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Gwent PEEL 2018


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

Last updated 21/01/2020

Gwent Police is good at reducing crime and keeping people safe. It has made improvements in its approach to protecting vulnerable people and tackling serious and organised crime (SOC).

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Questions for Effectiveness


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


This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2016 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.


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


Areas for improvement

  • The force should improve its processes for the management of foreign national offenders so that it is reassured that it is effectively managing the risk.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of performance in this area.

Investigation quality

The force is good at investigating crime. It has introduced a new approach that prioritises investigations into crimes that cause the most harm to victims. The key aims of the approach are to:

  • improve the force’s decision making and provide a proportionate response to the crimes that will be investigated. This is in line with vulnerability, threat, risk
    and harm;
  • use resources and expertise more efficiently across Gwent Police when investigating crime;
  • increase the number of investigations involving vulnerable victims; and
  • give investigators more freedom to make decisions and record their rationale in a structured way.

We found that the workforce had been trained as part of the new investigations framework.
This included:

  • the investigation framework’s principles and procedures;
  • examples the force could learn from; and
  • communication tools and techniques to manage victim expectations.

The force has slightly fewer investigators than it should. However, it was allocating investigations to appropriately trained staff and they seem to be managing the work. The force plans to introduce police staff investigators (investigators who aren’t police officers).

The force trains first point of contact room staff who carry out telephone investigations. The force resolves appropriate investigations over the telephone, and carries out quality assurance to ensure they are dealt with effectively.

Officers at crime scenes have enough time and training to conduct investigations.

We reviewed 60 files from recent investigations as part of our pre-inspection fieldwork activity six months before the inspection. Only 35 of the 60 crimes we reviewed showed effective supervision. Since that review, the force has introduced its new investigations framework. This includes a positive focus on training supervisors. We found that in most of the crimes we reviewed, supervisors now provide regular review, focus and direction as investigations progress. The force gives strong supervisory direction for more serious crimes.

Improving the quality of investigations involving vulnerable people and ensuring investigations include regular and active supervision was an area for improvement from the last inspection of this question, which the force has now met.

We found victim support during investigations is good. The force gives them generally timely and sufficient updates. The force’s victim satisfaction survey confirms this. Most crime victims (89 percent) were satisfied with how easy it is to contact Gwent Police and the time officers take to arrive at the scene.

They were also generally satisfied with the actions taken on their behalf (71 percent). Sixty-three percent were satisfied with the way they were informed of investigations’ progress.

The force wants to continue to improve victims’ experiences in Gwent. It has introduced a Victims’ Board to oversee all victim activity, including surveys.

Appropriately trained officers carry out specialist interviews with victims and witnesses. The force has recently increased its number of trained interviewers. Victimless prosecutions (also called evidence-led prosecutions) are routinely considered in relevant cases.

We found several examples of the force taking forward evidence-led prosecutions, mainly where the victim didn’t support the prosecution. Staff confirm they are
routinely considered.

Catching criminals

The force is good at catching criminals and resolving investigations. It has developed an IT process so that it can easily identify wanted people on the Police National Computer.

Frontline officers are informed weekly about any wanted people in their area. Officers can check their handheld devices for wanted suspects while on patrol. Supervisors check to ensure they are actively pursued.

Inspectors are expected to maintain staff performance in relation to catching wanted persons and outstanding known offenders. Daily management meetings consider outstanding suspects to ensure prompt follow-up. This was an area for improvement from our last inspection, which the force has now met.

The force has improved how it manages foreign national offenders since we last inspected this question. It has a designated officer who has links with ACRO and immigration enforcement. The officer in charge of individual suspects is responsible for doing ACRO checks. Compliance has increased.

However, the force has issues with the process for checking ACRO compliance. It is not fully automated and the force can’t be confident these checks always take place in a timely way, without relying on the designated officer to check. This was an area for improvement the last time we inspected this question. Though the force has improved its processes, this is still an area for improvement.

The force has improved how it uses pre and post charge bail and RUI. It ensures safeguarding discussions influence decisions on whether to use bail or RUI. The force has introduced a policy for bail and suspects released under investigation. It aims to ensure people who are a risk to others are kept in custody or released on bail rather than being released under investigation.

We found domestic abuse suspects, sex offenders and people involved with cases involving child victims need an inspector’s authority on the custody record before they can be released under investigation. The force oversees bail and RUI effectively.

The force works with the Crown Prosecution Service on an action plan to improve its response to its disclosure obligations. This is part of an all-Wales approach and is overseen by the head of criminal justice.

Disclosure points of contact are in place around the force. These staff have completed a two-day course on disclosure. Frontline officers and supervisors have been given training on disclosure and, as part of the review of investigations will consider if disclosure obligations have been met. Overall, staff seem confident using disclosure schedules.

The force did a quality of investigation review in December 2018 to find out how the new investigation framework was being applied. It also wanted to see what more it could do to improve the quality of investigations during this period of change.

The force took action on the results. For example, it increased the number of sergeants supervising investigations. Our crime file review showed that 49 of the 60 investigations we reviewed were effective. The Gwent Police Annual Victim Satisfaction Survey showed that 71 percent of victims were satisfied with the actions taken on their behalf. However, the force could still look at some areas to get more appropriate results for victims. These include investigation reviews and better scrutiny of outcome data. The force plans to do this and we will monitor its progress over the coming year.

Summary for question 2

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


We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of performance in this area.

Understanding and identifying vulnerability

Gwent Police is good at understanding and identifying vulnerability.

The main focus of the police and crime commissioner’s police and crime plan is on preventing crime. The force aims to explore all ways to improve community safety, protect vulnerable people and support the victims of crime.

The force doesn’t currently have a vulnerability strategy. But the chief constable underlines the importance of understanding vulnerability through regular blogs and briefings to frontline officers.

The force has done a lot to improve its approach to vulnerability since the last inspection, specifically in relation to domestic abuse. The force uses the College of Policing definition of vulnerability. We found that officers and staff had a good understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability. The force trains staff so they know what is expected of them.

Officers also understand how to look for hidden vulnerability, like child sexual exploitation. The force has developed a vulnerability app it can easily access through its IT system. This allows it to analyse data on types and volumes of crime, plus patterns in repeat offenders over different time periods and places. Staff can use this information to improve prevention and patrol strategies.

The app currently includes data on domestic abuse, sexual offences and stalking and harassment. Other types of crime will be included in the future.

The force has processes to identify repeat callers and vulnerable people when they first contact the police. The first point of contact room (force control room) systems will identify previous callers by checking phone numbers and addresses.

Call handlers check the records management system for any previous incidents linked to callers. They also check for evidence of vulnerability, such as abuse or mental health problems. Call handlers assess callers for vulnerability using the THRIVE model.

THRIVE risk assessment templates are automatically created for incident logs. They prompt call handlers to ask questions and record information on the incident log. Staff in the first point of contact room routinely use THRIVE. Victims were effectively assessed when they first contacted the police.

Gwent Police launched its social media desk in December 2018 to offer another way for the public to contact the force. User feedback indicates that this facility has been well received by the public.

Responding to incidents

Gwent Police is good at responding to incidents involving vulnerable victims. The force attends incidents involving vulnerable victims quickly enough to keep them safe.

However, before the inspection we saw that police attended a small number of priority incidents slightly outside force timescales. The force had identified this as an issue and reviewed it. The review found an issue with the way some call handlers worked. The force is addressing this through training and supervision.

We revisited the first point of contact room and didn’t find any delays in responding to priority calls. The force has strong arrangements to oversee all aspects of performance in the first point of contact room. It proactively identifies and resolves problems to ensure an effective service for the public.

Officers attending incidents complete a Public Protection Notice (PPN) for all cases involving vulnerable people. The PPN includes a domestic abuse, stalking and harassment (DASH) risk assessment form. This is a national risk-assessment tool that is used for reports of domestic abuse.

We found all officers completed a DASH for domestic abuse reports. However, data given by the force during fieldwork shows a current completion rate of 89 percent. The force has found a problem with its IT systems, which are under-recording how often staff complete DASH forms. The force is now checking this manually while working on an IT solution.

Officers are using body-worn video for domestic abuse incidents. This meets an area for improvement from our last inspection. Officers at domestic abuse incidents identify risk relating to other vulnerable people in the household. This is included in the DASH.

A mental health triage team, which the police and crime commissioner funds, has worked in the first point of contact room since January 2018. The team works every day between 8am and 2am.

The team’s main role is to give information and support to officers dealing with mental health incidents, helping with assessments, delivering training and awareness, and speaking to callers if needed.

The force has commissioned an academic evaluation of this approach. Early findings show an improved response to mental health situations, increased access to mental health care for people in crisis and less need for using section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

It also found readily available advice improves officers’ knowledge and confidence when responding. This creates a more informed and appropriate response.

We found officers appreciate the importance of safeguarding vulnerable people when considering how to deal with suspects. The force has focused on raising awareness of this since the last inspection.

The force understands this is particularly the case when deciding whether to arrest or to use voluntary attendance for suspects. Voluntary attendance is a police station interview when a suspect volunteers to help with an investigation but isn’t arrested.

To protect vulnerable victims, officers will make arrests when appropriate according to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The arrest rate for domestic abuse in Gwent Police for the 12 months to 31 March 2019 is 28 percent. This is in line with the England and Wales rate. This was an area for improvement from our last inspection, which the force has met.

Supporting vulnerable victims

The force is good at supporting vulnerable victims. We found that neighbourhood teams are involved in the ongoing safeguarding of vulnerable victims at standard and medium risk of harm. The domestic abuse safeguarding team (DAST) manages high-risk victims. It is responsible for overseeing the force’s response to domestic abuse.

The force has improved its use of legal powers to protect victims of domestic abuse since our last inspection. This is an area for improvement that the force has met. These legal powers include Domestic Violence Protection Notices or Orders and Clare’s Law. The DAST oversees these orders. The force uses pre-charge bail appropriately. This is discussed further in the ‘Investigating crime’ section of this report.

The force has arrangements to work with partner organisations to keep people safe. It has a multi-agency missing children’s team, which includes all partner organisations. There is also a pilot multi-agency safeguarding hub project in Newport. This doesn’t yet include all partner organisations.

A new pilot has just started in Blaenau Gwent as part of the Early Action Together (EAT) programme. It aims to improve multi-agency understanding and interventions with children suffering adverse childhood experiences.

The pilot is assessing public protection notices that don’t meet the usual threshold for referring to social services and redirecting children and families to other interventions. This means more people will get support.

Gwent Police shares information with schools as part of Operation Encompass. It tells schools before 9am if pupils have been affected by abuse at home in the previous 24 hours.

The central referral unit manages most information sharing with partners. We found no backlogs, but the staffing levels in the unit are becoming challenging.

The force has been working hard to set up multi-agency arrangements with its partners and promote the positive benefits for everyone. We found no issues with the current arrangements. But they are complex and vary depending on place and types of vulnerability involved. The force and partners would benefit from some mapping work to ensure everyone is clear on the arrangements.

The force refers all high-risk domestic abuse cases to a multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC). There are five MARACs, one for each local authority area. The force’s referral rate is lower than the SafeLives recommended level. Our last inspection found that not all high-risk domestic abuse cases were referred to a MARAC. The force has changed its processes. The DAST team now manages this, and this area for improvement has been met.

The force seeks feedback from victims of domestic abuse. Findings from its 2018 survey showed that 79 percent of respondents were either completely or very satisfied with the service from Gwent Police. A further 11 percent were fairly satisfied, leading to a 90 percent satisfaction rate with the Gwent Police service.

During our last inspection, we found the force was not routinely getting feedback from victims of domestic abuse, including those who don’t support police action. The force is now doing this and this area for improvement has been met.

The force has improved its approach to managing offenders who are known to be a risk to vulnerable people. It has reduced the number of registered sex offenders awaiting assessment since the last inspection. It uses the .Active Risk Management System assessment tool. This was an area for improvement from our last inspection, which the force has met.

The force’s management of sexual offenders and violent offenders team oversees and monitors the use of preventative orders. The team enforces these orders when breaches are detected. There were four breaches of Sexual Harm Prevention Orders in 2017/18 and seven in 2018/19. This shows the force is scrutinising this type of offender more.

Neighbourhood teams are aware of the sex offenders living in their area. That is because the force uses alerts on its IT system to quickly identify addresses connected to registered sex offenders. This means officers attending apparently unrelated incidents at these addresses know about offenders. So they are able to make
better decisions.

The force is effective in its approach to identifying people sharing indecent images of children online. It has a proactive approach to reducing this threat.

Summary for question 3

How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?


Areas for improvement

  • The force should improve the awareness of organised crime groups among neighbourhood teams to ensure that they can reliably identify these groups, collect intelligence and disrupt their activity. Neighbourhood teams should also recognise their role in identifying those at risk of being drawn into serious and organised crime.
  • The force should enhance its approach to the ‘lifetime management’ of organised criminals to minimise the risk they pose to local communities. This approach should include routine consideration of ancillary orders, the powers of other organisations and other tools to deter organised criminals from continuing to offend.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.

Understanding threats

Gwent Police is good at understanding threats from SOC. The force takes a proactive approach in understanding threats, including newer threats. It has a strategic assessment, built on a Management of Risk in Law Enforcement (MoRILE) threat assessment matrix, which the force updates every year. The force has identified three SOC areas as priorities. These are:

  • county lines and illegal drugs;
  • modern day slavery and human trafficking; and
  • cyber crime.

Strengthening the force’s response to drug-dealing networks using county lines was an area for improvement from the last time we inspected this question, which the force has now met.

The force recognises in its force management statement (FMS) that Gwent has significant issues with Class A drug misuse centred on Newport. It goes on to say that the force has largely avoided attention from county lines groups when compared with neighbouring areas. But the force should ensure it fully understands how county lines starting in Gwent affect other forces and prioritise according to risk.

Also, the force should ensure that county lines are mapped as OCGs, where appropriate, and managed as such.

The force has produced local SOC profiles for each local authority area. The profiles bring together data about SOC. The force and partner organisations can then work together to address it. The profiles include police and some partnership data identifying key threats. For example, information on drug use and health data on serious violence. But the force acknowledges that this could be improved and is working closely with partner organisations to identify data to develop the profiles. 

The profiles are updated every quarter. This was an area for improvement from the last time we inspected this question, which the force has met. To continue to drive partnership working the force should use local profiles to develop a partnership action plan to encourage activity at local partnership meetings.

The force uses a range of intelligence sources to increase its understanding of SOC. This includes intelligence collected by internal departments such as neighbourhood officers and the modern day slavery and child sexual exploitation teams.

It also uses intelligence from key partners such as the regional organised crime unit (ROCU) and local partnership boards. The force has identified some gaps in its intelligence, which it needs to develop. They include developing its capacity around financial investigations and improving intelligence on people at risk of child
sexual exploitation.

We found that most neighbourhood officers are generally aware of organised crime and what to look for. They will provide intelligence on potential SOC activity, which is reviewed at force intelligence meetings. The force needs to continue to raise neighbourhood officers’ awareness, so they can help identify SOC in their areas.

Once the force has identified OCGs, it scores them using the MoRiLE system. At the time of inspection, Gwent Police was managing 22 OCGs and working closely with the region to monitor their activity. The force has mapped 37.2 OCGs per million head of population. That is slightly higher than the England and Wales rate.

Serious and organised crime prevention

Gwent Police is good at preventing SOC. The force has benefited from being part of the Home Office’s SOC pilot programme. It has developed several initiatives to identify and divert people at risk of being drawn into SOC. These include:

  • identifying children most at risk of being drawn into SOC and working with partner organisations to ensure they are diverted from it using mentors and peer support;
  • working with education and social services to ensure children who live with family members involved in organised crime get support when action is taken against organised criminals at their home addresses. The force is also using clinical psychologists to ensure children have professional support and to minimise traumatic experiences; and
  • working with a voluntary organisation with experience of gang culture to give training in secondary schools in Newport about SOC.

The force needs to ensure that frontline officers have a better understanding of identifying and preventing people at risk of being drawn into SOC. The force has worked hard to educate partners about prevention; now it needs to better educate its own workforce.

The force has not identified any active gangs in its area, so it hasn’t considered any tactics to reduce or disrupt this type of criminal activity. But we found there was evidence of gang activity on the edge of some OCGs. The force should review this area to ensure it doesn’t miss disruption opportunities.

The ROCU leads the management of organised criminals in prison. When appropriate, the force monitors their activity, such as movements between prisons and preparation for release. But we found that this is being done on a case-by-case basis. It wasn’t consistent and wasn’t part of the force’s offender management teams’ duties. Some of the workforce were unclear whose responsibility it was to monitor organised criminals’ activity in prison.

The force uses Serious Crime Prevention Orders to prevent organised criminals from offending after being released from prison. They are monitored in each local policing area through the force’s tasking process. For example, they are included on bulletins for officers. But the force could improve the level of direction it gives officers on what they should be doing with the tasking information.

The force brings together its SOC work under the name Operation Jigsaw. The force proactively and regularly publicises how it disrupts organised crime and the impact it has on the community. It uses social media not just to publicise operations and actions, but to connect with the community for feedback, intelligence and
partnership working.

The force commissioned a private sector company to understand what the community needs to increase resilience in an area with SOC. It has trained officers, partner organisations and members of the community. It has also brought local Newport communities together to identify issues in the area, highlight positive aspects and
find practical ways to solve problems. This process has helped the community be more resilient.

Disruption and investigation

Gwent Police is good at disrupting and investigating SOC. The force prioritises activity aimed at tackling SOC through a structured process. This includes the ROCU and partner organisations such as the local authority. It is using organised crime group mapping and other analysis alongside professional judgment to make decisions about its priorities.

The force has a SOC partnership meeting structure in place – one for each local authority area. Some are more established than others. For instance, in Newport, the force has worked hard to build good working relationships with partner organisations. There is also proactive information sharing when planning disruption activity.

In most parts of the force, partner organisations contribute to the organised crime agenda, with evidence of intelligence being shared between agencies. Tactical and operational actions are assigned to different agency representatives to develop intelligence and do enforcement activity.

The lead responsible officers have a manageable organised crime caseload. They have received training and the head of SOC holds them to account.

Lead responsible officers have up-to-date plans covering the 4Ps (pursue, prevent, protect and prepare). However, some of the 4P plans varied in consistency and could be improved. Lead officers consider a range of tactics to disrupt and dismantle OCGs. They can get support from the ROCU and other partners such as Trading Standards and HM Revenue & Customs.

The force allocates financial investigators to each OCG. They find opportunities to disrupt criminals benefiting financially from crime with the ROCU.

Neighbourhood officers get involved in disrupting OCGs. But the approach is inconsistent and could be strengthened across the force.

The force shows a positive and significant impact on SOC across the 4Ps through its actions. It uses MoRILE to reassess threats after it carries out disruption activity. This was an area for improvement from the last time this question was inspected, which the force has now met.

For example, Operation Divide tackled a Class A drug supply operation across Newport, which led to the force taking enforcement action. It involved collaboration with partners including HM Revenue & Customs, social services, HM Prison and Probation Service and Newport City Homes. It demonstrates how the force carries out a review of SOC investigations and tactics with partner organisations. Doing this encourages learning and helps share good practice so that partner organisations and the force can support this kind of operation in the future.

The force would benefit from doing a comprehensive analysis of the impact on long-term disruption and how organised crime is changing. It could then predict how this may affect its tactics, and communities, in the future. The force records disruptions in line with national guidelines. It has recorded 11.5 disruptions per OCG, which is much higher than the England and Wales rate of 3.0.

Summary for question 4

How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?


Understanding the threat and responding to it

Gwent Police operates joint arrangements with Dyfed-Powys Police and South Wales Police to provide armed policing. This means that the standards of training, armed deployments and command of armed operations are assured in all three forces.

The force has a good understanding of the potential harm facing the public. Its APSTRA conforms to the requirements of the code and the College of Policing guidance. The APSTRA is published annually and is accompanied by a register of risks and other observations. The designated chief officer reviews the register frequently to maintain the right levels of armed capability and capacity.

All armed officers in England and Wales are trained to national standards. There are different standards for each role that armed officers perform. The majority of armed incidents in Gwent Police’s area are attended by officers trained to an armed response vehicle standard. However, incidents sometimes occur that require the skills and specialist capabilities of more highly trained officers.

The availability of specialist officers in the Gwent Police area, in addition to the support available from Dyfed-Powys Police and South Wales Police, mean that the force has enough specialist capability. The force’s capabilities align well with the threats and risks identified in its APSTRA.

Working with others

It is important that effective joint working arrangements are in place between neighbouring forces. Armed criminals and terrorists have no respect for county boundaries. As a consequence, armed officers must be prepared to deploy flexibly in the knowledge that they can work seamlessly with officers in other forces. It is also important that any one force can call on support from surrounding forces in times of heightened threat.

This is an area where Gwent Police performs well. Close working between the three Welsh forces means that armed officers can deploy quickly and efficiently in the region.

We also examined how well prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in Gwent Police are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. Also, the force plays an important role in designing training exercises with other organisations that simulate these types of attack. These training exercises are reviewed carefully so that learning points are identified, and improvements are made for the future.

The joint firearms unit regularly debriefs incidents attended by armed officers. It has recently introduced an incident debrief and lessons learnt process that identifies themes and good practice and which is shared with the unit.

Summary for question 5