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Suffolk PEEL 2018


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

Last updated 27/09/2019

Suffolk Constabulary is good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour and responds positively to areas for improvement identified by HMICFRS.

It has successfully addressed areas for improvement in how it investigates crime and tackles serious and organised crime and anti-social behaviour that we identified in our 2016 effectiveness inspection.

In our 2019 inspection, we found that complex and serious crime is investigated well by specialist staff, but the force needs to improve how it investigates some less complex crime. It is already working to improve the quality of these investigations but needs to make sure that these are consistently well supervised, and that staff have the skills to consistently conduct high-quality investigations. This will help investigations become of a consistently higher standard and focus on giving victims a satisfactory outcome.

The force is good at protecting vulnerable people. It understands the ways in which the population it serves are vulnerable and seeks out hidden harm and looks for vulnerability from the moment a person contacts the police. It responds promptly to incidents involving vulnerable people and makes good use of powers such as Clare’s Law to protect vulnerable people.

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. However, the force had two areas for improvement in the 2016 effectiveness inspection.

First, the force should evaluate and share effective practice routinely, both internally and with partner organisations, to continually improve its approach to the prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour. Second, it should ensure that local policing teams routinely engage with local communities and undertake structured problem solving alongside partner organisations in order to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.

The force has a clear process for prioritising problem solving. It holds monthly meetings with councillors, partners and the public in each of its nine localities. It creates action plans for all problem-solving priorities and stores them on a ICT system. It also records anti-social behaviour investigations centrally.

The force does do some evaluation of its problem-solving activity. But it could do more. The force reviewed its problem-solving activity in line with the changes it made in October 2018 to its local policing model. The force is working to record its evaluation centrally in a more effective way.

The force has a community engagement officer in each of its localities. They work with safer neighbourhood teams to reach out to the public. The force has also created three neighbourhood partnership teams. These work with other organisations, such as local authorities and housing associations, on problem solving and anti-social behaviour issues, sharing good ways of working. We are satisfied that the force has suitably addressed these areas for improvement.


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

Requires improvement

The quality of Suffolk Constabulary’s investigations is not consistent. While specialist departments thoroughly investigate the crimes allocated to them, the quality of investigations allocated to non-specialist departments is much lower. In some of the files we reviewed as part of our inspection, investigations had not been effectively supervised.

Inspectors and chief inspectors need to carry out their monthly reviews of investigations consistently. And the force needs to better gather and share the learning from these. It needs to give investigative training and development beyond its detective teams. It also needs to review how it allocates crimes.

Some of the workforce needs to better understand the importance of considering prosecutions that are not supported by victims. And senior leaders need to have a better understanding of how to use data so that they can use their understanding to improve the outcomes that victims receive.

The way in which the force catches and manages offenders is appropriate. It has a clear procedure for finding and arresting wanted suspects and discusses actions daily.

The force uses bail legislation effectively. We are pleased to see it has a dedicated team in the custody suite to advise and support staff in this area. The team analyses the force’s use of bail too.

The force works well with immigration authorities to manage foreign national offenders.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should review its approach to the provision of training and development for undertaking and supervising investigations within its neighbourhood and response policing teams.
  • The force should ensure that regular and active supervision is put in place consistently and recorded appropriately to monitor the quality and progress of investigations, ensure that crimes are allocated appropriately throughout the course of an investigation and that workloads are manageable.
  • The force needs to take steps to better understand the data relating to its crime outcomes and puts actions in place to ensure that it is effectively pursuing justice on behalf of victims.

Detailed findings for question 2


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


Suffolk Constabulary is good at protecting vulnerable people.

The force is good at identifying vulnerability at the first point of contact. Its new telephone system allows the force to prioritise 101 calls based on vulnerability and it makes good use of protective powers such as Clare’s Law to protect vulnerable people. The force responds well to incidents involving vulnerable people, and answers both 999 and 101 calls in a timely way.

However, we have some concerns about the way in which the force reassesses risk and prioritises incidents involving vulnerable people appropriately when there is a delay in attendance. Given the lack of recording of THRIVE assessments, officers are unclear about the threat, harm and risk for incidents they are attending when they review incident logs. (THRIVE is a method for call handlers to assess calls. It is based on levels of threat, harm, risk and vulnerability faced by the victim, rather than simply the type of incident or crime being reported.)

It isn’t clear how the force knows which incidents awaiting attendance pose the most harm or risk to vulnerable people – or how it decides which incident should be attended first.

During our inspection, officers were actively uncovering hidden harm.

The force pursues perpetrators of domestic abuse well. It has decided that when officers attend a domestic abuse incident, they will take positive action and their investigations will be victim-focused (rather than victim-led).

Suffolk Constabulary seeks the views of victims of different crimes to help it improve.

The force faces some challenges in effectively managing those offenders who pose a risk to vulnerable people.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should review its processes for documenting threat, harm and risk on incident records to ensure that it is able to reassess these for incidents involving vulnerable people where police have been unable to attend, or attendance is delayed, to ensure that any changes to risk are identified and appropriate action is taken in a timely manner.

Detailed findings 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. However, Suffolk Constabulary had two areas for improvement in the 2016 inspection.

First, the force needed to further develop its serious and organised crime local profile in conjunction with other organisations. This would enhance its understanding of the threat posed by serious and organised crime, and inform joint activity aimed at reducing this threat. Second, the force needed to enhance its approach to the lifetime management of organised criminals, to limit their offending.

The force has worked hard to improve its ability to tackle serious and organised crime. It requested, and received, a peer review, which took place in April 2018. The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s serious and organised crime programme carried out the review. The review was completed jointly with Norfolk Constabulary because the two forces have a joint serious and organised crime command.

The force has a comprehensive local profile in place. It has faced challenges in getting data regularly from some partners. However, it has built strong links with a range of organisations and now consistently uses partnership data within its local profile.

The force has reviewed its approach to lifetime offender management. It works closely with the prison and probation services, and with the regional organised crime unit. It holds a monthly regional lifetime offender management meeting. This meeting identifies people who are being released from prison and require lifetime offender management. The force visits them and assigns a local contact. The force is also managing three serious crime prevention orders jointly with Norfolk Constabulary. We are satisfied that the force has suitably addressed these areas for improvement.


How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?


We have previously inspected how well forces provide armed policing. 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 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