Our inspection assessed how good Surrey Police is in ten areas of policing. We make graded judgments in nine of these ten 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.
We also assess the force’s performance in a range of other areas and we report on these separately. We make graded judgments for some of these areas.
In 2014, we introduced our police efficiency, effectiveness 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.
We have moved to a more intelligence-led, continual assessment approach, rather than the annual PEEL inspections we used in previous years. Forces are assessed against the characteristics of good performance, set out in the PEEL Assessment Framework 2023–2025, and we more clearly link our judgments to causes of concern and areas for improvement.
It isn’t possible to make direct comparisons between the grades awarded in this PEEL inspection and those from the previous cycle of PEEL inspections. This is because we have increased our focus on making sure forces are achieving appropriate outcomes for the public, and in some cases we have changed the aspects of policing we inspect.
Terminology in this report
Our reports contain references to, among other things, ‘national’ definitions, priorities, policies, systems, responsibilities and processes.
In some instances, ‘national’ means applying to England or Wales, or England and Wales. In others, it means applying to England, Wales and Scotland, or the whole of the United Kingdom.
HM Inspector’s summary
I have concerns about the performance of Surrey Police in keeping people safe, reducing crime and providing victims with an effective service. In particular, I have serious concerns about how the force is responding to the public. Surrey has no neighbourhoods in the top 10 percent most deprived in the country and there is a lower number of offences than the average in England and Wales. Funding and the number of police staff and officers are in line with the average in England and Wales.
Surrey has a lower-than-average number of 999 calls and a comparatively low number of 101 calls. But despite this, the force doesn’t always answer emergency and non‑emergency calls in a timely way. A high number of callers to its non-emergency 101 facility abandon their call. Some of these callers will contact the force by another means, such as through its online platform. Other callers will simply give up. So, crime will go unreported and vulnerable people will not be safeguarded. This was highlighted as an area for improvement during our last PEEL inspection in 2021/22, but performance has deteriorated.
The force has had staff vacancies in its control room and contact centre and has had difficulty in recruiting replacement staff. During our inspection, the force created a new chief superintendent post to oversee the control room and contact centre. It has made concerted efforts to recruit and retain staff.
I was pleased to find that since our last PEEL inspection, the force has worked well to improve its management of registered sex offenders. The force puts safeguarding measures in place early in its investigations into indecent child abuse images. And there are no digital forensics delays. So investigations into these matters are timely.
The force makes effective use of Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) and works well with other agencies to tackle domestic abuse. But the force needs to improve its adult abuse investigations and develop risk reducing actions to safeguard these vulnerable victims.
The force has a good range of well-being provision for the workforce. But it needs to do more to understand why people leave and to instil confidence within the workforce in reporting discrimination, bullying and racist behaviour.
The force recognises it needs to improve its use of data and is developing the PowerBI application. This will help it monitor performance and identify where improvements are needed.
The force had a change in leadership during our inspection, with the appointment of a new chief constable. The chief constable has made changes to the performance management structure of the force and set out his priorities.
In view of these findings, I have been in contact with the chief constable as I do not underestimate how much improvement is needed. I will be monitoring the progress of the force closely.
HM Inspector of Constabulary
Using the College of Policing leadership expectations as a framework, in this section we set out the most important findings relating to the force’s leadership at all levels.
The force appointed a new chief constable during our inspection. The force has been proactive in explaining the priorities of the new chief constable. These include charging more offenders and taking them to court to achieve justice for victims. The rest of the chief officer team is long-standing and familiar, but with further permanent appointments predicted.
Members of the force’s leadership have several challenges to contend with. These include an aging estate, particularly the force control room and contact centre, new IT structures and difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff. Leaders are working together and have made plans in response. Senior leaders are also visiting and learning from other forces and organisations. We found that the force’s investment in bringing in senior leaders from outside policing is already resulting in significant savings, diverse thinking and growth.
Senior leaders are committed to developing leadership at all levels. There is support for officers, police staff and volunteers entering leadership for the first time. Recruiting and retaining staff is a challenge for the force. This has negatively affected the force’s ability to quickly answer calls for service from the public. The force has considered market factors to improve recruitment and retention, and retention payments are awarded to staff in critical roles.
The force has a performance governance structure but needs to improve its use of data to get the best from this structure.
The force has trained leaders to tackle misogyny through its ‘Not in my Force’ campaign, with new entrants surveyed for their views and experiences. But, as we explain later in this report, the force needs to do more to instil confidence within the workforce in reporting discrimination, bullying and racist behaviour.
More detail on Surrey Police’s leadership is included in the main body of the report.
Reducing crime assessment
The reducing crime assessment sets out what Surrey Police is doing to reduce crime and how effective this action is. This assessment doesn’t include police recorded crime figures. This is because they can be affected by variations and changes in recording policy and practice, making it difficult to make comparisons over time.
To provide the public with an effective service, Surrey Police needs to make sure it answers emergency and non-emergency calls quickly enough. But it doesn’t always do this, and so it is missing opportunities to safeguard the public and reduce crime. The force needs to respond to incidents within published timescales. It should also make sure it can identify repeat victims when it receives an initial call. This is so it can assess risk at the earliest opportunity and help to reduce further crime.
Although the force consistently sets clear aims, objectives and expected standards for investigations, it needs to take more offenders to court for the crimes they have committed to achieve justice for victims. We found significant issues with adult abuse investigations. This leads to poor outcomes for victims. The force needs to adhere to multi-agency working arrangements to develop risk‑reducing actions that safeguard vulnerable people and prevent reoffending. This will keep people safe and help reduce future crime.
The force prioritises the prevention of crime, antisocial behaviour and vulnerability. It uses dedicated resources to support frontline officers and staff. Problem-solving is a priority for the force. It runs throughout the ethos of the organisation and helps to reduce crime.
The force uses Checkpoint, a deferred prosecution scheme. This gives lower-level offenders the chance to address the causes of their crime under strict conditions, instead of being formally prosecuted. This approach can help to change offending behaviour, prevent further crime and reduce pressure on the court system.
More detail on what Surrey Police is doing to reduce crime is included in the main body of the report.
Providing a service to the victims of crime
Victim service assessment
This section describes our assessment of the service Surrey Police provides to victims. This is from the point of reporting a crime and throughout the investigation. As part of this assessment, we reviewed 100 case files.
When the police close a case of a reported crime, they assign it an ‘outcome type’. This describes the reason for closing it.
We selected 100 cases to review, including at least 20 that the force had closed with the following outcome:
when the police decided that further investigation against a named suspect wasn’t in the public interest (outcome 21).
Although our victim service assessment is ungraded, it influences graded judgments in the other areas we have inspected.
The force needs to improve the time it takes to answer emergency and non‑emergency calls
Surrey Police needs to improve the time it takes to answer emergency calls. It also needs to reduce the number of non-emergency calls where the caller hangs up before a handler answers it.
The force doesn’t always identify repeat and vulnerable victims
When the force does answer a call, it uses a structured process that considers threat, harm, risk and vulnerability (THRIVE). Call handlers don’t always identify repeat victims. This means that they aren’t always fully aware of the victim’s circumstances when considering what response the force should give. Call handlers are polite and, in most cases, give victims advice on crime prevention and on how to preserve evidence.
The force doesn’t respond promptly to enough calls for service
The force is not responding to calls for service appropriately. It doesn’t always respond within set timescales. It doesn’t always inform victims of delays. So victims’ expectations aren’t always met. This may cause victims to lose confidence and disengage from the process.
The force’s crime recording requires improvement when it comes to making sure victims receive an appropriate level of service
The force needs to improve its crime recording processes to make sure that all crimes reported to it are recorded correctly and without delay.
We set out more details about the force’s crime recording in the ‘Recording data about crime’ section.
The force carries out effective and timely investigations
In most cases, Surrey Police investigates in a prompt way, completing relevant and proportionate lines of enquiry. It supervises investigations well and regularly updates victims. Victims are more likely to have confidence in a police investigation when they receive regular updates.
A thorough investigation increases the likelihood of perpetrators being identified and arrested, providing a positive result for the victim. In most cases, the force takes victim personal statements. This gives victims the opportunity to describe how that crime has affected their lives.
When victims withdraw support for an investigation, the force considers progressing the case without the victim’s support. This can be an important method of safeguarding the victim and preventing further offences. But the force doesn’t always record whether it considers using orders designed to protect victims, such as a Domestic Violence Protection Notice or Domestic Violence Protection Order.
The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime requires forces to carry out a needs assessment at an early stage to determine whether victims need additional support. The force usually carries out this assessment and records all requests for additional support.
The force assigns the right outcome type to an investigation but does not always consider the victims’ wishes
The force doesn’t always provide a level of service that gives victims the most appropriate result. The force closes crimes with the appropriate outcome type. It seeks victims’ views when deciding which outcome type to assign to a closed investigation. When appropriate, the force can provide an auditable record of victims’ wishes. The force informs victims of the outcome code assigned to the investigation.
Recording data about crime
Surrey Police requires improvement at recording crime.
The Home Office Counting Rules, which provide the standard for crime recording in England and Wales, have changed since the last time we inspected the force for crime data integrity.
This change mainly relates to the way forces record violent crime. This means we can no longer compare the findings from this audit to those from previous audits.
We estimate that Surrey Police is recording 93.4 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.4 percent) of all reported crime (excluding fraud).
We estimate that the force is recording 87.0 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 5.4 percent) of sexual offences.
We estimate that the force is recording 93.7 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 4.0 percent) of violent offences.
Area for improvement
The force is too often failing to record sexual offences, particularly sexual assault, and rape crimes
The force doesn’t always record rape crimes and N100s (reported incidents of rape, which haven’t been immediately recorded as a confirmed crime of rape). We reviewed 54 reports of rape, with 43 of these correctly recorded. Of the rest, two had been recorded as another crime type, two had been recorded incorrectly as N100s and seven hadn’t been recorded at all. Of the 54 recorded crimes of rape, 34 were recorded within 24 hours.
We reviewed six reports where an N100 should have been recorded and only two were. The force should improve its recording practices to make sure that rape crimes and incidents are recorded correctly, and victims receive the appropriate level of service from the police.
In our 2018 inspection, we identified that sexual crimes, including crimes of rape, should be recorded without delay and N100 classifications should be used correctly. Surrey Police does not appear to have made sufficient improvements.
Area for improvement
The force needs to improve how it records equality data
The force’s data for victims of crime shows that age and gender are well recorded. But ethnicity is less well recorded and other protected characteristics are not well recorded. The force should be collecting this information to understand the extent to which each protected group is affected by crime and how this differs from those without the protected characteristics. This can tell the force whether it needs a different response for these victims.
Area for improvement
The force needs to improve how it records crime when antisocial behaviour personal is reported
When victims report antisocial behaviour, the force is failing to record most crime and to tackle antisocial behaviour effectively. We examined 50 incidents of antisocial behaviour. We found that the force should have recorded 13 crimes, but it only recorded 4. Victims of antisocial behaviour personal are often the subject of abuse for substantial periods of time and crime is often committed by neighbours. Failing to record crimes and to tackle antisocial behaviour effectively can mean victims live in fear in their own homes, while being subjected to long-term abuse by people living next door or nearby.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to crime data integrity.
The force effectively records crimes against vulnerable victims
The force records crimes against vulnerable victims well. We examined 70 incidents and we found that the force should have recorded 39 crimes but it only recorded 38. Effective recording of these crimes can help identify perpetrators and bring them to justice.
Police powers and treating the public fairly and respectfully
Surrey Police is adequate at using police powers and treating people fairly and respectfully.
The force holds question and answer public events on its use of force and stop and search powers
The force holds a live public event on its use of force and stop and search powers. This is held twice a year on social media platforms: Instagram and Facebook. The public can ask the force’s senior officers about the use of force and stop and search powers and receive an immediate response.
The event allows the force to inform the public about how it monitors and analyses its use of force and of stop and search powers.
The force also uses the event to publicise the opportunity for people to join the external use of force and stop and search independent scrutiny panel. The force told us that in the last year, seven people expressed interest in joining the panel, three of whom became panel members.
Area for improvement
The force should regularly inform the public how, through analysis and monitoring, it understands and improves the way it uses force and stop and search powers
The force holds quarterly joint use of force and stop and search meetings. It keeps minutes of the meetings and there is a matrix for tracking allocated actions.
The force should publish the minutes of the meetings to inform the public. This will help show that it monitors and analyses its use of force and stop and search powers to make sure they are fair and appropriate. The minutes should be written so that anyone not at the meeting can understand what was discussed and follow the decisions. Minutes should include details of what the force is doing to understand its disproportionate use of stop and search powers.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to police powers and treating people fairly and respectfully.
The force is recording more use of force incidents but still fewer than expected
We can estimate the number of use of force incidents that Surrey Police should be recording by looking at the number of arrests a force has made. Each arrest would usually entail some use of force, for example in the compliant use of handcuffs. In the year ending 31 March 2022, the force recorded 7,912 use of force incidents. This was a 27.7 percent increase compared with the previous year. Based on the number of arrests, we estimate the force under-recorded use of force by 5,002 incidents, compared to 6,841 in the year ending 31 March 2021. This may indicate that the force’s recording practices have improved.
The force uses stop and search powers fairly and respectfully
In the year ending 31 March 2022, Surrey Police carried out 4,974 stop and searches. This was a 33.3 percent decrease from the previous year. In the year ending 31 March 2022, based on population data from the 2021 Census, Black people were 4.2 times as likely as White people to be stopped and searched by Surrey Police, compared to 4.8 times as likely across England and Wales.
During our inspection, we reviewed a sample of 179 stop and search records from 1 January to 31 December 2022. On the basis of this sample, we estimate that 89.4 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 4.4 percent) of all stop and searches by the force during this period had reasonable grounds recorded. This is similar to the findings from our previous review of records from 2020, where we found 92.1 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.4 percent) of stop and searches had reasonable grounds recorded.
Of the records we reviewed for stop and searches on people from ethnic minority backgrounds, 37 of the 41 reviewed had reasonable grounds recorded.
The force has improved its understanding of the use of stop and search but needs to do more to address its disproportionality
Surrey Police is a pathfinder force for recording protected characteristics data related to section 163 Road Traffic Act 1988 stops. This is the law that gives police the power to stop any vehicle or cycle on the road. The driver or rider must stop when required to do so by a constable in uniform. The force has collected this data since July 2022. It told us that early results show that there is evidence of disproportionality in traffic stops; but to a lesser extent than in its use of stop and search. The force needs to do further work to explain this and to understand why disproportionality exists.
Surrey Police has a quarterly force-wide joint monitoring meeting for stop and search and use of force. It is chaired by the senior officers who have oversight of the use of stop and search and use of force. The professional standards department (PSD) assesses complaints related to use of stop and search, and use of force. The lead officer for the professional standards department attends the meeting to report upon any issues.
There is a stop and search data pack produced for the meeting. It includes data and information, such as how often officers found the item sought in a search by ethnicity, frequent users of the power, the numbers of children searched and the numbers of searches in each division. This information would be enhanced by consistent analysis of the different types of searches and of the rate at which items searched for are found, broken down by ethnicity and age of the person searched. This analysis would help the force identify differences in find rates for the various types of search. Exploring this data would help the force to understand its use of these powers and what it needs to do to improve.
The force monitors stop and search and use of force at a divisional level. Each policing division has a chief inspector who is supported by officers who review the footage of 12 body-worn video (BWV) stop and search incidents per quarter. The chief inspector has monthly meetings with their stop and search officers to discuss stop and search data held on force systems and BWV reviews.
The force acts upon scrutiny and challenge it receives from an external independent forum to improve officers’ use of stop and search powers
There is an external scrutiny forum every six weeks that reviews data on stop and search, and the use of force. The external forums take place online and are attended by people with protected characteristics. This includes people from groups that are disproportionately affected by police powers. The independent chair of the external forum also attends the internal scrutiny meetings to promote crossover of information and consistency. All meetings consider a range of data to identify any potential disproportionate application of stop and search, or use of force, on people who have protected characteristics. BWV footage is reviewed as part of the scrutiny process.
In July 2023, we attended the external forum where the panel reviewed and discussed five BWV stop and search and use of force events. In the events viewed, officers used potentially inflammatory language. The external chairperson discussed this language at the internal meeting. The force acted by requiring the divisional chief inspectors to provide development feedback to the respective officers.
Effective communication skills in the use of stop and search and use of force is important. Officers should use active listening, emotional awareness, self-regulation, empathy and explanation of actions during interactions with the public.
The force told us that appropriate language by officers will also be included in future stop and search monitoring and in mandatory de-escalation training for officers. This shows that the force takes the views of the external panel seriously and quickly instigates changes to improve its practices.
The force also runs a lay observers’ scheme which allows Surrey residents to go with police officers on patrol to witness and give feedback on the use of stop and search.
The force is working hard to understand and improve its use of stop and search powers by understanding bias
The force is in the early stages of academic research into ethnic disproportionality in its use of stop and search powers, in collaboration with Cambridge University. The force has told us that the experimental design could involve virtual reality (VR) technology. VR is a computer system that creates simulated, controlled environments which can be like the real world. The force can use simulated environments to assess bias in interactions with people from different ethnic minority backgrounds. The use of VR is an innovative concept used in the research into police disproportionality and one that we will watch with interest.
Preventing and deterring crime and antisocial behaviour, and reducing vulnerability
Surrey Police is good at prevention and deterrence.
The force has developed applications on mobile data terminals to assist officers in dealing with suspected organised begging crime
Through the Crewmate application, the force provides information and guidance to its officers and police community support officers on their mobile data terminals. This also has a facility to guide its response to begging, by organised crime groups working in the county. This improves awareness among the workforce about begging offences and helps with gathering intelligence and evidence. It also details safeguarding considerations for those at risk of human trafficking. This includes a video in Romanian that officers can show to suspected Romanian trafficked victims involved in begging.
The force has carried out a series of training awareness ‘Let’s talk about…’ talks for magistrates
The force has developed a series of talks called ‘Let’s talk about…’ and presented them to magistrates in Surrey. The series includes:
This gives magistrates details of general policing activity for each topic. Magistrates can then draw upon this when they are presented with cases at court.
The force told us that the next presentation planned for early 2024 is ‘Let’s talk about orders and breaches’. This will provide magistrates with greater insight into protective measures and civil orders like Domestic Violence Protection Orders. It will include what leads to police applying for such orders and how sentencing options can help reduce reoffending. It is hoped that this will be a foundation of understanding before considering individual cases.
The force empowers local people to become involved in local policing activity
Volunteers help Surrey Police in several different roles. The work of the volunteers is recognised through an annual awards event. We attended the event at which the winners were selected and were impressed by the valuable work and contributions of those nominated. There were volunteers involved in vehicle maintenance, collecting biometrics from new recruits, communicating with local communities about vehicle crime and burglaries in the area and giving crime prevention advice. Cybercrime volunteers are also helping the public stay safe online.
In April 2023, the force held an open day at its headquarters. Over 5,500 people attended the event, which the force described as a great success. The force used Eventbrite to allow people to book attendance online. This online platform allowed the force to survey 1,200 attendees. Of those, 43.5 percent said that following the open day, they would consider volunteering with the force. This was a good method for getting local people involved with the force.
The special constabulary undertake a range of duties, not only in the response and neighbourhood functions of each local area but also in roads policing and a drone unit. They receive training for their roles through bespoke training days but can also attend courses with regular officers. The force is developing investigative training to allow special constables to work in departments such as the modern slavery team.
There is an effective management structure within the special constabulary and special constable leaders join leadership training with regular officers. This is good practice.
The force also used a survey to communicate with the special constabulary. It had a 70 percent response rate. This has informed training plans, which have been supported by the force.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to prevention and deterrence.
The force uses data to prioritise vulnerable people, groups and locations
The force effectively draws together and shares relevant data to understand crime, antisocial behaviour and vulnerability. Working with the county council-chaired Surrey Office of Data Analytics, it seeks access to more data from other organisations. It uses a data dashboard to brief and assign tasks to safer neighbourhood teams.
The force performance framework identifies and prioritises antisocial behaviour that is causing the greatest harm. It identifies and manages chronic and repeat antisocial behaviour with other organisations in a joint action group, and in community harm and risk management meetings (CHARMM), which result in joint action plans. Police and other organisations can refer people at high risk of, or who are already, causing high levels of harm to a CHARMM meeting.
The force has a senior police staff lead who develops policy and practice and manages the force antisocial behaviour specialists. The lead is the chairperson of the Surrey antisocial behaviour (community harm) reduction group. This group brings together community safety managers from across the county, providing consistency and links between police and the other agencies it works with. The antisocial behaviour specialists work on applications for closure orders, community protection orders and public safety protection orders while local staff carry out enforcement activity.
Safer neighbourhood teams would benefit from bespoke training
The force has done little dedicated training for safer neighbourhood officers. There has been online training. And officers and staff have access to the problem‑solving hub on the force’s intranet. They have access to an antisocial behaviour guidance application on their mobile data terminals. But many of the team members we spoke to had received little training for the role other than ‘on the job’ training.
The force should make sure it fully understands the learning needs of safer neighbourhood teams, so officers are fully trained for the role.
The force uses data to understand serious acquisitive crime
Serious acquisitive crime is defined as robbery, theft from a person, theft of and from a motor vehicle, and domestic burglary. In the year ending 31 December 2022, Surrey Police recorded 8,967 offences of serious acquisitive crime. This is an increase of 8.2 percent compared to the year ending 31 December 2021, when they recorded 8,284 offences of serious acquisitive crime.
The force is innovative in its use of technology to prevent and detect serious acquisitive crime. On the force’s website there is a link which allows people to upload video clips of suspicious activity. Investigators view the video clips and look for links to reported crime and other suspicious behaviour, like trying of car door handles. The information helps focus police activity to identify those responsible and to deter crime.
The force has had success with prosecuting those responsible for catalytic convertor thefts from vehicles and keyless car thefts in Surrey and across its borders. The force is pursuing those responsible for supplying the technical equipment used by thieves in keyless car thefts.
Working with other agencies, the force uses prevention initiatives to deter and tackle crime and antisocial behaviour
The force has implemented early help plans for vulnerable children who are at risk of exploitation or who are repeatedly commit crime or antisocial behaviour. The plans include allocation of a youth engagement officer. Police and other agencies meet regularly to discuss each young person and review shared data. This has been subject to academic scrutiny by Liverpool University.
The force is committed to reducing violence against women and girls. Officers have talked with university staff and students about prevention, evidence preservation and victim care. Drawing on good practice elsewhere, the force makes more patrols in areas near bars, pubs and clubs that are busy at night. The patrols look specifically for predatory behaviour. This allows police to intervene before a crime occurs.
The force won two national Tilley Awards in 2022 for Operation Surfer and Operation Blink. Operation Surfer won the overall award for effective problem-solving techniques. It was a response to 40 indecent exposures along the Basingstoke Canal in Woking. Operation Blink used problem-solving techniques to tackle a series of catalytic converter thefts across Surrey and surrounding counties. These problem-solving operations were two of the five international finalists in the Goldstein Awards in the USA in 2023.
The police and crime commissioner (PCC) has supported several programmes. One example is healthy relationships training for teachers about issues such as children staying safe on social media. This sometimes removes the need for police involvement.
Another PCC-supported programme was putting independent domestic violence advisers (IDVAs) in hospital A&E departments to identify and support victims of domestic abuse. This led to an increase in reporting of crime.
A third PCC programme part-funded support workers to help those who have had drug dealers take over their homes. This is called cuckooing. While police deal with the criminality, the support workers work with victims to build their confidence and help them regain control of their lives.
The force is committed to tackling antisocial behaviour but doesn’t record all antisocial behaviour crime
In the year ending 31 March 2022, the force recorded 16.1 antisocial behaviour incidents per 1,000 population, which is in the normal range for all forces in England and Wales. In the crime data integrity section of this report, we found that the force needs to improve its recording of antisocial behaviour personal crime.
The force has a team of antisocial behaviour specialist advisers who work closely with the local safer neighbourhood teams. The specialist advisers assess all new antisocial behaviour incidents and provide tactical advice to the neighbourhood teams who deal with the matter.
The force uses police powers and ancillary orders to tackle antisocial behaviour. We examined the case of a child who is a prolific thief and knifepoint robber, and who commits antisocial behaviour. The force has developed a detailed problem-solving plan and is pursuing a criminal behaviour order, while collaborating with other agencies to reduce the child’s offending.
In the year ending 31 December 2022, Surrey Police used antisocial behaviour powers on a number of occasions including:
The force understands and shows a long-term commitment to problem-solving and evidence-based policing
The force is maximising opportunities to prevent public harm and reduce demand through working with other organisations.
Surrey Police uses problem-solving techniques within neighbourhood policing. It also uses problem-solving more broadly to reduce repeat domestic abuse. Officers use recognised models and the force records problem-solving on its systems.
Analysis of domestic abuse incidents using problem-solving principles has allowed the force to make changes. These include:
- using behavioural science to understand how to support victims effectively through the criminal justice process by making contact at key points;
- using antisocial behaviour legislation to secure a partial closure order for an address because of ongoing domestic incidents which also affected the local community; and
- ensuring it analyses all available information when managing high-risk offenders and victims.
Surrey Police invested in a road safety team (Vanguard). This targets high harm offenders and locations to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured. Vanguard has a researcher to inform their work. This helped the force target and arrest a person who continued to drive despite being disqualified after a fatal collision. The force encourages members of the community to volunteer on road safety initiatives in their area. It is evaluating this work with the University of Greenwich.
An evidence-based policing (EBP) working group, led by an inspector who is undertaking a master’s degree in the subject, has been developing EBP over several years, with academic support. The group meets quarterly and is joined by representatives from several universities and the College of Policing. To broaden learning, the group invites colleagues from other forces to each meeting. All officers and staff can see information on an EBP hub on the force computer systems. In April 2023, the force held a local conference. Local officers presented findings from projects covering mental health, disproportionality in stop and search, knife crime and domestic abuse.
The force has a new community engagement strategy but it needs to refresh ward profiles and local community engagement plans
At the time of our inspection, in July 2023, the force published its community engagement strategy. To accompany the strategy, the force told us that it intends to provide a community engagement toolkit for neighbourhood staff.
The force has invested in software which uses a wide variety of data to gain a greater understanding of communities. The force uses it to target its engagement activity more efficiently and effectively. We found that safer neighbourhood teams generally had a good understanding of their ward areas. We learnt that the force intends to use the software to refresh ward profiles.
The force uses community engagement to gather information and intelligence to address priorities. Neighbourhood teams use of a variety of techniques to communicate with the community. These include social media, faith groups and ‘meet the beat’ opportunities where officers use supermarkets and empty shops to hold surgeries to meet residents in that area.
The force also uses targeted communications to address different problems and reach different sections of the community. In 2022, this included a successful targeted phone survey of people who go out or work during the evening in Epsom. The force had 167 responses, which showed respondents had significant concerns including drink spiking and sexual assaults. The force used these results to make a Safer Streets funding application to the office of the PCC. It resulted in a grant of £300,000. This funded work within the town centre, including a new CCTV network; drink spiking measures, including testing kits for premises; funding for street pastors; and ongoing training for licensed venue staff.
The force tries to work with communities that interact less often with the police
The force works with seldom-heard communities. These include schools in deprived areas and the Gypsy Roma Traveller community (GRT). Working with a charity supporting young people and asylum seekers, the force is trying to break down barriers especially with those who have no family support in the area.
Neighbourhood teams use liaison and engagement officers to work with the GRT community. They have an established network of GRT members who they have a positive relationship with. Officers can also ask GRT contacts in other agencies for help with an incident or in speaking to the community. Officers have received training about the GRT community, which is helping to improve communication.
The force is also working hard to increase visibility, connections and services to seldom-heard and marginalised communities to tackle violence against women and girls in Surrey. We attended the force’s multi-agency meeting, called ‘Our communities group’, where it was established that survivors can report to Surrey Police, social services and health services with no fear of immigration enforcement. The PCC has funded a communities worker to provide a specialist service to survivors from Black and other ethnic minority backgrounds. This is positive.
Youth engagement officers and PCSOs work hard in the community but would benefit from a refocus of force expectations for each role
There are 22 youth engagement officers in the force. They work alongside safer neighbourhood teams but are centrally governed. We found them to be passionate about their role, which includes building trust in young people towards the police. This is achieved in a range of ways including police visits to schools. The force also collaborates with parents and the family support team to build relationships with children vulnerable to exploitation, or who are committing antisocial behaviour and entering criminality.
During our interviews, we learnt that the youth engagement officer role is performed differently across the county. The force told us that it is preparing a new youth engagement officer role description to introduce standard practice.
PCSOs are the bedrock of community policing in Surrey. Several PCSOs became student police officers as part of the Police Uplift Programme and the force has had difficulty recruiting replacements due to the competitive job market in Surrey. Police Now student officers have been placed in the vacant PCSO posts. The PCSOs that are left are still committed to community policing but told us that they have become stretched. Rather than covering a specific local area where they would develop links with the community, they now frequently work over a wider area to assist response officer colleagues with tasks such as statement taking, collection of CCTV and guarding crime scenes.
The force has told us that it does have plans to recruit more PCSOs. It would benefit from a review so it can assure itself it is making best use of the role from a local community policing perspective. That is, to address issues of public concern, act as a deterrent to local crime and improve community confidence.
Responding to the public
Surrey Police is inadequate at responding to the public.
Cause of concern
The force needs to improve how it responds to calls from the public
The force needs to improve the time it takes to answer emergency calls for service. When a victim contacts the police, it is important that their call is answered quickly.
In the year ending 31 March 2023, Surrey Police answered 77 percent of its 999 calls within 10 seconds. This was below the expected standard of answering 90 percent within 10 seconds.
Figure 1: Proportion of 999 calls answered within 10 seconds by forces in England and Wales in the year ending 31 March 2023
The force’s non-emergency call abandonment rate is very high. The force was given an area for improvement in relation to reducing its abandonment rate when we last inspected in 2021.
In the year ending 31 March 2023, Surrey received 131,999 calls per 1,000 population. This was lower than expected compared to other forces in England and Wales.
Despite our previous area for improvement, during our inspection we found that this performance had declined. In the year ending 31 May 2023, the force told us that, of the total number of calls to its non-emergency 101 facility, 47 percent were abandoned.
The abandonment rate is much higher than the standard of 10 percent for forces without a switchboard. This is a real concern because when callers abandon their call, no assessment of risk can take place, and vulnerable people may be missed.
When calls are abandoned, some callers may move to online contact. Currently the force’s telephone/online technology cannot analyse channel shifts. So the force doesn’t understand the point at which a caller may abandon a non‑emergency call in favour of reporting online. Some callers may shift to using the 999 emergency number, which creates further demands on the force. This means that the public still can’t easily contact the force and may leave people at risk. The force still does not provide the public with a good enough service.
The force has had staff vacancies in the contact centre and force control room, which it says has affected its ability to service calls. Staffing levels have improved with an achievable plan to reach the established levels by September 2023. The force told us the contact centre was 19.7 percent under establishment in April 2023 reducing to 10.1 percent in August 2023. It has been using police officers as an interim measure to fill these gaps. The force has had difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff and must continue efforts to address this.
When we inspected the force in 2021, we commented that the force didn’t always identify repeat victims. This means the victim’s history isn’t taken into account when considering the type of response they should have.
This time we found that call handlers don’t always complete checks to find out if callers are repeat victims. In our victim service assessment, there was evidence of a check for a repeat victim in only 48 of the 65 cases we reviewed. This means that the force does not always identify repeat victims. So it isn’t always fully aware of the victim’s circumstances when considering what response it should give.
- Within three months, Surrey Police should improve its ability to answer emergency calls quickly enough.
- Within three months, Surrey Police should reduce the number of non‑emergency calls that the caller abandons because they are not answered.
Cause of concern
The force’s response to incidents needs to improve
In our victim service assessment, we also found that response to an incident was within the force’s published attendance times (whether downgraded or not) in only 29 of the 63 cases reviewed. Delays in response can lead to the force missing opportunities to safeguard victims or collect evidence.
The caller/victim was updated about delays in 20 of 28 relevant cases. The force should have the right levels of oversight to improve how it responds to incidents. It needs to improve the way it prioritises its response to incidents and how quickly it responds. If the force doesn’t understand how good it is at answering calls and responding to incidents, it will find it more difficult to improve the service it provides.
- Within six months, Surrey Police should make sure that repeat callers are routinely identified by call handlers.
- Within six months, Surrey Police should attend calls for service in line with its own published attendance times.
- Within six months, Surrey Police should make sure there is effective supervision of deployment decisions within the control room.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force responds to the public.
Call handlers are polite and clear
In our victim service assessment, we found that call handlers acted politely, appropriately and ethically, and used clear unambiguous language without apparent bias, in all 74 cases we reviewed.
The force uses a structured risk assessment and calls are appropriately prioritised
We found that the call handler used a structured triage approach to assess THRIVE and consider the needs of the victim/caller in 54 of 56 applicable cases. The structured triage record was an accurate and meaningful reflection of the circumstances of the call in 49 of 54 cases.
We found evidence of a check for a vulnerable victim and/or other person in 71 of 81 relevant cases reviewed. Where a vulnerable person was identified this was recorded in 44 of 46 cases. But, as we detailed above, we have concerns that call handlers don’t always complete checks to find out if callers are repeat victims.
We also found that the initial prioritisation grading of the call was appropriate with the information obtained in 93 of 99 cases reviewed.
The public yellow phones outside police stations are faulty
The force told us that there is a fault with its public yellow phones. These are found outside police stations for people to get help when the front desk is closed. Some of the yellow phones keep making unprompted 101 calls to the force contact centre. In June 2023, it received just over 8,000 calls from the faulty yellow phones.
The force told us that it only receives an average of 12 genuine calls from the yellow phones per day. The force has reduced demand for the yellow phones by only asking people to sign on bail when the police station front desk is open. There are also alternative ways of contacting the force. Surrey Police told us that it had decided to decommission the yellow phones.
The public can contact the force through appropriate and accessible channels
Members of the public can report crimes and a range of other issues, such as road traffic incidents and antisocial behaviour, via the force’s website. It also offers a live chat service and social media channels, which it monitors 24/7. Surrey Police uses the national online reporting service, Single Online Home (SOH), which allows people to report crime and front desk services safely and securely. During the day there is a dedicated team that monitors all SOH reports to make sure that vulnerability is identified at the earliest opportunity and passes incidents requiring a response onto call handlers in a timely fashion. Overnight, management of the SOH function is passed to contact management supervisors.
In February 2023, the force introduced its new command and control system: Smart Storm. The bedding in of this new IT platform caused significant issues in the force which adversely affected the contact centre and force control room performance, particularly in March 2023. Smart Storm has a visual display which is highlighted to show when a caller has called previously. This should help the force to better identify repeat callers.
The force has told us that it plans to introduce its new telephony system, Vodafone Storm, in autumn 2023. As well as supporting traditional voice calls (999 and 101), it can support email, SOH and channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, X (formerly Twitter) and WhatsApp, which it plans to introduce later. The force told us that Vodafone Storm will also include improved performance metrics, supervisor functionality and queue management. This is a positive as the current telephony is outdated. We look forward to seeing the result.
The force has introduced a new chief officer role overseeing the force control room and contact centre
In April 2023, the force introduced a chief superintendent role to oversee the force control room and contact centre. These have previously been managed as two separate entities. In spring 2024, the force plans to redesign the layout of the contact centre to accommodate the force control room staff and IT equipment that are currently situated elsewhere in the force. The force also plans to train some of the staff to carry out both roles. This will give it the ability to flex its resource when needed.
Time spent assisting people in mental health crisis has increased for frontline officers
It is now harder for contact staff and response officers to access timely advice from mental health practitioners. There is no mental health adviser within the force control room. The force told us that Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust withdrew this service. The trust replaced it with a 24-hour crisis helpline on which officers can leave a message. Officers told us that they usually receive a call back from an approved mental health practitioner within 30 minutes. And there is no longer a joint response vehicle staffed by both a paramedic and police officer. The force told us that the South East Coast Ambulance Service withdrew the paramedic due to a lack of funds.
The force has told us that mental health incidents requiring a Grade 1 emergency response have increased by more than 10 percent. So frontline staff have a more complex task helping members of public in mental health crisis when other agencies are not available or adequately resourced. This is particularly acute when officers must detain a person under the Mental Health Act 1983. There are often long delays before a mental health assessment suite becomes available.
In the year ending 31 March 2022, the force detained 672 people under section 136 of the Mental Health Act. The force told us that between January 2023 and September 2023 they have detained 696 people under the power. In the same period, the average wait time for an assessment suite was six hours per detained person.
The Surrey high intensity partnership programme (SHIPP) is a joint initiative with mental health services that identifies service users who frequently call the police. SHIPP makes a management plan with the involvement and consent of the frequent caller. The plan is triggered when that person calls again. The force told us that SHIPP did reduce section 136 Mental Health Act detentions. But since the pandemic the numbers have risen.
Since 2021, the force has had a dedicated mental health lead. The force told us that in September 2023 it plans to introduce a dedicated senior leadership role to implement the Right Care Right Person programme into the force. Right Care Right Person aims to make sure that vulnerable people get the right support from the right emergency services. It involves police working with other agencies.
Surrey Police is adequate at investigating crime.
Area for improvement
The force doesn’t consistently achieve appropriate outcomes for victims
The force isn’t always achieving acceptable outcomes for victims of crime. It has low numbers of crimes that are solved following investigations. The force needs to understand the issue and work to achieve better outcomes for victims.
Figure 2: Proportion of victim-based crimes assigned specified crime outcomes by Surrey Police compared to forces in England and Wales in the year ending 31 December 2022
|England and Wales rate
|2 and 3: Caution – youths and ‘Caution – adults
|8: Community resolutions
|9: Not in the public interest (Crown Prosecution Service)
|10 and 21: Not in public interest (police)’ and Further investigation to support formal action not in the public interest – police decision
|14: Evidential difficulties (suspect not identified; victim does not support further action)
|15: Evidential difficulties (suspect identified; victim supports action)
|16: Evidential difficulties (suspect identified; victim does not support further action)
|17: Prosecution time limit expired
|18: Investigation complete – no suspect identified
|20: Responsibility for further investigation transferred to another body
|22: Diversionary, education or intervention activity
Note: England and Wales excludes City of London data
Figure 3: Proportion of victim-based crimes assigned a ‘charged/summonsed’ (outcome 1) by Surrey Police between the year ending 31 March 2015 and the year ending 31 December 2022
In the year ending 31 December 2022, Surrey Police recorded 59,385 victim‑based crimes. Of these recorded offences, 6.9 percent were assigned an ‘offences brought to justice’ outcome. This was in the normal range when compared to other forces in England and Wales.
The force uses of out-of-court disposals frequently. This is where a caution, apology or reparation for crime is felt by the force to be appropriate. In the year ending 31 December 2022, out-of-court disposals were the result in 4.8 percent of recorded crimes, the seventh highest proportion in England and Wales. For victim-based crime this figure is 3.2 percent which is in line with other forces in England and Wales.
The force uses Checkpoint, a deferred prosecution scheme. This gives lower-level offenders the chance to address the causes of their crime instead of a formal prosecution, with strict conditions. It also offers Checkpoint Plus, 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.
This approach can help to change offending behaviour, prevent further crime and reduce unnecessary pressure on the court system. The force told us that 592 men and women completed their contract between 1 February 2019 and 1 June 2022. Of those, 37 reoffended after 12 months. This is a reoffending rate of 6.3 percent. This compares favourably with Surrey offenders who don’t go through either scheme, where 25 percent reoffend.
Although the force makes good use of Checkpoint, it needs to monitor all the outcome types it uses to make sure they comply with policy. This will lead to satisfactory results for victims.
The force has introduced CCTV investigators to support thorough crime investigations
The force has one CCTV investigator in each division. The role supports investigative teams with CCTV retrieval and copying recordings into viewable formats for investigators.
With technology rapidly transforming, a trained, dedicated CCTV investigator can build specialist knowledge and skills.
This dedicated role has helped prevent the loss of evidence. The force can retrieve CCTV quicker, preventing loss of CCTV evidence by automatic over‑recording.
Several forces have a similar role in major crime investigation departments but a role assisting criminal investigation department and other investigations is promising practice.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force investigates crime.
The force has a management structure that provides governance and oversight of investigations
The new chief constable has a focus on force performance to increase the number of offenders brought to justice. The deputy chief constable chairs the force performance board, which is known in Surrey Police as the force service board. Since June 2023, aligned with the force’s priority to tackle violence against women and girls, Surrey Police has changed the board’s focus to violent domestic abuse, stalking and harassment, rape and serious sexual assaults and child abuse. It examines criminal justice data and force crime data in these areas at force and team level. The meeting we attended highlighted that one division was performing less well than the other two with domestic abuse investigations. The next meeting was to focus on this difference so that learning can be shared to improve performance.
The force is improving its investigative standards with a strategic review team and new crime management framework
The force has an investigative structure review team called Operation Falcon. The team is led by a detective superintendent, who is supported by a detective sergeant and detective constable. Operation Falcon has created the Falcon Principles, a checklist for investigators of safeguarding and investigative standards.
The force is planning to introduce a new crime management framework. Part of the new framework puts more emphasis on sergeant and inspector oversight of investigations.
We saw evidence of effective supervision in 61 of 73 cases in our victim service assessment. Effective supervision of investigations means that the force takes all investigative opportunities. To support development in this area, the force has introduced investigative training for supervisors by the Falcon team. Sergeants who had completed this training gave us positive feedback.
The Falcon team shares learning across the force through a series of masterclasses around interesting investigations. The Falcon team also carries out monthly house burglary crime reviews to make sure investigations are of a high standard and to establish themes for further training sessions. This supports the force’s commitment to relentlessly pursue those responsible for serious acquisitive crime, which includes burglary, personal robbery, theft from a person, and theft of and from a motor vehicle. It also increases criminal justice outcomes for serious acquisitive crime, and other serious crime types.
The force carries out effective investigations
During our inspection, we found that the allocation of investigations was appropriate in 97 of the 100 cases we reviewed. Investigations were effective in 89 of the 100 cases reviewed. There was evidence that the force took all appropriate and proportionate investigative opportunities from the outset, and throughout the investigation, in 84 of 93 cases. There was evidence of an appropriate investigation plan, in line with the College of Policing authorised professional practice (APP) guidance, in 47 of 49 cases. Investigation plans were followed and updated in all 47 relevant cases reviewed. There were unjustified delays in investigations in 8 of the 100 cases reviewed.
The force monitors the Victims’ Code of Practice effectively
The force performance board monitors compliance with the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime. Divisional performance teams provide scrutiny over investigative standards and monitor local compliance. We found that investigators were aware of their responsibilities in this area.
In our victim service assessment, we found that the force clearly recorded appropriate victims’ needs assessments in 58 of the 65 relevant cases we reviewed. Where a victim was entitled to an enhanced service, this was recorded in 35 of 38 relevant cases. The force adhered to the victim contract in 53 of 57 relevant cases. It made referrals to other organisations in 47 of 53 relevant cases. It considered a victim personal statement in 10 of 11 cases.
We judged that in 86 of 94 cases a good level of victim service was provided in line with the Victims’ Code of Practice.
Protecting vulnerable people
Surrey Police is adequate at protecting vulnerable people.
Area for improvement
Where it is suspected that an adult with care and support needs is being abused or neglected, the force should safeguard them and carry out a thorough investigation to bring perpetrators to justice to prevent further harm
The force does not have effective governance and processes for section 42 of the Care Act 2014 adults at risk investigations. This is where it is reasonably suspected that an adult with care and support needs is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and, as a result of those needs, cannot protect themselves from this actual, or risk of, abuse and neglect.
The force does not have a specialist team to manage section 42 investigations nor an adult multi-agency safeguarding hub. The force’s policy is that all such investigations will be managed by the criminal investigation department as professionalising investigations programme 2 serious and complex investigations. The detective sergeants in the criminal investigation department have had training in section 42 enquiries with adult social care.
During our inspection, we referred a case to the force adult safeguarding lead. The case met the section 42 investigation criteria but was being managed by an officer who lacked experience and training in this area of policing.
We found significant issues with the quality of the investigation. The crime had initially been correctly allocated to the criminal investigation department, but a detective sergeant had directed that it was suitable for a response officer to investigate. There had been no contact with adult social care.
The finding of the case was highlighted to the force. The adult safeguarding lead was quick to respond to our concerns. A detective chief inspector reviewed safeguarding and oversight of the investigation.
The force told us that it had recently completed its own audit of adult at risk investigations and had found similar cases lacking quality investigations or appropriate safeguarding of victims.
These issues have been raised with chief officers and the force has put governance in place.
The force lead told us that they are exploring options to address the issues we found. They will be presented at the force vulnerability board, chaired by an assistant chief constable.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force protects vulnerable people.
The force usually works well with others to keep vulnerable people safe
We found that apart from section 42 adults at risk investigations, the force has a co‑ordinated approach to managing the victims and perpetrators of the most serious crimes, including domestic abuse. Multi-agency public protection arrangements and multi‑agency risk assessment conferences (MARAC) manage those victims most at risk.
Officers and staff are clear about their responsibility to give safeguarding support to vulnerable people. All frontline staff have completed ‘Domestic Abuse Matters’ training, and training in relation to voice of the child. Officers who attend incidents involving vulnerable people carry out appropriate safeguarding and complete relevant forms. The force assesses this information and, where relevant, shares with other agencies. When attending incidents, officers use their professional curiosity to look for signs of exploitation, hidden harm and vulnerability. This means that they usually promptly refer vulnerable children and adults to the appropriate support services.
The force has a centralised public protection support team of specialist officers. These officers provide tactical advice on many different strands of public protection and provide guidance in relation to ongoing investigations. We found the team to be knowledgeable and an asset to the force. However, we saw in the adult safeguarding audit that, even though the team had provided specialist advice, some investigators didn’t follow the advice they had been given.
The force lead for domestic abuse attends survivors’ groups to learn from the experience of survivors and feedback to the group. This helps the force improve its service where needed. And it is an opportunity to inform survivors about changes it makes in response to their feedback. One such improvement we were told about was that the group were concerned that officers lacked understanding around coercive controlling behaviour crimes. The force responded by creating a coercive controlling behaviour protocol for officers and staff to follow. As a result, the force recorded more coercive controlling behaviour crimes and was able to charge more offenders. It reported this back to the survivors’ group. This shows the force is keen to listen to concerns and responds by improving services.
The force has a process to identify repeat and serial domestic abuse perpetrators
The force has an active multi-agency tasking and co-ordination meeting (MATAC), chaired by a domestic abuse team detective inspector. Professional referrals and use of an algorithm called RFGV (Recency, Frequency, Gravity, Volume) assign the highest harm perpetrators to MATAC. In the year 2022/23, Surrey Police and the office of the PCC secured just over £500,000 of Home Office funding to commission a domestic abuse perpetrator programme. Officers from the force’s high harm perpetrator unit manage other offenders.
The force told us that of the 27 domestic abuse offenders that have completed the MATAC process, 74 percent have seen a reduction in their RFGV score from September 2021 to September 2022.
The force has a stalking clinic and makes good use of protective orders
The force has a stalking clinic, chaired by the stalking tactical adviser of the public protection support unit. The stalking clinic is a multi-agency approach where a range of professionals discuss and respond to stalking cases across Surrey. It means different perspectives come together to tackle the problem. The success of this approach has led to the force applying for SPOs. In the year ending 30 September 2022, Surrey Police recorded the highest number of interim SPOs granted at court across forces in England and Wales. The force recorded 8 interim SPOs granted at court, which equated to 10.1 such orders granted per 1,000 recorded stalking offences. This was higher than expected compared to other forces in England and Wales. In the same year, Surrey Police recorded 11 full SPOs granted at court, which equated to 13.7 such orders granted per 1,000 recorded stalking offences. This was higher than expected compared to other forces in England and Wales. It meant the force recorded the highest number of full SPOs granted at court, across forces in England and Wales.
SPOs help with early police intervention pre-conviction to address stalking behaviours before they become entrenched or escalate in severity and to protect victims from serious harm.
Figure 4: Full SPOs granted per 1,000 stalking offences across forces in England and Wales, in the year ending 30 September 2022
Note: data excludes City of London
In the year ending 30 September 2022, Surrey Police applied for 155 Domestic Violence Protection Orders at court, which equated to 1.9 percent of domestic abuse related crimes recorded by the force. This was within the typical range compared to other forces in England and Wales; the average rate across forces in England and Wales for the same period was 1.2 percent (of domestic abuse related crimes recorded across forces). Domestic Violence Protection Orders aim to protect victims following an incident of domestic violence and give them time to consider what to do next.
MARAC appears to work well but there is no way of tracking actions set and no steering group
We attended MARAC in Surrey. There was good agency representation at MARAC, such as police, local authority, housing, independent domestic violence advisers and health. The representatives shared information, discussed the risks and allocated appropriate actions to reduce the risk and improve the safety of the victim and their family.
There is a process for convening urgent MARAC meetings outside the regular timetable. This is good practice for reducing risks to those victims who are at more imminent risk of significant harm.
The effectiveness of MARAC would be enhanced if risk reducing actions set at the meeting were tracked for completion. There is currently no ability to track action taken, with a view to evaluating what worked well and what didn’t work well. The only way of seeing if the task has been completed is by contacting the owner of the task.
The force told us that there is no direct way of bringing other agencies involved in MARAC together to discuss and evaluate the effectiveness of the meeting as there is no MARAC steering group. This is a weakness in the arrangements.
Managing offenders and suspects
Surrey Police is good at managing offenders and suspects.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force manages offenders and suspects.
The force pursues offenders and suspects well
The force arrests most offenders and suspects promptly. They are all risk assessed and prioritised. High-risk suspects and offenders who haven’t yet been arrested are monitored at the daily management meeting while they are sought. The force has a protective wanted person team. It categorises wanted persons based on risk, with allocated time limits for circulation on the Police National Computer. Each division has a team responsible for making priority arrests for high-risk offenders, such as high-risk domestic abuse perpetrators. So the force focuses on the safeguarding of those most vulnerable by making timely arrests.
The warrants administration team monitors outstanding suspects and the latest information or DNA hits. It also assigns tasks for making arrests.
The force generally uses bail effectively to protect vulnerable victims
Bail is a tool for police to protect and safeguard vulnerable people and locations through the imposition of conditions. Officers use bail conditions to prevent suspects from approaching or contacting victims. Bail conditions can also keep suspects away from specific places. This helps prevent further crime and safeguards vulnerable people.
During our inspection, officers told us that they had no bespoke training in relation to the changes to bail legislation but had received a series of email briefings about it. Officers told us that they were having to learn as they go.
The force has created a centralised bail management team and put in place governance arrangements. These give the force understanding and oversight of the use of bail, released under investigation (RUI) and voluntary attendance.
The force previously had issues when some suspects went to the police station on their bail return date and the officer in the case didn’t turn up. This meant there was no plan for the next steps in the investigation. This usually meant that the bail concluded, and the suspect would be RUI – this is known as lapsed into RUI. To help avoid this, the force introduced a new process. The bail manager sends an email reminder to officers who have bail returnees due in the next seven to ten days. The bail manager reviews all bail return cases a few days before the return time. They update the crime report and tell the officer if there is action required. This is to minimise inadvertent lapses from bail to RUI where officers fail to attend or update the reports. The force is introducing a new custody disposal code to show ‘RUI lapsed from bail’ for monitoring purposes.
The role bail plays in protecting vulnerable people is understood within the force. There are processes to make sure that officers consider the vulnerability of the victim in any decision to change the status of a suspect from being on bail to RUI. These arrangements result in officers and staff making full use of the recent changes in the bail legislation. The force has seen an increase in the use of police bail with a corresponding decrease in the use of RUI.
When a suspect breaches bail in any way, the force creates a record so that it makes proactive efforts to arrest the suspect. The divisional priority arrest teams make these arrests, or they are assigned at the daily management meeting. The force is making good use of the new three-hour pause of detention clocks to manage breaches of bail. This shows robust use of the new bail legislation to protect victims.
The force has improved its management of registered sex offenders
The force’s management of offenders is in line with the College of Policing’s APP and is completed by its high harm perpetrator unit. The force uses nationally recognised risk assessment tools to assess the risk of registered sex offenders. Officers and staff who assess risk are properly trained in using these assessment tools.
The force has adequate technical provision for monitoring and enforcement of orders. The team carries out device examinations during home visits. This maximises opportunities to identify breaches and further offending.
Risk management plans and active risk management were found to be of a good standard. We found that there was good supervisor oversight of cases. Supervisor approval of risk management plans and visits was generally meaningful. We found the comments to be bespoke and related to specific circumstances.
The force completes home visits in line with APP. Reactively managed cases were found to be APP compliant.
During our initial assessment of the force, we found a backlog of overdue visits that the force was unaware of. The force quickly acted to remedy the situation and changed its processes. The force continues to improve in this area. It now has appropriate governance and oversight of its management of violent and sexual offenders.
The high harm perpetrator unit is part of the force’s public protection innovation group. This has resulted in ideas such as an easy-read sexual harm prevention order for those with difficulties reading. The team also signposts or supports reading courses for offenders, as this can be a barrier to gaining employment.
The force makes sure that officers who are responsible for managing registered sex offenders have manageable workloads and are equipped for their role
Officers we spoke to reported manageable workloads. They had received training and guidance to support them in their role.
The force has 300 eSafe licences to assist with the monitoring of electronic devices held by registered sex offenders. Each team has people trained as digital media investigators. They have access to tools to help them identify electronic devices that should be seized during enforcement action. This includes access to a dog which is trained to locate electronic devices that may be concealed within premises.
The force is effective in its investigations of indecent child abuse images
The force has a paedophile online investigation team to assess the risk of, and to act against, offenders who may share indecent images of children online. These investigators take a proactive approach by arrest or warrant of those suspected of committing these offences. They arrest suspects quickly and make good use of bail, with conditions and sexual harm prevention orders to protect the public. Bail is now the preferred disposal method over RUI for suspects arrested on suspicion of sharing child abuse images. This increases opportunities to safeguard the public.
It is positive that the force puts safeguarding measures in place early in its investigations. This is informed by research and checks with social services.
The paedophile online investigation team has its own technical capability to triage devices, which means there are no digital forensics delays. There is an established and formalised intelligence refresh. But should delays occur, the force has a process in place to complete regular checks to see if the suspect could have access to children. If it is suspected that they do, the case is prioritised.
The force uses specialist software to identify the sharing of indecent images of children. It uploads images to the national child abuse image database to help identify and safeguard victims.
Building, supporting and protecting the workforce
Surrey Police requires improvement at building and developing its workforce.
Area for improvement
The force needs to do more to understand the workforce’s well-being needs and tailor accordingly
The force told us that it hasn’t completed a force well-being survey in three years. And it hasn’t completed the Bluelight self-assessment to understand what affects good or poor well-being. The staff associations and staff networks said that they are listened to. But not all staff are involved with these associations and networks. The force needs to do more to understand the drivers of good and poor well-being for different teams, and roles within those teams. For example, the experiences of police officer investigators and police staff investigators are different, although they do similar work. During our fieldwork, we learnt that police staff investigators do not have access to police radios, unlike police officers. Police staff investigators must use mobile phones to ring 999 if they need back-up. This makes police staff investigators more vulnerable which negatively affects well-being.
Area for improvement
The force needs to do more to instil confidence within the workforce in reporting discrimination, bullying and racist behaviour
During our fieldwork, we learnt that some members of the workforce lack trust in the force to deal effectively with discrimination, bullying and racist behaviour.
We also carried out an anonymous PEEL workforce survey, open from 14 February to 24 March 2023, where we learnt that:
- In the last 12 months, 11.3 percent of respondents (68 of 600 respondents) had felt bullied or harassed at work in Surrey Police. Of the 68 respondents who felt bullied or harassed, 22 respondents hadn’t reported the bullying and 35 respondents reported the bullying informally.
- In the last 12 months, 9.3 percent of respondents (56 of 603 respondents) had felt discriminated against at work in Surrey Police. Of the 56 respondents who felt discriminated against, 36 respondents had not reported the discrimination, 7 respondents had reported it formally and 13 respondents reported it informally.
Line managers should be nurturing an environment of trust and confidence. In focus groups, some of the workforce told us that this wasn’t always the case. This was also supported by our PEEL workforce survey, where 17.0 percent of respondents (103 of 605 respondents) disagreed that their line manager is nurturing an environment of trust and confidence.
Only when the workforce is confident to report issues can the force tackle any of this behaviour effectively.
Area for improvement
The force needs to better understand why officers and staff, and in particular new recruits, wish to leave the force
Due to the high number of police staff leavers the force has a gold group running called Operation ENROL. This is led by the director of people services. The force has a leavers’ questionnaire which is sent to officers and police staff leavers. The force capability, capacity and performance board considers a report of themes from the leavers’ questionnaires every six months.
The force recently introduced stay interviews to retain new police officer recruits. But it still lacks understanding of why recruits (or other staff) might leave the force. It doesn’t collect sufficient data at those interviews to understand why people leave or what has made them stay. The force told us that as a direct result of the stay interviews some student officers who resigned have been retained by the force as police staff.
The force needs to review and improve processes to monitor staff satisfaction and to understand why people leave. It needs to use this improved data and information to identify patterns and trends. This will allow it to better support the workforce. This should help to improve satisfaction and retention.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to how well the force builds and develops its workforce.
The force provides a good range of preventative and supportive well-being measures to its workforce but there are delays for occupational health services
The workforce is aware of, and can access, a good range of preventative and supportive measures to improve physical and mental well-being. The staff and officers we spoke to knew how to access support through the force well-being pages on the intranet and via their line manager. There is an occupational health advice line for managers to get help and advice for their teams. This is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. There are several support groups including a multi-faith chaplaincy and groups for those with protected characteristics.
The force is innovative with its well-being provision. In the workplace it offers mini health checks, which review body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol. The sleep project (aimed at assisting shift work staff to sleep better) won an Oscar Kilo award in 2021. The force’s mental health app, Backup Buddy, won best innovation at the InsideOut Awards 2021.
The employee assistance programme is well regarded by the workforce. The service offers 24-hour access to telephone counselling, information services and short-term face to face counselling with a professional counsellor. It also provides access to qualified solicitors, financial specialists and a range of health and well-being specialists.
The force occupational health unit received mixed reviews from the workforce. Some received good support, but others reported long delays for appointments. The occupational health unit has had staff vacancies and has been relying on agency staff to cover appointments. This led to delays, but the situation is improving as the force has employed additional staff and has plans in place to employ a force medical officer.
The force would benefit from a self-assessment to better understand where it needs to improve its occupational health provision. This would make sure the workforce receives timely support.
Line managers are responsible for much of the force’s well-being services but there is no monitoring of this provision
Line managers are trained to support the well-being of their staff. They are required to hold one-to-one meetings with team members about their performance and well-being.
The force makes time for line managers to hold one-to-one meetings with team members about their performance and well-being. They are also required to provide informal one-to-one check-ins and formal performance and development reviews called ‘future focus meetings’.
However, the force does not have any monitoring process to check that line managers are providing this.
Future focus meetings appear to be taking place and working well. Many of the officers and staff members we spoke to have had a future focus meeting within the last 12 months and spoke positively about it.
But there is no monitoring of whether one-to-one meetings are taking place and the force does not have a process for monitoring points discussed or concerns raised during the meetings. There is no central store or corporate memory for future focus meeting records so continuity issues can arise when people move teams. The force can’t identify force-wide themes arising from these discussions.
The force provides additional support for those in high-risk roles and following traumatic incidents
For officers and staff working in high-risk roles, the force provides an enhanced well‑being service. There are nine departments across the force which get this enhanced service. Each team member receives a well-being trauma assessment annually. If this picks up signs of trauma, the team member will be contacted by the occupational health unit.
The completion of the assessment questionnaires is not mandated and there is no monitoring to check that they have been completed. So the force can’t always identify well-being issues with officers and staff in high-risk roles and it can’t consistently support them.
The force provides some support for under-represented groups to develop and progress
The force has done some work to identify barriers to progression for staff and officers from under-represented groups. It has taken steps to remove these barriers.
The force has taken some action to support the development of members of its workforce from under-represented groups. The force has a powers programme, which is a programme for female staff and officers to support and develop them in their careers. There is also the positive action learning programme to support and develop staff and officers from ethnic minority backgrounds. It is unclear what long‑term plans are in place for people who have attended these programmes. So the force needs to assure itself that these actions are effective.
The force provides screening for neurodiversity. This is offered to all recruits. The force has neurodiverse passports. When people with a neurodiversity move roles, their passport will give new line managers details of their neurodiversity and what accommodations will assist them.
Leadership and force management
Surrey Police’s leadership and management is adequate.
Area for improvement
The force should make sure its performance data accurately reflects the demand placed on its workforce
The force has a clear governance structure. We saw evidence of this in strategic meetings we attended, and we saw it documented in the force management statement. The deputy chief constable chairs the force performance meeting, known as the force service board. Each division also has its own performance meeting, which reports into the force service board. This governance structure of force performance will help the force achieve its priorities and those of the police and crime commissioner.
The force recognises it needs to improve its use of data. The force showed us its developing PowerBI application which will help it monitor performance.
But we also found many areas of the force using spreadsheets or other documents to monitor performance and demand. This means the force may not have an accurate understanding of the demand placed on staff and officers, or the activities undertaken to manage the demand.
The force is making a large investment in its performance reporting and in developing PowerBI. The force should make sure that this investment supports officers and staff to maximise the use of data and that PowerBI provides an accurate understanding of the work and demand felt across the force, enabling an improved approach to performance management.
Area for improvement
The force should make sure it is effective at managing demand and can show it has the right resources, processes or plans to meet demand across the force
We found the force generally had good planning processes to make sure that the priorities of the police and crime commissioner were reflected in the priorities and actions of the force. But our inspection also found that the force was not always responding to incidents and crime promptly, and that the appropriate resource was not always deployed.
The force’s planning should support it to respond to incidents promptly. Its planning should give its officers appropriate training and experience to deal with crime recorded in Surrey. While the force responded quickly to the concerns we raised, the force should have the governance in place to identify problems and respond to them.
In this section we set out our main findings that relate to leadership and management.
The force demonstrates a continuous approach to improvement and efficiency
Surrey has a history of making significant savings. Our inspection found the force is equipped to make further savings. It has achieved more than £80m in savings over the past 12 years. The force will need to make a further £20m in efficiency savings over the next five years. The force has created a transformation team with Sussex Police. This team works on targeted reviews where either force believes there are inefficiencies. For example, a change to how the force refuels its vehicles has found savings of more than £100,000 a month.
The force recognises the deficiencies in its current people and HR system. A new system is due to start in early 2024. The force is investing in telephony and incident response (PowerBI and Office365) and it has replaced smartphones given to officers. These investments will improve Surrey Police’s efficiency.
The force has introduced a readiness score which helps it understand the skills and experience of its frontline units. This helps to identify potential gaps in the force’s ability to respond to crime and incidents, and to move resource across the force as appropriate. The force can currently only review its readiness monthly. The approach would be improved by the force reviewing its readiness more often so it can deploy appropriately skilled and experienced officers across the force.
The force’s financial plans, including its investment programme, are affordable and will help meet future demands
The force shows effective financial management. It makes the best use of the finance it has available, and its financial plans are both ambitious and sustainable. For 2023/24, the total funding for Surrey Police is £288.5m and it receives 56.1 percent of this funding through council tax precept. The force maintains a good level of reserves which will help it to fund major projects and support it through financial uncertainty.
The force needs to make £2.4m in savings in this financial year and £6m in the next financial year. The force has a savings strategy which sets out how it expects to make savings over the mid-term financial plan. It will achieve this through transformational projects – for example, a new HR system – as well as planned and tactical changes and targeted reviews of departments.
The financial forecasts within the mid-term financial plan are based on realistic assumptions about future funding and expenditure. The force needs to make savings and has identified the areas where they will be made. Surrey Police is confident that the required savings are achievable.
The force generally provides a high standard of leadership
We found Surrey Police to be generally well led, with staff and officers understanding their responsibilities as leaders in the force and in the community.
The force provides leadership training to sergeants and inspectors. It is improving the financial training it gives to frontline officers. Some areas of the force did not have detailed forecast workplans to maintain the leadership capability and capacity it needs. In part this is because of problems with the force’s HR system.
The force continues to improve the quality of its leaders. It uses reverse mentors and forums to receive feedback from its workforce. The ‘future focus’ performance and development review process will help the force to identify those who should receive development into more senior roles. But the process needs to be monitored and moderated by senior managers to make sure there is no bias in the selection process.
The force has been proactive in explaining the current funding gap and the priorities of the new chief constable. Surrey Police has trained leaders in the ‘Not in my Force’ package to tackle misogyny. It surveys new entrants on their views and experiences in this area. But, as we explained earlier in this report, the force needs to do more to instil confidence within the workforce in reporting discrimination, bullying and racist behaviour.
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.
Data on 999 calls is provided by BT. Call answering time is the time taken for a call to be transferred from BT to a force, and the time taken by that force to answer the call. This data is provided for all 43 police forces in England and Wales and covers the year ending 31 March 2023
Crimes and crime outcomes
We took data on crime and outcomes from the April 2023 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.
Stalking Protection Orders
We collected this data directly from all 43 police forces in England and Wales. This data is as provided by forces in October 2022 and covers the year ending 30 September 2022.
Further information and documents
Download the PDF report
Surrey PEEL assessment 2023–2025
More about Surrey Police
You can find more about Surrey Police on our dedicated force page.
What Surrey Police says
As of 30 September 2023, Policing in Surrey is delivered by 2,325 police officers, 76 PCSOs and 1802 police staff, supported by special constables and volunteers.
The force continues to develop its collaboration with Sussex Police, with collaborated teams in Operations Command, Specialist Crime Command, Finance, Estates & Facilities, People Services, and ICT.
Read more from Surrey Police
Get the press release
Concerns about Surrey Police’s response to the public
Find out more about HMICFRS’s work and other inspection areas.
Find out how well other forces have performed during their PEEL assessment.
You can view the recommendations for all forces made by HMICFRS on our Progress against recommendations page. This shows how much progress has been made on these recommendations.
Data and methodology
Detailed information about the inspection methodology.