Gloucestershire Constabulary removed from HMICFRS ‘engage’ monitoring
His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has removed Gloucestershire Constabulary from its enhanced level of monitoring known as ‘engage’.
It comes after measures put in place by Chief Constable Rod Hansen and police and crime commissioner Chris Nelson led to a “vast improvement” in crime recording, more effective investigations, more accurate identification of vulnerable people and a better service for victims.
The latest Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy (PEEL) inspection by the inspectorate is currently ongoing but early results have led to HMICFRS concluding that the constabulary no longer needs to be under ‘special measures’ moving forward.
The constabulary entered the ‘engage’ phase in December 2021, after HMICFRS identified five causes of concern – strategic planning, organisational management and value for money; crime recording; vulnerability; investigating crime; and call handling.
The inspectorate had found that the constabulary did “not understand” or “manage its demand”, was “failing to respond appropriately to some vulnerable people” and was “missing some opportunities to safeguard victims”.
Inspectors also found that some investigations were not consistently supervised to a good standard and sometimes victims weren’t updated.
Steps including an increase in staff to the force control room, improved ICT systems and the introduction of a Crime Standards Bureau to ensure crimes are recorded accurately, and in a timely manner, have had a significant impact, said HMICFRS.
Earlier this year, a cause of concern around strategic planning, organisational management and value for money was discharged by HMICFRS due to improvements made by the force in that area.
Meanwhile, Gloucestershire Constabulary said ongoing work is expected, in time, to improve performance further. This includes:
- Changes to the structure of the force;
- The training and integration of new officers following recruitment under the Government’s ‘uplift’ programme;
- More call handling staff; and
- A new department dedicated to victim care.
HMICFRS said that while call handling remains a “cause for concern” it has seen an improvement in timeliness.
For instance, the 999 call response times were down from a 23.9-second average between January and August 2022 to 12.1 seconds in the same period this year, and in August 2023, one of the constabulary’s busiest months of the year, it was just 7.8 seconds.
Statistics have also shown that call handlers are doing an excellent job in identifying threat, harm and risk and acting politely and appropriately.
Crime recording accuracy has risen from 86.6 per cent to 97.65 per cent, with almost 90 per cent of crimes now recorded within 24 hours.
Where a vulnerable person was identified this was now recorded 100 per cent of the time.
The constabulary has also “significantly improved” how it adheres to the Victim’s Code of Practice while 91 per cent of cases were successfully investigated.
His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke said the decision to remove Gloucestershire Constabulary from ‘engage’ follows a number of improvements made by the force, including:
- Significantly improving the identification and risk assessment of vulnerability;
- Improving the quality of investigations and consistently updating victims;
- Improving the planning and processes around finance and the management of resources; and
- More accurately recording crime.
Mr Cooke said: “I am pleased with the progress that Gloucestershire Constabulary has made so far. Whilst there is still more to do, I have decided to remove the force from our enhanced level of monitoring, known as engage, and return it to routine monitoring.
“I am reassured by the plans Gloucestershire Constabulary has in place to continue making improvements. The force will be inspected again later this year, when we will assess its progress to make sure the people of Gloucestershire are getting the service they deserve from their police force.”
Mr Hansen said “This welcome development means we will now leave what HMICFRS term their ‘engage’ phase, which involved close and continual scrutiny – including a requirement to report directly to the Home Office, and return instead to the inspectorate’s standard reporting system, which they use to inspect most other forces.
“I know just how challenging being in the ‘engage’ phase was for colleagues and I want to pay tribute to everyone’s dedication in addressing the causes of concerns that were identified. I am immensely proud at how well we came together as one team in order to ensure we were doing everything we should to keep the public safe from harm.
“I also want to thank the PCC and his team, as well as our partner agencies, support associations and community groups who have helped provide scrutiny and asked questions that have informed how we needed to change.
“This progress required a sustained and unrelenting collective effort aligned to an absolute determination to improve; we did it by learning how other forces did things better; and also by coming up with our own thoughtful and innovative solutions.
“The results we are already seeing are a more consistent service in how we record and respond to incidents and an improved experience for victims, which is a key reason we do the job we do.
“Our performance measurements reveal the progress we have made and was sufficiently compelling and consistent to demonstrate to the HMICFRS that enhanced monitoring was no longer needed.
“Let me be clear though – there is no room for complacency; nor is there any desire to slacken the pace in our drive to improve. We know there is still much work to be done and, like many other forces nationally, we seek to continually improve to provide a better service to the public and increase trust and confidence in our policing within all of our communities.”
He added: “Whilst we have made improvements in our call handling, particularly for 999 calls, we understand 101 in particular is still a cause of concern and something we need to fix.
“The figures show that our staff are providing an excellent service once people get through, but of course we need to make sure people can get through quicker, which is why we are continuing our improvement plan in this area and will have a further intake of staff joining the department in December.
“My ambition for this constabulary is that we become outstanding across all areas; while in some places we have demonstrated considerable progress (as evidenced by HMICFRS) we still need to do more in others to bring our overall performance up to a high standard. And we are doing everything we can to drive up investigative standards and our detection rate, which is already on an upward path.”
Mr Nelson said coming out of ‘special measures’ was the evidence he had been waiting for.
He said: “I have regularly patrolled with our officers, and I never cease to be impressed with their professionalism when tackling serious problems. I am starting to feel like the constabulary is making real progress developing into a high-performance organisation.”
Mr. Nelson added: “Within days of my election, I was presented with a draft report from His Majesty’s Inspectorate that was highly critical of the force, based on performance data from the year before I started work.
“So for just over two years I have been addressing all the resource shortages the force has had to cope with, recruiting like mad to strengthen the constabulary, in numbers and in quality. I have also signed a £7 million contract to replace our ageing record management system, which is a fundamental part of our crime recording processes.
“For too long the force has been short of key resources, although its individual officers and staff have always performed at the highest level, giving their all to serve the public with pride. Anti-social behaviour has been cut by over 50 per cent and the cost of rural crime has been cut by 29 per cent – impressive results for any police force.
“Of course there is still more to do, for instance in answering 101 non-emergency calls more quickly and embedding a performance driven culture throughout the force. But all these independently recognised improvements mean the police are responding faster to incidents, looking after victims better, arresting more offenders, and solving more crimes.
“I am convinced the constabulary is now reaping the benefits of all its hard work these last two years, and impressing residents with its professional and victim focussed performance.
“The chief and I are certainly of one mind about where we want to take the force – to be outstanding in neighbourhood policing, crime prevention and taking a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour and male violence against women and girls.”