Constabulary removed from HMICFRS 'engage' monitoring
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His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has announced that Gloucestershire Constabulary has been removed from the enhanced level of monitoring called ‘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 watchdog is currently ongoing but early results have led to HMICFRS concluding that the Constabulary does not need enhanced levels of monitoring moving forward.
The Constabulary entered the ‘engage’ phase in December 2021, after HMICFRS identified five causes of concern.
Steps taken that have had a significant impact include:
An increase in staff to the Force Control Room
Improved ICT systems
The introduction of a Crime Standards Bureau to ensure crimes are recorded accurately and in a timely manner.
Earlier in 2023, a cause of concern around strategic planning, organisational management and value for money was discharged by HMICFRS due to improvements made by the Constabulary in that area.
Meanwhile 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 Uplift recruitment
More call handling staff
A new department dedicated to victim care.
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.
Amongst the most impressive results from HMICFRS audits so far:
Crime recording accuracy has risen from 86.6% to 97.65%, with almost 90% of crimes now recorded within 24 hours
The call handler acted politely, appropriately and ethically, and used clear unambiguous language without apparent bias in 68 of 68 cases examined
Where a vulnerable person was identified this was recorded 100% of the time.
Chief Constable Rod 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.
“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.”