Derbyshire Constabulary ‘heading in right direction’, but improvement needed in core policing areas

Derbyshire Constabulary has “responded to concerns” raised two years ago by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), but improvements are still needed in its service to the public.

May 24, 2024
By Paul Jacques

HM Inspector of Constabulary Roy Wilsher said the force had addressed many of the areas identified in its previous PEEL inspection in July 2022.

Preventing and deterring crime and anti-social behaviour and reducing vulnerability has been rated as ‘good’, with innovative problem-solving methodology being used. This is an improved grade from the previous inspection.

The force was found to make good use of data to understand serious acquisitive crime such as burglary, robbery, and vehicle crime. Understanding anti-social behaviour and using police powers to prevent escalation and carrying out a range of engagement opportunities with communities such as the Mini Police scheme, and the use of community messaging system Derbyshire Alert to engage local people were also highlighted as good practice. The force recognises how important neighbourhood policing is to our communities, and using this to tackle the issues that matter.

Three areas – police powers and treating the public fairly and respectfully, managing offenders and suspects, and building supporting and protecting the workforce – have been graded as ‘adequate’.

However, inspectors said there are important areas of policing – investigating crime, responding to the public and protecting vulnerable people – which still require improvement.

As well as those core policing areas, there is also more for the force to do with force-wide leadership and management being another area that needs to improve, said HMICFRS.

Overall, the outcome from this inspection is positive – but it is only the start, the inspectorate said.

Improving the time taken to answer calls from the public, and responding to incidents within published timescales will help increase opportunities to safeguard the public. Supporting officers to make the most of early evidence opportunities, and closer supervision of investigations would help to improve the quality of cases and achieve appropriate outcomes for victims.

I am satisfied with some aspects of the performance of Derbyshire Constabulary in keeping people safe, reducing crime and providing victims with an effective service,” said Mr Wilsher.

“But there are areas in which the constabulary needs to improve.

“We last inspected Derbyshire Constabulary in July 2022 and published our PEEL assessment in November 2022. I had some concerns with aspects of the constabulary’s performance.

We scheduled a shorter time-frame between our PEEL 2021/22 inspection and PEEL 2023-25 inspection for Derbyshire Constabulary. We did this to check the constabulary’s progress against the improvements it needed to make to keep people safe and reduce crime.

“I am pleased with how the constabulary responded. It has addressed many of the areas for improvement in our previous report. I also recognise that the scale of change needed means that some improvements will need more time to achieve.

“While the constabulary has shown that it can make improvements, it needs to continue to do so, as this report highlights.

“Derbyshire Constabulary’s level of funding per person is around the average for England and Wales. Its incident demand is in line with the national average.

“It receives an average number of 999 calls but a relatively high number of 101 calls.

“But the constabulary isn’t yet providing a good service for the public in some key areas, such as responding to the public, investigating crimes and protecting vulnerable people.

“The constabulary needs to make sure its investigations are effective and properly supervised. It needs to improve outcomes for victims of crime. And it needs to make sure that victims are receiving the level of service they are entitled to.”

HM Inspector of Constabulary added: “The constabulary is doing a good job of communicating with its workforce about most of the changes it is making, but some important changes aren’t being communicated well enough. If the workforce doesn’t understand changes or the reasons for them, there is a risk that they will fail.

“It is good to see that leaders in the constabulary value neighbourhood policing.

“They have addressed the areas for improvement about this in our previous report.

“Prevention and evidence-based policing is prioritised and used effectively, including outside neighbourhood policing.

“Since our last inspection, the chief constable has recruited a new chief officer team.

“The new stable leadership team is focusing on making improvements and changing the culture of the constabulary. I accept that it will take time for these more challenging improvements to be fully implemented.

“I am pleased with the way the team has responded to my concerns, and I will be monitoring progress closely.”

Chief Constable Rachel Swann said while the inspection has identified “that we are heading in the right direction”, she recognises that more must be done.

“Since our last PEEL inspection, there has been a lot of hard work undertaken to address areas for improvement,” said Ms Swann.

“We have seen evidence of positive improvement, particularly within our neighbourhood policing section, and our dedicated problem-solving approach to tackling issues.

“Having had two inspections relatively close together, while some of the gradings have remained static, improvement has been recognised, and we will ensure some of these significant changes are embedded further, which I am confident we will achieve.

“I recognise that more must be done to improve the areas where the public would expect us to perform, including investigating crime, responding to the public and protecting vulnerable people, and we are taking steps to address these.

She added: “Locally, as well as nationally, there is a shortage of detectives – as well as a younger and less experienced work force as a result of the significant increase following the Uplift programme.

“We are doing several things to attract people to join us as a detective such as hosting local events to showcase what they do, but also to retain officers and staff who are doing this vitally important job – and we are providing further training to our frontline staff to ensure that they have the skills they need for the roles they are undertaking.

“We have also increased staffing in the control room – which is often the first point of contact that the public will have with the force – and we are investing in technology to improve our call handling times, and engage with the public through digital platforms, such as live chat or online. Some of these technological changes have gone live and others are due later this year.

“Policing is a job like no other. We care deeply about protecting the vulnerable and supporting victims. They are at the heart of everything we do. Crime is becoming more and more complex and so are the needs of our communities, so we must work together to prevent crime in the first place and ensure the right service is available for people when they need it across the public sector.

“The inspection has identified that we are heading in the right direction, but the work doesn’t stop, we are determined to continue to improve in the areas outlined for

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