Our inspection assessed how good Surrey Police is in nine areas of policing. We make graded judgments in eight of these nine as follows:
We also inspected how effective a service Surrey 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 this year has seen the most significant changes yet.
We are moving to 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 will now include 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 this year with those from previous PEEL inspections. 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
I congratulate Surrey Police on its performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime, although it needs to improve in some areas to provide a consistently good service.
These are the findings I consider most important from our assessments of the force over the past year.
The force has a strong problem-solving ethos focused on neighbourhood policing
The force has invested in developing its problem-solving and specialist neighbourhood teams since we last inspected. Neighbourhood policing is valued by the force, and I am encouraged to see that resources aren’t routinely diverted into other areas of policing. I am also pleased to see the value the force places on early intervention. But it must balance these priorities with other areas of policing to make sure resources are used well across the force.
The force investigates crime well
The force carries out crime investigations in a timely way. Officers complete relevant and proportionate lines of inquiry in most cases. The investigations we reviewed were well supervised, and victims were kept updated throughout. Vulnerability is considered at first point of contact. Call handlers consider threat, risk and harm to those involved, and prioritise incidents accordingly.
The force has an effective criminal justice diversion scheme
The force works hard to break the cycle of repeated offending. I was pleased to see the success of the Checkpoint programme, which offers lower-level offenders an alternative to prosecution by addressing the causes of their offending. This has encouraged many to turn their lives around.
Further work should be done to monitor those who pose the highest risk
The force manages arrests of outstanding offenders effectively. But it needs to do more to monitor registered sex offenders and ensure they comply with ancillary orders. Where officers suspect indecent images of children, they should always prioritise cases according to the assessment of threat, risk and harm.
My report sets out the findings of this inspection in more detail. I congratulate the officers and staff of Surrey Police for their efforts in keeping the public safe. I will continue to monitor the force’s progress in addressing areas for improvement.
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 force has a clear focus on preventing crime. We found many good examples of problem-solving and working with other organisations to prevent crime and anti‑social behaviour.
Other factors contributing to the force’s ability to reduce crime are:
- The quality and supervision of investigations are generally good.
- In most cases, the force makes sure that the victim has an appropriate end result.
- The Checkpoint scheme helps to reduce reoffending. It offers low-level offenders an alternative to prosecution if they address the causes of their offending.
- The force has an online platform that provides safety and reassurance messages, and enables two-way communication with the public.
I am pleased that the force is addressing the right areas of policing to reduce crime.
But the following areas may negatively affect the force’s ability to reduce crime:
- There aren’t enough people in high-risk protecting vulnerable people This will affect the service provided to victims.
- The force needs to respond faster to non-emergency incidents and make sure that victims are updated when there are delays.
Providing a service to the victims of crime
Victim service assessment
This section describes our assessment of the service victims receive from Surrey Police, from the point of reporting a crime through to the end result. As part of this assessment, we reviewed 130 case files as well as 20 cautions, community resolutions and cases where a suspect was identified but the victim didn’t support or withdrew their support for police action. While this assessment is ungraded, it influences graded judgments in the other areas we have inspected.
The force answers emergency calls quickly but needs to improve the time it takes to answer non-emergency calls
When a victim contacts the police, it is important that their call is answered quickly and that the right information is recorded accurately on police systems. The caller should be spoken to in a professional manner. The information should be assessed, taking into consideration threat, harm, risk and vulnerability. The victim should also receive appropriate safeguarding advice.
We found that emergency calls were answered well but people who called the 101 non-emergency contact number could wait a long time for their call to be answered. When calls are answered, the victim’s vulnerability is assessed using a structured process. But the force doesn’t always identify repeat victims. This means the victim’s history isn’t taken into account when considering the response they should have. Call handlers give victims advice on crime prevention and on how to preserve evidence.
The force responds to most calls for service in a timely way
A force should aim to respond to calls for service within the timescales it has set, which are determined on the basis of the level of prioritisation given to the call. It should change call priority only if the original prioritisation is deemed inappropriate, or if further information suggests a change is needed. The force’s response should take into consideration risk and victim vulnerability, including information obtained after the call.
We found that on most occasions the force responded to calls appropriately. But sometimes it didn’t attend incidents within set timescales and the victim’s expectations weren’t always met. This may cause victims to lose confidence and disengage from the process.
For non-emergency calls, the force uses an incident review team to allocate incidents. We found that this was used effectively. The team allocates appropriate staff to respond to incidents.
The force makes sure that investigations are allocated to appropriate staff with suitable levels of experience, and it informs victims promptly if their crime won’t be investigated further
All forces and constabularies should have a policy to make sure crimes are allocated to suitably trained officers or staff. Their policies should also establish when a crime isn’t to be investigated further and should be applied consistently. The victim of the crime should be kept informed of who is dealing with their case and whether the crime is to be further investigated. They should also be fully informed over the decision to close the investigation.
We found the force allocated recorded crimes for investigation according to its policy. In all cases, the crime was allocated to the most appropriate department for further investigation. Victims were usually updated promptly to inform them that their crime report wouldn’t be investigated further. To manage their expectations, victims must be kept informed and receive an appropriate level of service.
Most investigations are effective, and victims are provided with the appropriate level of advice and support for the crime
Police forces and constabularies should investigate reported crimes quickly, proportionately and thoroughly. Victims should be kept updated about the investigation and the force should have effective governance arrangements to make sure investigation standards are high.
In most cases, the force carried out investigations in a timely way and officers completed proportionate lines of inquiry. Investigations were well supervised, and victims were updated throughout. Victims are more likely to have confidence in a police investigation when regularly updated.
A thorough investigation increases the likelihood of perpetrators being identified and a positive end result for the victim. Victim personal statements aren’t always taken, which can deprive victims of the opportunity to describe how the crime has affected their lives.
When victims withdraw support for an investigation, the force doesn’t always consider progressing the case without the victim’s support. This can be an important method of safeguarding the victim and preventing further offences from being committed. The force doesn’t always record whether it considers using orders designed to protect victims, such as a Domestic Violence Protection Notice or Order.
The Victims Code of Practice requires forces to carry out a needs assessment at an early stage to decide whether victims need additional support. They should record the outcome of the assessment and the request for additional support.
The force finalises reports of crime appropriately by considering the type of offence, the victim’s wishes and the offender’s background
The force should make sure it follows national guidance and rules for deciding the outcome type it assigns to each report of crime. In deciding the outcome type, the force should consider the nature of the crime, the offender and the victim. These decisions should be supported and overseen by leaders throughout the force.
In appropriate cases, offenders can be given a caution or a community resolution. This must be appropriate for the offender according to national criteria, and the views of the victim must be taken into consideration.
In most of the cases we reviewed where cautions or community resolutions were used, they met national criteria and were appropriate for the offender. The force also sought and considered the victim’s views.
Where a suspect is identified but the victim doesn’t support or withdraws support for police action, the force should have an auditable record to confirm the victim’s decision so that it can close the investigation. We found no evidence of the victim’s decision in most of the cases we reviewed. This means there is a risk that the victim’s wishes may not be fully heard and considered before the crime is finalised.
Engaging with and treating the public with fairness and respect
Surrey Police is good at treating people fairly and with respect.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to treating people fairly and with respect.
The force communicates with its communities to understand what matters to them
The force has developed good digital communication with its communities. It has an online platform that provides safety and reassurance messages, and allows for some two-way communication.
By entering their postcode, people can get crime statistics and important messages relevant to their specific area. The force also live-streams programmes called Surrey Police Live, featuring different policing and community themes. For example, before Bonfire Night, the force joined with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service and Surrey County Council for a live-streamed broadcast on safety and anti-social behaviour. This included a live chat, answering questions in real time. The broadcast was British Sign Language interpreted.
The force runs community surgeries online, called Meet the Beat. It also holds in‑person pop-up beat surgeries for those who aren’t online or prefer face-to-face communication.
We found that information about community meetings wasn’t easy to find on the force website and this could be improved.
The force now has an analyst who advises it on how to communicate well and reach specific groups.
The force understands how to use force and how to apply stop and search powers fairly and appropriately
We found that the force held annual refresher training on appropriate use of force and stop and search. Officers learn de-escalation and conflict management techniques, which can reduce the need to use force and help them apply stop and search fairly. Attendance at this training is strictly monitored.
Some other forces have piloted conciliatory and negotiation communication training to help make stop and search encounters less distressing for the person searched, with good results. The force should consider whether this kind of training could help to improve stop and search in Surrey.
Most stop and searches have reasonable grounds recorded
We reviewed a sample of 240 stop and search records from 1 January to 31 December 2020 during our inspection. Based on this sample, we estimate that 92.1 percent of all stop and searches by the force during this period were reasonable, with a confidence interval of +/- 3.4 percent. This is an increase from 90.7 percent since our review the previous year, with a confidence interval of +/- 4.3 percent.
We reviewed 54 stop and search records of people from ethnic minority backgrounds. Of these, 51 had reasonable grounds. We believe this means communities in Surrey can be confident that stop and search is being carried out fairly.
The force is good at monitoring how it applies stop and search, and the use of force
Surrey Police has an internal scrutiny panel, which meets quarterly. The panel told us it examines 96 stop and search forms at each meeting, reviewing them for reasonable grounds, age, ethnicity, complaints or disproportionality. Officers receive feedback based on this review from their line managers.
The force has an external scrutiny panel to review and monitor its use of force and stop and search. The panel includes an independent chair from a local community forum in Surrey and young people from the age group most likely to be stopped and searched. It is important that forces learn from different perspectives.
In their feedback, the young people said they were sometimes stopped twice in quick succession. They felt they should be given a record of any stop and search on the spot so they could show it to officers if they were stopped again. The force has acted on this, offering an immediate paper or electronic receipt. The paper receipt has a QR code, which links to a stop and search experience feedback survey. This feedback is used to improve future stop and searches. The receipts also encourage people who have been stopped and searched to consider joining the force’s external scrutiny panels.
The panel also reviews body-worn video footage. Members have been invited out on patrol with frontline officers. Every six months, an online community forum discusses and reviews use of force. More than 12,000 people joined the last forum.
Preventing crime and anti-social behaviour
Surrey Police is outstanding at prevention and deterrence.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to prevention and deterrence.
The force has an effective neighbourhood policing model focused on crime prevention, anti-social behaviour and vulnerability
Surrey Police is committed to neighbourhood policing and has continued to develop its neighbourhood policing model since we last inspected.
The force has ring-fenced resources for neighbourhood policing. It has a policy which stops officers and staff from being routinely taken away from neighbourhood policing duties.
Since our last inspection, the force has increased its investment, doubling the size of its specialist neighbourhood team to 52 officers. It also has 22 youth engagement officers. These teams are supported by police community support officers (PCSOs) who have specialist training in areas such as domestic abuse, hate crime and disability.
PCSOs visit vulnerable victims to provide reassurance, crime-prevention advice and information about organisations that can offer support. That is positive and shows the value the force places on this area of policing.
The force uses problem-solving effectively and works with others to prevent crime, anti-social behaviour and vulnerability
Since our last inspection, the force has created a dedicated problem-solving team. The team is led by a chief inspector and includes tactical advisors and intelligence analysts. It provides guidance, advice and analysis to support crime prevention, and problem-solving plans across all areas of policing.
The force is good at solving problems. It uses a well-established problem-solving process called OSARA. We saw examples where high-quality analysis of problems resulted in better actions and improved end results for vulnerable victims. Officers told us that they had time to make problem-solving plans and review the results.
We found that the force had processes in place to make sure that good ways of working were shared. OSARA plans are stored on the force computer system and are easy to access.
We saw some excellent examples of problem-solving. These included a study by problem-solving analysts of a three-year trend in residential burglary. The study identified hotspot areas for burglary. Each hotspot received a bespoke problem‑solving plan that resulted in a reduction in offending.
Surrey Police works in an integrated way with organisations, including the local authority, housing providers and mental health services, to deter crime and protect vulnerable people. The force holds regular meetings with these organisations to problem solve and plan early interventions. This, in turn, can help to reduce the demand on neighbourhood policing.
An example of this approach was Operation Annexe, introduced after several reports of anti-social behaviour on a housing estate. Intelligence gathered by the local neighbourhood team showed that much of the activity was actually organised criminal peer group activity. It also identified a risk of child criminal exploitation.
The force took robust action against the offenders and worked with partner organisations to disrupt the gang’s activities and safeguard the primary victims. As a result, there has been a steady decline in gang-related activity, while anti-social behaviour on the estate has halved.
The force promotes the Home Office StreetSafe tool, which allows the public to report areas where they feel unsafe. Officers analyse data from the tool to identify hotspots of concern, understand the causes and plan action, often working with others.
A good example of this is in Epsom, where two hotspots were identified. Analysis showed that one hotspot had a high incidence of anti-social behaviour reports to police. The other had no crime or incident reports, but people felt unsafe because of poor environmental factors. Both locations were adopted by the local Joint Action Group. Police led activity in the first hotspot and the local authority led in the other hotspot.
The force values problem-solving and recognises those who perform well
The force has a culture of recognising and valuing problem-solving. It recognises the contribution of its workforce and volunteers through local and force awards, and nominations for national awards. For example, a student officer received the National Tilley Award 2021 for their problem-solving work on Operation Annexe. This demonstrates how senior leaders value the work of neighbourhood policing teams.
Responding to the public
Surrey Police is adequate at responding to the public.
Areas for improvement
The force should improve how it answers non-emergency calls for service to reduce its call abandonment rate
The force is struggling to answer all 101 non-emergency calls in a reasonable time. We found evidence that some callers waited over ten minutes for their call to be answered. This may contribute to people abandoning their call. The force told us it had a call abandonment rate of 16 percent. This should be less than 10 percent according to national standards for services without a switchboard.
Areas for improvement
The force needs to attend calls for service within its published attendance times and, where delays do occur, victims should be updated
The force generally responds to emergency calls quickly. However, in a majority of cases, it doesn’t attend non-emergency calls for service within recognised force timescales. We found that victims weren’t always updated about delays.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force responds to the public.
The public can contact the force through a range of channels
The force was an early adopter of Single Online Home, the national police contact and information platform. Most crime types can be reported on the platform, including domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault, and missing persons.
The force also has Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, email and Live Chat for the public to make contact. The force told us that it gets an average of 1,100 online contacts each day. This range of channels means the public have more ways to report serious crime, which increases the likelihood they can be safeguarded.
The force is good at answering 999 calls but needs to improve how quickly it answers 101 calls
The force is good at answering 999 calls quickly. It told us that in the year ending November 2021, it answered 92 percent of 999 calls within 10 seconds. This was above the national target of 90 percent.
In the same period, callers to the 101 non-emergency service abandoned 16 percent of calls. This exceeds national standards. It means that some crime may not be reported. Vulnerability and risk could be missed, and public confidence levels reduced.
When calls are abandoned, some callers may move to online contact. But others may call the emergency number, which could create further demands on the force.
The force keeps good performance data on calls answered but doesn’t have clear data for online contacts. This means it can’t analyse overall demand and response rates, or use this information to work out how many contact staff it needs to meet demand.
However, the force does recognise the need to improve. It has recruited contact staff to work permanently during peak demand in the evenings and at weekends. It has also enabled front-counter staff to assist with call handling administration.
During the summer of 2021, Surrey Police received the highest number of 999 calls in the force’s history. This was at a time when the contact centre and force control room staff had to work at several different locations because of social distancing. Staff told us that the increased call demand, high turnover of staff and changes in working locations resulted in low morale.
Since our fieldwork, the staff have returned to working together in both the contact centre and the force control room. This should help make the service more efficient and improve morale.
The force seeks advice from experts, but more guidance is needed for officers responding to mental health incidents
In the year ending 31 March 2021, the force flagged 14,419 incidents involving mental health concerns. This is 12 incidents per 1,000 population, compared to the England and Wales average of 9.4 incidents per 1,000.
In some of these incidents, people experiencing mental ill health need to be removed to a place of safety under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983. In 2020/21 Surrey Police detained 30 percent more people under this act than the previous year.
The chart below shows the rate of detentions per 10,000 population in Surrey compared to the England and Wales average between 2018/19 and 2020/21. While the number of detentions per population in Surrey is below average, this rate is rising, from 3.3 per 10,000 population in 2018/19 to 4.8 in 2020/21.
The force told us that the average time a person had to wait with police for a mental health assessment had increased from three hours to eight hours. Staff can call a 24‑hour helpline for advice about incidents involving mental health or children and young people. But officers we spoke to gave this mixed reviews. They said they sometimes waited a long time to get a response.
These factors mean that the force may be missing opportunities to reduce its use of section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
The force should review the way that it deals with mental health calls for service in collaboration with other agencies, such as the local authority and health service. It should look for ways to reduce mental health assessment wait times, and provide more support and guidance for officers to reduce the need for section 136 Mental Health Act 1983 detentions.
Detentions under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 per 10,000 population over time, Surrey compared to England and Wales
Note: Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Warwickshire and West Mercia have been excluded from the England and Wales calculations due to changes in recording practices/systems during this time period. Dyfed-Powys has been excluded as it was unable to provided data for 2020/21.
Staff told us about an example of a good way of working in a joint venture with South East Coast Ambulance Service in west Surrey. A police officer or special constable and a senior paramedic carry out joint patrols from 6.00pm to 2.00am, Thursday to Saturday. They respond to calls about mental health, domestic abuse, drug and alcohol misuse, and homelessness.
The force assesses vulnerability and risk at initial response and secures early evidence
When Surrey Police officers attend incidents, they carry out risk assessments, such as DASH and THRIVE. This helps them to identify potential threats, risks and harm to vulnerable people, and put safeguarding and support in place. They also offer crime prevention advice. Initial investigations to secure early evidence are good.
Staff reported that when they attended incidents, they received good support and advice from their supervisors.
The force doesn’t always have enough people to provide a timely response to non-emergency incidents
We found that the numbers of neighbourhood policing team (NPT) officers responding to incidents wasn’t enough to meet demand. As a result, the force doesn’t consistently respond to non-emergency calls for service within its own target times. There are often backlogs of incidents waiting for officers to attend.
Surrey Police’s NPT officers investigate certain types of crime, complete case papers and respond to calls for service. They are clear on their responsibilities to safeguard vulnerable people. They have good knowledge of what initial enquiries to make at crime scenes to secure and preserve evidence. We found the levels of investigations to be good.
But NPT officers face increasing demands on their time, for example in file preparation and meeting disclosure requirements. They may also spend time looking after people detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.
To resolve this problem, the force has introduced an incident review team to deal with low-level (grade 3) incidents. This allows NPT officers to focus on emergency (grade 1) incidents and those that need a prompt response (grade 2). In a majority of grade 2 incidents, the force isn’t meeting its target time of attendance within 60 minutes.
From June 2021, the force formed dedicated domestic abuse teams to investigate all domestic abuse reports. NPT officers still complete the initial lines of inquiry, but the secondary investigation is now managed by domestic abuse team members.
In November 2021, the force introduced neighbourhood policing investigation teams. These officers complete some PIP1 secondary crime investigative work such as interviewing suspects and preparing case files. This frees up time for frontline NPT officers to respond to incidents. During our fieldwork it was too early to fully assess its impact, but initial signs are positive.
Surrey Police is good at investigating crime.
Areas for improvement
The force should improve how it records victims’ decisions and their reasons for withdrawing support for investigations. It should take every opportunity to pursue offenders when victims disengage or don’t support prosecutions. It should document whether evidence-led prosecutions have been considered
We found that officers didn’t always take victim personal statements or record victim decisions. When a victim withdraws support for an investigation or asks for it to be dealt with by an out-of-court disposal, the force should get a record of their decision, such as a signed statement. This is important to explain the victim’s wishes and the reasons why they don’t wish to support a prosecution.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force investigates crime.
The force understands how to carry out quality investigations on behalf of victims and their families
In 65 out of the 70 cases we reviewed, the investigation was effective. We found that crimes were generally allocated to staff with appropriate skills. There was good supervisory oversight in 62 of the 68 cases where this was relevant. We were pleased to see that in all 23 cases we reviewed where an arrest was necessary, the arrest was made in an appropriate time frame.
The force has effective governance in place to understand its crime demand and is working hard to provide enough resources to make thorough and timely investigations. It is focused on continuously improving the quality of service to victims and the standard of investigations.
The force provides a quality service to victims of crime
We found that victims were treated well. There was good victim care and effective compliance with the Victims Code of Practice in almost all cases we reviewed (44 of 46). However, victim personal statements weren’t always taken and the force needs to make sure this is done where appropriate.
The force makes good use of out-of-court disposals but needs to improve the prosecution rate
Out-of-court disposals provide justice for victims of crime in cases where a caution, apology or reparation are felt to be appropriate. The force uses of out-of-court disposals frequently. In the year ending June 2021, 7 percent of recorded crimes resulted in out-of-court disposals, the third highest proportion in England and Wales.
In comparison, the force prosecutes significantly fewer people. In the year ending June 2021, only 4.9 percent of recorded crimes resulted in a charge or summons, the third lowest rate in England and Wales.
Proportion of outcomes assigned with a charge or summons in the year ending 30 June 2021 across forces
Proportion of outcomes assigned with out-of-court disposals in the year ending 30 June 2021 across forces
Note: out-of-court disposals include the following outcomes: (2) caution – youth; (3) caution – adult; (6) Penalty Notices for Disorder; (7) Cannabis/Khat warning; and (8) Community Resolution. Surrey Police uses a two-tier framework of issuing conditional cautions and community resolutions only.
High workloads for PIP2 accredited investigators are affecting wellbeing
Investigators told us of high caseloads, which were affecting their wellbeing. Other factors, such as changes in procedures and the need to gather evidence from electronic devices, are also increasing workload. Officers need more time to prepare such cases for court. This extra work has been absorbed within existing teams with no extra staff. The force’s staff vacancy rate at 31 March 2021 was 9 percent. Chief officers are working with investigators to identify where improvements can be made.
Protecting vulnerable people
Surrey Police is good at protecting vulnerable people.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force protects vulnerable people.
The force provides continuing safeguarding support for vulnerable people
Each borough in Surrey has a local system of vulnerability governance. As part of this, Surrey Police works with other organisations in community harm-reduction meetings. These meetings identify people who are vulnerable and at risk of exploitation, and make plans to safeguard them.
PCSOs visit all high-risk domestic abuse victims within 24 hours of a police report. They provide reassurance and can also offer security aids such as alarms or locks.
The force has sexual offence liaison officers who support victims of rape and serious sexual offences through the criminal justice process.
We saw many examples where officers safeguarded ‘cuckoo’ victims from criminals who were taking advantage of their vulnerability. Cuckooing is when criminals take over the homes of vulnerable adults to use them for drug dealing and other criminal activities.
The force works with other organisations to keep vulnerable people safe
The force works with other organisations in a co-ordinated way to safeguard victims of the most serious crimes, including domestic abuse. Multi-agency public protection arrangements and multi‑agency risk assessment conferences (MARACs) protect the victims most at risk.
The force has appointed a chairperson for MARAC meetings to support their effectiveness. While this is positive, the force should train and develop additional staff to provide cover for this officer when they are on MARAC duty.
In April 2021 the force set up a stalking clinic with a range of other organisations. The clinic will provide advice and take action to protect victims and tackle stalkers. Surrey Police is a leader in obtaining Stalking Protection Orders and Domestic Violence Protection Orders, as shown in the chart below. The force has good operational structures in place to respond to stalking, including a network of well‑trained specialist tactical advisors across the force.
Domestic Violence Protection Order applications as a percentage of domestic abuse‑related crimes for the year ending 31 March 2021 across forces
In the year ending 31 March 2021, the force applied for 228 Domestic Violence Protection Orders. This represents 2.4 percent of all domestic-abuse-related crime, the second highest rate among all forces during the period.
During our inspection period, many of the multi-agency meetings were held using video conferencing technology. We were told that this led to higher attendance by other organisations. We observed several of these meetings and were impressed to see information being shared appropriately, driven by a commitment to keep people safe.
Staffing levels in high-harm teams isn’t keeping up with demand
We found that high-harm teams had high caseloads and were under-resourced. This includes the sexual offences investigation team, the paedophile online investigation team, and the child abuse team.
For example, we found that only 52 percent of posts in the sexual offences team were filled. Agency staff provided extra investigative help for the team. The force told us that it intended to move 11 officers into the team on 6-month attachments. We think this resourcing model is unsustainable. It will affect the force’s ability to pursue offenders and support vulnerable victims. The force told us that it was reviewing the structure of some of these teams.
The force needs to improve the wellbeing of staff involved in protecting vulnerable people
The force provides a wide range of wellbeing services on its intranet. However, we found that it needed to do more to directly support officers working in the most distressing areas of vulnerability, such as sexual offences and exploitation, or investigating indecent images. High workloads and under-resourcing in these teams are having a negative effect upon staff health and wellbeing.
Managing offenders and suspects
Surrey Police requires improvement at managing offenders and suspects.
Areas for improvement
The force should set specific, time-bound tasks to reduce the risk from registered sex offenders. Evidence of completed tasks should be recorded
During our inspection, we reviewed 12 records to see how Surrey Police managed registered sex offenders. We found that the force didn’t always take preventative measures, cases lacked purposeful lines of inquiry and some records hadn’t been updated.
Areas for improvement
The force should routinely use proactive monitoring technology to identify indecent images of children and identify breaches of ancillary orders for registered sex offenders
The force routinely considers the use of civil orders such as Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPOs) to protect the public from the most dangerous offenders. It also provides staff with digital equipment to monitor compliance.
We found that all breaches of orders were recorded, but prosecution of breaches varied across teams. Digital monitoring equipment is underused as not all staff are confident in how to use it. This means SHPOs aren’t as well managed as they could be, and the risk to the public may not be fully understood.
Areas for improvement
The force must prioritise safeguarding when it suspects online offences of indecent images of children. It should carry out repeated intelligence checks to confirm whether suspects have access to children
We found that the force had a backlog of 44 cases of suspected indecent images of children. Intelligence checks had been completed for 33 of the cases. But where the checks found the suspect could have access to children, this wasn’t always investigated further and safeguarding wasn’t always prioritised. When we raised our concern about this, the force responded swiftly to mitigate the risk and changed its process to manage the backlog.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force manages offenders and suspects.
The force has a governance structure for managing suspects and offenders, based upon threat, risk, and harm to the public
Suspects are discussed at twice-daily management meetings in each of the northern, eastern and western area divisions. Those who pose the greatest risk, or are the most difficult to catch, are escalated for targeting. Each domestic abuse team has three officers dedicated to arresting domestic abuse suspects, managing compliance with pre-charge bail, and checking for breaches of Domestic Violence Protection Orders.
Surrey Police has a high-harm perpetrator unit (HHPU), made up of staff trained in management of sexual or violent offenders (MOSOVO) and integrated offender management (IOM). The HHPU is centrally managed and has teams in each area division.
The force uses nationally recognised risk assessment tools to manage dangerous people, but could improve how it manages registered sex offenders
As at 31 March 2021 there were 870 registered sex offenders living in the force area. Specialist MOSOVO staff are responsible for assessing and managing the risk from these offenders. They use the active risk management system and the Risk Matrix 2000 to assess levels of risk. They carry out risk assessments in line with the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice.
We reviewed 12 records to see how the force managed registered sex offenders. Records from the past year showed that officers didn’t routinely check the Police National Database (PND) to get a full understanding of the risk from the offender. This was particularly worrying in two cases where offenders travelled to other force areas regularly.
The force should give clearer guidance to staff on the need to check the PND regularly. This will help officers understand all the intelligence and risks, and enable them to update risk management plans effectively.
Our review also showed that the force didn’t carry out enough unannounced visits to registered sex offenders. It should increase these visits as part of proactive offender management.
Neighbourhood teams are aware of registered sex offenders in their area
All registered sex offenders are marked for awareness on the force computer system. MOSOVO staff reported good links with the specialist neighbourhood officers. Good communication between them has led to useful intelligence sharing. The MOSOVO team briefs neighbourhood teams if they need additional community policing and intelligence gathering to manage a particular offender.
The force has an effective integrated offender management (IOM) programme
We found that the force worked well with organisations such as the local authority, housing agencies and National Probation Service, to reduce re-offending as part of its IOM programme. It has recently reviewed its processes to align with the IOM national refresh.
The force uses a scoring tool to assess information and intelligence on offender activity. This uses data from other organisations to help decide whether offenders should be managed under IOM. Offenders currently managed in this way have committed crimes such as theft, robbery, burglary and violence such as domestic abuse.
The force uses early intervention programmes to reduce offending
The force uses Checkpoint, a deferred prosecution scheme, which was first developed in Durham. This gives lower-level offenders the chance to address the causes of their crime instead of a formal prosecution, with strict conditions.
The force told us that the reoffending rate for those involved in Checkpoint was 6 percent. This approach can help to change offending behaviour, prevent further crime, and reduce unnecessary pressure on the court system.
Checkpoint Plus offers an alternative to prosecution for low-level offenders who have had previous contact with the criminal justice system, and who experience homelessness, substance misuse or mental ill health. These additional factors can make it harder for them to address their problems. Every offender has a needs assessment, which highlights interventions to support them and prevent them reoffending.
Disrupting serious organised crime
We now inspect serious and organised crime (SOC) on a regional basis, rather than inspecting each force individually in this area. This is so we can be more effective and efficient in how we inspect the whole SOC system, as set out in HM Government’s SOC strategy.
SOC is tackled by each force working with regional organised crime units (ROCUs). These units lead the regional response to SOC by providing access to specialist resources and assets to disrupt organised crime groups (OCGs) that pose the highest harm.
Through our new inspections we seek to understand how well forces and ROCUs work in partnership. As a result, we now inspect ROCUs and their forces together and report on regional performance. Forces and ROCUs are now graded and reported on in regional SOC reports.
Our SOC inspection of Surrey Police hasn’t yet been completed. We will update our website with our findings (including the force’s grade) and a link to the regional report once the inspection is complete.
Building, supporting and protecting the workforce
Surrey Police is adequate at building and developing its workforce.
Areas for improvement
The force should consider staff wellbeing when making decisions about resource allocation. It should provide supervisors with the skills to identify wellbeing problems in their teams and give them the time and space to make early interventions. The force should improve support for those in high-risk roles
The force has a system to identify roles that have a higher risk to wellbeing. But some of the people in these roles don’t feel well supported. This is particularly true in teams that are understaffed and have high workloads.
We found that staff in high-risk areas, such as those investigating child abuse, sexual offences or indecent images of children, had heavy, complex caseloads and received little support. Many of the staff we spoke to knew about the range of wellbeing services provided by the force but didn’t have enough time to access them.
Supervisors in these teams are also stretched. They don’t have time to support their staff and aren’t equipped to spot early signs of stress and sickness. The force needs to better understand the impact of understaffing and high workloads on these teams.
Staff can take a questionnaire, which triggers a referral if the answers suggest trauma or high psychological stress. This is seen by some as a tick box exercise. However, staff who have been referred and received psychological support are positive about their experience.
Areas for improvement
The force should expand the work and effectiveness of its ethics panel to ensure staff know how to raise issues
The force has an ethics committee that considers and reports on ethical issues raised by staff. We found the ethics committee wasn’t well known or understood across the force. Most people we spoke to had little or no knowledge of it or what it did. Some thought it was a professional standards department project and chose not to get involved. Chief officers need to focus on this to drive awareness and enable the ethics committee to provide advice, support and assistance to the force.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force builds and develops its workforce.
The force promotes an ethical and inclusive culture where staff feel valued and included
Staff are proud to work for Surrey Police and there is a feeling of belonging in the organisation. The force has a strong learning culture. It works together with Sussex Police in the Organisational Learning Board. This is a forum to share good ways of working and learning, which also commissions case reviews. Good ways of working are published on the force intranet.
The force is improving its wellbeing services but some staff don’t have time to access them because their teams are overstretched
Surrey Police has a comprehensive staff wellbeing strategy jointly with Sussex Police.
This includes an employee assistance programme, which provides support and counselling services. There are several support groups including multi-faith chaplaincy and groups for those with protected characteristics.
Staff can access services through the Wellbeing Hub on the intranet, described as a one-stop shop for staff wellbeing needs. TV screens throughout the police estates display wellbeing promotional material and signpost people to support. A new internal fortnightly publication called Wellbeing Wednesday also provides information and advice.
During the pandemic, the force focused on mental health wellbeing and improved its mental health app, Backup Buddy. This app won an external non-policing award for supporting colleagues’ mental health (Best Innovation, InsideOut Awards, April 2021).
Staff are generally positive about the range of services and gave good feedback about the services they accessed. However, as stated in Areas for improvement, above, many don’t have time to access them because of the pressure on their teams, and therefore miss out on the support provided.
The force is building its workforce for the future and taking effective action to better reflect its communities
The force is on track to meet its targets for recruitment of police officers under the Government’s Operation Uplift.
The force is making good efforts to improve the diversity of the workforce. It increased the number of officers from ethnic minority backgrounds from 89 at 31 March 2020 to 118 at 31 March 2021 – 5.9 percent of all police officers with stated ethnicities. This is positive but people from ethnic minority backgrounds make up 9.6 percent of the local population, so there is more work to be done.
Recruitment activity, such as outreach at university career fairs, is helping to increase the number of women officers and officers from ethnic minority backgrounds. In the year ending 31 March 2021, 42 percent of new officers recruited were women, and 11 percent were people from ethnic minority backgrounds. This is in line with national rates of 41 percent and 10 percent respectively.
There is a mentoring programme called Positive Action Learning Sets to support retention and progression for officers from ethnic minority backgrounds. Women receive one-to-one support from a senior officer.
Student officers told us that they found it difficult to learn operational police work while studying for a policing degree. This meant they had no time for themselves. They said protected learning days were often cancelled and rescheduled by the force to fill gaps in policing teams. We found protected learning days to be a contentious issue between students and colleagues. Some colleagues don’t understand how much academic work students have to do.
As of November 2021, the force told us 13.5 percent of student officers had left Surrey Police. The force has added this issue to its risk register for closer focus. It is working to establish why some recruits leave, or want to leave, and has introduced an early-intervention process to support student officers. The force should continue these efforts and also address attitudes in the wider workforce on the training and integration of recruits.
Vetting and counter corruption
We now inspect how forces deal with vetting and counter corruption differently. This is so we can be more effective and efficient in how we inspect this high-risk area of police business.
Corruption in forces is tackled by specialist units, designed to proactively target corruption threats. Police corruption is corrosive and poses a significant risk to public trust and confidence. There is a national expectation of standards and how they should use specialist resources and assets to target and arrest those that pose the highest threat.
Through our new inspections, we seek to understand how well forces apply these standards. As a result, we now inspect forces and report on national risks and performance in this area. We now grade and report on forces’ performance separately.
Surrey Police’s vetting and counter corruption inspection hasn’t yet been completed. We will update our website with our findings and the separate report once the inspection is complete.
Strategic planning, organisational management and value for money
Surrey Police is adequate at operating efficiently.
Areas for improvement
The force should improve its understanding of demand to make sure it manages it effectively
The current operating model emphasises prevention and deterrence policing, and well-resourced neighbourhood teams. But it isn’t clear that the force has fully analysed demand in these areas, or is evaluating the impact, to be sure that it provides value for money.
We saw no evidence that the force had done any detailed analysis of hidden-harm areas, such as modern slavery and human trafficking. These are less obvious but growing areas of demand, identified as among the force’s highest risk crime areas.
The force is driving efficiencies through the effective use of data
Surrey Police is using telematics to help it to understand driving behaviours and vehicle use, and manage its fleet more efficiently.
The force has analysed data gathered from telematics against demand data. This has enabled it to see how the fleet is being used, where vehicles need to be and how they can be used more effectively.
As a result of this in-depth analysis, the force is able to place vehicles where they are most needed. This, in turn, has allowed it to reduce the number of vehicles, without reducing vehicle availability. The changes have brought significant savings.
The force constantly reviews the situation so it can adapt to any changes and make sure that there are enough vehicles to support demand.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force operates efficiently.
The force has an effective strategic planning and performance management framework
We found that the force had an effective performance management framework. The force strategy is linked to the police and crime commissioner’s (PCC) plan. Performance meetings are held at force and local level. There is good awareness of the force’s priorities. Local community plans reflect the force’s strategic objective.
However, we found that the force didn’t fully understand current workloads, or the work involved in pre-planned activities, such as statement taking or crime enquiries. This puts pressure on staff when they respond to calls for service or take on new work. The force is continuing to develop its IT system, to provide a clearer picture of overall demand and help with workforce planning.
The force needs to adjust how it allocates resources to meet demand
The current operating model is focused on neighbourhood policing. The force needs to understand how this affects provision of services in other areas.
Prioritising specialist resources for neighbourhood policing can result in imbalances in workload and demand elsewhere.
We found that staff numbers varied among local policing areas and specialist units, particularly the distribution of PIP2 qualified investigators. We also noted that some uniform sergeants had increased workloads and had to complete tasks on rest days.
It is important that the force understands this in more depth. It should use the ongoing review of the operating model to get a better understanding of resource and productivity. This is important for staff welfare and effective service provision across the force.
In our 2018/19 PEEL report, we recommended that the force should get a better overview of current demand to make best use of its resources. We also said it should do more to understand capability and capacity to meet future demand.
During this inspection, we found that staff had high workloads in areas of high risk. The force is managing some areas of demand using agency staff, but this isn’t a long‑term solution.
The force uses its finances effectively and adapts well to changing budgetary situations
Surrey Police has good financial control over operational policing with a focus on efficiency and effectiveness. The force uses data to understand how it is using resources and assets such as fleet and estate, and drive improvements.
The force is working with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy to improve its financial leadership. It also participates in the Achieving Financial Excellence in Policing national programme.
The force amended its medium-term financial plan promptly following government spending announcements and the PCC’s precept decision for 2022/23. The plan sets a balanced budget for the next three years, using the maximum uplift allowed in precept funding and maintaining appropriate reserves.
The force has exceeded the £6.4m saving it identified for this year and has clear plans in place to make further savings.
The force collaborates to improve services
The force has a good track record of collaboration and working with other forces to improve efficiency.
It has a strong relationship with Sussex Police. The two forces work together in several areas, such as ICT, HR and learning and development. They review progress to make sure they are driving efficiencies and achieving their original objectives.
The chief officer group considers ideas for wider collaborations. Savings have already been made by having some managers working across both forces. The group is also exploring opportunities for savings by collaborating at operational level during periods of high demand.
The force improves productivity through technological solutions
The force has recently recruited an ICT lead and established a digital, data and technology department (DDAT). It has a DDAT strategy, which details the priorities over the next two to three years. The strategy identifies where improvements need to be made and has work streams to make sure the force can achieve them.
The force has mapped out the demand the strategy will create against its resources to make sure it can support the work. There could be a problem in recruiting people with the right skills at current market rate salaries. The force is working with HR to resolve this.
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 acrime 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.
Detentions under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983
We took this data from the December 2021 release of the Home Office Police powers and procedures: Other PACE powers publication. The Home Office may have updated these figures since we obtained them for this report..
We took data on crime outcomes from the November 2021 release of the Home Office police-recorded crime and outcomes data tables.
Total police-recorded crime includes all crime (except fraud) recorded by all forces in England and Wales (except BTP). Home Office publications on the overall volumes and rates of recorded crime and outcomes include British Transport Police, which is outside the scope of this HMICFRS inspection. Therefore, England and Wales rates in this report will differ from those published by the Home Office.
Police-recorded crime data should be treated with care. Recent increases may be due to forces’ renewed focus on accurate crime recording since our 2014 national crime data inspection.
For a full commentary and explanation of crime and outcome types please see the Home Office statistics.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders
We collected this data directly from all 43 police forces in England and Wales. This data is as provided by forces in May 2021 and covers the year ending 31 March 2021.