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Sussex PEEL 2017


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

Last updated 22/03/2018

Sussex Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

HMICFRS is pleased to see that Sussex Police has made significant progress from its 2016 effectiveness inspection. The force has made considerable efforts to ensure that changes have been made throughout the force.

The force has worked hard to improve its response to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and the new model for prevention, to be fully implemented in November 2017, shows promise. Preparation to implement this fully in November 2017 has been comprehensive and the areas for improvement that we have identified in this report should be addressed once the new model is in place. We are looking forward to seeing progress on our next inspection.

The force is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. It has significantly improved the standard of its investigations, which are supervised effectively, with a high standard of victim care, particularly in specialist units. The force has improved its response to incidents, which has had a positive effect on investigations. Most investigations dealt with by telephone are well handled, although the force should ensure that crimes are always investigated by people with the correct skills.

The force has made major improvements to the way it protects vulnerable people. Officers and staff understand that vulnerability is a priority, and improvements have also been made to the way the force supports vulnerable victims of crime, particularly victims of domestic abuse. The force has effective partnership working arrangements in place to safeguard victims.

Sussex Police has an effective approach to tackling serious and organised crime. It monitors organised crime groups well, in collaboration with local partners. The force is also proactive in the way it prevents serious and organised crime. It works effectively with victims to prevent repeat crimes against them, and also diverts potential perpetrators from organised crime. The force makes good use of specialist capabilities provided at a regional level, and works closely with the National Crime Agency to bring organised criminals to justice.

Sussex Police has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national responsibilities under the Strategic Policing Requirement. It is well prepared to respond to a terrorist attack.

Questions for Effectiveness


How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?

Requires improvement

Sussex Police is improving its ability to prevent crime and tackle anti-social behaviour, but the services it provides still need to be improved in some areas. The force’s new local policing model aims to address many of these problems.

The force has a limited understanding of what matters to its communities, and should strengthen its approach to engaging with the public.

Officers and staff based in local neighbourhoods are often redeployed to cover reactive duties in other areas. This limits their ability to undertake proactive, preventative work in their communities.

Although we found some examples of effective problem solving with partner organisations, the force’s overall approach to problem solving needs to become more consistent.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should work with local people and partner organisations to improve its understanding of local communities.
  • The force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with partners, to improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.


How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?


The quality of initial investigations completed by Sussex Police is good. However, on occasion:

  • officers are unable to identify and secure evidence in the ‘golden hour’ after an incident, especially on busy shifts; and
  • incidents are allocated inappropriately to the investigations and resolution centre, rather than a face-to-face visit.

More positively, the force has:

  • a comprehensive process for identifying vulnerable victims at the earliest opportunity;
  • improved its governance of the occupational competence system, which allows officers to finalise their own investigations; and
  • revised its policy for dealing with suspects, prioritising their arrest against the level of risk they pose to the public, and carrying out regular reviews.

The integrated offender management scheme has been revised and is now a multi-agency response. It now includes suspects from a wider range of crimes, including domestic abuse, rather than focusing solely on serious acquisitive crime.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that all crimes are allocated promptly to investigators with the appropriate skills, accreditation and support to investigate them to a good standard.


How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?


Sussex Police now has a greater focus on supporting victims of domestic abuse, who all receive face-to-face contact. We found evidence of vulnerable and repeat victims being identified well at the initial point of contact.

Control room officers and staff have a good understanding of the importance of timely responses to protect those with mental health conditions. There are good processes in place for assessing risk, which enable staff to make effective decisions.

However, we found that:

  • the arrest rate for domestic abuse has fallen over the past year; and
  • more domestic abuse suspects were given bail in Sussex than in other areas.

The force needs to understand why this is the case and ensure that victims receive the service they need.

The force’s use of legal powers to protect domestic abuse victims (e.g. DVPOs) is slowly improving. The force is actively trying to increase its use of powers to safeguard victims, such as Clare’s Law, by highlighting it within the force.

We remain concerned that registered sex offenders are not being monitored effectively to prevent them re-offending and protect the public from harm.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that the risks posed by registered sex offenders are managed effectively.
  • The force should improve its understanding of the reasons for the declining arrest and charge/summons rates and above average use of bail in domestic abuse cases and take appropriate action to address these.
  • The force should improve the quality of investigations involving vulnerable people, ensuring that the workloads of specialist investigators are manageable at all times and that such investigations are subject to regular and active supervision.


How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?


Sussex Police has a good understanding of the threat posed by organised crime, and makes effective use of intelligence from a wide range of sources, including partner agencies.

The force recognises that response and neighbourhood officers are often the first to identify organised crime group (OCG) locations within the community, and has ensured that frontline officers are fully briefed on local OCG activity in their areas.

It takes a proactive approach to tackling serious and organised crime through its community investigation teams, and is also taking proactive steps to address new and emerging threats such as modern slavery.

The force has an innovative approach to safeguarding vulnerable people against ‘cuckooing’ (where a drug dealer befriends a vulnerable person and takes over their house to deal drugs). The National Crime Agency is considering sharing this nationally as best practice.

The force has taken steps to identify those at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime and put preventative measures in place.


How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?


National threats often require forces to work together, across force boundaries. These threats include terrorism, large-scale disorder and civil emergencies. We examined the capabilities in place to respond to these threats, in particular a firearms attack.

Most positively, the force:

  • works closely with Surrey Police to ensure that sufficient staff and officers with specialist skills are available to respond to national threats;
  • tests its skills and capabilities in training exercises; and
  • has developed a good understanding of the threat that the public face from an armed attack.