Northamptonshire 2017Read more about Northamptonshire
This is HMICFRS’ fourth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Northamptonshire 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 requires improvement.
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 requires improvement.
Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
Read my assessment of Northamptonshire Police below.
I am satisfied with some aspects of the performance of Northamptonshire Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force has made commendable efforts to respond positively to our previous inspection findings, but still has more to do.
I welcome the changes the force has made, laying the foundations for more effective policing, and it recognises that it needs to sustain its efforts. However, I am concerned about its response to serious and organised crime.
Northamptonshire Police has a good understanding of current demand for its services and is reshaping its operating model to ensure policing services are aligned with each other.
However, the force does need to make some improvements, particularly in its understanding of the skills of its workforce and what skills it will need in the future.
The workforce behaves ethically and lawfully, but the force needs to improve some aspects of the way it treats the people it serves and its workforce.
I am encouraged that the force acknowledges the problems and am confident that we will see further improvement in the areas we have identified.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Northamptonshire Police requires improvement at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force has made considerable efforts to respond to previous HMICFRS recommendations and has improved in some areas, but some of the changes have yet to result in tangible improvements in the service to the public. Now the building blocks for more effective policing have been put in place, the force recognises the need to sustain its efforts in order to further improve the services it provides.
Many of the problems identified in this year’s inspection stem from the configuration of the workforce, which is unable to meet the demand it faces. This has resulted in excessive workloads for officers and staff, inhibiting their ability to provide the public with a consistently good service. Supervisors are not given the right information to allow them to manage their areas of responsibility effectively, and structures vital for holding people to account are missing.
The force’s change programme, known as the service delivery model (SDM), aims to resolve many of these problems. This new model is expected to align resources to meet demand better, allowing officers and staff to concentrate more on dealing with the priorities of the force and its communities.
Northamptonshire Police has made some improvements to the way it prevents crime and tackles anti-social behaviour. Neighbourhood teams are no longer redeployed routinely to support response colleagues; this has increased their ability to carry out preventative work, such as problem solving. However, the force could still improve the way it works with local partner organisations to deal with the causes of crime and anti-social behaviour; it could also improve the way it evaluates the success of its activities, to learn from what works and share good practice.
The quality of the force’s investigations remains inconsistent. It does not always allocate them to appropriately trained staff or supervise them fully. As a result, victims of crime sometimes receive a poor service. However, the force is improving its understanding of those who are most vulnerable, and it now identifies repeat and vulnerable callers swiftly. The force needs to improve its management of registered sex offenders, ensuring it completes visits with appropriate timescales to protect the public.
The force still needs to improve its approach to tackling serious and organised crime. Its understanding of the threats and risks that serious and organised crime pose is limited, and it is failing to identify or properly assess organised crime groups. The way it prioritises its activity in this area is weak, and it operates almost entirely reactively. We were pleased to find that it is undertaking some operational activity with partner agencies to tackle modern slavery. However, we found little evidence of partnership or preventative work aimed at deterring people from becoming organised criminals or monitoring existing offenders.
The force has adequate arrangements in place to test its preparedness for meeting its national responsibilities under the Strategic Policing Requirement.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Northamptonshire 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 for its understanding of demand; its use of resources to manage demand is judged to require improvement; and it is judged to be good for its planning for future demand.
Northamptonshire Police has a good understanding of current demand for its services, based on sophisticated analysis of police data. The force has undertaken detailed analysis of demand and socio-economic and demographic changes, supported by demand modelling software. Its new demand monitoring framework will allow a more evidence-based and considered response to future resourcing decisions.
The force is reshaping its operating model to ensure policing services are aligned with each other. It has implemented a new process to identify wasteful or inefficient activity in its change programme and has introduced a single change board to provide more robust governance, oversight and management of the programme.
The force could improve its understanding of the skills of its workforce and what skills it will need in the future. It is currently under-resourced in some areas and is conducting recruitment campaigns, but these would be more effective if it had a detailed understanding of its current skills and gaps. The force recognises that it is not making the best use of its technology and has plans to address this. Although the force has methods of obtaining feedback from its workforce, these are not widely trusted and the workforce do not feel included in the change process.
Northamptonshire Police’s plans for the future are innovative and will change how it operates. Financial, estates (buildings and facilities) and workforce plans are becoming more closely aligned. The force is reducing its estate and associated running costs, and continues to engage actively with other agencies and neighbouring police forces. It intends to increase its collaboration with the Fire and Rescue Service and with other local police forces. The force is planning to save more than it needs to each year to provide some available funding for the future.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Northamptonshire Police is judged to be requiring improvement in how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. For the areas of legitimacy we looked at this year, our overall judgment is less positive than last year, when we judged the force to be good. The force is judged to be requiring improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is judged to be good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully, but judged to be requiring improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats its workforce with fairness and respect.
Northamptonshire Police requires improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. Although the workforce understands the importance of treating people with fairness and respect, the force is unable to produce data to show they have all received relevant training on unconscious bias, communication skills or stop and search. The force is therefore unable to identify possible gaps in the workforce’s understanding.
The workforce understands how to use stop and search powers fairly and respectfully. However, the force needs to better monitor its stop and search data so that it can identify unfairness. External scrutiny for assessing grounds for stop and search is good, although external scrutiny of data on use of coercive powers is limited.
Northamptonshire Police is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Chief officers are very good role models and the workforce understands the importance of ethical behaviour. The complaints system is easy for the public to access, although the force needs to make it easier for those who may have less confidence in the police to make a complaint. Most complaint investigations are conducted well, with complainants receiving regular updates.
The force requires improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. While the workforce has confidence in chief officers, it has less confidence in middle management and it does not always see role-selection and promotion processes as fair. Some officers and staff we spoke with have concerns about how the new service delivery model will affect them and do not always feel they have been listened to. The force does not always take early action to improve workforce wellbeing. Inconsistent first-line management in some departments is leading to deficiencies in some welfare support and individual performance management.
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.
Abuse of position assessment – Northamptonshire Police – published on 5 October 2017