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Durham PEEL 2018


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

Last updated 02/05/2019

Overall, Durham Constabulary remains outstanding in its effectiveness at reducing crime and keeping people safe. It continues to provide high-quality services to its communities, as well as seeking to innovate and improve in many areas.

The constabulary is good at investigating crime. It has the right structures in place to investigate incidents. The quality of these investigations is impressive, as well as the constabulary’s victim care. It has done much to improve its crime investigations which has led to more positive outcomes for victims in the finalisation of an investigation.

The constabulary introduced a performance management framework to manage and monitor:

  • its use of bail; and
  • suspects under investigation.

It does a risk assessment of the suspect before releasing them from custody. This helps it ensure it takes all opportunities to attach conditions and place suspects in diversionary schemes. By this, it aims to reduce re-offending.

Durham Constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims. It is effective at identifying vulnerable people at the first point of contact. Throughout the constabulary, we found excellent understanding of what makes people vulnerable and how they need to be supported. Officers give a good service to victims when they initially respond to incidents.

The constabulary understands well the nature and scale of vulnerability caused by mental health crises. It works effectively with partners in this area.

The constabulary has a strong commitment to work with partner agencies to protect vulnerable people. This allows it to:

  • give vulnerable people a service that meets their specific needs;
  • manage offenders who pose the greatest risk and threat; and
  • provide diversionary schemes to reduce re-offending.

In 2016, we judged the constabulary as outstanding at preventing crime and tackling serious and organised crime.

Questions for Effectiveness


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


Durham Constabulary is good at conducting initial investigations. Its use of the THRIVE risk assessment at the first point of contact is particularly impressive. This approach is now routine practice, and used effectively to safeguard the victim and reduce re-offending.

The constabulary assigns incidents to appropriate teams with the right capacity and capability to effectively investigate and respond to the needs of the victims. Although it doesn’t have enough qualified detectives, the constabulary has plans in place to address this.

The quality of investigations is impressive. The constabulary has trained frontline officers to improve case files, supervision of investigations and the initial investigation. This ensures thorough and complete enquiries when the officer first responds to an incident.

Durham Constabulary has excellent working relationships with all partners it works with to provide joint services that support victims and manage offenders.

The constabulary effectively manages offenders on the Police National Computer. Its positive relationship with immigration enforcement has improved how it deals with foreign national offenders.

The constabulary is good at managing and monitoring bail and suspects released under investigation. Its use of THRIVE on suspects before release from custody is leading to:

  • better use of bail conditions; and
  • diversion of suspects into schemes aimed at reducing re-offending.
Detailed findings for question 2


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


Durham Constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people. Its clear definition of vulnerability is understood by officers and staff.

The constabulary works with partner organisations to understand community risks and threats. Initial calls for service are assessed for vulnerability by a THRIVE risk assessment. We found that call handlers have a good understanding of THRIVE principles. The risk grading and response to incidents is in line with the immediate threat or risk of harm to the victim.

All frontline staff and officers have undertaken training to improve their understanding of vulnerability. The constabulary has also given improved guidance to officers attending domestic abuse incidents where children are present.

The constabulary shows a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability due to mental health crises. It works with partners to protect people with mental health conditions or in mental health crisis through:

  • a triage approach in the control room; and
  • a street triage pilot.

Neighbourhood policing teams are closely involved with the continuing safeguarding of vulnerable people. Where prosecution is not possible or practical, the constabulary uses other powers to protect vulnerable people.

Durham Constabulary is strongly committed to working with a range of partner organisations to protect vulnerable people. These include:

  • two multi-agency safeguarding hubs; and
  • charities like Harbour, which supports domestic abuse victims.
Detailed findings for question 3


How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?


We have previously inspected how well forces were prepared to manage firearms attacks. 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 firm 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