focus on mental health and its work with the mental health charity MIND.
In summary, I am heartened by the progress that the force has made in providing a good service to the people of Warwickshire and would commend their achievements.
Warwickshire Police provides policing services to the county of Warwickshire. Warwickshire is generally affluent, although there are some areas of deprivation. The force area is home to around 0.6 million people, who mainly live in the towns of Warwick, Nuneaton and Rugby.
The resident population is increased by university students and the large numbers who visit or travel through the area each year. The transport infrastructure includes 147 miles of motorway and trunk roads, and major rail stations.
The proportion of areas in Warwickshire 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 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.
Warwickshire Police is in a strategic alliance with West Mercia Police. The two forces share all posts below the rank of deputy chief constable and work to a single vision and set of values, through a harmonised set of policies.
Looking ahead to 2017
In the year ahead, I will be interested to see how Warwickshire 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 improves its problem-solving approach to prevent crime and tackle anti-social behaviour; and
- how the force continues to improve its work with partner organisations to protect the most vulnerable.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Warwickshire Police has been assessed as good in respect of how effective it is at keeping people safe and reducing crime. This is an improvement on last year’s assessment, when we judged the force to require improvement. In particular, the force has made good progress in how it identifies and responds to vulnerability, and there have also been improvements in how the force tackles serious and organised crime.
The force operates on a solid foundation of local policing from which safer neighbourhood teams work well with local communities. As part of their day to day activity, officers, and police and community support officers (PCSOs) take time to find out what matters to local people. However, there remain areas where local policing could be improved. If the force knew more about local demographics and population trends, it would be in a better position to prioritise resources and plan for the future. Although there is no doubt that the force is committed to tackling problems in local communities, it does not evaluate its problem-solving projects properly. These are highlighted in this report as areas for improvement.
The force is changing its operational practices for criminal investigations. It is allocating more investigations which involve vulnerable victims to specialist investigators to ensure that the victims receive an enhanced service. As a consequence, more crime is now being managed by neighbourhood and emergency response officers. Standards of investigation among these groups of officers are inconsistent and need to improve.
Following concerns we raised in 2015, the force has increased its ability to download evidence from smartphones, tablets and other devices. More investigations now rely on digital evidence. The force has done well to make the retrieval of this evidence part of its routine investigative practice.
The public can feel confident that Warwickshire Police protects vulnerable people and supports victims. Since HMIC last examined this area in 2015, the force has improved the service it provides to missing children in particular, although it now needs to understand how it can increase the support it gives to victims of domestic abuse.
HMIC also found improvements in how the force tackles serious and organised crime. It works with partners to limit the harm which is caused by members of organised crime groups, which reflects national good practice.
In addition, this inspection examined the force’s specialist capabilities and found that Warwickshire Police has good arrangements in place to respond to the national threats set out in the Strategic Policing Requirement. It is well prepared to respond to an attack which requires an armed response, and regularly tests its firearms capability.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Warwickshire Police is good in how efficient it is at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force has a comprehensive understanding of its current and likely future demand and makes use of a range of demand tools; there are also plans to introduce predictive analytics. The force uses its resources to manage demand well and is changing the composition of the workforce to meet the challenges of the future. The force is working towards establishing a new operating model which is part of its Vision 2020 plan for the future. The force’s change programme is robust and subject to external oversight and the force is making good use of commercial partners to bring specialist skills and expertise to deliver Vision 2020.
The force has entered into a strategic alliance with West Mercia Police (the alliance), whereby all posts below deputy chief constable are shared. Both forces have a single vision and set of values and work to a harmonised set of policies. As a result, practice and procedures should be the same in both forces, and in this inspection, HMIC found that to be the case. Therefore, save for specific localised examples, all references to the force can be read as applying equally to the alliance.
The force is good at understanding the current and likely future demand for its services. Its intelligence analysis supports the daily management meeting and extensive demand analysis has led to changes to the composition of the workforce. This ensures that resources are aligned to the areas of greatest need. The force intends to refine this understanding by recruiting an analyst to record real-time demand data from all of the force’s ICT systems. It has also carried out further research to deepen its understanding of secondary demand, for example the time invested in the investigation of offences.
The force is good at using its resources to manage current demand. The force’s priorities are identified in a forward-looking strategic assessment, and an accompanying control strategy ensures that they are properly resourced.
The force’s people strategy outlines how it plans to establish and maintain the correct blend of skills and experience in the workforce; this is managed through the monthly workforce management group (WMG). The WMG has recently undertaken a comprehensive skills assessment as part of this programme.
The alliance between Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police is more extensive than any other and is unique in the police service. The force also collaborates with five partner organisations in the unique Place Partnership Limited (PPL). PPL is an ambitious joint venture involving the sharing of estates and facilities management. This collaboration aims to save £58m over ten years through the sharing of services and realise disposal receipts of around £100m through the sale of obsolete buildings.
The force has a well-established change programme which uses a dashboard to track project benefits and is clearly linked to the force’s medium-term financial plan (MTFP).
The force is good at planning for demand in the future. It has used extensive demand analysis to inform Vision 2020, which includes technological advances, notably a significant upgrade of the ICT operating platform. The force is seeking to appoint external partners with expertise in transformational change to lead change and has commissioned consultants to advise on the ICT developments.
The MTFP is prudent and includes a credible programme to balance the budget, including some use of reserves. The force is investing in capital projects, such as the redesign of control rooms, to make savings. The exact scale of the anticipated savings has yet to be determined.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Warwickshire Police is good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
Treating people with fairness and respect is widely understood across the organisation. The force has improved the way it uses stop and search. It regularly clarifies and reinforces acceptable standards of behaviour. It works well with the public and the workforce in managing the outcomes of misconduct and corruption cases. The workforce recognises the force’s clear commitment to health and wellbeing.
The overall judgment of good is an improvement from HMIC’s inspection of 2015, which found the force to require improvement.
The force has entered into a strategic alliance with West Mercia Police (the alliance), within which all posts below deputy chief constable are shared. Both forces share a single vision and set of values, and work to a harmonised set of policies. As a result, it would be expected that practice and procedures would be the same, or at least similar, in both forces. Indeed, in this inspection HMIC found that to be the case. Therefore, apart from specific localised examples, all references to the force can be read as applying equally to the alliance.
The force is good at treating all of the people it serves with fairness and respect. The force’s vision and values, clearly linked to the Code of Ethics, are widely understood across the organisation. The force actively seeks to identify and work with those who may have less trust and confidence in the police.
The force is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It regularly clarifies and reinforces acceptable standards of behaviour and makes it clear when standards fall short of expectations.
The force has not yet installed software that automatically monitors access to sensitive databases to ensure that officers and staff are not misusing computer records. This delay is due to a major upgrade of the force’s operating systems and it is actively seeking a solution. The force offers and promotes a range of options for staff to report wrongdoing. The force works well with the public and the workforce regarding the outcomes of misconduct and corruption cases.
The force is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. We found a clear commitment to health and wellbeing that is recognised by the workforce. The force has made significant progress in reducing absence levels and time off accrued.
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.
Warwickshire Police’s strategic alliance with West Mercia Police (the alliance) has resulted in all posts below deputy chief constable being shared. Both forces share a single vision and set of values, and work to an agreed set of policies. For this reason, HMIC anticipated that practice and processes would be the same for both forces, and has found this to be the case. Therefore, apart from a few specific examples, all references to the force apply equally to the alliance.
Leadership expectations form an integral part of the force’s vision and values, and are widely understood by officers and staff. The chief officer team meets all newly promoted officers to communicate these expectations.
The force does not make use of all the tools available to improve its leadership capability. For example it has only recently conducted a comprehensive skills assessment as part of its evaluation of training needs and its leadership development programme. The force maintains a database of interested and skilled people who can be approached for recruitment to specialist posts, including senior leadership positions. However, many officers and staff that HMIC spoke to were unaware of any talent management schemes.
The force has successfully involved its employees in changes through its ‘change hub’ (a team dedicated to managing change) and is working to develop diverse leadership teams, although the force’s policy of posting staff anywhere across Warwickshire and West Mercia has deterred some staff from applying for promotion.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Warwickshire Police.