Northumbria 2017Read more about Northumbria
This is HMICFRS’ fourth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Northumbria 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 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.
Matt Parr, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
Read my assessment of Northumbria Police below.
I am pleased with the performance of Northumbria Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime.
The force has made improvements to its investigations and to how it reduces reoffending since our 2016 inspection. However, its performance in relation to vulnerable victims has declined and it needs to:
- ensure that crimes which involve vulnerable people are allocated promptly to investigators with the appropriate skills, accreditation and support to conduct the investigation to a good standard; and
- improve its initial assessment of, and response to, incidents involving vulnerable people.
The force has a good understanding of the demand it faces and matches its resources to those demands. It has comprehensive financial plans that have been subject to independent scrutiny.
Northumbria Police is good at treating the public and its workforce with fairness and respect. Although this is in line with last year’s grade, I am pleased that the force has made some improvements in a number of areas.
I acknowledge the progress Northumbria Police has made in some areas and will continue to monitor the force’s progress in areas where improvements are still needed.
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Northumbria Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Since our last effectiveness inspection in 2016, HMICFRS is pleased to see that improvements have been made in some of the areas highlighted in our subsequent report. However, the force’s approach to protecting vulnerable people has deteriorated and it should take steps to address this.
Investigations are generally conducted to an acceptable standard, particularly in more serious and complex cases. The force has improved its processes for examining digital devices to support investigations, and has reduced the timescales for new examinations to be completed.
In 2016, we found the force’s approach to protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims to be good. However, this year we found that it requires improvement. The initial identification of vulnerable people based on threat, harm, and risk is inconsistent. We found examples of vulnerable people who had not received the response they needed when they contacted the police, and subsequent investigations are not always carried out by appropriately trained officers.
In contrast, the force has a good understanding of how to manage incidents which involve concerns relating to the mental health of victims, witnesses and offenders. The force also has good partnership arrangements in place to support vulnerable victims.
Northumbria Police has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national responsibilities, and to respond initially to an attack which requires an armed response.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Northumbria 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 judged to be good; and its planning for future demand is also assessed to be good.
Northumbria Police is an efficient force. The force has a comprehensive and up-to-date model to assess demand, and it understands the wider effects of that demand for the services that it provides. The force has well-developed processes to uncover demand that is less likely to be reported. The force has excellent administrative processes and a good governance structure, which enable it to manage well and realise fully the benefits of projects. The force has carried out some analysis of the skills of its workforce. However, this could be improved and be more detailed.
The force has created a very positive culture of openness, and the workforce feels a part of the decision-making process within the organisation. People are encouraged to put forward ideas and are able to work on implementing these ideas, should they be approved. The force is making great efforts to develop its future leaders and has a number of officers on supported development schemes. The force advertises all posts externally and has just appointed two new assistant chief constables from outside the force.
The force has extensive arrangements for collaborative working across many of its areas of work, and is aiming to make more such arrangements. The financial plans for the force are detailed. It has solid plans for the future that have been tested and examined independently to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Northumbria 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 of the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is also judged to be good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
Northumbria Police is good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime, with elements that are outstanding. Our overall grade this year is consistent with last year’s however, it should be noted that the force has made many significant improvements since last year.
There is strong leadership around treating people fairly, and the workforce has a clear understanding of how to do so. There are good arrangements for external scrutiny in place. The force has scrutiny processes that monitor and review the use of stop and search and the wider use of force, but more needs to be done to ensure all officers and supervisors understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for the use of these powers.
Northumbria Police ensures that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully, with clear leadership from the chief officer team on the force’s values – the Proud principles. The team outlines and models high behavioural expectations and the workforce follows these. Decision making is devolved to officers and staff at all levels, who trust the organisation to support them should a decision turn out be the wrong one.
Northumbria Police has a good complaints process for the public that is clear and easy to use. However, the information about complaints on the force’s website could be improved. Complainants receive a consistently high level of service from the force. Allegations of discrimination are investigated thoroughly and professionally. We noted that gifts, hospitality, declarations of business interests and details of pay and rewards have not been updated since 2015.
Northumbria Police treats its workforce with fairness and respect. The force is very keen to seek feedback from its workforce and actively encourages members to submit new ideas and become involved in change and improvement. The force consistently considers the wellbeing of its workforce. Numerous initiatives identify early signs of problems such as mental health, and there are champions to support anyone who may show signs of suffering from these or other medical problems. The force has recently introduced a new professional development system, but the take-up is poor. The force needs to do more to make this process feel relevant to the entire workforce.
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.