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Cambridgeshire PEEL 2018


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

Last updated 20/01/2020

Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at reducing crime and keeping people safe.

A new local policing structure aims to provide policing services to meet the complex and growing demand of communities. The force’s neighbourhood policing plan follows national standards. Proactive and specialist officers support local teams. These specialist officers are effective at investigating crime and protecting vulnerable people from exploitation. Victims receive support from an extensive victim and witness hub, which is positive practice.

The force has done a lot to improve its ability to investigate crime. But it doesn’t yet consistently supervise all crime investigations. It has made changes that should result in improvements. Its demand hub works well – it carries out several functions, including managing incident demand and investigating 40 percent of reported crime. The force has a good structure that helps it meet the demands of serious and complex crime investigation.

It is good at identifying and understanding vulnerability. It works well with partner organisations to do this. It is improving its ability to identify and respond quickly to victims of domestic abuse. But victims of other priority crimes such as burglary can still experience delays. The force is good at identifying and supporting people suffering a mental health crisis.

In 2017, we judged the force to be good at tackling serious and organised crime.

Questions for Effectiveness


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


Cambridgeshire Constabulary is recruiting an additional 50 officers to deliver its neighbourhood policing strategy. It has developed this in line with best practice from the College of Policing. Performance indicators will allow senior leaders to judge how effectively this is meeting community needs. Proactive and specialist officers support local teams. Victims receive effective support from an extensive victim and witness hub, which is positive practice.

The force has a strong understanding of the threats facing its communities. It uses specialist officers to manage and reduce these threats. It uses a range of forums to work with the public and makes good use of social media. It is good at analysing available information to reveal crimes that are often hidden, such as modern slavery. It works with its partner organisations to deal with crimes and support victims.

The force uses talented people to develop new approaches. It has trained 550 officers and representatives from partner organisations in problem solving. But it needs to analyse the results of its activities better. It has provided training to its workforce on civil powers and criminal behaviour orders. Reports of anti-social behaviour have reduced significantly and crimes of violence resulting in injury are the lowest reported in the UK. But it still needs to make better use of available powers.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should monitor the effectiveness of its newly launched neighbourhood policing strategy and consistently hold staff to account for delivering effective performance outcomes.
  • The force should evaluate and share problem-solving plans routinely to improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.
  • The force should take steps to make information more accessible to staff to improve its use of orders and powers to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.

Detailed findings for question 1


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


Cambridgeshire Constabulary has got better at investigating crime since our 2017 effectiveness inspection. It has made good progress in most of the areas in which we said it needed to improve. But it hasn’t yet improved enough to make sure that its investigations are routinely and effectively supervised. Senior leaders are addressing this.

The force’s new policing model has improved the way it investigates crimes. Several specialist units investigate those that are more complex and often involve high risk and vulnerabilities. The new model has removed the specialist department that investigated high-risk domestic abuse, and responsibility for these investigations is now assigned to accredited investigators within larger teams.

The force now has a demand hub that carries out several functions in one location. Officers and staff in the hub investigate 40 percent of reported crime. This is working well. The hub now includes a team that reviews incidents to better manage demand and reduce the pressure on frontline officers.

The force has increased the number of resources in both its rape and child abuse investigation teams. This will help it meet some of the growing challenges it faces. Senior leaders are looking at various ways it can achieve positive results in cases where victims are unwilling to co-operate.

Many of the recent changes the force has made should help it get better at catching criminals and resolving investigations.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure regular and active supervision of the quality and progress of investigations. This supervision should be properly recorded.

Detailed findings for question 2


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


Cambridgeshire Constabulary is good at identifying and understanding vulnerability. Its workforce knows the factors that make somebody vulnerable, such as hidden harm. Training helps officers and call handlers identify vulnerable people. They include victims of criminal and sexual exploitation, human trafficking and forced labour.

The force shares information with its partner organisations. This helps it understand the scale and nature of vulnerability. It uses an advanced modelling tool to establish and assess the risk to victims as well as offenders. Specially trained officers work with partner organisations to provide an effective response to vulnerable people. A victim and witness hub provides victims with follow-up care and support.

The force needs to make sure that it has enough resources available to respond appropriately to prompt calls for service. This is particularly the case for incidents of domestic abuse. Senior leaders have already taken some action to improve this, which is beginning to have positive results. This force will need to monitor the changes carefully to make sure they don’t negatively affect response times in other areas.

The force has a good structure for protecting people from high-harm, violent and sex offenders. But it should make better use of neighbourhood policing officers to support the continuing safeguarding of vulnerable victims and manage the risks that high-harm offenders pose within communities.

Through working with mental health partner organisations, the force supports people who contact the police unnecessarily during a mental health crisis. This results in better outcomes for vulnerable people. It also helps avoid the use of valuable police resources that could be used more effectively elsewhere.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should make better use of neighbourhood policing officers to support the ongoing safeguarding of vulnerable victims and manage the risks that high-harm perpetrators pose within communities.
  • The force should ensure that it has sufficient resources available to respond appropriately to prompt (within one hour) calls for service, particularly for incidents of domestic abuse.

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.

However, it isn’t 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 that 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