Northumbria 2018/19Read more about Northumbria
This is HMICFRS’s fifth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Northumbria 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.
Northumbria 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 requires improvement.
the extent to which the force treats the public and its workforce legitimately is good.
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Phil Gormley, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
I have concerns about the performance of Northumbria Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime, and in particular regarding its effectiveness at protecting vulnerable people.
The force is good at investigating crime. However, it needs to improve how it prevents crime and anti-social behaviour through better engagement with its communities and a more consistent, structured approach to solving neighbourhood problems.
The force needs to improve how it understands current and future demand. This should help it develop more robust finance and workforce plans to make sure that it uses its resources effectively.
I am reassured that the force continues to uphold an ethical culture and promote standards of professional behaviour well. However, I am concerned that the necessary systems are not in place to reassure the public that, each time an officer uses force, that it is done legitimately.
My overall assessment is that Northumbria Police’s performance has declined since our last inspection.
How effectively does the force reduce crime and keep people safe?
Northumbria Police requires improvement in how it reduces crime and keeps people safe.
The force needs to improve how it tackles crime and anti-social behaviour. Its training for neighbourhood teams could be better to ensure that they have the skills needed to be effective. It has invested in neighbourhood policing and has new approaches to tackle the causes of local problems. The local approach to understanding communities and what they expect from their police force could be more consistent.
The force makes sure that it uses anti-social behaviour powers proportionately. It is working with partner organisations on early intervention programmes, such as the troubled families programme. But this approach differs between area commands and relies on partnership relationships.
The force is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. Investigators are suitably trained, and all staff are focused on giving victims good care. They are aware of the need to gather evidence as early as possible.
The force needs to improve how it protects vulnerable people from harm and supports victims. At times, Northumbria Police doesn’t have enough officers available to respond appropriately to vulnerable victims. The force undertakes good work around domestic abuse, but the quality of its risk assessments should improve.
Not all calls are correctly graded, and officers don’t always attend within the target time. To keep victims safe, the force should respond based on the initial risk assessment, and not on officer availability.
The force is good at tackling serious and organised crime.
How efficiently does the force operate and how sustainable are its services to the public?
Northumbria Police requires improvement so that it operates efficiently and its services are sustainable.
The force needs to improve its understanding of demand for its services, including hidden demand. This should help it to make best use of its resources to meet the needs of the public. Its new operating model and command and control system should help address these problems. The force will need to manage the move to these new ways of working carefully.
The force also needs to do more to understand what the public wants from its police force and how it may wish to interact with the force in the future.
The force requires improvement in the way it plans for the future. It works well with other organisations to meet demand but doesn’t do enough to analyse data from these partners.
Northumbria Police should audit the skills of its workforce, including leadership skills. This would help the force to understand capacity and capability, and to improve its understanding of the workforce skills needed for the future.
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
Northumbria Police is good at treating the public and its workforce legitimately.
Although the force is committed to treating the people it serves with fairness and respect, it requires improvement in this area. Community engagement is generally good, and relationships have been built with local community groups. But the force should make sure that its staff, especially those with stop and search powers, properly understand unconscious bias.
Northumbria Police keeps good records of when it uses force. It needs to make better use of this data to understand how force is being used.
The force is good at behaving ethically and lawfully. Ethical behaviour is important to the whole organisation, but we found they could do more to create an ethical culture. Workforce vetting has greatly improved, with vetting complete or in progress for almost all staff.
Northumbria Police staff should know how to report potential corruption or inappropriate behaviour in confidence. There are systems for reporting by telephone or online, but the force needs to ensure that staff know about them.
Reaction to corruption enquiries is good. But Northumbria Police should make sure that its counter-corruption unit has the capacity and capability to be proactive in its work.
The force is good at treating its workforce fairly.
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.
Northumbria – National child protection inspection – published 28 June 2018
Northumbria – National child protection post-inspection review – published 11 April 2019
Joint targeted area inspection of the multi-agency response to child exploitation in Northumberland – published 2 August 2019