Northamptonshire Police has improved the service it provides to the public since a damning report in 2019, but the police inspectorate says more changes are still needed.
Inspectors from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services graded the county force performance across ten areas of policing and found it was ‘adequate’ in four areas and ‘requires improvement’ in six.
Chief Constable Nick Adderley insisted the report fell short of reflecting real progress within the organisation since the previous inspection.
Two years ago, a highly critical inspectors' report into police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy labelled the force inadequate in two areas and adequate or better in just one.
Newly-appointed Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, Roy Wilsher, said: “I am satisfied with some aspects of the performance of Northamptonshire Police, but there are areas where the force needs to improve.
“Northamptonshire Police has embarked on a major change programme since our last inspection and has addressed, or is addressing, most of the problems we found.
"By introducing new scrutiny and audit processes and recruiting more detectives, the force has made improvements in how it investigates crime. The force is also investing in neighbourhood policing to improve its ability to prevent crime.
“The new structures, processes and standards implemented since our last inspection are addressing the problems we raised. The force is better able to investigate crime, identify vulnerable people and manage demand. There is good support from the workforce who have trust and confidence in senior leaders.
“The force needs to get better at co-ordinating its community engagement and public scrutiny work and there is limited public scrutiny of its use of police powers, which needs to be addressed to make sure the force acts fairly and proportionately.
“The force is also missing opportunities to secure meaningful outcomes for victims, and it needs to make sure it can identify and support repeat victims so they can be properly safeguarded.
"But there are clear plans for further improvements, which I will continue to monitor with interest and I commend Northamptonshire police for the progress they have made over the last two years.”
Chief Constable Nick Adderley took charge in August 2018 — four months before the 2019 inspection — and admitted that the HMICFRS report made difficult reading but pledged that improvements to the service were already under way.
The latest HMICFRS report published on Wednesday (November 24) said the force is now rated adequate in investigating crime and tackling serious and organised crime — two areas it was labelled inadequate in 2019.
It was also rated adequate in the way it supports victims and preventing crime tackling anti social behaviour.
Six areas it was told require improvement are: treatment and responding to the public, protecting vulnerable people managing offenders, developing a positive workplace and good use of resources.
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold added: “The Inspectors’ report commends the progress that the force has made in investigating crime and it is now better able to respond to calls and identify vulnerable people – these are all areas that matter to me and people tell me matter most to them.
“There is still much work to do to achieve the standard of performance I expect to see across the board, but it is reassuring that the Inspectors agree that plans are in place to make these improvements. This confirms my view that the force is on a positive journey, that it has made strong steps forward and is heading in the right direction.
“The progress has been made against the backdrop of the pandemic, and I am grateful to all the police officers and staff who have worked hard to provide a better service for the public. I know that like me, they are committed to making the further improvements that must be made.
“I use a number of measures to determine how well the force is performing when I hold them to account on behalf of the public and the inspections are an important part of my assurance process.
"I am pleased that the Inspectorate is now moving to a format of continuous monitoring and that they are providing their reports more quickly after an inspection has finished, so the force can act more quickly on their findings. I will be watching closely to ensure that the plans in place deliver the further improvements we are looking for.
“Thanks to the support of local taxpayers, we have made significant investment in policing in Northamptonshire - there are more police officers, who are better equipped, and the Chief Constable and his team have shown leadership and drive.
"The force is heading in the right direction but there is still much work to do. I am content that clear plans are in place and I will expect Northamptonshire Police to build on these foundations to make the improvements that we all need to see.”