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Dorset 2018/19

Read more about Dorset

This is HMICFRS’s fifth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Dorset 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.

Dorset Police was inspected in tranche two and we found:

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

the extent to which the force operates efficiently and sustainably is good.

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

Download the full report

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

Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary

Contact Wendy Williams

HMI's observations

I am pleased with Dorset Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime.

The force understands its communities. It is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. It investigates crime well and works well with partner organisations to identify and protect vulnerable people.

The force has a good understanding of current demands for its services. It is using this knowledge to develop sustainable financial and workforce plans. These include a programme to share support functions like IT operating systems with a neighbouring force. The force plans to use technology to improve public contact in the control room, and mobile technology to help frontline staff.

Senior leaders ensure that the workforce understands the importance of treating the public and each other with fairness and respect. The force continues to uphold an ethical culture and promote the standards of professional behaviour it expects.

Overall, I commend Dorset Police for sustaining its positive performance over the past year. I am confident that it is well equipped for this to continue.


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

Last updated 27/09/2019

We judge Dorset Police to be good in terms of its effectiveness at keeping people safe.

The force is good at investigating crime. Its investigators are well trained and, in general, cases are allocated to officers with appropriate skills. Most of the case files we saw were of a high standard.

However, investigations are not always supervised thoroughly enough. The force also needs to conduct more regular reviews into cases in which suspects have not been apprehended, or have been released under investigation.

Dorset Police is good at protecting vulnerable people. Staff across the force know how to recognise vulnerability, and officers attend incidents involving vulnerable victims promptly.

However, the safeguarding referral unit is operating with significant backlogs, and may need more resources. The force should do more to seek feedback from victims of domestic abuse, and shape its services accordingly.

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.

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

We judge Dorset Police to be good in terms of its efficiency and sustainability.

The force has detailed plans for the future, based on its analysis of a range of data. There is a culture of continuous improvement in Dorset Police, which is supported by the right leadership and governance.

It could do more, however, to find out what the public’s priorities are in terms of policing, and use that information to shape its services.

Dorset Police has a balanced budget for the 2019/20 financial year. Its financial plans are realistic and have been scrutinised by external experts. The force has a strong record of making financial savings.

In 2017, we judged the force to be good at meeting current demands and using resources.

View the two questions for efficiency


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

Last updated 27/09/2019

We judge Dorset Police to be good in terms of its legitimacy, and how it treats the public and its workforce.

The force is good at treating the public fairly. Officers and staff make fair and ethical decisions, and the leadership monitors all incidents in which force is used and gives feedback to the officers involved.

Dorset Police stops and searches a disproportionately high number of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, when compared with other forces in England and Wales. It has improved its internal monitoring of stop and search, but it should make sure that all officers and staff recognise unconscious bias.

The force’s approach to tackling corruption is mostly reactive. Its counter-corruption unit (CCU) does not have the capacity to do much proactive work, and it is held back by its outdated IT systems.

It also needs to make sure that all staff, particularly those in specialist teams, understand the abuse of position for a sexual purpose.

Dorset Police is good at treating its workforce fairly. Staff told us that they saw the leadership as open and approachable. There can be some delay in handling grievances, but the force is trying to address this.

The force could take a more focused approach to increasing workforce diversity.

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.

Key facts – 2019/20

Force Area

1,024 square miles


0.777m people
up5% local 10 yr change


89% frontline police officers
92% national level
3.43 per 1000 population
3.69 national level
up1% 10yr change in local workforce
down5% 10yr national change

Victim-based crimes

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


53p per person per day local
59p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

  • Dorset is a largely rural county with no cities or motorways; it has a long coastline, two major ports and an international airport.
  • The economically and demographically diverse population is inflated each year by millions of visitors and university, college and school students.

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.