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Suffolk 2017

Read more about Suffolk

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

Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary

Contact Zoë Billingham

HMI's observations

Read my assessment of Suffolk Constabulary below.

I am very pleased with the performance of Suffolk Constabulary in keeping people safe and reducing crime.

The force is good at protecting vulnerable people. The force has developed effective relationships with partner organisations, which enables it to provide co-ordinated support to vulnerable victims.

The force has a good understanding of current demand and uses its resources well to meet this.

It is improving its understanding of the development needs of its workforce and working to ensure it has the right skills to meet future demand.

The force treats members of the public with fairness and respect, and its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. I am pleased that officers and staff feel confident in providing feedback to senior leaders, who then take appropriate action.

I commend Suffolk Constabulary for maintaining a good level of performance this year and its sustained commitment to the communities it serves.


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

Last updated 22/03/2018

Suffolk Constabulary is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force has performed consistently well in our effectiveness inspections and maintains high-quality services for its communities. This overall judgment is based partly on evidence gathered in 2016, but it was reviewed following the most recent inspection.

The force is good at supporting victims and protecting people who are vulnerable through their age, disability, or because they have been subjected to repeated offences, or are at high risk of abuse. Staff are good at identifying whether someone is vulnerable when people first contact the police. Officers generally provide a good initial response, and, despite some inconsistencies in the initial recording of risk assessments, we found that all necessary immediate safeguarding actions are carried out appropriately.

Crimes involving vulnerable victims are investigated to a good standard, and supervisors provide proper oversight. We found some investigators with high workloads, but the force has plans in place to address this and victims generally receive a good service. Outcomes in domestic abuse investigations are in line with those of other forces in England and Wales, and Suffolk Constabulary makes good use of the powers available to protect victims of domestic abuse.

The force also works well with partner organisations such as local councils, the health service, and charities to support vulnerable people and address their needs appropriately. It provides effective support to people with mental health conditions, and manages the risks posed by registered sex offenders to its communities.

Suffolk Constabulary has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities, and to respond initially to an attack which requires 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

Suffolk Constabulary 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.

Suffolk Constabulary has a good understanding of the current and likely future demand for its services that is based on research and analysis. The force analyses data from other public organisations, such as local councils, health services and the fire service. The joint performance and analysis department with Norfolk Constabulary does high-quality, innovative work, supported by robust academic research and scrutiny. The force has a good understanding of more complex and hidden demands (such as modern slavery and so-called honour-based violence) and has analysed demand that can be prevented or responded to by a more appropriate agency.

The force is largely effective in how it manages demand, using an assessment known as THRIVE to determine its response to incidents or calls for service. It recognises the implementation of several new systems over the last two years has increased internal demand and so it is recruiting extra staff into its incident crime management hub. It is also engaging a consultant to ensure the HR system is used to best effect. In addition the force has recognised that the way officers and staff record and allocate crimes is causing delays in investigation, so it is using officers on overtime to help ensure investigations progress more quickly while it recruits additional staff to resolve the problem.

Suffolk Constabulary has impressive joint working practices with other police forces and external organisations to help save money and improve the services it provides. For example, it has collaborated with Norfolk Constabulary on a revised ICT strategy and is sharing a number of premises with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. The force has a culture of innovation and continuous improvement and encourages its workforce to suggest new ideas.

The force has developed its understanding of the current skills possessed by the workforce and has collated the operational skills of its officers, which are now stored and monitored centrally. However, it needs to do more to understand fully the range of skills that it will require for the future and its current and future leadership capabilities.

Suffolk Constabulary has a good record of making necessary savings through innovation and evidence-based decisions. It engaged external consultants to help develop a new approach to allocating money internally, called outcome-based budgeting, which gives it a better understanding of how it uses its resources and what is achieved as a result. Its plans for the future appear to be realistic and achievable, although it realises that making the required savings will be difficult.

View the three questions for efficiency


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

Last updated 12/12/2017

Suffolk Constabulary is 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 good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.

Suffolk Constabulary continues to demonstrate that it treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. Members of the workforce understand the force’s vision and values and receive the training they need, which is also reinforced with internal communications. The force monitors the use of its coercive powers and ensures any learning from this is used to improve workforce training. Effective external scrutiny is provided through public meetings and independent advisory groups. The force is introducing body-worn video cameras for frontline officers, which will enable further scrutiny.

The force is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and its policies are based on the Code of Ethics. However, the force needs to do more to ensure that it complies fully with current national vetting standards.

Suffolk Constabulary provides comprehensive information about how to make a complaint, both on its web page and in force buildings. . It also has a network of community contact links which helps the force to reach communities that may have less trust and confidence in the police. The force reviews all public complaints and internal misconduct investigations to ensure it learns from its mistakes. The force’s joint professional standards department with Norfolk Constabulary undertakes satisfactory investigations in cases involving alleged discrimination. However, it needs to ensure it identifies all allegations involving discrimination, it updates complainants and those who are the subject of allegations in a timely manner (in line with its legal requirements) and that updates contain sufficient information on the progress of the investigation.

Officers and staff told us that there is a positive organisational culture in which leaders are receptive to feedback and the workforce are encouraged and feel confident in expressing their views. The force is continuing to improve the range of workforce wellbeing services it provides. It is making progress in increasing the diversity of its workforce so that it better reflects the communities it serves. The workforce consider selection and promotion processes to be fair and free of bias. However, the force needs to improve the way individual performance assessment is used and ensure that officers and staff recognise the value of this.

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

1,468 square miles


0.761m people
up5% local 10 yr change


94% frontline police officers
92% national level
2.94 per 1000 population
3.69 national level
down4% 10yr change in local workforce
down5% 10yr national change

Victim-based crimes

0.05 per person
0.06 national level
up5% Local 5 year trend
up9% National 5 year trend


49p per person per day local
59p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

  • Suffolk is a small force in terms of officer numbers but is still making savings while policing a growing and ageing population.
  • The force polices extensive rural and coastal areas as well as vibrant urban centres whilst responding to changing demands for services.

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.