An independent inspection of Northamptonshire Police has revealed “serious concerns” about the force’s approach to crime-recording and the way investigations are handled.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has, for the first time, today published assessments of police force’s effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.
The report of Northamptonshire Police reveals the force is, in general, good at reducing crime and preventing offending and is good at tackling anti-social behaviour.
However, it requires improvement in the way it investigates offending.
HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Eastern Region, Zoë Billingham said: “Northamptonshire Police has a strong focus on preventing crime. It works well with partners, such as local councils, in understanding local priorities and ensuring that the public receive a joined-up service. The force is improving the way it cares for victims of crime, but more work needs to be done in this regard.
“The force’s response to domestic abuse is effective in some respects but there are important areas where improvement is needed in order to keep victims safe and to reduce the risk of them coming to further harm.
“I also have concerns about the way the force manages some crime investigations. More work is needed to improve the way investigations are conducted to ensure that victims consistently get the best results in terms of offenders being brought to justice.
“I have serious concerns about the force’s approach to crime-recording, which is not as accurate as it should be.”
Inspectors found that there were some “key weaknesses” in the quality of investigations, including a lack of effective supervision and a lack of clarity as to which team is responsible in some cases.
The report states: “This means that the force cannot be confident that all investigations are being undertaken to the required standard and that delays and confusion do not adversely impact on the outcome for victims.”
But inspectors did find that specialist teams dealing with domestic abuse and sexual offences were carrying out high quality investigations and staff were motivated and committed to providing a good, victim-centred service.
The report states the force had the lowest arrest rate for domestic abuse related crimes in the country, which was a “concern.”
Northamptonshrie Police has received a “good” rating for its efficiency, the steps it has taken to secure a stable financial position and its affordable way of policing.
The report states: “In relation to efficiency the force’s response to the financial challenge of the spending review to date has been good. While Northamptonshire Police has a challenging future financially, it understands the issues it faces and continues to take positive steps to achieve savings while keeping its communities safe.
Adrian Lee, Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, said there wer some “really positive points” to come out of the HMIC assessment.
He said: “I am pleased that HMIC has chosen to highlight our effectiveness in preventing crime and tackling ASB as well as supporting and protecting victims.
“There is however, no room for complacency and there remain areas where improvement is needed such as crime recording and our response to domestic
abuse incidents. But real identifiable progress is being made in those areas since we were last subject to specific inspections on them. I hope the public will be reassured by our overall performance independently assessed here.”
Adam Simmonds, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, said: “This is a very encouraging snapshot which reflects the good work being done by Northamptonshire Police particularly in response to ASB and crime prevention and its ability to continue to innovate despite the financial pressures facing the service as a whole.
“It is good to see too that the HMIC has recognised how much is being done to improve support for victims and the ambition we have for the specials
recruitment campaign, both of which are key components of my Police and Crime Plan. This report tells me that the Force and the OPCC are definitely moving forward in the right direction.”