Lincolnshire PEEL 2018
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
How effective is the force at preventing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe?
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that local policing teams routinely engage with local communities and undertake structured problem-solving with partner organisations to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.
- The force should improve its ability to analyse information and intelligence, to provide a better understanding of crime and anti-social behaviour and enable it to focus activity effectively.
- The force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with other organisations, to improve its prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Prioritising crime prevention
Lincolnshire Police needs to improve crime prevention. The force recognises this and is focusing on neighbourhood policing. The force launched its neighbourhood policing strategy in January 2019. This will help it better tackle crime and ASB.
The strategy is based on the College of Policing’s guidance. The force has appointed leads for the main areas. But it is too early to assess improvements. The force needs to communicate its plan across the organisation. During our inspection, officers and staff often couldn’t explain the vision for neighbourhood policing.
In our 2016 effectiveness report, we said the force was good at preventing crime. But we asked it to analyse information more to better understand crime and ASB. The force has made minimal progress in this. So we have repeated this area for improvement in this report.
The force sometimes moves neighbourhood officers from their main roles. This can be both planned and reactive. This means neighbourhood teams are less effective in tackling problems. For example, instead of using tactics that need police officer powers, the teams’ police community support officers (PCSOs) often have to use less effective options as they do not have the powers afforded to police officers. The force can’t assess the scale and effect of this on crime prevention.
The force has over 250 volunteers. These include volunteer PCSOs and cyber volunteers (volunteers who are trained in tackling cyber crime). The force uses its links with community groups, schools and colleges to attract applicants.
The Special Constabulary (the part-time, volunteer body which works alongside statutory police forces) is also involved in some crime prevention activity. But the force has seen a 40 percent fall in the number of special constables since 2015. It believes this is down to special constables being successful when applying for PCSO and police officer roles. The force plans to attract more volunteers as part of its focus on neighbourhood policing.
The success of mini police is encouraging. This scheme gives 9–11-year-olds volunteering opportunities. The aim is to give children a positive experience of policing and get them involved in their neighbourhoods. This shows the force’s commitment to working with communities.
Training for neighbourhood teams is inconsistent across the force. New recruits are trained to carry out effective crime prevention activity. But the training for existing neighbourhood teams varies. Some teams complete local training alongside other organisations the force works with. This is as well as mandatory personal protection training. Others only get the mandatory training. The force has reviewed this. It understands what training neighbourhood teams need to offer a good service. Effective problem-solving training is a priority. The training plan forms part of the neighbourhood policing strategy. This will help the force improve.
Protecting the public from crime
The force understands the threats its communities face. It works well with public sector organisations, including adult social care, substance misuse and outreach teams.
The force liaises with other agencies to tackle complex issues. For example, in the city centre it works with the Evita Team, which deals with street dealing. It also works with housing providers in Spalding to identify and protect vulnerable residents. The force brings these organisations together to help focus police activity. This is especially valuable when traditional policing methods aren’t working. It means vulnerable people are better supported.
But we found little community involvement when setting local priorities. The force often decides priorities with little communication with the public and other agencies.
The force doesn’t keep community or neighbourhood profiles. Some information is collected informally, including from other agencies. This helps neighbourhood teams in their work. But this isn’t routinely collected, kept or analysed. So, information about communities is only held locally, by officers and staff.
The force’s recent police and crime needs survey gives an insight into the public’s priorities. Yet, during our inspection we didn’t find any teams that had used this information to plan services. Beat managers and PCSOs have limited knowledge about the relevant priorities. This may mean that teams aren’t as informed as they could be about what matters most to people.
The survey shows that the force understands its communities and their concerns better since we last inspected. But it is yet to use this knowledge to make improvements.
The force is still inconsistent in telling communities about:
- the action it has taken;
- the results it has achieved; and
- how they can be more involved in solving problems.
During 2018, we commissioned research into what the public thought of their local police across England and Wales. It showed that Lincolnshire Police deals with what matters to the community.
But during our inspection we didn’t find any local engagement plans to support neighbourhood teams in their work. The force doesn’t do enough to consider what methods are best for different parts of the community or how to reach hidden and less engaged groups. Using social media to reach specific audiences, for example, could help the force improve in this area.
We found neighbourhood teams to be committed, enthusiastic and determined to give the best service they can to help communities tackle ASB, solve problems and keep people safe. But their understanding of problem-solving approaches varied. This affects their ability to tackle issues well.
The force has begun training to address these skills gaps. Community beat managers need to better understand how they can work with communities to make people safer.
Neighbourhood teams have many approaches to resolve ASB cases. But recording isn’t consistent. Some use a shared online system that other organisations can also access. Other areas use police systems. This means that victims get different levels of service.
The force is also missing opportunities to test the results of different approaches and learn from what works. During our inspection, we found that supervision of problem-solving plans varies across the force. The new neighbourhood policing strategy and training approach is expected to improve this.
The percentage split between different types of ASB in Lincolnshire Police is similar to the rest of England and Wales. The force uses all available powers to tackle ASB. These include civil injunctions and criminal behaviour orders. But it doesn’t analyse how it uses these, as its focus is on other areas. So the force can’t be confident that it is as good as it could be.
The force prevents crime in many ways. But it doesn’t monitor and share good practice. This would help improve the service it offers.
The force has recently set up neighbourhood inspector meetings to discuss its work. It also plans to start a problem-solving hub. It will be a resource for information for the entire force. This will help to record, assess and test activity to see what works best. This would help it improve its approach to ASB.Summary for question 1
How effective is the force at investigating crime and reducing re-offending?
Areas for improvement
- 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 needs to take steps to better understand the data relating to its crime outcomes and put actions in place to ensure that it is effectively pursuing justice on behalf of victims.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of performance in this area.
The force carries out thorough investigations that lead to satisfactory results for victims. It allocates and investigates crimes well. And it has the most appropriate teams carrying out investigations. Both team and individual caseloads don’t show a system under pressure. The force has enough investigators to deal with demand.
Investigations are allocated to teams depending on:
- how complex the case is;
- the risk posed by the suspect; and
- the vulnerability of victims and witnesses.
We found both the initial and later allocation of crimes to be effective. Crimes passed to specialist departments, such as domestic abuse, are investigated well. Staff are held to account to make sure they have carried out investigations to a good standard. This is achieved through regular discussions with supervisors and reviews.
But investigations passed to non-specialist departments show that supervision is still inconsistent. Before our inspection fieldwork, we reviewed 60 files from recent investigations. In 47 of the 60, the investigation focused on bringing the offender to justice. But 23 of the 60 either weren’t supervised well, or had no supervision recorded. In 18 of the 60, not all lines of enquiry had been pursued.
During inspection fieldwork, we found a lack of supervision in many non-specialist cases. Where there was supervision, it did little to focus activity or move the investigation along. This may mean that opportunities are missed to get the best result for the victim.
In our 2017 effectiveness report, we recommended that the force make sure that investigations are properly supervised. This was to improve quality and progress. In this inspection, the quality of supervision and guidance in cases passed to non-specialist departments remains an area for improvement.
The force recognises this. It has added supervisors’ investigative responsibilities to the force crime improvement plan, which is led by a senior detective. Supervisor briefings and leadership seminars are also improving supervision. Supervisors who have taken part in these are more positive about their ability to fulfil this role. This means that the force is likely to improve in this area.
In our 2017 inspection, the force had areas for improvement. An area of concern was its lack of qualified detectives. Some specialist staff also lacked the right training and opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD). Senior leaders have worked hard to increase the number of skilled detectives.
The number of accredited detectives has increased from 22 percent to 67 percent since our last inspection. But this is below the overall rate for England and Wales, which is 86 percent. The force offers excellent support to new detectives. The new Detective Academy has also raised the department’s profile. It aims to ensure high standards of skills and training across all aspects of criminal investigation. It supports both experienced and trainee detectives through recruitment, training, accreditation, career pathways and lateral moves.
Trainee detectives are encouraged to fully complete their training. Incentives include a framed certificate and warrant badge. The Academy holds regular CPD events for new and existing staff, on topics such as disclosure rules.
The public can now report crimes online. The number of crimes reported online has grown steadily. However, people can still call or visit a police station. Telephone investigators in the incident resolution team (IRT) deal with online reports. The IRT handles about 290 online reports each month.
The IRT also deal with crimes over the phone that need limited investigation. The IRT calls the victim and generally completes the investigation without a police visit being needed.
We assessed several of the telephone investigations. They were appropriate and of good quality. The screening process makes sure the victim gets good support. The IRT reallocates cases when they identify vulnerability or other lines of enquiry are needed.
During our inspection, the screening process was being used. This is good practice and shows that cases aren’t being closed just to reduce demand. IRT staff offer a good service to victims of crime. Even when they don’t continue investigations, they:
- contact victims quickly;
- offer crime prevention advice and reassurance; and
- tell them how to get more support.
In the file review and during our fieldwork, victims’ needs are considered at all stages of investigations. Investigators described the importance of keeping in contact with victims.
Some victims need more support and specific techniques are needed to help gather evidence from them. These are called achieving best evidence (ABE) interviews. Our review identified a small number of cases that could have featured ABE interviews but didn’t. But awareness of their value, and when to use them, is good. As is access to trained staff to carry them out.
The file review identified 43 cases where victim care was good. But that number underestimates the frequency and nature of contact with victims. When we spoke to investigators, they contacted victims in all cases. But this contact isn’t always recorded correctly in crime records. Although it is recorded in other notes about the case. The force is addressing this.
The force understands the importance of considering evidence-led prosecutions. Staff we spoke to gave examples of how cases were taken to court based on the evidence gathered rather than relying on vulnerable victims.
In the year to April 2019, investigations that ended without enough evidence to support a prosecution accounted for 35 percent of crimes recorded. This includes cases with a suspect identified – both with and without the support of victims. These are 13.1 percent and 17.6 percent respectively. The latter is slightly lower than the England and Wales rate of 18.2 percent.
Lincolnshire Police is good at:
- pursuing suspects of crime;
- managing persistent offenders; and
- working with other organisations to deal with foreign national offenders.
The force has led the regional response to improve how bail is used during active investigations. It has also increased the number of cases ending with offenders being brought to justice.
When the bail legislation changed the way police bail is applied, the force initially overused the released under investigation (RUI) option. Since then, it has raised awareness of how to use the legislation. It has also introduced superintendents’ oversight and scrutiny. This has led to an improvement in using bail conditions and less use of RUI. This means the force is safeguarding victims more effectively.
The force’s approach to finding and arresting people listed as wanted on the Police National Computer (PNC) is also good. There are good processes in place to react to new information about people wanted for offences, and to arrest them. This includes suspects in investigations whose fingerprints or DNA are later linked to a crime scene. It also includes people wanted on warrant or who have breached the conditions linked to their release from prison.
During our fieldwork, we witnessed officers working hard to find suspects who are a high risk to themselves or others. This work is supported by force data shared with department leads. Circulating wanted suspects on PNC was an area for improvement in our 2017 effectiveness report. This year, we considered this matter under the area of how effective the force is at investigating crime. We are satisfied that the force has made enough progress to address this.
The force is good at identifying and managing arrested foreign nationals. It manages ACRO checks well. The force has a good process to check the conviction history of foreign nationals who have been arrested. A dedicated team, with experience in developing intelligence, works closely with HM Immigration to confirm foreign nationals’ right to stay in the UK. We found good examples in Boston where force data shows that 50 out of 100 foreign nationals arrested in the past year to June 2018 have been deported.
The disclosure process in criminal prosecutions ensures fairness. Police investigations must follow all reasonable lines of enquiry, even if they point away from the suspect. Prosecutors must provide the defence with any material that undermines the case for the prosecution or helps the case for the accused. Proper disclosure is vital for a fair trial.
The force has invested in disclosure training for its workforce. This includes the National Centre for Applied Learning Technologies package. Most have completed this, together with face-to-face training. Disclosure champions give local advice and guidance.
Officers and staff understand their disclosure responsibilities and how to manage third party material. This is relevant material held by a third party. Lincolnshire Police is good in this area. The force is aware it needs to get this difficult area of policing right. Its work in this area means it should be able to give a better service to the public.
The force has maintained the number of cases where a suspect has been charged or summoned. In 2016/17, these made up 16.8 percent of all crimes reported. In 2017/18, this figure was 14.8 percent on the same period. This is higher than the England and Wales rate of 12 percent in 2016/17 and 10 percent in 2017/18. This means that more offenders are being brought to justice. And more victims are getting a positive result from their cases.
The force generally achieves good outcomes for victims. This could be even better if it assessed outcome data more.Summary for question 2
How effective is the force at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims?
Areas for improvement
- The force should continue to enhance its strategic understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability within its local area through the use of partnership data.
- The force should improve its understanding of the reasons for the declining domestic abuse arrest rate and take appropriate action to address it.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of performance in this area.
Understanding and identifying vulnerability
The force has a good approach to vulnerability. The workforce is clear about what vulnerability is. And it knows what its responsibilities are.
Staff understand the importance of protecting vulnerable people. They treat vulnerable people well. This includes victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse, and people with mental health issues.
During our inspection, the force launched its vulnerability strategy. It includes a reference handbook and interactive online guide for all staff. Conferences will also raise awareness. This will reinforce the force’s commitment to protect vulnerable people.
The force has a better understanding of the nature, scale and effect of vulnerability since our last inspection. But the force’s intelligence and analysis scanning approach to vulnerability is inconsistent. The workforce’s understanding of mental health is good. It is aware of demand. The FCR mental health crisis response approach was evaluated recently. This led to changes in matching operating times with demand better.
This contrasts with the lack of a problem profile for county lines, where activity is more reactive than preventative. This means the force’s understanding of the nature and scale of vulnerability is limited. We highlighted this as an area for improvement.
Officers and police staff look for hidden forms of harm. This includes finding vulnerable people being trafficked or subjected to forced labour. For example, when tackling homelessness, teams work with mental health nurses, substance misuse workers and local housing groups, among others.
During fieldwork, we found good examples of joint working. This included officers recognising signs of controlling and coercive behaviour when going to an unrelated incident. They later visited the victim to discover that they were subjected to forced labour. Police and other organisations worked together to safeguard the victim. The victim didn’t want to support a prosecution but was given support to leave the situation.
The force is training and mentoring its call handlers in the FCR. Call handlers identify vulnerable and repeat callers using the THRIVE risk assessment. They now record threat, risk and harm in more detail to ensure accuracy and consistency.
These changes mean that the force’s initial response to incidents is more effective. Before our inspection, we examined this risk assessment process and gave our feedback. During our inspection, we found that staff are now better at identifying vulnerability during calls. This means incidents are now prioritised more accurately. They are then passed to the most appropriate teams.
Responding to incidents
Lincolnshire Police responds well to incidents involving vulnerable people. It answers both 999 and 101 calls quickly. And attends incidents quickly where vulnerability is identified.
When officers notice that someone is, or may be, vulnerable, they refer them to specialist colleagues. These colleagues consider what further support or safeguarding to give. This referral, known as a public protection notification (PPN), is sent electronically. During our inspection, we read a small sample of PPNs. They were detailed and effectively assessed risk to victims. Specialists being sent the referrals told us they now get fewer incomplete or inadequate PPNs.
Risk assessments for incidents of domestic abuse are known as DASH. The quality of these has also improved since our last inspection. Officers understand the need to consider all circumstances while making assessments. This includes how other people are affected by the incident.
During our inspection, we found examples of effective safety planning. These included recording details of children who live at the household, and whether they were present at the time of the incident. This helps to assess wider safeguarding needs. The police approach is improving and could be enhanced further by speaking to children and recording their views more. Vulnerable people generally receive a good service, particularly victims of domestic abuse and those with mental health conditions.
The force has a mental health triage scheme. It is run by Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Under this scheme, a mental health nurse based in the FCR is supported by non-police ‘rapid response’ cars. This involves a mental health nurse and a support worker going to police incidents that are classed as mental health crisis situations. This means incidents are triaged before a police car is sent.
There was a review of the triage scheme in autumn 2018. This led to minor changes. Organisations that work with the force support its approach to mental health and the triage scheme. They see that vulnerable people are dealt with in the best way.
In our 2017 effectiveness report, we recommended that the force review its absent and missing children procedures in the FCR. During this inspection, we found that the force had recently revised its missing persons policy. It also has better processes. These include initial reporting, deployment and management.
Missing persons are now scrutinised at daily management meetings. Most staff understand the changes. The force is monitoring compliance with the policy. This is to make sure that every missing person report follows the process.
The force is good at protecting domestic abuse victims. Attending an incident is a priority. In the year to April 2019, the force graded 88.16 percent of the domestic abuse incidents it attends as an emergency or priority. For England and Wales, this is 71.5 percent.
The force doesn’t generally deal with domestic abuse victims over the phone, it deals with them face to face. In the year to April 2018, the force made an arrest in around 18 percent of domestic abuse incidents. This compares with the England and Wales rate of 28 percent.
Its rate of offenders who were charged or summonsed for domestic abuse crimes in the same period was 24.61 percent. This is slightly higher than the England and Wales rate of 15.43 percent. The force has fewer victims who don’t support prosecutions than the England and Wales rate.
It is aware that the arrest rate, number of prosecutions and other criminal justice outcomes could be better. It is making it clear to attending officers and investigators that it expects more cases to have positive results.
Supporting vulnerable victims
Neighbourhood teams help keep vulnerable victims safe. These include:
- children at risk of sexual exploitation;
- people with mental health issues; and
- repeat victims of domestic abuse.
Officers work with organisations to tackle cuckooing. For example, in the city centre, officers support the council public protection team. This team is responsible for safeguarding, hate crime and domestic abuse support.
In our 2017 effectiveness report, we recommended the force review workloads in its high-risk departments. This was to make sure victims of rape and sexual assault were examined quickly. The force has since restructured its public protection department. It is now the protecting vulnerable persons unit. This combines skills and expertise, previously held in separate small teams, into four hubs.
The hubs are based in Lincoln, Grantham, Boston and Skegness. They offer extended working hours, seven days a week. The change has increased capacity by 50 percent.
During this inspection, we found that workloads were manageable. We are content that this area for improvement has been addressed. Our concerns about the examination of victims of rape and sexual assault have been addressed.
Lincolnshire Police uses protective powers and measures to safeguard vulnerable victims. Staff understand domestic violence protection notices and orders, and Clare’s Law.
Data shows that the use of force is in line with the England and Wales rate for 2018/19. Officers apply powers when appropriate. They understand that these powers protect victims.
But the workforce was less clear on the process to follow when orders were breached. The force has a process to check breaches. But it needs to raise awareness of these.
The force works with organisations to make sure specialist safeguarding arrangements protect vulnerable people. It doesn’t have a co-located multi-agency safeguarding hub. But we found the police safeguarding hub arrangements adequate. And there is good information sharing with other organisations. These include child and adult services. The force continues to improve this effective working, which is helping to keep the public safe.
The multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) processes are effective. MARAC is managed from within the police safeguarding hub. Each agency takes it in turn to chair the meeting. This makes sure everyone fully engages with keeping vulnerable victims safe.
The force and its partner organisations refer all high-risk cases to MARAC. An independent domestic abuse adviser is allocated to each high-risk case. There is an equal split of referrals from partner organisations and police.
The force has a well-established partnership meeting, called the Domestic Abuse Core Priority group. This group reviews processes, supports developments and explores ways to improve services.
The force has a weekly specialist domestic abuse court structure in place. It is also working with courts and the Crown Prosecution Service to develop a specialist domestic abuse court for Lincolnshire. The force will adopt Operation Encompass later this year. This initiative improves communication between the police and schools where a child is at risk from domestic abuse.
The force is good at identifying those people who share indecent images of children online. During our fieldwork, we found that all relevant systems were checked regularly. Information is then sent to the safeguarding children online team to investigate and manage cases.
In our 2017 effectiveness inspection, the force had an area for improvement. This was the level of demand and backlogs in its online team. During this inspection, we found this team to be effective. The team operates with manageable workloads, with little backlog. The force could build on this by taking a more proactive approach.
Managing offenders who pose a risk to vulnerable people is generally effective. Each sex offender manager is responsible for between 55 and 60 registered sex offenders (RSO). This ratio is within the range of the national guidance figure of 50 per manager. And records are maintained to the required standard.
Managers tend to make unannounced rather than announced visits to RSOs. During our inspection, there was a workload of 92 visits of medium to low-risk RSOs to be done. The force is monitoring this and trying to reduce this figure. It will consider announced visits if necessary.
The force is good at using preventative legal powers, such as Sexual Harm Prevention Orders. And it monitors offenders appropriately to check if they have breached these orders. There are adequate links between offender managers and officers working on neighbourhood teams.
However, during our inspection we found that response and neighbourhood teams didn’t have enough information about RSOs. The force plans to address this. For example, each neighbourhood team will have bespoke briefings. They will be given details of RSOs living in the area and the civil orders that are in place.Summary for question 3
How effective is the force at tackling serious and organised crime?
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 are the force’s specialist capabilities?
Understanding the threat and responding to it
Lincolnshire Police has an adequate 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.
There are two areas where the APSTRA could be improved:
- the force had not published its own APSTRA and was reliant on an assessment of threats and risks affecting a number of forces in the region; and
- it would benefit from stronger analysis and intelligence about criminals who present risks in Lincolnshire and neighbouring forces.
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 Lincolnshire are attended by officers trained to an armed response vehicle (ARV) standard. However, incidents sometimes occur that require the skills and specialist capabilities of more highly trained officers.
We found that officers with these specialist skills are not always available to attend incidents when their additional skills are required. On these occasions, we found that ARV officers normally resolve the incidents as a practical method of reducing the danger and protecting the public. However, for armed incidents to be effectively resolved, it is important that the skills and capabilities of the officers match the threats they face. Lincolnshire Police should consider whether arranging to provide this capability on a regional basis with Leicestershire Police and Northamptonshire Police would be a better alternative. This would give greater assurance that officers with the right skills are on hand to manage high-threat incidents, ensuring a greater consistency of standards in armed policing.
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.
Until recently, Lincolnshire had joint arrangements in place with Leicestershire Police and Northamptonshire Police to provide armed policing. These forces have agreed to continue to share training facilities, which helps to standardise procedures as well as reducing costs. The governance of these new arrangements is, however, still developing. We will monitor progress closely.
We also examined how well prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in Lincolnshire Police are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. Also, Lincolnshire Police has an important role in designing training exercises with other organisations that simulate these types of attack. We found that these training exercises are reviewed carefully so that learning points are identified, and improvements are made for the future.
In addition to debriefing training exercises, we found that Lincolnshire Police reviews the outcome of all firearms incidents that officers attend. This helps make sure that best practice or areas for improvement are identified. We also found that this knowledge is used to improve training and operational procedures.Summary for question 5