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Devon and Cornwall PEEL 2018


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

Last updated 20/01/2020

Devon and Cornwall Police is effective at keeping people safe.

The quality and supervision of its investigations are better. But more consistent improvement is needed across the force. Workloads are high in some specialist investigation teams and vacancies are affecting capacity in some teams.

All frontline staff now have body-worn video cameras. These are being used to protect vulnerable people.

The force has made good progress in training staff on disclosure. This gives the defence copies of or access to material that could help it or undermine the prosecution case.

The force is good at protecting vulnerable people. The workforce recognises vulnerability and officers attend incidents quickly. But there are delays in responding to some non-emergency calls for service, which the force is addressing.

In 2017, we judged the force to be good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour. We also judged it to be good at tackling serious and organised crime.

Questions for Effectiveness


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

Requires improvement

Devon and Cornwall Police needs to investigate crime better. A shortage of investigators is affecting some teams and there are inconsistencies in the quality and supervision of investigations. This includes circulating suspects on the Police National Computer (PNC).

The force is good at pursuing high-risk offenders and foreign nationals suspected of criminal activity. But the scrutiny over other outstanding suspects is unclear. The force is working hard to improve in these areas. An investigation standards board (ISB) is overseeing this work.

Officers and staff understand the importance of gathering evidence in the ‘golden hour’ after a crime has been committed. Body-worn video is used to help protect vulnerable victims.

Although the force needs to improve at investigating crime, we found a positive example of good practice. This involved using reflective learning panels where senior leaders review a sample of investigations. They do this with line managers and the investigating officer to identify ways of improving investigations and the service offered to victims.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should improve the scrutiny and governance of outstanding suspects and persons released under investigation to ensure that investigations are pursued effectively.
  • The force should ensure that it puts in place regular and active supervision consistently and records it appropriately, to monitor the quality and progress of investigations.
  • The force should improve its ability to retrieve digital evidence from mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices quickly enough to ensure that investigations are not delayed.
  • The force needs to improve its oversight and understanding of those wanted for criminal offences, ensuring they are both circulated on the Police National Computer and actively sought.

Detailed findings for question 2


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


Officers and staff understand vulnerability and how to identify people who may be vulnerable. They uncover hidden harm, such as child sexual exploitation and modern slavery. They understand the nature and scale of vulnerability. Partnership working, from local to strategic level, is helping its safeguarding work.

When taking calls, force control room staff use the THRIVE (Threat, Harm, Risk, Investigation opportunities, Vulnerability of the victim and the Engagement level required to resolve the issue) model of risk assessment. In general, staff were assessing risk well.

Focus groups with vulnerable victims are helping the force improve its services. It also uses feedback collected by the VCU. Workloads and supervision have improved in some specialist investigation teams. But it could do more to make sure improvements are consistent across all teams.

Most frontline officers and staff were aware of dangerous offenders in their area. But the force needs to do more to make sure the risk posed by registered sex offenders is managed well.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should review the resilience of registered sex offender management units to allow for effective visit and workload management.
  • The force should improve the quality of investigations involving vulnerable people, ensuring that the workloads of specialist investigators are manageable and that such investigations are subject to regular and active supervision.

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 (OCGs) 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