Gloucestershire Constabulary failing on safeguarding and investigating crime

Gloucestershire Constabulary has been graded “inadequate” in five out of 10 key performance indicators in a recent inspection, including safeguarding vulnerable victims.

Oct 27, 2021
By Tony Thompson

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found the force was also failing in efforts to support victims and in how it investigates crime.

Other areas of concern were its recording of data about crime and its spending.

The report found that in the year ending September 30 2020, Gloucestershire Constabulary flagged repeat callers in 412 incidents – equivalent to less than three in every 1,000 incidents.

The average across the 26 forces in England and Wales is 71 in every 1,000 incidents, HMICFRS said.

It said it is likely Gloucestershire Constabulary is not identifying repeat victims and is potentially leaving vulnerable individuals at risk.

HMICFRS also said the force was failing to record crimes as domestic abuse, behavioural crimes and offences linked to antisocial behaviour, meaning victims were not getting appropriate service.

Domestic abuse crimes were “of particular concern”, HMICFRS said, with 77 per cent of a sample of 30 cases closed due to problems with evidence or victims withdrawing from the prosecution process.

Elsewhere, inspectors found call-handlers were taking an average of 12.3 seconds to answer 999 calls when the national target is ten seconds, but that the force had started to put processes in place to address this.

Victims did not always get appropriate advice on preserving evidence or crime prevention, the report found, and it also said there was a “lack of quality assurance” in the control room.

The report found the majority of cases were allocated to appropriate teams, but there was a delay to starting investigations in “most” of a sample of 70 cases.

“Delays in investigations may result in evidence being lost, a failure to bring offenders to justice, further offending, and victims being let down and becoming less engaged,” the report said.

HMICFRS also flagged concerns about the force’s spending, with a projected shortfall of over £1.4 million for the year 2021-22, a figure that is projected to hit £10 million by 2025.

Gloucestershire Constabulary’s management of offenders was rated “adequate” by inspectors, and it was advised to review its policy on risk assessments and the way it gathers supporting intelligence.

But it found that Gloucestershire Constabulary was delivering good performance when it came to preventing crime and disrupting serious organised crime, as well as developing a positive workspace.

It further found the force had robust systems in place to ensure fair treatment of the public, including a “community legitimacy panel”.

The panel is made up of a cross-section of community representatives and is chaired by a person from an ethnic minority background.

Its purpose is to act as a “critical friend” that can advise, challenge or offer feedback on a force’s policies and activities, as well as reviewing specific incidents such as investigation of hate crimes and the use of force and stop-and-search tactics.

HMICFRS said that due to changes in the way forces are graded, it is not possible to compare the latest results with those of previous years.

Rod Hansen, Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary, said: “There are lots of examples of very good and innovative practice identified in this report but I do recognise there is much work still to be done to address the concerns the inspectorate has.

“What I would say is that I think this only represents a partial picture of the work we do to keep people safe from harm and that we were inspected during the biggest emergency this country has seen since the Second World War.

“We had already made progress in areas like crime recording accuracy, but this was hampered by the pandemic – at times our workforce was severely reduced in capacity, most training had to be cancelled and many staff members had to change roles and often do things very differently. The landscape of policing changed dramatically and so our plans had to adapt as well.”

Mr Hansen said Gloucestershire Constabulary was now undergoing a massive recruitment drive, including for an additional eight detectives for its rape and serious sexual offences team, and was planning major investment in its IT systems.

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