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Cleveland 2018/19

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This is HMICFRS’s fifth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Cleveland Police. PEEL is designed to give you information about how your local police force is performing in several important areas, in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year on year.

Cleveland Police was inspected in tranche three. We have graded Cleveland as inadequate in each of the three pillars. These results mean that we have chosen to publish the report sooner than we planned, at the same time as the forces in tranche two. The force is now being supported to improve its performance.

The extent to which the force is effective at reducing crime and keeping people safe is inadequate.

The extent to which the force operates efficiently and sustainably is inadequate.

The extent to which the force treats the public and its workforce legitimately is inadequate.

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PEEL: Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy 2018/19 – Cleveland Police

Phil Gormley, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary


HMI's observations

I am extremely concerned about the performance of Cleveland Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime. In view of these findings, I have been in regular contact with the chief constable, because I do not underestimate how much improvement is needed.

Since our last inspection, there has been a significant deterioration in how the force prevents crime and anti-social behaviour. Prevention is not a priority for the force. There are now far fewer resources dedicated to neighbourhood policing and they are operating without a clear plan or direction.

The force is good at tackling serious and organised crime but needs to improve the way it investigates less serious crimes. These crimes are not always allocated to appropriately trained staff, nor investigated thoroughly enough or supervised effectively. The absence of a system to identify, action and track progress to arrest outstanding suspects concerns me.

I have serious concerns that the force is not adequately protecting vulnerable people. Disappointingly, the force has not made progress against areas we have previously identified as requiring improvement. Where it has tried to improve, through changing its processes, it has created risks in victims not being identified or responded to in a timely way.

Cleveland Police understands the cost of its services and its financial management is good. However, the limited extent to which the force understands the demands on its services, and how efficiently its resources are distributed, is worrying. This is having an impact on the force’s ability to effectively plan for future demands.

The way that Cleveland Police treats the public and its workforce is inadequate. I am concerned at the lack of engagement and openness by the force. It is not giving the public or its own workforce sufficient opportunity to voice their needs or raise issues. It is not communicating well and encouraging feedback. It is not being transparent through inviting independent scrutiny or challenge. Some of its internal processes are perceived to be unfair, and it does not understand enough about the wellbeing of its workforce.

I am very concerned at the lack of ethical behaviour in the force – senior leaders (superintending and chief officer ranks, and senior police staff managers) should be acting as positive role models and many are not. This is having a profoundly negative effect on the organisation. While the force acts promptly on reports of corruption, it needs to proactively root out corruption and identify those people at risk of it, to try and prevent it from happening.

My overall assessment is that Cleveland Police’s performance is inadequate and has declined considerably since our last inspection. The force has been placed into our national oversight process. We will monitor its progress.


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

Last updated 27/09/2019

The way Cleveland Police prevents crime, tackles anti-social behaviour and protects vulnerable people is poor. It needs to improve the way it investigates crime, but it is good at tackling serious and organised crime.

Crime prevention isn’t a priority for the force and this is a cause of concern. The force isn’t giving officers and staff the direction they need. It has limited resources assigned to neighbourhood teams and its future plans for policing neighbourhoods are uncertain. The force knows the main threats its communities face, but it doesn’t have a good enough understanding of local concerns. Engagement with the public is poor and, across the force, problem solving is inconsistent. The force relies on its partners to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. It needs to understand better the effectiveness of any prevention work that does happen.

The force needs to improve how it investigates crime. It doesn’t have the right number of people in the right place to manage investigation demand. It needs to allocate crimes to the right teams for investigation and train its supervisors to oversee investigations properly. The quality of investigations isn’t good enough, particularly telephone investigations and those completed by response officers who have limited available time.

The force needs to provide better support to victims and the wider community. We are concerned that the force is putting the public at risk by not being proactive enough at catching criminals. But it works well with public and private sector partners to manage offenders who have been arrested.

We have serious concerns that the force is leaving vulnerable victims at risk by not protecting them well enough. There are too many examples of the force:

  • failing to identify vulnerable victims;
  • providing a poor or significantly delayed response;
  • failing to provide adequate safeguarding; and
  • investigating some cases poorly.

The force’s approach to vulnerability is unclear. Changes it has made to manage demand have created unnecessary risks and intentionally suppressed demand. It doesn’t use its protective powers effectively to safeguard vulnerable victims. There are examples of it working well with its partners to assess, respond to and safeguard victims. But this isn’t the case force-wide.

The force hasn’t done enough to address the recommendations we made in our 2017 national child protection inspection. It is leaving some children at risk of harm.

Cleveland Police understands the serious and organised crime threats across the force area. It has an effective strategy, a detailed strategic assessment and clear priorities. It works well with its partners to gather intelligence and respond to threats, including new and emerging threats, and manages organised crime groups (OCGs) effectively. It is good at deterring people at risk of entering organised crime and proactively works with vulnerable children to prevent this. The force disrupts, dismantles and investigates serious and organised crime well, but it could be better at understanding the effect of its activity on serious and organised crime.

The force understands the threat posed by firearms and responds well through a collaborative approach.

View the five questions for effectiveness


How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?

Last updated 27/09/2019

Cleveland Police has a poor understanding of its demand. It doesn’t sufficiently prioritise between different types of demand and it shows a limited understanding of the factors that affect this. Its lack of understanding means that it isn’t efficiently adapting the services it provides and, as a result, it can’t provide them as promptly as it should be able to.

The force isn’t making the best use of the resources it has. It has changed some processes to manage its functions better, but in doing so has created risks. It has considered more efficient ways of working, such as working with others, but it doesn’t properly understand how effective its joint working is.

The force’s financial management is good and it manages its budget tightly. However, it bases its plans on its poor understanding of demand. It also hasn’t aligned its financial and workforce strategies, and there is no accurate plan to fill the skills or training gaps it has.

The force recognises that it needs to improve and has commenced a programme of change. However, the future operating model is uncertain, and the force doesn’t sufficiently understand what the public of Cleveland expects.

The force has dropped two grades in the efficiency pillar since our last efficiency inspection in 2017, which is a significant deterioration.

View the two questions for efficiency


How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?

Last updated 27/09/2019

Cleveland Police is inadequate in the way it treats the public and its workforce.

The force doesn’t treat the public fairly enough. It isn’t giving local people the opportunity to voice their needs and concerns, and it doesn’t encourage a culture that values engagement. It isn’t being open in some of the decisions and actions it takes. The force experiences higher levels of complaint allegations from the public than most other forces. We found examples of unconscious bias and inappropriate language being used. The force is poor at using external scrutiny to seek the views of the public and consider what improvements it can make.

Cleveland Police isn’t adequately maintaining an ethical workforce. Many senior leaders (superintending and chief officer ranks, and senior police staff managers) aren’t acting as positive ethical role models. Their behaviour is having a profoundly negative impact on the force’s ability to be effective and efficient in what it does. It concerns us that some of the information being presented to the chief constable isn’t trustworthy. The force needs to improve how it tackles corruption within its workforce. While we recognise the improvements the force has made, there is still more to do.

Cleveland Police needs to improve how it treats its people. The force doesn’t seek feedback on fair treatment in enough ways. It doesn’t always listen to its workforce and it doesn’t always tell them what action it takes in response to feedback. It has prioritised its wellbeing strategy, re-established its governance arrangements and extended its wellbeing services. But it hasn’t communicated this well and the workforce isn’t yet fully aware or seeing the benefits. The force doesn’t manage the individual performance or development of its people effectively. It has limited ways of identifying potential talent within its workforce. Too many officers and staff don’t perceive the promotion processes to be fair.

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.

Other reports

Last updated 27/09/2019
View other reports

Key facts – 2019/20

Force Area

231 square miles


0.57m people
up3% local 10 yr change


92% frontline police officers
92% national level
4.00 per 1000 population
3.69 national level
up10% 10yr change in local workforce
down5% 10yr national change

Victim-based crimes

0.09 per person
0.06 national level
up16% Local 5 year trend
up9% National 5 year trend


69p per person per day local
59p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

  • The Cleveland Police area is geographically small with a mix of densely populated areas with high levels of social deprivation and some more affluent or rural areas.
  • With around 67380 crimes recorded in 2018/19 (up 18% on 2017/18), we have one of the highest crime rates in the country.

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.