Our inspection assessed how good the City of London Police is in 11 areas of policing. We make graded judgments in 10 of these 11 as follows:
We also inspected how effective a service the City of London Police gives to victims of crime. We don’t make a graded judgment in this overall area.
We set out our detailed findings about things the force is doing well and where the force should improve in the rest of this report.
Important changes to PEEL
In 2014, we introduced our police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) inspections, which assess the performance of all 43 police forces in England and Wales. Since then, we have been continuously adapting our approach and during the past year we have seen the most significant changes yet.
We now use a more intelligence-led, continual assessment approach, rather than the annual PEEL inspections we used in previous years. For instance, we have integrated our rolling crime data integrity inspections into these PEEL assessments. Our PEEL victim service assessment also includes a crime data integrity element in at least every other assessment. We have also changed our approach to graded judgments. We now assess forces against the characteristics of good performance, set out in the PEEL Assessment Framework 2021/22, and we more clearly link our judgments to causes of concern and areas for improvement. We have also expanded our previous four-tier system of judgments to five tiers. As a result, we can state more precisely where we consider improvement is needed and highlight more effectively the best ways of doing things.
However, these changes mean that it isn’t possible to make direct comparisons between the grades awarded in this round of PEEL inspections with those from previous years. A reduction in grade, particularly from good to adequate, doesn’t necessarily mean that there has been a reduction in performance, unless we say so in the report.
HM Inspector’s observations
The City of London Police, in addition to its local responsibilities to police its force area, is the national lead for fraud and cybercrime. It also manages the national reporting system for fraud across England and Wales, called Action Fraud.
The force provides this national leadership effectively across all 43 police forces in England and Wales, despite having limited ability to influence how each police force chooses to respond to the threats from these two crime types.
We found that the force is committed to improving the service victims receive and increasing the effectiveness of Action Fraud. It has highly-trained staff who support this national responsibility effectively. And these staff are dedicated to leading and
co-ordinating the local and national policing response to fraud and cybercrime.
The force is developing victim care facilities and a tasking process to assess the threat, harm and risks posed to victims and communities. This will allow better prioritisation, allow crimes to be allocated to the correct resource for investigation, better support investigators and improve the service to victims. The work the force does to target fraud and cybercrime is admirable and should be highlighted.
I have some concerns that the force’s focus on providing an effective leadership response to these national threats isn’t matched by the same level of focus on local policing issues. The force needs to make sure the resources, training, and emphasis on local implementation is improved.
The force is good at engaging with and treating the public with fairness and respect
We found that the force is good at involving and working with communities, including small businesses. It has an effective independent advisory scrutiny group which also helps the force understand what is important to the communities it serves. We also found that it has improved the way it uses its powers, such as stop and search, to make sure its use is appropriate and proportionate, with effective supervision and oversight. The force has developed innovative ways to make sure that its use of stop search powers is fair and respectful.
The force is good at responding to the public
We also found that the force is generally good at how it responds to calls for service from the public. It has effective processes for dealing with the vulnerability of victims, from the first contact. Notably this works well in how the force responds to domestic abuse incidents. It is also effective at building evidence-led prosecutions when victims feel unable to support a prosecution.
The force needs to get better at how it prevents crime and antisocial behaviour
We found that the force struggles to make effective use of its neighbourhood teams. These teams receive little direction or training, and the wider force is often unaware of its role and what it can achieve. Neighbourhood policing in the City of London Police is generally underinvested, with too few staff, and the staff it has are regularly posted to other police duties, away from neighbourhood policing duties (abstraction).
The force must improve its strategic planning, organisational management and how it makes best use of its resources
The force doesn’t have systems in place to effectively understand all its current demand, in some cases because of a lack of accurate data and analytical support. It now uses an analytical tool, called Power BI, which is welcome. But alone this will not address the issues. The force’s incomplete understanding of its demand means its plans for future development are unlikely to be as accurate as they could be.
Across several areas of policing services, we found a distinct lack of analysts. This is limiting the force’s ability to understand demand, respond effectively to threats and drive performance more generally. The force must review how many analysts it needs and make sure the numbers reflect the need.
I would also encourage the force to effectively link its understanding of demand to a workforce plan. This will make sure it has the officers and staff able to respond to the workload the force faces. We also found substantial numbers of vacancies in the corporate services function (such as HR and data analysts), which is reducing the overall effectiveness of the force.
I also have some concerns about the quality of the force management statement. This needs to improve so it more accurately reflects the total demand placed on the force, and more comprehensively assesses its workforce and other assets. The force will then be in a stronger position to make informed decisions about how it will change to meet expected future demand.
The force can do more to improve how it manages high-risk offenders and suspects
The force has shown itself to be effective in managing offenders involved in low-risk offences, such as volume crime (any crime that through its sheer volume has a significant impact on the community and the ability of local police to tackle it). But it needs to improve how it manages high-risk offenders, such as registered sex offenders (although numbers are low in the City of London).
HM Inspector of Constabulary
Reducing crime assessment
We have identified seven themes underpinning a force’s ability to reduce crime effectively which, taken together, allow an assessment of the extent to which the force is doing all it can to reduce crime. This is a narrative assessment, as
police-recorded crime figures can be affected by variations and changes in recording policy and practice, making it difficult to make comparisons over time.
The City of London Police has a focus on crime prevention. We found good examples of problem-solving and officers working with strategic partners and local charities to prevent crime, and safeguard vulnerable people, especially around the night-time economy. Other factors contributing to the force’s ability to reduce crime are:
- Control room staff manage calls made to the control room well. Call handlers accurately use THRIVE to identify vulnerability and record crime.
- Response officers can access real-time advice when attending an incident. Experts often attend crime scenes to support the initial crime investigation.
- Officers and staff work with strategic partners and local charities to prevent crime and reduce the likelihood of those most vulnerable coming to harm.
- Crimes are allocated to, and investigated by, the most appropriate resource.
- Most investigations are timely, proportionate, and effective.
- Investigators actively pursue evidence-led domestic abuse prosecutions in cases where victims are at their most vulnerable.
- The force records crimes well and is among the best in England and Wales at obtaining the best outcomes for victims.
I am pleased that the force is addressing some of the right areas of policing to reduce crime.
But the following areas may negatively affect the force’s ability to reduce crime:
- The force doesn’t have enough people and other resources to meet all the workload it faces.
- There isn’t enough analytical support to allow the force to focus on problem-solving activities properly.
- The force isn’t making sure there is consistent supervision of volume crime investigations.
- The force doesn’t have a good understanding of why victims aren’t supporting investigations.
- Some officers aren’t completing an assessment of what support victims need, at the outset of an investigation. This could be affecting how victims feel about supporting a prosecution.
Until the force improves its workforce numbers and its skills to meet demand, improve problem-solving activities and increase the standard of all crime investigations, it will not be able to effectively reduce crime.
Providing a service to the victims of crime
Victim service assessment
This section describes our assessment of the service victims receive from the City of London Police, from the point of reporting a crime through to the outcome. In completing this assessment, we reviewed 90 criminal investigations.
When the police close a case of a reported crime, it will be assigned what is referred to as an ‘outcome type’. This describes the reason for closing it.
We also reviewed 62 cases which had one of the following outcome codes assigned to it:
- A suspect was identified, and the victim supported police action, but evidential difficulties prevented further action (outcome 15).
- A suspect was identified, but there were evidential difficulties, and the victim didn’t support, or withdrew their support for police action (outcome 16).
- A community resolution was applied.
While this assessment is ungraded, it influences graded judgments in the other areas we have inspected.
The City of London Police doesn’t manage emergency call handling itself, but when it receives the information the force deals with calls well
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) carries out the initial call handling for incidents reported by telephone, including 999 calls. The information is then passed to call handlers in the City of London Police. From this point we found that generally the correct information was recorded, the service provided was professional, and the information was assessed, via THRIVE, to manage and mitigate vulnerability in most cases.
The City of London Police uses an old IT system called CAD for recording and managing incidents reported to them by the public. Because it is out of date, it isn’t easy to research the information held on it. This makes it difficult for call handlers and others to easily identify repeat callers or victims, or those who may be vulnerable. We did find that the force has found a way to improve how it flagged records relating to those who may be vulnerable, to try and overcome the problems caused by the IT. The force accepts the CAD system is old and plans to upgrade it, although the timing for this isn’t yet known.
In most cases the force responds promptly to calls for service
The force has published response times for how quickly it should attend to different types of calls for service, based on prioritisation. During our inspection we found that on most occasions, the force responded to calls appropriately, within set timescales and with suitable resources.
The force makes sure that investigations are allocated to staff with suitable levels of experience
The force has a policy to make sure crimes are allocated to appropriately-trained officers or staff. Its policy also establishes when a crime isn’t to be investigated further. This is in line with national expectations.
Generally, we found the City of London Police allocated recorded crimes for investigation according to its policy. In nearly all cases, the crime was allocated to the most appropriate department for further investigation.
The force doesn’t always carry out effective investigations, but most are timely
In most cases, the City of London Police carried out investigations in a timely way, but relevant and proportionate lines of inquiry weren’t always completed. Not all investigations were well supervised, but victims were updated throughout. In most cases, victim personal statements were taken, which gives victims the opportunity to describe how that crime has affected their lives.
When victims withdrew support for an investigation, the force considered progressing the case without the victim’s support, particularly for domestic abuse crimes. This can be an important method of safeguarding the victim and preventing further offences from being committed.
The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime requires forces to carry out an assessment of the needs of victims at an early stage. This assessment helps to determine whether the victim needs additional support. The force didn’t always carry out this assessment and record the request for additional support.
The force can improve how it records victims’ wishes prior to closing an investigation
The force should keep a record of the victim’s views when a suspect has been identified but the victim either doesn’t support police action, or withdraws their support for it. During our inspection we found that the force is failing to record why victims are withdrawing their support for investigations. This means it can’t satisfy itself fully that the victim’s wishes are being considered before investigations are closed.
When a suspect has been identified and the victim supported police action, but evidential difficulties prevent further action, the victim should be informed of the decision to close the investigation. Victims weren’t always informed of the decision to take no further action and to close the investigation. However, the force used this outcome appropriately on most occasions.
In some cases, offenders can be issued with a community resolution. A community resolution should be appropriate for the offender and the nature of the offence, and the views of the victim should be considered and recorded. In most of the cases we reviewed, the offender and the circumstances of the case meant that it was suitable to use this outcome. We also found that the victim’s views were considered.
Engaging with and treating the public with fairness and respect
The City of London Police is good at treating people fairly and with respect.
The force has specially trained officers who understand how to use stop and search powers fairly and respectfully
The force has developed a team of specially trained officers who use an evidence-based process to carry out effective stop searches. This team is used to detect and disrupt hostile reconnaissance (when criminals assess an area in preparation to commit a crime), called Project Servator.
These officers have been specifically trained to observe situations and then use advanced communication skills to identify who they should search and for what reason. The grounds, or justification, for the searches they conduct are nearly always reasonable. And they have a very high rate of finding items on those they search, compared to other officers.
The force has taken this tactic, which was originally developed to counter-terrorism, and are now using it effectively in everyday policing operations and deployments. We are aware that 24 other forces in England and Wales have followed this practice.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to treating people fairly and with respect.
The force should extend its unconscious bias training to its whole workforce
In 2019 we gave the force an area for improvement, which was to provide unconscious bias training to its entire workforce.
The force told us that 28 percent of its officers and staff are yet to be trained in unconscious bias, via the National Centre for Applied Learning Technologies package. This is disappointing given the opportunities provided by the pandemic to work remotely. We will continue to monitor the force’s progress in completing this area for improvement.
The force is good at engaging with communities to understand what is important to them
The force involves its communities in several ways. Because it is a relatively small force, covering a small area, it can tailor how it works with communities, for example with businesses and young people, more effectively. It has a good relationship with its independent advisory scrutiny group (IASG), and a cluster of local community groups. This helps the force to understand community concerns. It also uses social media well. For example, the force broadcasts the professional standards and integrity committee via YouTube to reach a wider audience.
Local policing teams have struggled to visit schools as often as they want to. This is because of vacancies in the team. But from January 2023 there will be a dedicated schools officer in all local schools. This officer will be responsible for helping co-ordinate a personal, social, health and economic education programme for schools.
The force works with strategic partners and charities to provide early intervention activities for vulnerable groups. This is to prevent them becoming involved in, or becoming victims of crime. During our inspection we found that this work helps the force better understand community concerns.
While community engagement is positive, it could be improved with a comprehensive engagement strategy
The force doesn’t have an engagement strategy. While the way it involves its resident, business and transient communities is positive, such a strategy may help to enhance its understanding of what is important to the people it polices. It would also provide officers and staff with a framework to help make sure the way they work with these groups is as effective as possible.
The force is improving its fair use of stop and search powers
The City of London Police provides stop and search training to student officers and informs officers about changes in legislation or practice. Most of the officers we spoke to told us they feel well trained. Most felt, however, that refresher training would help them maintain current standards.
During our inspection, we reviewed a sample of 104 stop and search records from 1 January to 31 December 2021. Based on this sample, we estimate that 83.7 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 7.0 percent) of all stop and searches by the force during this period had reasonable grounds recorded. This is a statistically significant deterioration compared with the findings from our previous review of records from 2019, where we found 93.7 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.9 percent) of stop and searches had reasonable grounds recorded. Of the records we reviewed for stop and searches on people from ethnic minorities, 25 of 29 had reasonable grounds recorded.
More can be done to make sure all reasonable grounds are detailed enough to understand how appropriately these powers are used. We also looked at some body-worn video (BWV) recordings of stop and search encounters. These show that most searches are of a good standard.
The supervision, oversight, and governance of stop search powers is comprehensive and includes external scrutiny
Every stop and search form completed by officers is reviewed by sergeants in conjunction with the BWV footage. This means that sergeants can offer remedial advice and guidance to their teams at the point of submission. The force has introduced five further reviews and tests to create a comprehensive oversight of how stop and search powers are used. These include:
- dip samples by the second line manager;
- thematic reviews by the strategic lead;
- an independent randomised review of forms and BWV by the IASG;
- a review of stop and search data; and
- a review of complaints data and trends.
The scrutiny in place is critical to support fair and appropriate use of stop and search powers. Each layer of review will provide educational actions and help officers to improve the use of these powers.
Currently a lack of analytical support is undermining the processes for stop search and use of force
While the force’s governance and oversight look impressive, it is being undermined by a lack of analytical support to each area. We saw that actions raised by the IASG to understand why there had been a rise in disproportionality weren’t addressed for five months. This delay was because of a lack of data to help the force assess the reasons for this rise. We found that governance meetings weren’t being provided with current data or trends. This made decision-making and scrutiny more difficult. The force needs to address this urgently to ensure the governance it has put in place is supported by the correct information.
Use-of-force reviews and governance are improving, but they aren’t as mature as those for stop and search
The force is trying to develop the same process of review and scrutiny for use-of-force submissions that they have in place for stop and search. The plan is for supervisors to review all cases while watching BWV footage. These reviews are proving difficult and time consuming because of the technology used for completing the forms. We found 300 use-of-force events over 2 months that were awaiting supervisor review. The force is aware of this. The reduction of this backlog and the overall management of this process is a priority action within the force performance meeting.
The other areas of review mirror stop and search scrutiny. These processes have only recently been introduced by the force. If the technology problem for initial review by supervisors can be solved, the governance and review process will be the same robust process as we found for stop and search.
The independent scrutiny of stop and searches and use of force is improving
The force has improved its external scrutiny of stop and search and use of force. There are regular meetings which are independently chaired, with community representatives involved. At each meeting, several stop and search encounters are reviewed by watching redacted BWV footage and examining stop and search records. The force has recently adopted a methodology to include stop and searches that have a use-of-force element, so both can be reviewed independently. Members are surveyed and this information is used to give feedback to the officers and their supervisors about stop and search. It is in its early stages, but the force hopes this approach will provide a better understanding of how these powers are used and the effect they have on the community.
Preventing crime and anti-social behaviour
The City of London Police requires improvement at prevention and deterrence.
Areas for improvement
The force should develop a strategy for providing neighbourhood policing with a governance framework that will improve performance
There is little understanding of the work of the neighbourhood team and no governance to assess performance. Senior leaders state they prioritise the reduction of neighbourhood crime. But during our inspection we found little evidence of this. Neighbourhood teams don’t receive a briefing, there is little direction to ensure they undertake appropriate activity and we found evidence of silo working.
The sector team is made up of neighbourhood officers, the Partnership and Prevention Hub, and a proactive team. But there was little evidence of any of these working effectively with each other, or with other teams such as investigations or response.
Areas for improvement
The force should routinely review problem-solving plans and make sure good practice is shared with staff as part of a lessons learned approach
The force has a problem-solving team called the Partnership and Prevention Hub. This team consists of an officer responsible for police cadets, and two officers who carry out problem solving. We found that the way these officers are allocated work lacks any formal structure, and they often self-generate work without any prioritisation being considered. Closer supervision of the work this team undertakes will make sure their efforts are focused in line with organisational priorities.
We also believe that this hub should have access to an analyst. This, combined with better supervision will help identify emerging trends, develop problem profiles and improve evaluation of the work undertaken. Officers use the scanning, analysis, response elements of the SARA problem-solving model. But we found little evidence of an assessment of outcomes from any operational work. Problem-solving documentation is stored on individual drives and isn’t accessible as learning to others. The force should make sure that it assesses all operational activity to improve its problem-solving approach to preventing crime and antisocial behaviour.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to ensure that neighbourhood policing officers have access to training relevant to their role
There is nobody in the Partnership and Prevention Hub or the wider neighbourhood policing team trained in problem-solving or the use of Power BI (an analytical tool), beyond a force communication explaining its basic use. Dedicated ward officers and police community support officers haven’t received any tailored training in line with the College of Policing Neighbourhood Guidelines which would assist their role. This means they are not fully effective in carrying out their work.
Plans have been developed to increase staff and training to allow a fully functioning team. We have been told this should be achieved by summer 2023.
The force is collaborating with Amazon to improve how it will engage with young people
The online retailer Amazon is working with a group of young students to improve their digital skills. The City of London Police has secured an agreement with Amazon, which allows them to use the interactions with this age group to improve the force’s understanding of how young people view the police.
The force will use the information from this work to develop better ways to involve its young communities and increase confidence and trust. Other forces have already contacted the City of London Police to find out more about this initiative with a view to adopting similar projects.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to prevention and deterrence.
The neighbourhood team lack direction and feel that the role is undervalued
The neighbourhood team currently consists of 9 police officers and police community support officers with responsibility for the 12 areas across the force. We found that the number of officers in the neighbourhood team isn’t enough to cope with the workload they face. These officers are also expected to undertake other duties when required (abstractions), such as policing demonstrations and other major events. This takes them away from their neighbourhood policing role. The lack of officers and routine abstractions, along with frequent absence of supervision has led to some officers feeling demotivated and undervalued. We also found that the force doesn’t routinely monitor and comply with its own abstraction policy. And some managers expressed a concern that they didn’t have control over the level of abstractions.
We were told that the force has a plan to significantly increase the number of officers in this team.
The force needs to understand the demand faced by the neighbourhood team
The force currently has little understanding of the demand faced by the neighbourhood teams. This is reflected in the lack of supervision or monitoring of their activity. There is a performance framework but there has been no governance or accountability for neighbourhood performance through any structured meeting. We believe that clear leadership in this area will provide much needed direction for the team. Some understanding of the demand on the team should follow from this.
The force works well with partner organisations to tackle crime and vulnerability
The force works with the Safer City Partnership which is responsible for implementing the Safer City Strategy. The partnership has a good understanding of community issues, which are raised at a local level via ward panel meetings. The force could further enhance engagement with a detailed strategy to guide neighbourhood teams.
The night-time economy in the force area has grown rapidly in line with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. The force has dedicated an analyst within the licensing team to work alongside partner organisations to develop preventative activity such as reducing alcohol-related violence and vulnerability. Using crime data and applying the Cambridge Crime Harm Index, the force was able to identify hot spot locations for violence linked to the night-time economy. This allowed patrols to concentrate their activity. The force told us that a trial of this approach between 21 July and 24 September 2022 resulted in a reduction in the overall harm caused by crime during this period. In addition, Operation Reframe is a partnership initiative which aims to make public areas a safer place for women by providing support and interventions. This activity would benefit from evaluation to establish if it has led to a reduction or displacement of crime.
The force uses academic support from University College London to help with its problem-solving initiatives. In addition to this, the force is using evidence-based policing, such as successful multi-agency Operation Luscombe, which was used to tackle street begging in the City of London.
The force is undertaking some good work to engage with young people
The force is invested in providing a Police Cadet programme. It has over 30 cadets who undertake a bespoke development plan and take part in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. Other youth engagement initiatives include working with Amazon, who helped a group of young students increase their digital skills. The force became involved to develop the relationship between police and young people and increase trust and confidence.
We also found that the City of London Police has limited engagement with schools in its force area. This is in part because the force has limited neighbourhood resources and no schools liaison officer. We also heard that some schools are reluctant to engage with the police in prevention and intervention work. To try and address this, the force has committed to creating a schools liaison officer in January 2023.
The force prioritises the prevention of fraud nationally
The force is the national lead for fraud and cybercrime. It co-ordinates and prioritises prevention activity in relation to economic and cybercrime throughout the UK. The National Economic Crime Victim Care Unit provides victims with crime prevention advice in line with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime, with enhanced services for vulnerable victims.
Responding to the public
The City of London Police is good at responding to the public.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force responds to the public.
The force provides a good response to incidents. It uses specialist resources to help first responders to support and safeguard victims
The City of London Police attended 38 of 39 incidents we reviewed within set timescales. We often listened to a call and could hear the patrol arriving while the initial information was still being obtained. This is excellent for victims and helped by the geographic nature of the force. We found that first responders were often supported at complex scenes by specialists, such as detectives and digital forensic experts. The use of experts at this initial stage helps to provide better decision-making at crime scenes and maximises evidence-gathering opportunities. It also helps first responders to learn about the best opportunities for evidence gathering and so improve their skills and knowledge. This could be one reason why the City of London Police has a consistently high proportion of crimes resulting in positive outcomes, such as charges, or out-of-court disposals.
The force offers the public a range of channels to report incidents
The City of London Police provides its community with several ways to report incidents or contact them. And the force is effective at managing calls for service from the public. We found that online reporting had increased, and the force has resources that provide a timely assessment of the information and any vulnerability of victims. This process is well supervised in the force control room. We also found that other avenues including 101, direct business lines and the use of social media mean that businesses, residents, and visitors to the City of London can easily contact the force.
The force does not answer 999 calls. This is managed for them by the MPS, as BT can’t differentiate where the demand originates from in London. The force has recently approved a new service level agreement with the MPS which will allow it to attend governance meetings to test and challenge performance in call handling. However, once the call is transferred to the force, call handlers and supervisors in the force control centre use THRIVE to assess vulnerability. We found that the force allocated the correct resource to attend and deal with the incident in all 75 cases we reviewed.
The force understands risk and vulnerability in calls from the public
We found that the force consistently used THRIVE from initial contact with a caller, to identify and assess vulnerability, and consider safeguarding needs. This is applied in all forms of contact and was well supervised within the force control room. Risk assessments are consistently used and recorded in the incident. Examples show that any delays in attendance or changes in response are decided according to risk and vulnerability. This is positive and gives us confidence that call handlers are providing the right response to incidents. We also found examples of dispatchers using specialist resources to help manage the response, and any vulnerability found in the calls they receive. In our last inspection we found that because the force IT is outdated, that it wasn’t flagging vulnerability well. We are pleased to find that this has improved, with more incidents involving vulnerability being flagged on the IT system. In the year ending 31 March 2022, the force flagged 8.9 percent of all incidents as involving vulnerability, compared to 0.4 percent in the previous year. The delay in installation of the new CAD system, shared with the MPS, continues to make the force less able to identify and mitigate vulnerability, so it is good to see that alternative measures have been put in place.
The force could improve how it uses information and intelligence to respond more effectively
The force needs to improve how its intelligence function supports the initial response to services within the City of London. We found that the force was reviewing its intelligence function (i24), because it wasn’t working in the way it had been intended. We also found that the force didn’t have enough analysts working in intelligence to meet the demand. When i24 was implemented, the plan was to have an intelligence officer working with the call handlers to provide them with better information about victims, offenders, and locations. This was to allow call handlers to provide more detailed information to first responders being sent to incidents. This function is not being provided – staff in the force control room assist where they can. But services and management of vulnerability would improve greatly if this gap was closed, and more detailed information and intelligence made available to officers attending incidents.
The lack of relevant information is hampering leaders in briefing response teams and setting patrol locations more effectively. This is currently being done well using professional judgement via the daily morning meeting structure. It would be enhanced with an analytical view of demand and resources, to hotspot and direct resources more effectively.
The force is inconsistent in how it manages golden hour actions and handover of information to investigators
We found that, after prompt attendance, the application of golden hour principles and handovers of information to investigators was inconsistent. In 12 of the 79 cases we reviewed, there wasn’t evidence that all appropriate investigative opportunities were taken. Staff stated this was mainly down to the experience of the attending response officers. It was clear that the standard of investigation depended on who attended, as there was no clear handover expectation or process. We found that some of the temporary and newly promoted sergeants who were supervising uniform officers, were inexperienced and lacked the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively supervise their investigations. This is compounding the problems.
In 15 of 76 cases we reviewed, there wasn’t evidence of effective supervision, providing direction and advice to the investigator via the crime investigation plan. The lack of experience in the response teams has coincided with increased recruitment of officers from the Police Uplift Programme (PUP). The force is struggling to find sufficient tutors to manage the initial education of new staff. We encourage the force to address this area by introducing training on golden hour principles that sets clear standards for attending officers, is well supervised and that ensures all actions are recorded. The force will then have some assurance that all evidential opportunities are maximised.
The force works in partnership with mental health services effectively, to support the vulnerable and protect them from further harm
In partnership with the local health trust, the force offers a mental health triage service which sees mental health practitioners attending calls with officers. This service operates across the force, mainly during peak periods. Having practitioners working with officers helps them to deal better with members of the public who have mental health issues. These practitioners can access health records, provide professional advice and support police action. We saw a positive example of how this expert advice and support has reduced the demands on the force, by safeguarding key prominent London bridges that were being used for suicide attempts. This means that people with mental health problems get an appropriate service when they call.
Officer and staff well-being in the force control room and on response teams is understood and prioritised
During our inspection we visited the force control room and spoke to control room staff and response teams. The control room staff told us that their workload and working hours are manageable. The environment that has been developed and supportive supervision offer the staff a balance between meeting demands and managing well-being.
Officers on response teams said they had noticed a clear change in focus from the force, since the appointment of the commissioner and her new strategic leadership team. The main priority was now people and victims. Most of the staff we spoke to felt that their well-being was seen as important and reported that their line managers genuinely cared and supported them in any way they needed. The force has also created a well-being room that staff can use when needed.
Officers and staff are aware of the trauma risk management process. Generally, we found that the sergeant rank was under new pressures and felt that they were struggling with their well-being and work/life balance. Officers of differing ranks told us that the sergeant rank is under capacity and being propped up by temporary promotions. With the PUP bringing an increase of staff, it has also increased supervision demands across all areas of policing. This means expectations on response sergeants has increased, and these demands would appear likely to remain high for the foreseeable future. This is an area the force is actively looking into and it was reviewing current ratios to make sure there are enough sergeants to supervise constables.
But, overall, we saw a positive picture of how workforce well-being is managed in the control room and response teams. Supporting officers and staff well helps them to stay in work and provide essential first contact service to the public.
The City of London Police is adequate at investigating crime.
The force routinely identifies opportunities to pursue evidence-led prosecutions for domestic abuse-related crimes
The City of London Police is achieving positive results for victims of domestic abuse. From arriving at a domestic abuse-related incident, and throughout the investigation, the mindset of officers is to gather all available evidence. By promoting this approach among its workforce, we found that the force was able to build evidence-led prosecutions on behalf of victims in eight of nine appropriate cases we reviewed. Where this route wasn’t appropriate, we found supervisors giving a clear rationale as to why not to complete an evidence-led prosecution. Our team of auditors described this approach as being the best they had found in England and Wales.
Figure 1: Number of domestic abuse-related offences for the City of London Police with an outcome of charged/summonsed in the year ending 31 March 2022
In the year ending 31 March 2022, the City of London Police assigned 12.9 percent of domestic abuse-related offences with an outcome of charged/summonsed. This was statistically significantly higher than the average of 8.1 across forces in England and Wales.
Areas for improvement
The force should record a victim’s decision to withdraw support for an investigation to improve services to victims of crime
The force isn’t correctly documenting the decisions of victims to withdraw from an investigation. We found that the information required was only recorded in 4 of 22 cases we reviewed. It is important to record victims’ wishes as to why they no longer wish to support the criminal justice process. This will allow the force to understand what is preventing victims from being able to complete the investigation process. This knowledge will help the force, and organisations it works with, to offer better support for victims in the future.
Areas for improvement
The force should improve the supervision of crime investigations
In 15 of 76 crime investigations we reviewed there wasn’t evidence of effective supervision of crime investigations. Cases with gaps in supervision had a common link – not all appropriate inquiries were undertaken. We found this was more likely for burglary and other neighbourhood crime investigations. Their governance also sat separately to those completed by complex investigation teams. We found some cases of victim-based crimes where witnesses weren’t traced, and suspects weren’t dealt with. It is important that supervisors give direction to the crime investigations in their teams. This will make sure that justice is pursued appropriately in these cases. We expect the improved supervision to include completing investigation plans and reviewing the case’s progress, its timeliness and the support being provided to victims. This supervision should be properly recorded.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force investigates crime.
The force has robust governance and policies in place to ensure complex investigations are of a high standard
The force senior leadership team seeks to continuously improve the quality of investigations. There are thematic objectives to drive investigation quality and to get appropriate outcomes for victims of crime. The governance in complex crime investigation teams includes a daily crime meeting and a fortnightly tasking group. Strategically there are crime standards, and crime scrutiny groups that test the quality of investigations on behalf of victims. These generate clear educational actions for individuals and teams to improve services. These governance groups feed the overall force performance meeting. This provides clear, directional, and visible leadership in this area.
The management and governance of volume crime offences could be improved
Most failings in the investigative process were in burglary and other neighbourhood crime investigations. These crime types are predominantly investigated by the volume crime unit and force resolution centre staff. These staff don’t have the same standard of accredited training, known as professionalising investigations programme training, as other investigators.
We also found that their supervisors lacked the training and experience to provide real support and guidance. To compound this, investigations weren’t subject to the same intrusive processes as more complex investigations. This has led to inconsistent standards. We encourage the force to ensure the same standards and scrutiny are maintained across all investigations.
Most investigations are allocated to people with the right skills and are effective
We found that 78 of 80 investigations we reviewed were allocated to teams with the right skills to investigate them and 66 of 80 were effective, with positive outcomes for victims. Review processes are undertaken by detective inspectors and above to help to maintain standards, and help staff learn what is needed to close investigative gaps.
The force recognises the importance of forensic evidence and is investing to meet future demand
The force has invested in improving forensic services to support investigations. The high-tech crime unit assists investigators by attending scenes with specialist equipment to obtain evidence. It works with the investigator to prioritise digital forensic submissions. This makes the whole process more efficient and effective. As a result the force has no queues in digital forensic submissions. It also plans to provide digital storage in the Cloud. This will allow easier access to data for investigators and prosecutors. This means the force is preparing itself to meet future demands in this area well.
The force provides a quality of service to victims of crime but could improve the recording of victims’ needs assessments
As part of our victim service assessment, we assessed if the force had provided a good service to victims in line with the requirements of the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime. We found that in 69 of 72 relevant cases we reviewed a victim contract was agreed and adhered to by the investigator. The force maintained good communication with the victim, providing them with regular and key updates in 61 of 65 cases. We also found (indicated as innovative practice) that the force regularly seeks evidence-led prosecutions in domestic abuse-related cases. And the force arrested a suspect at the earliest opportunity in 30 of 32 relevant cases. All this good practice helps in safeguarding and supporting victims throughout the investigation.
The force should address how it is carrying out and recording initial victims’ needs assessments. We found that in 31 of 52 cases we reviewed these hadn’t been properly recorded. So, while the service to the victim overall is of a good quality, the recording of the initial needs assessment and the revisiting of this assessment throughout the investigation needs to improve. This will show how and where victims need support, and it will make it easier to test in governance processes.
Well-being is seen as a priority. However, this isn’t being realised in investigation departments due to a lack of capacity
Well-being is a core consideration in the force. Most of the workforce told us that their immediate supervisors take welfare seriously and review their workload commitments. However, most staff also told us that supervisors often couldn’t actually do anything to help them, mainly due to the workload demands and shortages of staff.
The criminal investigation department and public protection unit carry out the most complex investigations in the force. Even under this additional pressure, 32 of 40 investigations we reviewed handled by these units were effective. Vacancies in expected staff numbers were found in most ranks and specialisms within the criminal investigation department and public protection unit. These vacancies need addressing as a matter of urgency. Otherwise, there will be a negative effect on the good performance and well-being of staff. We have seen a plan to fill the gaps, and this is discussed further in the strategic planning chapter.
Protecting vulnerable people
The City of London Police is adequate at protecting vulnerable people.
Areas for improvement
The force’s vulnerability governance should include performance data and analysis to make sure its aims are evidence based, its success measures are clear, and the force can track tangible progress
We saw evidence of governance structures in place for vulnerability with individual vulnerability strands allocated to leaders in the force. The force is also working towards alignment of these strands with the National Vulnerability Action Plan. However, performance trackers and action plans we reviewed showed a lack of data to evidence the need for the improvement actions it had set. There were no baseline measures to show the starting point for improvement, and no key performance indicators to help it to understand its progress and success.
While oversight meetings exist, it wasn’t possible to see, from the plans we reviewed, what action was outstanding, timescales for completion or updates on progress. Where issues identified for improvement were listed as complete there was often no explanation as to why. Without an evidence-based understanding of why improvement is needed, and how success will be measured, the force can’t assure itself that its management of vulnerability will improve. This may result in unnecessary work for the force and missed opportunities to provide a better service to the public.
Areas for improvement
The force should make sure that its public protection unit has the resources it needs to properly safeguard vulnerable people
The remit of the City of London Police’s public protection unit is wide and includes investigation and safeguarding of all domestic abuse investigations, and all sexual assault investigations. It is also responsible for the management of registered sex offenders, all safeguarding inquiries and any offence relating to vulnerability such as child sexual exploitation or modern slavery.
Staff we spoke to were dedicated and passionate about their role. But we were told that they didn’t have enough people to cope with the volume of work, and that this situation had existed for a long time. There was also a lack of resilience in specialist skills required to meet the full remit of the department. An example of this is a limited number of staff trained to interview vulnerable victims and witnesses so their evidence can be presented via video in court. While the force has made progress in filling some vacancies, staff will not be fully trained to complete their roles competently and confidently for many months. As a result there is a risk that, should more highly trained members of the team leave, there wouldn’t be enough fully-trained staff to manage their workload. A further risk is that the lack of staff may affect the force’s ability to identify hidden harm and ensure all appropriate safeguarding measures are considered and in place. The plan to meet demands must include making sure all staff are fully trained to perform their role and that their workloads are manageable.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force protects vulnerable people.
The force has improved how it identifies vulnerability
Since our last inspection, the force has improved its systems and processes to identify and manage vulnerability. All incidents are subject to THRIVE assessment from initial contact until resolution, including key points in investigations. Our victim service assessment found that the force had embraced online reporting and there was a thorough and timely assessment of each case, using THRIVE, by control room staff.
The force can improve how all staff manage vulnerability
There are clear policies outlining who has responsibility for safeguarding vulnerable people and victims. But we found an old-fashioned culture where most frontline staff referred to the management of vulnerability as the PPU’s problem. We gathered evidence to suggest that when PPU staff weren’t available, response and neighbourhood staff felt they weren’t supported in their decision-making. We found this disappointing as this view doesn’t match policies, which make clear the identification and management of vulnerability are everyone’s responsibility. This is further underlined by the PPU staff’s excellent management of evidence-led prosecutions for domestic abuse victims, highlighted in the investigations section of this report. Yet we found the same opportunities weren’t being explored in investigations undertaken by other departments. The force should address the training and education of all staff to ensure that the culture of it being everyone’s responsibility to manage vulnerability translates into practice.
The force doesn’t always consider other powers to support vulnerable victims or manage persistent offenders
The force doesn’t use some of its of protective powers, such as domestic abuse protection notices and domestic abuse protection orders as well as it could. The force makes limited use of these partly because of the relatively low number of domestic abuse offences. But in the six cases we reviewed, only one showed a detailed reason as to why they shouldn’t use ancillary orders. With the remaining five cases there was no record to show this was even considered.
There is a lack of awareness among staff about their ability to proactively disclose previous and relevant violent offending history to potential vulnerable victims. The force made no disclosures under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (‘Right to know’) between 1 October 2017 and 31 March 2022. This means opportunities to safeguarding victims and prevent further offences could be missed. In developing the response to managing vulnerability, staff and supervisors need educating in the use, recording and management of powers. This also needs to be incorporated into force governance processes.
The force works effectively and proactively with partners to reduce vulnerability
When looking at the local multi-agency safeguarding hub and multi-agency risk assessment conference processes, and partner working more generally, we found that most referrals were dealt with appropriately and well. We found a positive example of good partnership working following the arrival of 800 Afghan refugees in a location in the City of London. Due to already strong working relationships, officers and multi-agency safeguarding hub partners were able to provide education, support, and guidance to all very effectively. Positive feedback around working practices and how referrals are managed was provided by partners. The relationship in child and adult services with the City of London Police officers is excellent, providing good and structured support when required, which achieves a fast and proactive approach to safeguarding if needed.
The force has developed good preventative activity to support vulnerable groups and reduce violence against women and girls in the night-time economy
Since the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, the City of London Police has seen a rise in offences linked to the night-time economy, including sexual offences and violence against women and girls (VAWG). The force has appointed a VAWG lead who co-ordinates the force response via an action plan that aligns with the four national VAWG pillars. They have also developed good preventative activity to support these vulnerable groups and prevent offending. This includes integrating the national initiative Ask for Angela which is designed to help people who feel unsafe or threatened in a venue to ask for help. The force also has its own local operation called Reframe, where the force deploys with strategic partners and charities to hotspot locations within the night-time economy to support and educate potential victims. They have also introduced hotspot pulse operations designed to reduce high-harm violence. They developed this idea from the Cambridge Crime Harm Index. This showed a clear reduction in harm during the operation.
The force can do more to understand how it supports vulnerable groups and manages hidden vulnerability
While the force’s preventative activity is commendable, we found that a lack of detailed analysis meant that outcomes and the effectiveness of these initiatives was difficult to judge. As a result, the force isn’t clear if the policing activity, including that with partner organisations, is managing to prevent, reduce or simply displace crime. Greater investment in analysis would also help to identify where to plan further operations and crime prevention activity.
The force is developing its use of Microsoft Power BI software to help officers and leaders to better understand crime patterns and vulnerability. And while this approach has merit, it is no replacement for detailed analysis with associated recommendations to tackle identified problems. We encourage the force to develop its overall analytical capability to improve its focus on tackling hidden vulnerability.
Managing offenders and suspects
The City of London Police requires improvement at managing offenders and suspects.
Areas for improvement
The force should ensure that it has an effective system for monitoring how registered sex offenders are managed
We found that overall, there was poor management of risk to the public from the most dangerous offenders such as registered sex offenders. Staff aren’t confident in the use of the active risk management system, and risk management plans weren’t always fully complete or up to date. There was a lack of confidence in the use of ViSOR (Violent and Sex Offender Register). We undertook an audit of this system and all the records we assessed were inadequate.
The force should ensure that risk management plans are structured and that risk areas are identified, and actions set to mitigate this risk. There needs to be clear supervisory oversight and bespoke case direction and the ViSOR system should be used to record all information related to the registered sex offender accurately.
The monitoring of registered sex offenders should include completion of comprehensive risk management plans, regular visits to registered sex offenders, and timely updates on the active risk management system.
Areas for improvement
Proactive action taken against those suspected of being involved in offences relating to child abuse images should be timely
We found that despite securing warrants in relation to child abuse images, the force didn’t comply with strict time frames to ensure prompt execution of the warrants. The force should make sure that backlogs in the systems are better understood, as the force doesn’t know how big backlogs are, or what risk they pose to the public and the force. The force needs to ensure regular intelligence checks are completed for those cases awaiting an arrest or execution of a warrant. This will reassure the force that the risk hasn’t increased and therefore action isn’t needed sooner.
Areas for improvement
The force should make sure that it has appropriately-trained staff to undertake the grading and management of child abuse images
We found that officers who grade child abuse images aren’t accredited, which could result in challenges if a case gets to court. The force doesn’t have a victim identification officer and therefore no access to the Child Abuse Image Database. This national database contributes to identifying and safeguarding victims, and also makes image grading more effective. The force should ensure it has a victim identification officer who has access to the Child Abuse Image Database and is using this system when investigating these offences.
The above areas for improvement relate to the City of London Police’s management of the most dangerous offenders. These are thankfully a small minority in the force area. In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force manages all other offenders and suspects. And in general, we found this to be effective.
The force has sound processes and governance to ensure suspects are apprehended promptly
The force has a policy for managing wanted persons. High-risk suspects are discussed at daily management meetings, with patrols directed to trace and arrest them. Lower-risk suspects are managed by the investigating officer. In those cases, once initial inquiries are complete, the suspect is circulated as wanted on the police national computer; however, the investigating officer remains responsible for apprehending the suspect. The offender management meeting occurs monthly. At this meeting all outstanding suspects are monitored, and supervisors hold officers to account for inquires to trace them. The force has enough officers and staff to ensure that suspects are arrested promptly. During our victim service assessment we found that the force made an arrest at the earliest opportunity in 30 out of 32 cases.
Released under investigation and bail are used appropriately
The force has a standard operating procedure for bail and released under investigation (RUI), with an inspector’s authority required for bail. We examined a sample of custody records, which indicated that decisions about granting bail and RUI were appropriate. Safeguarding of the victim is considered and rationale for decisions documented for those released on bail. There was less rationale recorded for decisions to RUI. This is particularly relevant to the volume crime unit which uses RUI in most of its cases. The force should satisfy itself that all decisions, especially when using RUI, are appropriate. This is particularly important with the changes to the Bail Act coming into force, where there is now more emphasis on seeking bail, and in particular bail with conditions, to prevent further offences and protect victims and witnesses.
The custody manager examines all cases, which become RUI at the end of the bail period. This is to ensure any risks are managed and the decision is correct.
The management of voluntary attendance is improving
We were pleased to see that the force has undertaken a self-assessment of the way voluntary attendance is managed. It found that the oversight and scrutiny of voluntary attendance was inconsistent. As a result, it has updated standard operating procedures and provided training to improve in this area. It plans to complete a further dip sample soon to ensure this activity has produced the required improvements.
The force is developing an integrated offender management scheme
The force has recently recruited into an integrated offender management (IOM) role. There is some development required and the force needs to identify where the role sits within its structure, so that support and accountability are provided at the right level. The force is considering including IOM within neighbourhood policing so that the function works more effectively in a problem-solving arena. In order to manage persistent offenders effectively, the IOM scheme should prioritise the development of a cohort of offenders likely to reoffend, as they currently don’t have one.
Foreign national suspects are managed effectively
The force has a standard operating procedure in relation to managing suspects who are foreign nationals. It has developed a checklist of requirements when a foreign national is taken into custody. It has designated a role to provide scrutiny of the relevant custody records to ensure all actions are completed and that it can work effectively with the Immigration Service. This practice has become more consistent with the introduction of the custody cadre, where officers are dedicated to custody roles and therefore develop expertise in this area.
Disrupting serious organised crime
The City of London Police requires improvement at tackling serious and organised crime (SOC).
Understanding SOC and setting priorities to tackle it
The CoLP is the national lead force for fraud. It receives approximately £30m per year from the Home Office to provide this function. It co-ordinates prevention and investigation of fraud and cybercrime activity with private industry and law enforcement partners nationally.
In July 2022, the CoLP had identified 43 SOC threats. Thirty-three of these threats were classified with a primary crime type of fraud. The force has experienced difficulties in gathering intelligence from the business community regarding non-fraud crime types.
Areas for improvement
The City of London Police needs to improve its understanding of drug markets and the threat from modern slavery and human trafficking
The force accepts that gaps remain in its understanding of the threat from crimes other than economic crime and fraud. These include drug markets, county lines and modern slavery and human trafficking. The force doesn’t routinely ask frontline teams to collect intelligence about these threats and doesn’t have enough staff to produce analytical profiles of these problems.
We made similar observations in the force’s 2018/19 integrated PEEL inspection, assessing its response to county lines and other drug supply as an area for improvement.
The CoLP has defined priority threats from organised crime, and its control strategy highlights the main fraud issues
The force has prepared a strategic assessment and associated control strategy. The following are defined as its priority threats from organised crime:
- illicit financing and money laundering
- modern slavery and human trafficking
- intellectual property crime.
There is a separate section in the control strategy covering fraud, highlighting the main issues. Specialist teams such as the dedicated card and payment crime unit have been developed to tackle specific threats.
Resources and skills
The CoLP should make sure it has sufficient intelligence staff to effectively analyse the threats it faces
We found that resourcing issues were hampering the force’s approach to SOC in several areas:
- A theme common to this inspection and the force’s last PEEL inspection is the lack of available analysts.
- The intelligence department aims to provide around-the-clock support but is only able to provide cover until 10pm.
- The sensitive intelligence unit is operating with one supervisor and one analyst. This limits its effectiveness and provides little resilience.
- The force has one member of staff in the ROCTA. Their effectiveness is limited by having no access to intelligence in other regional forces. There is no backup to cover this role.
As the national lead for fraud, the CoLP hosts some specialist resources
The force hosts some specialist anti-fraud resources. These include the following:
- The insurance fraud enforcement department is a unit funded entirely by the insurance industry to combat fraud.
- The police intellectual property crime unit is the country’s only dedicated intellectual property crime unit, funded by a direct grant from the intellectual property office.
- The dedicated card and payment crime unit is a team run jointly by the CoLP and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). It is funded by the banking industry, with the sole purpose of combating crimes associated with banking payments.
Additionally, the CoLP hosts the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre. This is critical to supporting the approach to these two crime types. The force also co-ordinates regional fraud resources based in the nine ROCUs across England and Wales, through the funding it receives from the Home Office.
Tackling SOC and safeguarding people and communities
Areas for improvement
Except for cybercrime, the force has recorded low levels of serious and organised crime disruption
In the year ending 30 June 2022, the force recorded 506 disruptions. Of these, 441 related to the threat from cybercrime. Only 52 disruptions were recorded for fraud and 5 for drug supply.
Almost three quarters of the force’s disruptions were protect disruptions of cyber threats. While this is a positive indicator that the force is working proactively to protect against cybercrime, it led only 78 pursue disruptions. This is unusual: in most other forces, pursue disruptions are predominant.
To some extent this may reflect the crime types being investigated by the City of London Police and its role as lead force for cybercrime. But it may indicate that some pursue disruptions aren’t being recorded. As the lead force for fraud and economic crime, the force isn’t recording enough disruption activity against this threat.
The CoLP is effective at conducting investigations
We saw examples of effective investigations that had achieved significant results. These included:
- a money laundering investigation that identified a professional enabler and a subsequent account forfeiture order for €34m; and
- the disruption of a drug trafficking crime group that was using hotels and Airbnb accommodation to supply controlled drugs.
The CoLP works with partners to share information and protect communities from fraud
The CoLP, through its role as national lead force for fraud, is responsible for routinely sharing information locally and nationally to protect communities from SOC. This is done alongside the various partners from the financial sector.
One example is its work alongside UK Finance. The CoLP works with a dedicated prevent team that presents webinars to share key messages with the business community to prevent people becoming victims of crime.
The CoLP manages the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and Action Fraud. These communicate alerts when new threats are identified, to protect the public and business community against new and emerging threats.
The CoLP has personnel dedicated to preventing people from becoming victims of fraud
We saw several diversionary schemes run by the CoLP, consistent with its role as national lead force for fraud. These focused on fraud and the impacts on the local business community. Examples included the following:
- The national economic crime victim unit is part of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The unit focuses on preventing the public from becoming repeat victims.
- The cyber unit has prevent and disrupt personnel dedicated to taking down websites suspected of perpetrating fraud.
- The Insurance Fraud Bureau has dedicated personnel working alongside the insurance industry to develop strategies to prevent insurance fraud.
- The force has developed a project to prevent romance and courier fraud across the UK. It has conducted evidence-based research into these crime types to understand the demographics of the victims. It has then deployed preventative messaging.
The CoLP is working to tackle crime connected with the nighttime economy
Following the pandemic, the force identified a change in the nighttime economy. More staff were working from home and consequently not travelling into the City.
The force has recognised this as an opportunity to tackle crime in the nighttime economy, including those engaged in drug supply. Although in its early stages, this may provide opportunities to understand and disrupt OCGs operating in the City. The force has established Operation Reframe to work with partners, such as the London Fire Brigade, and concentrate on keeping people safe in the City.
In addition, the City of London Corporation, of which the CoLP is part, received funding from the Home Office to introduce a campaign to help prevent violence against women and girls. The force has started to roll out the campaign by training staff in bars and other venues.
Read An inspection of the London regional response to serious and organised crime – May 2023
Building, supporting and protecting the workforce
The City of London Police is adequate at building and developing its workforce.
Areas for improvement
The force should make sure it has enough sergeants and equivalent staff, who are capable and confident to perform their role
The inspection found that there was increasing workload and pressure on sergeants and equivalent first line managers across the organisation. The Police Uplift Programme has provided an increase in officers; however, the ratio of supervisors remains the same. We found that in local policing, several sergeants were temporary in the role, without relevant training or support. This means the sergeant rank is taking on more daily oversight and performance requirements for their staff, and they must develop their careers as well. The force needs to examine the ratios of sergeants it has in all departments. It also needs to analyse the support it provides them in education to meet their challenging performance targets, and well-being support to perform their role well.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to review its training requirements to make sure its workforce is supported to meet the demands it faces now and in the future
The force focus on the Police Uplift Programme has prevented a clear learning and development plan being developed to meet future needs. There are no plans beyond the short term, and the plans it does have are on a spreadsheet, with little analytical support. The force needs to use its strategic workforce plan to understand and effectively plan the training requirements for the future. We found that vacancies in corporate functions (such as HR and data analysts) have hampered achieving this. Unless a clear plan is developed, there could be gaps in key roles and departments.
The force has managed the Police Uplift Programme effectively. By understanding the factors that influence retention, they have introduced programmes that are encouraging new staff to stay
The force has dedicated staff to manage its Police Uplift Programme. Across England and Wales, there has been a large number of new recruits leaving the profession early on. The City of London Police has introduced a buddy scheme that is well accepted and understood by everyone. This involves a new member of staff being given a more experienced officer as a point of contact to help them settle in their new job. They stay with them throughout their probationary period.
The force has also introduced a ‘friendly ear’ programme. This is a confidential contact system, where new recruits can discuss things that are causing them anxiety, stress or frustration. Recruits are then signposted to relevant support. An example is four students who had suffered misogynistic behaviour, used the friendly ear process, and were supported with a welfare contact, while a professional standards department intervention was put in place, and the offender dealt with. Without this system, the four individuals may have left the organisation. The national Police Uplift Programme team has praised this approach.
The force is using data and new techniques to support and retain new members of staff
The force is using data from the last 15 years to develop profiles to help identify those at highest risk of leaving the organisation. This has identified several patterns which affected retention including the time of year the recruit joins, the age of the recruit and the size of the recruitment cohort. As a result, smaller cohorts are now planned, and individuals matching the profiles can be given additional support via the buddy system and support networks. It has also allowed the force to develop better exit interviews to provide smarter data for the future.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force builds and develops its workforce.
Frontline staff feel disconnected from senior leaders. They found ranks above chief inspector weren’t visible, supportive, and mainly inaccessible
We found that most frontline staff felt they were provided no support, guidance, or leadership from ranks above chief inspector. We found teams that weren’t aware of which superintendent had responsibility for them, and they rarely saw anyone of that rank or above. Staff reported the only time they heard from senior leaders was to gain updates on investigations, outside the set protocols. Most found this overly intrusive and unnecessary. It was mainly done to service the senior officer’s need for information and wasn’t seen as supportive. Most stated that the visibility of senior ranks was poor. However, most staff we spoke to had noticed the change in focus introduced by the new chief officer team as part of the force’s objectives: to focus on victims and people. This was mainly being led by their immediate line managers. To ensure full cultural change, there needs to be real and focused leadership from all ranks. This disconnection needs to be addressed urgently to provide staff with clear and visible senior leadership.
The force’s efforts to support staff well-being are being undermined by high workloads and vacancies across the force
Well-being is a priority, highlighted by the commissioner in her new strategy for the force. Staff generally feel supported by their managers and feel that managers genuinely care about their welfare. The force has an extensive occupational health service provided for them by the City of London Corporation. Staff were positive about the service if they had used it but found it hard to access via the intranet or through a referral. There are also local arrangements in place for informal well-being support. These include a well-being room at Bishopsgate, and the provision of taxis and hotel accommodation if staff are struggling to get home when retained on duty.
But we found that many frontline policing staff felt too busy to use the available occupational health or informal well-being services. Some told us that they didn’t tell their supervisors about how they felt at work, because their supervisors couldn’t reduce the pressure. This was mainly down to vacancies in certain departments.
The well-being board is responsible for the oversight and governance of well-being. And there is a strategic lead at chief superintendent rank. This board was introduced with the new strategic governance framework, so it wasn’t possible to assess the effect of its oversight. This is an area the force needs to maintain focus on and improve staff access to support facilities.
The force has realistic recruitment plans and has made good progress in the transition to policing education qualifications framework. They are also taking effective action so that its workforce better reflects its communities
The force has dedicated staff to the PUP, and while its plans are ambitious, they are being achieved. It has plans to recruit up to 24 detectives via Police Now and the student pathway during 2023. The programme has a weekly governance meeting at superintendent level.
It also has a clear plan to recruit a workforce that better reflects the community. Its inclusion and diversity strategy sets out projects which should help to achieve greater diversity. The recruitment strategy has been targeting specific communities to maximise opportunities to increase broader representation. The force is working with Police Now (for female candidates) and targeting university recruitment fairs (for graduates). As of 31 March 2022, 23 percent of the force’s police officers were female; the lowest proportion of any force in England and Wales. The ambition is to increase this proportion to 50 percent. This would align more closely with the 58 percent of police staff that are female. Given the ambitious targets that have been set, the force needs to reassure itself that enough people with the right skills in HR and learning and development to continue with these programmes after the PUP funding ceases.
The force makes good use of volunteers to increase resilience, fairness, and diversity in the workplace
The force has a well-developed cadet programme that is co-ordinated from the sector team within the Partnership and Prevention hub. Together with the Amazon project and the development of a youth IASG, this gives the force a valuable perspective from young people, a group policing often finds it hard to engage with effectively. They plan to further develop this youth outreach with a dedicated schools co-ordinator in 2023.
The force has a valued and diverse IASG which is represented at force governance meetings and on the ethics boards. It reviews intrusive tactics to show fairness and proportionality. The force has recently used IASG members on promotion interviews to provide transparency and fairness. This is an excellent use of volunteers to provide much needed diversity.
Strategic planning, organisational management and value for money
The City of London Police requires improvement at operating efficiently.
Areas for improvement
The force should improve its recording of demand, removing single points of potential failure
The force told us it will shortly be undertaking a wholesale review of the demand the force deals with. But during our inspection we found there are still individuals recording demand locally which doesn’t allow the force to understand the full scale of the demand placed on it.
The force should ensure it has access to and analysis of information befitting a modern police force. Its recent introduction of Microsoft Power BI is welcome, but the force should ensure the data visualisations it provides are based on robust, comprehensive information and supported by insightful analysis which will help the force to work more efficiently.
Areas for improvement
The force should reduce the vacancies in staff and officer positions. These are negatively affecting the service it provides to the public, and the well-being of its staff
The force recently went through a large change programme of operational policing, called Transform. Despite this, several operational policing teams told us they were under resourced, and this was affecting the service they provided to the public.
In sector policing, we found the abstraction policy wasn’t always being adhered to, meaning staff were taken from their role to cover vacancies in responding to 999 calls and investigations elsewhere in the force. Problem-solving and engagement with schools was negatively affected as a result. Officers told us they didn’t always have the time to address identified locations for modern day slavery and there was a lack of cover for some officers to take leave.
The force must ensure its improved understanding of demand links to a workforce plan. This should reduce current vacancy gaps and allow leaders to focus on improving staff well-being.
Areas for improvement
The force should ensure its corporate services review improves the service it provides across the force
Across our inspection, the current vacancies in staff positions within the force’s corporate services (such as HR and data analysts) was a common theme. The force must ensure its review of these services addresses the large vacancies in back office functions, ensuring the corporate services support officers to keep the public safe.
During our inspection, we were often told of challenges the force faced because of a lack of available analysts. The poor data and manual processes needed to present data and information were a challenge to analysts while the force embeds Power BI. We also found that the force doesn’t have enough people to manage the force’s change function.
It must prioritise the use of Power BI, its development and visualisation to ensure its scarce analytical resource focus on adding value, rather than producing performance information that is often out of date before the analysts can present it.
Without a fully funded and functional corporate function, the force will struggle to achieve the other areas for improvement we have identified in this report.
Areas for improvement
The force should improve its understanding of demand which will help it to better plan for the people, skills, and technology it will need in the future
The force’s incomplete understanding of the demand means its plans for future development are based on professional opinion and limited data. As the force improves its access to data, it should review whether its operating model and resource allocations are appropriate, based on a better understanding of the work of the force.
The City of London Police force management statement hasn’t been of the standard expected by police forces in England and Wales for the past two years. If the force improves its understanding of all demand placed on it, and can comprehensively assess its workforce and assets, the force management statement will assist the force in explaining how it needs to change and why. Taking a longer-term view of demand and assets will help the force to operate more efficiently.
The force should prepare and produce a force management statement that illustrates the total demand placed on it, and comprehensively assess its workforce and other assets. It should use this information to make informed decisions about how it will change to meet expected future demand.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force operates efficiently.
The force has a clear governance framework, but should ensure it is underpinned with high-quality data, allowing more appropriate challenge and direction
The City of London Police has a governance framework which ensures it focuses on its priorities. The force has regular ‘day of meetings’, which helps senior officers plan their calendar and ensure attendance. This allows them to disseminate the decisions from the day of meetings to regular tasking groups.
We observed some of these meetings. While they were well attended, the force should ensure it is maximising its use of the data and technology it has. The force should ensure it is using Power BI, so decision makers are using the most up-to-date data, to minimise the impact on its scarce analytical resource and maximise the attendance and availability of the most senior people in the organisation. This will allow senior leaders to provide better challenge and direction in these key meetings.
The force has a balanced medium term financial plan
The force presents a balanced medium term financial plan and is confident that it can achieve the savings and investment needed.
To balance the budget the force needs to make cumulative savings of £13.8m, including an expected increase in Business Rate Premium, appropriate use of Proceeds of Crime Act reserves and some one-off savings. However, to achieve these savings the force will need to make sustained savings of £1m linked to the corporate services review.
Priorities for the force capital fund include fleet replacement.
The force should assure itself that it is providing value for money
The force has access to a wide range of equipment both within the force and because of funding from the City of London Corporation. Officers have access to tablets and laptops which work seamlessly with wi-fi in London. The force has access to a comprehensive CCTV system in place across the city. There is a large fleet in the City of London Police, despite the small geographic area the force covers, and the force has recently begun using Power BI.
But we found the force wasn’t assessing the benefit of this technology and equipment which means it can’t assure itself that the technology is providing value for money, nor can the force easily identify where it can improve or refine this technology. The force needs to ensure it is realising the benefits of the investments it makes, and that it has the supporting resource funded and in place to ensure it fully uses the technology it invests in.
The force should ensure it has benefits analysis in place to check that investments produce the benefits the force expects.
About the data
Data in this report is from a range of sources, including:
- Home Office;
- Office for National Statistics (ONS);
- our inspection fieldwork; and
- data we collected directly from all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
When we collected data directly from police forces, we took reasonable steps to agree the design of the data collection with forces and with other interested parties such as the Home Office. We gave forces several opportunities to quality assure and validate the data they gave us, to make sure it was accurate. We shared the submitted data with forces, so they could review their own and other forces’ data. This allowed them to analyse where data was notably different from other forces or internally inconsistent.
We set out the source of this report’s data below.
Data in the report
British Transport Police was outside the scope of inspection. Any aggregated totals for England and Wales exclude British Transport Police data, so will differ from those published by the Home Office.
When other forces were unable to supply data, we mention this under the relevant sections below.
The dotted lines on the Bar Charts show one Standard Deviation (sd) above and below the unweighted mean across all forces. Where the distribution of the scores appears normally distributed, the sd is calculated in the normal way. If the forces are not normally distributed, the scores are transformed by taking logs and a Shapiro Wilks test performed to see if this creates a more normal distribution. If it does, the logged values are used to estimate the sd. If not, the sd is calculated using the normal values. Forces with scores more than 1 sd units from the mean (i.e. with Z-scores greater than 1, or less than -1) are considered as showing performance well above, or well below, average. These forces will be outside the dotted lines on the Bar Chart. Typically, 32% of forces will be above or below these lines for any given measure.
For all uses of population as a denominator in our calculations, unless otherwise noted, we use ONS mid-2020 population estimates.
Survey of police workforce
We surveyed the police workforce across England and Wales, to understand their views on workloads, redeployment and how suitable their assigned tasks were. This survey was a non-statistical, voluntary sample so the results may not be representative of the workforce population. The number of responses per force varied. So we treated results with caution and didn’t use them to assess individual force performance. Instead, we identified themes that we could explore further during fieldwork.
Victim Service Assessment
Our victim service assessments (VSAs) will track a victim’s journey from reporting a crime to the police, through to outcome stage. All forces will be subjected to a VSA within our PEEL inspection programme. Some forces will be selected to additionally be tested on crime recording, in a way that ensures every force is assessed on its crime recording practices at least every three years.
Details of the technical methodology for the Victim Service Assessment.
Domestic abuse outcomes
Domestic abuse outcome proportions show the percentage of crimes recorded in the 12 months ending 31 March 2021 that have been assigned each outcome. 28 police forces provided domestic abuse outcomes data through the Home Office data hub (HODH) every month. We collected this data directly from 14 forces, with Greater Manchester Police unable to provide data for all time periods in the year. This means that each crime is tracked or linked to its outcome. This data is subject to change, as more crimes are assigned outcomes over time.