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Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary has published detailed reviews of how well forces investigate crime, how they maintain integrity and prevent corruption, how they have responded to challenging budget reductions, and how effectively they are recording incidents and crimes.
In all areas where grades have been awarded, HMIC rated the Constabulary’s work as Good. The Constabulary is one of only 24 forces found to be Good at investigating crime.
In an overarching report, HMIC comments favourably on the genuine professional commitment among Cheshire officers and staff to provide a victim-centred approach to all aspects of policing. The report notes and praises the way in which the force has protected the front-line from budget cuts. HMIC reports that, the Constabulary manages change well and, through a pilot scheme in Ellesmere Port, has been looking at how neighbourhood policing teams can work more closely to better serve the community.
The force is found to work well with local partner agencies, making good use of resources to provide a joined-up response to problems and victim needs. In particular, HMIC noted that the force had developed an effective approach to identifying and responding to the threat of child sexual exploitation.
The report profiled work the Constabulary does to engage with the public to determine local policing priorities. It noted the development of a new crime prevention strategy. It also commented positively on the work undertaken to manage offenders and the work undertaken with other agencies to protect victims of domestic abuse. HMIC found the Constabulary had effective processes in place to disrupt organised crime groups.
The HMIC inspection teams saw first hand the way in which Cheshire police officers are using technology to tackle issues in communities and investigate crime. Investment in mobile technology is being made to ensure all front-line staff will be able to access information when out of the station. The Constabulary has increased resources within its high tech crime unit and embarked on a training programme to ensure that front-line officers have the skills and knowledge to tackle cyber-crime.
Deputy Chief Constable Janette McCormick said:
“The Report is very positive about how effective the police service is in Cheshire – particularly in respect of reducing crime, preventing re-offending and supporting victims. HMIC rates our investigative work as Good and he is very supportive of our aim to develop the most cyber-literate investigative workforce in the country.”
Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer said:
“I am delighted that the Report recognises the good work being done by the Constabulary to place victims at the centre of policing to solve their problems and the work to protect the front line in times of austerity. HMIC has commented on the professionalism of officers and staff and found that they had a genuine commitment to delivering a high quality service to local communities. My drive to using new technology was also noted and I am very pleased that the outcome was good across the board.”
Key Findings in the Various HMIC Reports
Crime Inspection Report
HMIC stated “Cheshire Constabulary has a good track record in reducing crime…Preventing crime is a clear priority for the force”
HMIC praises the way the force works with local partner agencies in making good use of resources when responding to local problems
HMIC praises the force’s victim-centred approach and states that the force has a genuine commitment to delivering a high quality service to local communities
The Constabulary places a positive focus on learning and improving services
The report commends the Constabulary’s effective investigations and victim care from specialist teams dealing with domestic abuse and rape
While the report notes that levels of anti-social behaviour are relatively high in Cheshire, HMIC recognises the work the force is doing to understand and address these concerns. Levels of anti-social behaviour have fallen in the past year
HMIC believes that Cheshire has good systems in place to identify repeat victims of anti-social behaviour and spot where patterns of escalation might occur.
In six categories of crime and anti-social behaviour, levels of crime/incident per 1,000 population in Cheshire were below the national average. Cheshire’s detection rate at 25% was broadly in line with the national rate.
Police Integrity and Corruption Report
HMIC found “Chief Officer leadership is strong and there is an obvious climate of professionalism throughout the force.”
Misconduct investigations are proportionate and there is a confidence across the Constabulary that cases are handled fairly
Staff and officers are prepared to challenge if they have concerns about the behaviour of colleagues and are supported when doing so
Staff are in no doubt about the way they are expected to behave
The new code of ethics has been promoted strongly in the Constabulary
The Constabulary uses the fast-track dismissal process in an appropriate way
Cheshire Constabulary ensures that all staff, irrespective of rank, are treated fairly and equally in terms of how investigations are assessed, recorded, investigated and sanctions imposed
It was apparent that in any cases requiring IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) referral, that referral had been made
There are confidential mechanisms, supported by a policy, through which staff can report wrongdoing. Everyone with whom HMIC spoke felt sufficiently confident to report wrongdoing, whether through confidential means, to an immediate supervisor or manager, or directly to the Professional Standards Department. All felt that they would be supported, both by the organisation and by immediate colleagues. HMIC found that this was a real area of strength.
Cheshire has slightly above average public complaints per 100 of workforce – 16.7 in Cheshire compared to 15.7, but 50% fewer conduct cases than the average.
Responding to Austerity
Cheshire is good at taking the steps needed to ensure financial security for the short and long term, with clear plans in place to make the required budget savings
The force has focused strongly on reducing non-pay costs and protecting front-line policing
The force takes steps to use police time effectively, tackling problem areas and solving problems.
Police officer cost per head of population in Cheshire is £98.4 compared to an average of £117.7 across England and Wales. Victim satisfaction in Cheshire at 87% is two percentage points higher than the England and Wales average.