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Surrey PEEL 2018


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

Last updated 27/09/2019

Surrey Police is outstanding at preventing crime and prioritising crime prevention. There is a whole-force approach to problem solving and crime prevention. For example, the force has successfully used anti-social behaviour (ASB) powers to disrupt organised crime, including drug dealing across county lines.

The force is very effective at protecting the public from harm. It has police community support officers (PCSOs) specialising in areas such as domestic abuse, hate crime and disability. Police officers of any rank can consult them and use their expertise.

The force successfully collaborates to protect the public. It holds many well established partnership meetings to jointly tackle and prevent crime. Prevention staff know their allocated areas inside out and work very well together in a positive and enthusiastic way.

Overall, Surrey Police supports vulnerable victims well. But the force doesn’t always respond to incidents involving vulnerable people fast enough. It should make sure incidents aren’t downgraded inappropriately in the control room, which may put the public at risk.

The force is good at identifying people who can’t take care of or protect themselves or others from harm or exploitation.

The force has a positive approach to domestic abuse. The PCSOs’ domestic abuse car provides extra support and safeguarding advice to victims of domestic abuse from an early stage.

Surrey Police has combined the sex offender management team and the integrated offender management (IOM) team to manage the risk posed by dangerous and sexual offenders in a new way. It is also very good at managing offenders who share indecent images of children (IIOC) online.

Questions for Effectiveness


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


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

The force is very effective at prioritising crime prevention. The chief constable has made it clear that his priority is a whole-force approach to prevention.

We are impressed that proactive prevention isn’t limited to specialist neighbourhood teams (SNTs) and is firmly rooted across many departments. These include teams responsible for missing people, safeguarding victims and restorative justice. The force is looking at the whole picture to prevent crime, protect the public and reduce demand.

For example, the force has used ASB powers to prevent organised crime. The force gave two young men believed to be involved in county lines drug dealing a Criminal Behaviour Order restricting them to carrying just one telephone and no cash.

This makes drug dealing more difficult and the men less attractive to the organised crime group (OCG) trying to recruit them.

The force’s overall approach to neighbourhood policing is excellent. The public has more confidence in Surrey Police than in any other force in the country (84 percent). The force has significantly cut the number of specialist neighbourhood officers and staff. But despite this, it has managed to maintain a team of NSOs and PCSOs in each of the nine boroughs and two districts across Surrey.

We were particularly impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of a focus group of NSOs and PCSOs from across the county. They shared knowledge about many innovative protection initiatives. This included a knife crime initiative in which police work with ex-offenders who mentor and educate schoolchildren on their experiences and the consequences of carrying knives.

The focus group gave us many examples of how they were involved in their local community. They all agreed that, despite fewer resources across prevention teams, they could still effectively prevent crime. The group clearly knew a lot about the boroughs they worked in. This included who the local criminals are, where vulnerable people live and which resources to use to help people or solve local problems with partner organisations.

Staff are only taken away from prevention teams in exceptional cases, so they have time to focus on local issues. The force plans to use some of the money raised from a council tax increase to double the number of NSOs. It also plans to introduce a specialist problem-solving team, highlighting its commitment to prevention.

Surrey’s local policing model separates specialist neighbourhood policing from response policing. The force encouraged area policing (response) teams to think about prevention when responding to emergency calls by rebranding them as neighbourhood policing teams. This promotes unity between different teams working together in the community.

We were impressed how teams worked well together towards solving local problems and they received the support needed to prevent crime through training. The force holds routine continued professional development days for prevention staff and partners.

Staff of any rank can get advice from specialist PCSOs in each borough. They have expert knowledge in areas such as domestic abuse, hate crime and disability, as well as about people who need police attention regularly (for example, children who often go missing). They can also assist at relevant incidents, helping spread expertise across the force.

The force’s ASB team is nationally recognised for solving ASB problems in innovative ways. For example, the team has trained ASB coaches who support ASB victims and help them to be more resilient, so they are targeted less.

They also hold an annual ASB awards ceremony recognising police and partners who have helped tackle crime and ASB. The force makes very good use of risk assessment for ASB victims. For example, the force used a risk assessment on a local housing estate to reduce the harm and disruption caused by one family to around 50 households. It helped police prioritise its response to victims, putting the worst affected first and offering immediate support.

Protecting the public from crime

Surrey Police is very effective at protecting the public from harm. The force understands the threats facing its communities and has developed community profiles and serious and organised crime (SOC) profiles for each of the 11 boroughs and districts.

Neighbourhood police staff understand current and emerging threats well and take pride in knowing what is going on locally.

The force uses the OSARA (objective, scanning, analysis, response, assessment) problem-solving model. Prevention teams use it consistently with regular supervisory oversight. The chief constable aims to make sure OSARA is considered in every future investigation. The force has started by extending problem-solving training to all senior leaders as well as to partner organisations.

The force is strongly committed to working in partnership. It has many well established groups. For example, it has a central SOC partnership group with 38 partners focusing on crimes such as modern slavery and county lines. There are local SOC partnership groups in each division and this approach is being expanded to all boroughs.

Each borough also has joint action groups (JAGs), which are partnership groups that concentrate on problem solving for certain places. The force has community harm and risk management meetings (CHARMMs) for people at risk of becoming a victim or offender.

The force holds bi-monthly mapping offender location and trends (MOLT) meetings. At each meeting, police and partner agencies (for example, education, children’s services and licensing) consider data and offenders before identifying trends and hotspots where children may be sexually or criminally exploited. They can then decide how to tackle the problem.

There are many positive results of the force’s collaborative approach to problem solving and intervention, such as the work of joint child sexual exploitation and missing children teams across the force and with partner organisations. Their work resulted in 969 fewer episodes of children and adults reported missing between April 2018 and February 2019.

The force has helped remove 117 children from the list of those most at risk of exploitation. The force achieved this through interventions with partners, such as the buddy tag. Courts usually order offenders to wear these tags so they don’t leave their house during curfew. Now children can volunteer to wear one. This makes them harder to exploit because they can tell others they have to be home in the evening.

Another example is Checkpoint, a new restorative justice initiative building on the success of the youth intervention team and women’s justice intervention team. The women’s justice intervention team has cut reoffending rates to less than 21 percent.

The staff behind Checkpoint work with male offenders over 18 to stop reoffending. Staff recognise and tackle possible causes of their behaviour, while respecting the wishes and needs of the victim.

The force uses a wide range of tactics to prevent crime. For example, they used ASB legislation to stop an urban climber who climbed tall buildings, including roller-coasters at Thorpe Park. He posted videos on YouTube, gained followers and earned a lot of money.

Surrey Police successfully applied for a Criminal Behaviour Order against the offender; the first time a force had used this legislation in this way in the country. The force successfully banned him from any urban climbing. This includes being on any structure or bridge, building or building site not open to the public without the landowner’s consent. He is also banned from uploading any film or video of him trespassing onto any social media platform across England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The force also effectively helped someone living with mental illness and drug use whose home was taken over by drug dealers (a situation called cuckooing). The local CHARMM discussed the case, and council housing officers used ASB powers to complete a partial closure order on the house, so no-one but the occupier could enter.

Officers put a notice on the door spelling out that anyone who tried to enter would be arrested, apart from the occupier. Specialist staff from a non-profit organisation working with the police then stepped in to offer support for the victim’s drug use and he eventually received help to move away from the area.

The force evaluates its prevention work in many ways, both internally and using outside experts such as academics from Surrey University. For example, all borough commanders attend a bi-monthly meeting where they discuss neighbourhood policing. At each meeting, two are selected to make a presentation to the rest of the group about an operation or initiative they led so they can share ideas and promote good practice. The force also holds regular meetings with partner organisations where they talk about what works.

The force gives prevention teams some support with analysing data. But it recognises it would benefit from more support to review problem-solving profiles and assess data from partner organisations more regularly. The force plans to achieve this through new staff funded by the council tax increase.

The force will create a chief inspector post dedicated to problem solving for everyone. The chief inspector will be able to deploy specialist tactical advisers who are experts in problem solving. In the meantime, the force held a workshop on analysing information for all prevention staff. The workshop encouraged them to be more analytical and told them about the data available for them to use.

Detailed findings for question 1

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


This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2017 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.


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


Areas for improvement

  • The force should review its processes for assessing risk in the control room. This is to make sure risk is not being reassessed inappropriately, incidents are not downgraded too early and opportunities to safeguard vulnerable victims are not missed.
  • The force should improve how it monitors the allocation of crime to ensure that DASH risk assessment processes are used appropriately, and investigations are allocated to the most appropriately trained officers.

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

Understanding and identifying vulnerability

Surrey Police is good at identifying people who can’t take care of or protect themselves or others from harm or exploitation.

The force uses the College of Policing definition to identify vulnerable people and has an effective vulnerability strategy in place to protect them. Officers and staff consistently show a good understanding of vulnerability and their responsibility to protect people from harm.

The force understands the nature and scale of vulnerability by analysing data across all areas that investigate crimes or incidents linked to vulnerable people. That includes data from probation, the sexual assault referral centre and other partner organisations. This data informs a range of force governance meetings, to give a clearer idea of the scale of vulnerability in the county.

Partnerships help the force identify hidden harm, such as vulnerable people being trafficked. For example, Operation Makesafe is an initiative encouraging business owners (such as hotel owners) to report concerns about customers or relevant conversations they overhear to Surrey Police. In one case, hotel staff told police of their concern for a young girl checking in with a much older man. He was later arrested for human trafficking.

The force is good at identifying vulnerable and repeat victims when they first get in touch. Staff in the contact centre (the first point of contact for public calls to the police) use the THRIVE risk assessment consistently and effectively to assess initial risk, with well established quality assurance processes in place.

Responding to incidents

The force doesn’t always respond to incidents involving vulnerable people quickly enough to keep them safe.

Staff in the control room (where calls are sent from the contact centre to dispatch resources) are sometimes too quick to ‘re-THRIVE’ (complete the risk assessment again) and downgrade the risk. This helps the force meet required response times but has consequences for the public.

For example, the contact centre might correctly assess a requirement for immediate response after a serious assault. But just a few minutes later the control room reassesses the risk and downgrades the response because the suspect has run away. This might be because it makes the incident easier to manage when officers are busy on other calls. But this response fails to take into account the impact on the victim or the threat to the wider public.

The force generally tells the caller about delays. But it doesn’t always get to incidents within the response time targets: 15 minutes for a Grade 1 (urgent) response and 1 hour for a Grade 2 (prompt) response. This can cause significant delays for the victim, and sometimes police don’t appear at all.

The force responds to victims of domestic abuse in an innovative way. Officers carry out the primary risk assessment. But since our last inspection in 2017, the role of PCSOs assigned to domestic abuse victims has been well established. They attend many domestic abuse incidents, either with an officer or after they have attended. They are all DASH-accredited so they can identify risk, although they don’t carry out DASH risk assessments themselves.

The PCSOs give extra support and signposting for victims. Some are trained to act as mentors to Surrey Police officers and staff. The force recognises in some areas that sometimes, officers manipulate the DASH risk assessment, increasing or decreasing risk so that the investigation is handed over to a different team. The force plans to address this by carrying out a formal review of investigations, from initial response and investigation to safeguarding and criminal proceedings. The review will include partner agencies and consider the launch of a dedicated domestic abuse taskforce.

The force has improved its domestic abuse arrest rate considerably since our last inspection, when it stood at 39.3 arrests per 100 domestic abuse-related offences. At our last inspection in 2017, the force had just started to reverse falling arrest and charge rates for domestic abuse through a new domestic abuse framework. This included best practice, holding divisional commanders to account for improved performance, and providing officer and staff training.

We are pleased to see this positive response has continued. In the 12 months to September 2018, the force arrest rate was 46 percent against the England and Wales arrest rate of 32 percent. Voluntary interview attendance rates have continued to fall (361 down to 191 in the year to July 2018).

Local mental health teams have limited capacity and capability to support the ambitions of Surrey Police. There used to be a mental health nurse in the control room giving advice and help to officers and staff, but funding for this has been removed.

Instead, officers can now call a mental health professional for advice through a 24-hour helpline. The helpline isn’t used as much as it could be. This means opportunities to reduce the force’s use of section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 are more limited.

The force doesn’t have an established mental health street triage scheme. But it is piloting a joint venture with South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb). Through the scheme, a police officer and a senior paramedic are given a vehicle and carry out joint patrols. They respond to calls about mental health, domestic abuse, drug and alcohol misuse, and homelessness.

Results show that this has reduced demand for both services, but the force hasn’t fully evaluated it yet.

Supporting vulnerable victims

Surrey Police supports vulnerable victims well. As well as the examples we have mentioned, neighbourhood staff work with the charity Purple Angels to support people with dementia. The charity, supported by the local council, gives out GPS (global positioning system) tags, which help find dementia sufferers if they get confused and wander.

The PCSO domestic abuse car makes sure local staff are involved in safeguarding victims of domestic abuse from an early stage. Neighbourhood patrol teams are responsible for monitoring and safeguarding victims through specific patrol plans. The force makes good use of legal powers, such as domestic violence protection notices (DVPNs), to protect victims of domestic abuse. It has a robust process for applications, including a checklist for officers and line manager authorisation.

The force has handed the entire court side of the process to the legal team to improve consistency. The force has a relatively high number of orders in place compared with other forces. But it acknowledges they are inconsistently managed across the divisions. The force could do more to make sure it identifies and enforces breaches of the orders.

Surrey Police uses pre-charge bail appropriately to keep victims of domestic abuse safe. The force can improve its understanding of how it can use pre-charge bail and how it releases suspects under investigation to the greatest effect. The force has only recently started routinely surveying domestic abuse victims to capture their experience of reporting to the police. It is too early yet for the survey findings to change how the force works.

The force has to move from a co-located multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) in Guildford Police Station to a family safeguarding hub and a referral and request team at Surrey County Council (SCC) children’s services. This is the result of an SCC review after Ofsted graded its children’s services as inadequate. The new structure will split the current MASH arrangements, separating adult and children’s care into two places. Surrey Police is working closely with SCC to make sure it maintains an effective partnership arrangement and supports the new structure with sufficient police resources.

Surrey Police has effective multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs) in place. The force has invested in MARAC training for first line supervisors in the safeguarding investigation units, with the charity SafeLives. This makes sure the force has a consistent approach across all MARAC meetings.

The force acknowledges that although the MARAC is well supported, with all 13 partner agencies attending, the police makes most of the referrals. The force is optimistic that introducing a new partnership computer system called Modus will increase the referrals partner organisations make. SafeLives recommended that the number of cases discussed at MARAC meetings in Surrey in 2017/18 should be 1,880. The actual number of cases discussed was 1,006. The force refers all high-risk cases to the MARAC.

The way the force manages offenders who share IIOC online is considered good practice. The police online investigation team (POLIT) identifies and apprehends offenders in an innovative and proactive way. The force has also invested in more staff for the unit to make sure there are no backlogs of work. This allows the force to appropriately manage risk, protect the vulnerable, and pursue rather than reactively support investigations, including those that go beyond the force boundary. The force plans to continue investing in new technology for the team and become the national lead in this area.

The force is well prepared to manage the risk posed by dangerous and sexual offenders. The force created the high harm perpetrator unit (HHPU) by combining the sex offender management team and the IOM team. The HHPU uses an algorithm designed by the force to identify offenders in Surrey most at risk of reoffending. It then uses a multi-agency panel to select the top ten most
harmful perpetrators. This means the force can target its work with partner organisations more effectively. The HHPU is now well established in North Surrey and is being replicated across the force. It will be evaluated by Birmingham University.

Surrey Police doesn’t have any backlogs of un-assessed registered sex offenders (RSOs). The force has a high success rate of securing sexual prevention orders. Seventy-eight percent of the RSOs the force is currently dealing with have preventative orders in place. Neighbourhood teams are fully aware of RSOs in their area, including those about to be released from prison. When officers and staff become aware of an RSO in their area, they visit them and ensure that there is an increase in police awareness.

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 2017 effectiveness inspection has been carried over.


How effective are the force’s specialist capabilities?


Understanding the threat and responding to it

Surrey Police operates joint arrangements with Sussex Police to provide armed policing. This means that the standards of training, armed deployments and command of armed operations are assured in both 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, it prioritises the threats to communities in Surrey and Sussex, and it ensures professional standards of armed policing. 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 Surrey 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.

The availability of specialist officers in Surrey is guaranteed by excellent working relationships with the regional counter-terrorism unit (CTU). Tried and tested arrangements mean the force can immediately call upon specialist officers should it need their skills. We also recognise how effectively both Surrey Police and Sussex Police have worked with the CTU to determine where best to situate operational bases in the south east of England. This means that armed officers from a number of forces have access to them and choose to develop their careers with the CTU. This includes a number of Surrey officers. As well as providing benefits to the individual, it also helps ensure the CTU can maintain its cohort of highly skilled armed officers.

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. So armed officers must be prepared to deploy flexibly in the knowledge 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 Surrey Police performs well. Close working with Sussex Police means armed officers can deploy quickly and efficiently in the two counties. Effective plans are also in place with other forces in the south east of England, should additional support be needed.

We also examined how well prepared forces are to respond to threats and risks. Armed officers in Surrey are trained in tactics that take account of the types of recent terrorist attacks. However, we consider that the force could do more, alongside other organisations, to plan exercises that simulate these types of attack. In other forces we visit, the involvement of ARV officers in these exercises has uncovered useful learning points and led to improvements.

We found that Surrey Police regularly carries out a debriefing of the incidents armed officers attend. This helps ensure that best practice or areas for improvement are identified. We also found that the force uses this knowledge to improve training and operational procedures.

Summary for question 5