Northamptonshire 2018/19Read more about Northamptonshire
This is HMICFRS’s fifth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Northamptonshire 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.
Northamptonshire Police was inspected in tranche two and we found:
the extent to which the force is effective at reducing crime and keeping people safe requires improvement.
the extent to which the force operates efficiently and sustainably is inadequate.
the extent to which the force treats the public and its workforce legitimately requires improvement.
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Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
I have concerns about the performance of Northamptonshire Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime. I am especially worried about the force’s efficiency, and how effectively it investigates crime and protects vulnerable people. In view of these findings, I have been in regular contact with the chief constable because I am aware how much needs to improve.
The force needs to improve how it prevents crime and anti-social behaviour, and how it engages with communities and partner organisations to solve local problems.
The force is not investigating crime effectively. I am concerned about the standard of investigations and the lack of scrutiny by supervisors and senior managers. The force doesn’t always respond to vulnerable people quickly enough, so it could miss opportunities to safeguard people at risk.
The force’s limited understanding of demand for its services is worrying. It needs to remodel processes that supress or hide demand. It needs a much clearer understanding of its workforce’s skills, and those it will need in the future. This will help the force plan how to use its resources more efficiently.
The force continues to uphold an ethical culture and promotes standards of professional behaviour well. But I am concerned that it doesn’t always comply with legislation when it detains people in custody. It should make sure it is accountable for detention facilities and that they are well governed, including relating to the use of force.
My overall assessment is that Northamptonshire Police’s performance has declined since our last inspection.
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Northamptonshire Police is improving its approach to crime prevention. It needs to better analyse the information it has so it can allocate resources more effectively. It should also build on working more closely with communities to make it more effective in preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
The force has improved its approach to problem solving since our last inspection. However, there is still more work to do in this area. Better and more consistent processes would help the force prevent more crime.
Northamptonshire Police doesn’t have the resources to investigate crime effectively enough. This has resulted in a backlog of crimes being allocated to investigators. There are plans for improvements, but the force has been slow to put these in place.
The force doesn’t support victims as well as it should. This is down to a lack of resources in some cases, and policies and standards not always being in place in other cases. The force doesn’t manage offenders effectively, which can sometimes present a risk to the public.
Northamptonshire Police needs to better understand the nature and scale of vulnerability. Since our last inspection, the force has got better at identifying vulnerability. However, it doesn’t consistently support all vulnerable victims.
Tackling serious and organised crime (SOC) is one of the force’s six priorities. It has developed a better understanding since our last inspection and continues to make improvements.
How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?
Northamptonshire Police is reactive in its approach to policing and has a limited understanding of demand. Demand analysis is out of date and needs to be refreshed, and the force doesn’t understand its workforce capabilities well enough. Work has begun to address this, but there needs to be wider analysis to get a fuller picture of demand.
There aren’t enough resources to cope with investigative demand. As a result, there are backlogs of crimes not allocated to investigators. A new change programme has been set up to change the force’s operating model to better meet demand and be more efficient. The force has invested in new technologies that offer opportunities for the workforce to become more efficient and visible through mobile working.
The force is committed to joint working. It benefits from working with other agencies but can’t quantify this in terms of cost savings or added resilience. Northamptonshire County Council is currently restructuring to become two unitary authorities. This means there is significant uncertainty about future partnership arrangements.
Northamptonshire Police has sound financial plans. And the finance team is more rigorous in budget setting than when we last inspected.
The force’s understanding of future demand is limited. It intends to better understand current demand first. It will then be able to better predict and plan for future demand.
The force has an ambitious vision to improve its services. It acknowledges that its current plans aren’t enough to achieve this.
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
The force doesn’t consistently seek feedback from the public to improve its approach, although we did see some good examples of force leaders working with communities.
The force understands how to use force appropriately. Officers use stop and search powers appropriately. And the force is committed to continue to learn and improve in this area.
Northamptonshire Police behaves ethically and lawfully. Effective anti-corruption measures are in place. Leaders publicise their expectations and the force’s values well throughout the workforce.
The force has a reasonable understanding of workforce diversity. It has made some improvements since our last inspection. This includes recruiting an equalities and positive actions officer.
It needs to be more aware of levels of wellbeing among its workforce. It will then be able to offer more, and better, support to staff. Plans are in place to improve the situation and staff have already seen positive changes.
There are limited talent management programmes or structured ways to develop both officers and staff. Poor performance is not always tackled. The workforce doesn’t perceive as fair the processes for performance, talent management and promotion. This is having a negative effect on workforce morale and productivity.
There is a new leadership programme for supervisors and we are pleased to find that most now have regular meetings with their staff. The workforce is feeling optimistic about the future and is positive about the vision of the new chief constable.
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.
Northamptonshire – Joint inspection of police custody – published 1 June 2018
Northamptonshire – National child protection inspection – published 26 July 2018
Northamptonshire – National child protection post-inspection review – published 24 July 2019