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Dorset 2017

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This is HMICFRS’ fourth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Dorset 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

Contact Wendy Williams

HMI's observations

Read my assessment of Dorset Police below.

I am pleased with the performance of Dorset Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime.

I am reassured that since 2016 it has continued to focus on maintaining and improving its investigative standards. It provides an effective policing service to its communities, especially vulnerable people.

The force makes efficient use of its resources and has a good understanding of the demand it faces.

Over the past year, its strengthening alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police has enabled both forces to benefit from sharing staff and equipment, and to provide more cost-effective services.

While the force treats members of the public with fairness and respect, it must continue to monitor its use of stop and search powers. It also needs to improve some aspects of how it communicates with and treats its own workforce.

My overall assessment is that Dorset Police is continuing to improve on last year’s positive performance.


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

Last updated 22/03/2018

Dorset Police is good at keeping people safe and protecting them from harm. Our findings this year are consistent with those from HMICFRS’ 2016 effectiveness report, and the force is making good progress.

Protecting vulnerable people is a priority for Dorset Police and it has a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability throughout the county. The force has good governance processes to co-ordinate its response to vulnerable people. Officers and staff use an effective risk-identification process and are good at recognising vulnerability and assessing risk. The force uses intelligence tools such as its strategic assessment and domestic abuse offender profile to help it understand and respond to vulnerable people.

However, the high demand on police resources means that sometimes there are delays in responding to non-emergency calls that may involve vulnerable victims, which the force needs to address. The force has begun to restructure its operating model to improve its capacity and services.

The force works well with partner organisations, such as local authorities, health or education services, and victim support groups. It works with partners to plan and implement joint working practices to support people with mental health problems and to manage safeguarding risks to domestic abuse victims. The force is also effective in reducing the risk that sex offenders pose to the public.

Dorset Police maintains high standards of crime investigation and provides a good service to victims. However, body-worn video cameras have not yet been provided to all operational officers. This means opportunities to gather evidence may be missed and police-led prosecutions in cases where vulnerable victims are unwilling to give evidence may be hindered.

We are satisfied that Dorset Police has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national responsibilities and to respond to an attack requiring an armed response

View the five questions for effectiveness


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

Last updated 09/11/2017

Dorset Police is judged to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year. The force is judged to be good in its understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is assessed to be good; and its planning for future demand is also judged to be good.

Dorset Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. It is an efficient police force with clear plans in place for the future. It has a well-developed understanding of the demands for its services, which allows it to make informed decisions about planning and resourcing. Because of this, it is in a strong position for the next phase of its strategic alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police. This will see the introduction of a new, joint model for service provision aimed at transforming how both forces operate. Within the force’s call handling department there are some pressures but the force understands what the problems are. It has now put processes in place to prioritise calls from those people who are most at risk.

The force generally makes good use of its resources. Its investment plans align with the police and crime plan. The plans focus on the benefits that the structured use of new technology can bring to both the public and to the organisation. The force needs to improve its understanding of the skills and leadership potential of its workforce. It has a good track record of working together with other organisations and understands the benefits to be gained.

Dorset Police is planning for its future in a coherent way. The work it has done to identify potential future demand is impressive. The force knows that it needs to replace some inefficient systems and processes to provide a solid basis for its planned changes. In contrast, it does not yet have a clear picture of its future leadership needs. However, the strengths of its existing change programme provide a degree of confidence that the ambitious scale of future change is achievable, both because of its organisational capability and because of its financial position.

View the three questions for efficiency


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

Last updated 12/12/2017

Dorset Police is judged to be good at how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. For the areas of legitimacy we looked at this year, our overall judgment is the same as last year. The force is judged to be good at treating all the people it serves with fairness and respect, good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully but requiring improvement in some aspects of treating its workforce with fairness and respect.

The importance of treating people fairly and with respect is reflected in the force’s vision and values, and leaders demonstrate a commitment to it. Officers and staff are trained to communicate effectively with the public and use their coercive powers fairly, but the force needs to improve workforce understanding of unconscious bias. The force has various internal and external processes to scrutinise how officers and staff interact with the public. Generally these work well, but the force needs to improve how it works with the community to ensure effective independent scrutiny and challenge of its stop and search activity.

The commitment to developing a strong ethical culture in the force is evident. Leaders at all levels promote the need to make ethical policing decisions with officers and staff having a good understanding of how to make ethical decisions in the working environment. The force generally makes it easy for the public to make a complaint and the workforce is able to recognise, respond to and investigate discrimination well, although it needs to ensure that referrals to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are made correctly.

The force needs to improve how it works with officers and staff to maintain internal standards of fairness and respect. The force has many processes in place to engage with, and support, the workforce, but these are not always effective or valued. High workloads are evident across the force and it needs to consider the consequences this has on individual wellbeing. The force needs to improve some of its other people management processes, most notably individual performance assessment which is not as effective as it needs to be.

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 11/04/2018

Abuse of position assessment – Dorset Police – published on 5 October 2017

View other reports

Key facts – 2019/20

Force Area

1,024 square miles


0.777m people
up5% local 10 yr change


89% frontline police officers
92% national level
3.43 per 1000 population
3.69 national level
up1% 10yr change in local workforce
down5% 10yr national change

Victim-based crimes

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


53p per person per day local
59p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

  • Dorset is a largely rural county with no cities or motorways; it has a long coastline, two major ports and an international airport.
  • The economically and demographically diverse population is inflated each year by millions of visitors and university, college and school students.

Police and crime plan priorities

A PCP sets out the police and crime commissioner’s (PCC’s) priorities for policing and the resources the PCC has allocated to the chief constable for achieving these priorities.