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Durham 2017

Read more about Durham

This is HMICFRS’ fourth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Durham Constabulary. 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 constabulary is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime is outstanding.

The extent to which the constabulary is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is outstanding.

The extent to which the constabulary is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.

Matt Parr, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary


HMI's observations

Read my assessment of Durham Constabulary below.

I congratulate Durham Constabulary on its excellent performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime.

The constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people, and, in particular, at responding to and investigating offences involving vulnerable victims. I am also pleased to note that Durham has improved its crime-recording processes since our 2014 report.

It has a comprehensive understanding of demand and excellent plans in place for continuous improvement of all aspects of its business.

The constabulary treats the public and its workforce fairly and with respect. Senior leaders have developed an ethical culture and act as role models. Complainants to the constabulary receive a consistently good service, and investigations into allegations of discrimination are carried out to a high standard.

I commend Durham Constabulary for another strong performance this year and am confident that it is well equipped for this to continue in the future.


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

Last updated 22/03/2018

Overall, Durham Constabulary remains outstanding in its effectiveness at reducing crime and keeping people safe. It continues to provide high-quality services to its communities, as well as seeking to innovate and improve in many areas. Because of this continued high level of performance, HMICFRS has only reassessed the constabulary in relation to how effectively it protects vulnerable people and supports victims. In 2016, it was assessed as outstanding at preventing crime and tackling serious and organised crime and good at investigating crime and reducing reoffending.

Durham Constabulary’s approach to protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims is good. It is good at identifying vulnerable people at the first point of contact, and staff reassess risk at regular intervals as incidents develop. We found an impressive level of understanding throughout the constabulary of what makes a person vulnerable and how they need to be supported. Officers provide a good service to victims when they initially respond to incidents. They understand how to safeguard victims and refer them to appropriate agencies for additional support when this is appropriate.

The constabulary makes good use of preventative powers to protect victims of domestic abuse; investigations involving vulnerable victims are conducted to a good standard, although supervision should be better in less serious cases. Crimes are allocated to appropriately trained staff.

The constabulary has good relationships with partner organisations such as Rape Crisis, Harbour, HALO and Barnardo’s. These allow it to provide vulnerable people with a service that meets their specific needs, to manage offenders who pose the greatest risk and threat, and to provide diversionary schemes to reduce re-offending.

Durham Constabulary has the necessary arrangements in place to help it to meet its responsibilities under The Strategic Policing Requirement, and to respond initially 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

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

Durham Constabulary has an up-to-date and comprehensive demand assessment which provides an exceptional level of understanding of demand in its widest context, including in respect of issues that go beyond purely police activity. It has outstanding governance and evaluation processes in place to manage its change and improvement agendas. Evaluation is often conducted with an independent focus and is very detailed, so that the constabulary can assess what actually works in policing and can make improvements to service delivery and ensure its change programmes add real value to what it does. The chief officer team is very accessible and its members regularly go on patrol with officers; this breaks down barriers of rank and provides an opportunity for open dialogue. Opportunities to shadow the chief officer team for a day are often taken up by members of the workforce, and it is also possible for them to attend any meeting they want, regardless of its seniority; this, again, offers opportunity for members of the workforce at every level of the organisation to contribute to all areas of police work.

Durham Constabulary has carried out detailed skills analyses of its workforce and its leadership capability. This process is refreshed annually, and the strategic workforce plan links seamlessly with other strategic plans so that the organisation can plan for training and development requirements taking into account its changing demand profile and budget constraints. The constabulary could nonetheless look to improve its talent management arrangements, and how it makes postings, to ensure that members of the workforce have confidence in the fairness and legitimacy of these processes. The constabulary has extensive arrangements for collaborative working across many areas of policing, and constantly looks to work with partners (providing always that there are real benefits to the public).

The constabulary’s financial plans are detailed, and it has extensive and creative plans for the future to meet a wide range of possible situations, depending on what demands the future brings. The plans have been tested extensively, and examined independently, to ensure that they are fit for purpose.

View the three questions for efficiency


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

Last updated 12/12/2017

Durham Constabulary 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 of the people it serves with fairness and respect and, following improvements, it is now judged to be good at how well it ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It is also judged as good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.

Durham Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The leadership has a strong culture of treating its people fairly and with respect. Officers and staff in Durham Constabulary have a clear understanding of how to treat people with fairness and respect, including acting without bias and communicating effectively, although some officers and supervisors still do not understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for a stop and search. The constabulary has good processes in place for monitoring and reviewing the legal and proportionate use of stop and search, although external scrutiny of stop and search could be improved to involve a broader range of the community, including young people. The constabulary has work in progress to address this.

Durham Constabulary’s senior leaders act as ethical role models and promote a culture in which the ethical implications of policies and day-to-day decisions are considered in an open and non-punitive way. The constabulary has a clear and accessible complaints process that is easy for the public to use, although it needs to do more to raise awareness of the complaints process for those groups who have less trust and confidence in the police. Complainants receive a consistently good service; the constabulary identifies and responds to discrimination appropriately, and investigations into allegations of discrimination are carried out to a high standard.

Durham Constabulary is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. Senior leaders actively encourage feedback and challenge from the workforce, and take action to identify and respond to workforce members’ concerns. The constabulary prioritises the wellbeing of its workforce and has excellent wellbeing provision that is valued by members of the workforce. Although supervisors have regular conversations with their officers and staff, individual performance is not always managed consistently across the organisation, and the constabulary needs to do more to ensure its processes for identifying and selecting talent are fair and are perceived to be fair.

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
View other reports

Key facts – 2019/20

Force Area

938 square miles


0.641m people
up4% local 10 yr change


92% frontline police officers
92% national level
3.61 per 1000 population
3.69 national level
down3% 10yr change in local workforce
down5% 10yr national change

Victim-based crimes

0.07 per person
0.06 national level
up43% Local 5 year trend
up9% National 5 year trend


56p per person per day local
59p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

  • The force varies greatly, with larger industrial and commercial towns, some with significant deprivation issues; and rural, sparsely populated areas.
  • Durham leads on several initiatives including the response to digital crime, Checkpoint, Mutual Gain, Staff Survey, Intervene to Protect a Child and the Mini Police Scheme.

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.