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Avon and Somerset PEEL 2018


How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?

Last updated 20/01/2020

Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at reducing crime and keeping people safe.

The constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people. Officers and staff have a good understanding of what makes a person vulnerable and they are good at identifying vulnerable people at first contact. They also know how important it is to prioritise the needs of vulnerable people.

As well as focusing on criminal justice outcomes, the workforce understands the need to offer a wraparound service when they encounter vulnerability.

Call handlers communicate well and express empathy. We note the presence of mental health nurses in the constabulary’s control room, to review incidents and offer advice.

The constabulary is committed to building relationships with teachers and children so that any warning signs of abuse, exploitation or neglect are more likely to be spotted early on. It is also working to improve its understanding of potential threats to vulnerable people in cases other than domestic abuse.

The constabulary has trained its staff so that they feel confident in dealing with incidents involving people with mental health conditions. The constabulary also plans to train a number of officers as mental health tactical advisers.

The constabulary is effective at protecting victims of domestic abuse. It is monitoring a slight fall in the number of its arrest rates and bail for suspects of domestic abuse.

As part of the constabulary’s neighbourhood strategy, neighbourhood teams work to safeguard vulnerable victims. And the constabulary makes good use of protective powers where prosecutions haven’t been possible.

The constabulary manages well the risk posed by registered sex offenders. It actively seeks to reduce their risk to the public.

In 2017/18, we judged Avon and Somerset Constabulary to be good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour. We also judged it to be good at investigating crime, and good at tackling serious and organised crime.

Questions for Effectiveness


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


The constabulary has a clear definition and an effective strategy for vulnerability. At board level, the deputy chief constable monitors progress.

Senior leaders have communicated the constabulary’s definition of vulnerability well. The constabulary has also trained the workforce in relation to vulnerability.

The constabulary uses a combination of problem profiles, strategic assessment and information technology (IT) analysis to identify, understand and tackle problems that are of concern to vulnerable people. It is also skilled at identifying patterns of offending against vulnerable people. The constabulary complements this knowledge and understanding with good working relationships with partner organisations.

The constabulary works proactively with other organisations to uncover hidden harm. It works to protect vulnerable children through Operation Topaz. It offers a robust response to burglary, knife crime and county lines criminality through Operation Remedy. And Operation Encompass involves the sharing of information with schools where domestic abuse has been identified.

The constabulary responds to incidents involving vulnerable people quickly. The workforce shows a good understanding of the need to act straightaway where necessary. The constabulary could give examples where immediate safeguarding has taken place.

The constabulary prioritises attendance at incidents of domestic abuse. Officers and staff know how important it is to protect these victims and make efforts to arrest
where appropriate. Officers and staff also understand the legal powers that are available to them.

The constabulary routinely uses civil and criminal orders to protect the public from dangerous and sexual offenders.

Detailed findings for question 3


How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?


We have previously inspected how well forces provide armed policing. This formed part of our 2016 and 2017 effectiveness inspections. Subsequent terrorist attacks in the UK and Europe have meant that the police service maintains a focus on armed capability in England and Wales.

It is not just terrorist attacks that place operational demands on armed officers. The threat can include the activity of organised crime groups or armed street gangs and all other crime involving guns. The Code of Practice on the Police Use of Firearms and Less Lethal Weapons (PDF document) makes forces responsible for implementing national standards of armed policing. The code stipulates that a chief officer be designated to oversee these standards. This requires the chief officer to set out the firearms threat in an armed policing strategic threat and risk assessment (APSTRA). The chief officer must also set out clear rationales for the number of armed officers (armed capacity) and the level to which they are trained (armed capability).

Detailed findings for question 5