PEEL assessments 2021/22

In 2014, we introduced our police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) inspections, which assess the performance of all 43 police forces in England and Wales.  This page sets out information specific to the 2021/22 inspection cycle.

A note on COVID-19

Public health emergencies, such as COVID-19, put additional strain on the UK’s emergency services. As a result, in March 2020 we suspended all inspection work that required contributions from police forces and fire and rescue services. This included PEEL inspections. In the autumn of 2020, we resumed inspection activity with a focus on assessing the response of police forces and fire and rescue services to the challenges posed by the pandemic. No PEEL assessments were published in 2020 and the programme started up again in 2021.

Overview of PEEL 2021/22

In 2018, we introduced the Integrated PEEL Assessment programme (IPA). This brought together the three PEEL pillars (effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) into a single inspection. We also introduced a risk-based approach, to concentrate on areas of the greatest risk.

We continue to develop PEEL towards an intelligence-led continuous assessment model. We are making greater use of the breadth of evidence we already collect on a force throughout the year to come to an assessment of performance.

Evidence sources include:

What has changed?

Inspection approach

Our approach now relies less on an intense phase of onsite evidence collection. Instead, the intelligence-led approach determines when evidence should be collected during the assessment period.

The changes include:

  • making better use of all the available information we have on a force, including force management statements (FMS) and findings from our thematic inspections;
  • a greater focus on results and what matters to the public, including what a force is doing to reduce crime;
  • making our force inspection findings available sooner;
  • a new accelerated cause of concern process, so forces can act rapidly when they need to improve;
  • a new PEEL assessment framework;
  • introducing the victim service assessment (VSA) to give a view of the force’s performance from the victim’s perspective;
  • making our rolling crime data integrity inspections part of the PEEL assessment; and
  • assessing forces against five, instead of four, graded judgments: outstanding, good, adequate, requires improvement and inadequate.

This gives us a better understanding of force performance and how to support continual improvement. To build on this, we have made some further amendments to our inspection approach.

These include:

  • Making sure it best reflects how policing is organised to tackle the threat of serious and organised crime (SOC). The inspection and reporting of SOC will become regional. Forces will still get SOC graded judgments in their force PEEL reports. We will also introduce graded judgments for regional organised crime units (ROCUs).
  • Inspecting areas that need a more specialist focus as thematic inspections. This includes the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR) and armed policing, which we don’t grade in PEEL. It also includes how we inspect counter-corruption, professional standards and vetting. We will report on these areas nationally but will also continue to grade forces on these and include them in force PEEL reports.
  • Giving a stronger narrative assessment of victim service by removing the graded judgment from the victim service assessment. Victim service is inextricably linked to other areas of force performance, such as how they respond to cases reported by the public, carry out their investigations and address vulnerability. The new approach will make sure victim experience is being considered in all these areas. And our reporting will have a strong focus on it.

We will continue to publish a formal assessment and a report for each force during a PEEL cycle. This will be based on everything known about that force up to the point that we make our judgments.

We will aim to report on a force in public as soon as possible after the conclusion of onsite evidence collection. This means that we will no longer publish in set tranches: force reports will be published as soon as they are ready.

PEEL assessment framework (PAF)

We set core questions for each PEEL assessment. These form the PEEL assessment framework (PAF). We gather evidence about each force so that we can answer these core questions. Police forces are given a grade for each core question, unless stated otherwise. The grades we give are set out in the graded judgments section of this page.

The PAF was revised early in the 2021/22 PEEL cycle, acting on our regular evaluation and consultation with interested parties. The first eight police forces we inspected (including three forces which were our pilot inspections) were assessed before the changes were made. The revised methodology has been applied to the remaining 35 police forces.

The following changes were made:

  • Core questions 9 and 10: Strategic Policing Requirement and Armed Policing will move to a thematic approach and won’t be assessed or reported as part of PEEL.
  • Core question 8: Serious and organised crime will be inspected and reported on regionally. Individual force graded judgments and a link to the findings will remain in PEEL reports when available.
  • Core question 11: Counter corruption/vetting /professional standards will be reported nationally. Individual force graded judgments and a link to the findings will be included when available. This will become a separate judgment from the remainder of this core question (which covers a wide range of workforce issues).

These are the core questions for all forces for PEEL 2021/22. The questions which are highlighted are those affected by the changes:

  1. How good is the force’s service for victims of crime?
  2. How good is the force at engaging with the people it serves and treating them fairly, appropriately and respectfully?
  3. How good is the force at preventing and deterring crime, anti-social behaviour and vulnerability?
  4. How good is the force at responding to the public?
  5. How good is the force at investigating crime?
  6. How good is the force at protecting vulnerable people?
  7. How good is the force at managing offenders and suspects?
  8. How good is the force at disrupting serious and organised crime?
  9. How good is the force at meeting the requirements of the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR)? This question isn’t graded.
  10. How good is the force at protecting communities against armed threats? This question isn’t graded.
  11. How good is the force at building, developing and looking after its workforce and encouraging an ethical, lawful and inclusive workplace?
  12. How good is the force at planning and managing its organisation efficiently, making sure it achieves value for money, now and in the future?

2021/22 PAFs

The full PEEL assessment framework sets out what is required to receive a ‘good’ grade for each of the core questions.

The PAF for the first eight forces

The PAF for the remaining 35 forces

Pilot inspections

Three forces volunteered to pilot our new approach to PEEL. These were Dyfed-Powys Police, Suffolk Constabulary and Merseyside Police. To acknowledge the support these forces gave us, we gave them some additional time to invite us to review any new evidence that might alter a grading. This is why these forces reports will be published later than others.

Graded judgments

As with all our policing inspections, the principal aim of PEEL is the promotion of improvements in policing. Our judgments show the public how the force is performing. And they provide forces with information about the areas where they need to improve. In making judgments, we consider all relevant evidence obtained about a force through our continuous assessment approach.

In previous iterations of PEEL, we published judgments at the pillar level (for example, ‘How effective is the force?’) and at the core question level. We now provide judgments at the core question level only. This best serves the aim of promoting improvements in policing and highlighting where a force is doing well and where it needs to improve. We continue to report on the efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy of forces in our reports.

Since its inception in 2014, PEEL has adopted a four-tier structure for judgments: outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate. This created strong incentives for forces graded as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ to improve but not for those forces graded as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. It also resulted in a very broad range of ‘good’ – from the very good to the barely good.

We have now adopted a five-tier structure. This provides a greater degree of information about where forces need to improve. It also better reflects force performance, by adding more nuance to judgments. It encourages those forces that were previously stable in ‘good’ to continue to improve.

However, these changes mean that it isn’t possible to make direct comparisons between the grades awarded from 2021-22 onwards with those from previous PEEL inspections. A reduction in grade, particularly from good to adequate, does not necessarily mean that there was a reduction in performance, unless we say so in the force’s report.

The definitions for each of the grades are as follows:

  • Outstanding – The force has substantially exceeded the characteristics of good performance.
  • Good – The force has demonstrated substantially the characteristics of good performance.
  • Adequate – We have identified an appreciable number of areas where the force should make improvements.
  • Requires improvement – We have identified a sufficiently substantial number of areas where the force needs to make improvements.
  • Inadequate – We have causes of concern and have made recommendations to the force to address them.

The ‘characteristics of good performance’ referred to in the above definitions are in the PEEL assessment framework.

Victim service assessment (VSA)

We have introduced an assessment focused on the experience of the service forces provide to victims of crime. This is called a ‘victim service assessment’ (VSA).

The VSA will consider the force’s:

  • call handling standards;
  • initial response to victims;
  • crime allocation arrangements;
  • investigation standards; and
  • suitability of the outcome of its investigations.

In April 2020, we concluded our 43 force inspections of Crime Data Integrity (CDI). We now include this as an element of our VSA in each force at least every three years.

The VSA has been designed to:

  • remove the need for a separate case file review (CFR) in those forces subject to a CDI inspection;
  • remove duplication of work in listening to calls for service, and accessing and interpreting file logs for CFR, when these are already part of CDI inspections;
  • significantly reduce the extent to which HMICFRS staff are in forces;
  • introduce a new view for our inspection activity from the victim’s perspective; and
  • identify best practice in forces.

The CDI methodology has been amended to reflect changes to our CDI inspection approach, and the integration into PEEL of the associated fieldwork. Where we include CDI as an element of a force’s VSA we will apply a graded judgment based on a technical judgment criteria and report this in a force’s PEEL report, alongside other PEEL judgments.

Cutting crime

There will be a clearer focus in PEEL on force performance relating to reducing crime. We have identified seven themes, termed building blocks, that we believe underpin a force’s ability to reduce crime effectively, regardless of crime type. They are:

  1. understanding outcomes and bringing offenders to justice;
  2. reducing repeats;
  3. preventing harm;
  4. crime prevention;
  5. performance management;
  6. community support; and
  7. workforce capacity and capability.

We will draw evidence on these seven themes from the PAF. Taken together, they allow for a narrative assessment of the extent to which the force is doing all it can to reduce crime.

Accelerated causes of concern

Previously, when we’ve identified a cause of concern as part of a PEEL inspection, we have alerted the relevant police force(s) immediately so that remedial action can be taken. However, we have reported that cause of concern and the associated recommendations more publicly in the full force report. This can be some months after we initially uncovered the concern.

We continue to immediately alert police forces to significant service failures as we discover them. But in certain circumstances, to better inform the public, we also publish a cause of concern and recommendations as soon as practicable thereafter. This takes the form of an update to the HMICFRS website. The full evidence base and background to the cause of concern is covered in the force’s next report, along with an update on the progress made against it. We don’t publish all causes of concern this way – only those immediately related to public safety. Other causes of concern (for example, those that relate to the organisation and running of the force) are published in the force’s next report as we have previously done.