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Cambridgeshire PEEL 2017


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

Last updated 22/03/2018
Requires improvement

Cambridgeshire Constabulary requires improvement in its approach to keeping people safe and reducing crime. Its performance has deteriorated in some important areas, which is reflected in its overall judgment for effectiveness. However, the force had identified these areas prior to the inspection and it is implementing a new operating model in 2018. The force believes this will address the shortfalls identified. The force was inspected following a period of exceptional demand in summer 2017, which has since returned to normal levels.

Crimes are not always investigated to as high a standard as they should be and there is an inconsistency in the level and quality of supervision and direction to officers investigating crimes. However, the force makes good use of intelligence to support investigations, and victims are regularly updated as investigations progress. The force has some understanding of those who cause the most harm in communities, but it recognises that it could do more to ensure neighbourhood officers have an up-to-date awareness of registered sex offenders in their area.

The force’s service to vulnerable victims is inconsistent. It provides a high quality of service to vulnerable people with mental health conditions. However, the quality of service to domestic abuse victims is not always consistent and should be improved.

While the force effectively identifies vulnerable people when they first contact the police, and risk assessments and investigations involving victims of domestic abuse are mostly effective, the force does not always have sufficient capacity to prioritise attending all prompt-graded domestic abuse incidents within one hour. This may affect evidence gathering and victim safeguarding, and may undermine the confidence of victims in the police. The new operating model for the force is expected to address this with more officers dedicated to emergency response, which should help improve prompt call attendance at incidents involving vulnerable people.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities, and to respond to an attack requiring an armed response.

Questions for Effectiveness


How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?

Requires improvement

Cambridgeshire Constabulary requires improvement in how it investigates crime and reduces re-offending. While the force routinely attends emergency calls graded ‘immediate’ within 15 minutes, it does not always have sufficient response officers to attend all ‘prompt’ incidents within one hour. This risks losing evidence.

The force’s investigations are not of consistently high quality. We found that:

  • investigators do not receive consistently good supervision; and
  • intelligence is used well, but the force has insufficient analytical capacity.

Nevertheless, the force has achieved good investigative outcomes since 2015. It provides crime victims with a good service, and keeps them updated regularly.

The force is good at the initial investigation of fraud, at bringing perpetrators of fraud to justice, and at protecting people vulnerable to fraud.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary needs to improve how it reduces re-offending. We found that the force:

  • slow to locate or arrest suspects, even when an identity is known; and
  • has recently prioritised apprehending high-risk offenders, but this is still not part of its day-to-day activity.

The force has several initiatives to reduce re-offending, but is unable to demonstrate sustained reductions in re-offending rates as a result of this activity. We found that the force:

  • works with other forces to approach re-offending more effectively; and
  • targets high-risk domestic abuse and rape offenders effectively.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that there is regular and active supervision of investigations, to improve quality and progress.
  • The force should develop clear measures of success which will enable it to evaluate how effectively it is protecting the public from prolific and harmful offenders.
  • The force should ensure that it provides direction on ‘proportionate’ investigations and progressing viable lines of enquiry.


How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?

Requires improvement

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability in its area. It is good at identifying vulnerable people when they contact the police. A major weakness is its inability to provide enough officers to respond quickly enough to all calls for police help from vulnerable victims.

We found the force needs to:

  • improve its initial response to incidents involving vulnerable people; and
  • increase its analytical capacity.

Investigators in the domestic abuse and rape investigation team have excessive workloads. The force is not adequately protecting staff wellbeing.

The force understands risks to vulnerable victims of domestic abuse, and as a result victims receive the level of support they need. The force has increased the proportion of domestic abuse suspects who it arrests. Safeguarding is carried out appropriately in the majority of cases.

However, we found some cases where:

  • it took too long to arrest the offender; and
  • safeguarding was delayed, again due to the lack of resources to respond in a timely manner.

The force recognises that it needs to improve and is seeking to address the problem through its new resourcing model.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has improved its work with partner organisations in order to support people with mental health conditions. The service it provides to people when at their most vulnerable has improved.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that its high-risk departments are appropriately staffed with qualified detectives to meet demand and ensure workloads are manageable.
  • The force should review its use of domestic violence protection orders, domestic violence protection notices and Clare’s Law to ensure that it is making best use of these powers to safeguard victims of domestic abuse.
  • The force should ensure that frontline staff are aware of the registered sex offenders in their area so that they can play a part in monitoring and management.
  • The force should ensure that it has sufficient resources available to respond appropriately to ‘prompt’ (within 1 hour) calls for service, particularly for incidents of domestic abuse.


How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?


National threats often require forces to work together, across force boundaries. These threats include terrorism, large-scale disorder and civil emergencies. We examined the capabilities in place to respond to these threats, in particular a firearms attack.

Most positively, the force:

  • works with other forces to ensure enough trained staff and officers are available to respond to national threats;
  • tests its skills in training exercises; and
  • has developed a good understanding of the threat to the public from an armed attack.

However, the force should:

  • improve its understanding of how long it takes for armed officers to attend incidents.