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  1. Inspection rates force as 'good' but weaknesses over complicated custody arrangements persist. Concerns continue to loom over a force’s custody arrangements following an HMICFRS inspection. The report into police custody in Cambridgeshire concluded there is “generally impressive care” but issues remain over strategic governance. The force entered into a formal collaboration with neighbouring Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire forces, under section 22A of the Police Act 1996, in which Hertfordshire took lead responsibility for provision of custody. The inspection found there was insufficient governance and control over its day-to-day custody function with gaps in engagement and scrutiny at senior officer level between Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, resulting in a lack of accountability. Inspectors were also concerned to find minimum staffing levels within custody suites in Cambridgeshire were not always complied with. “Staff cover was sometimes not sufficient to ensure safe detention, and this could have had an adverse impact on detainees,” it said. “Until this is addressed, we believe that this will remain a block to the custodial function in Cambridgeshire becoming even better.” In December, the tri-county’s Criminal Justice Unit also came under fire after three dangerous men were released on bail due to procedural failings. The unit had failed to hand over information to the CPS in time for the trial to go ahead before the custody limit expired. The men were originally due to stand trial in January but will now not appear again until March because of lengthy delays. However, the report found many positive features in the way the custody services operated, delivering good frontline outcomes for detainees in a number of key areas. Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, and HM Inspector of Constabulary, Dru Sharpling, said: “We found that detainees in custody were held in reasonably good physical conditions. It was clear that the staff culture remained healthy and we were generally impressed with the care and attention that staff showed towards detainees.” Detainees in custody in Cambridgeshire were held in reasonably good physical conditions with generally impressive care and attention from staff. The force has improved its work in relation to mental health since a previous inspection in 2011, ensuring that few people were detained in police cells as a place of safety under the Mental Health Act. Inspectors were also reassured to find that Cambridgeshire could demonstrate the use of force in custody was proportionate and the required governance and scrutiny processes were in place. Overall, the report noted: “The picture surrounding the use of force in custody was positive and, while it reflected what we expect to see, we do not often find this.” Cambridgeshire Constabulary Assistant Chief Constable Dan Vajzovic said: “Overall the inspection carried out by HMIP and HMICFRS into Cambridgeshire Constabulary's custody suites has been positive. “We welcome their recognition that we have good levels of care and concern for the most vulnerable people we deal with and that, through effective partnership engagement, we have a strong focus on protecting and diverting vulnerable people from custody. “We have worked hard since the last inspection in 2011 to focus our efforts on reducing the amount of time children spend in police cells and protecting those with mental health problems. "As a result of our work with the liaison and diversion service, and the mental health staff in our control room supporting frontline officers, we have reduced the number of people held in custody under section 136 of the Mental Health Act as a place of safety. “We acknowledge the inspector's area of concern and the recommendation, which we will be looking at, and we are already putting plans in place to improve in the areas highlighted. “Improving how we deliver all of our services to the people of Cambridgeshire is important to us, and we welcome the findings of this inspection.” View On Police Oracle
  2. Faith in officers to deal with terrorism has gone up in 'challenging' year. HMI Matt Parr Almost three-quarters of the population think the police are effective at responding to emergencies. Research commissioned by HMICFRS has found that public confidence in the police is high. Respondents who said they are confident in law enforcement’s ability to protect them from terrorism has risen to 55 per cent, compared to 46 per cent the year before. In 2017 there were five successful and nine foiled terror plots. But the number of people who have not seen a police officer in the last year has risen amid another year of austerity. Some 44 per cent of people say they have not seen a uniformed presence in the last year, compared to 36 per cent the year before. And only 17 per cent of people feel they have local police in the area they live on a regular basis. HMI Matt Parr said: “After a year in which the emergency services have faced some of the most challenging incidents in recent times, it is encouraging to see that the public’s confidence in the police to protect them against terrorism has increased markedly, with over half of people saying they are confident in the police response.” More than 12,000 people across England and Wales took part in the survey. View On Police Oracle
  3. BTP's shift pattern do not match peak demand, HMICFRS found. British Transport Police has been criticised for having a “limited knowledge” of crimes such as modern slavery and child sexual exploitation in an HMICFRS report. BTP was slammed for “incomplete” and “weak” understanding of current demand in a report into its efficiency, legitimacy and leadership released on Friday. “The force’s limited understanding of less obvious demand, including hidden crimes such as child sexual exploitation and human trafficking, also limits its ability to assess the full range of potential future demand,” the report stated. An estimated £4-5m is spent every year on overtime payments made to meet “predictable demands” and “regular events”, according to the report. A new deployment programme, introduced to analyse how BTP’s frontline resources are being allocated, discovered frontline uniformed officers and staff weren’t well distributed geographically and did not have the right shift patterns to meet demand. As a result, the force often cancelled officers’ rest days making “significant” overtime payments. There is a “small but persistent” backlog of intelligence reports awaiting assessment, the inspectors found, which is hampering BTP’s ability to make accurate decisions about its resources. Inspectors also found the force “does not actively seek intelligence about potential corruption.” “In addition, although the problem of abuse of authority for sexual gain is a priority for the force due to the high-profile nature of this kind of corruption, the force’s approach is still in the very early stages of development.” BTP’s financial and efficiency plans were judged “unsatisfactory” and stated it “does not yet have adequate plans to reduce costs.” BTP was told to slash its spending by at least eight per cent by 2020, without affecting operational capability in the government’s 2015 spending review. But inspectors said: "At the time of our inspection, the force’s financial and efficiency plans were unsatisfactory. “We found little evidence that the force’s planning had taken account of predicted levels of future demand, workforce capabilities or longer term plans for ICT or estates. This means that the force cannot yet prioritise areas for investment in the future, “ the report said. “The force has identified that its information technology (IT) needs urgent and significant improvement. “We agree. “A clear, realistic and costed IT plan needs to be put in place quickly to address this,” inspectors added. BTP was praised for working hard to make sure it treats the people it serves with “fairness and respect.” “The force understands the importance of this, and seeks feedback from the communities it serves in a range of ways…the difficulties of doing this should not be underestimated, given the different groups the force serves and the transient nature of the largest of these, the travelling public.” “It clarifies and reinforces acceptable behaviour, and officers and staff are confident about reporting concerns to their supervisor. “We found that the force has a clear process for prioritising its activities and setting out its levels of service for the public, which is informed by the expectations of the public and other interested parties. These priorities are very well understood by officers and staff at all levels of the force.” BTP was also commended for “recognising the important of a diverse workforce.” “It has developed programmes to encourage people in its leadership team who have a diverse range of protected characteristics (such as age, gender or sexual orientation).” HMICFRS decided not give headline judgements on BTP’s production as “direct comparisons with Home Office forces…are difficult and liable to be misleading.” BTP Chief Constable Paul Crowther said he welcomed the report. He said: “We’re proud to see inspectors praising the way we treat people we come into contact with each day. It’s something we very much pride ourselves upon. “In the past year alone, we’ve policed football games every weekend, made more than 1,800 life saving interventions to help suicidal people and our officers were at the forefront of the horrific attacks at Manchester and London Bridge. Our search teams also worked under incredible pressure during other incidents like the Croydon tram derailment and at Grenfell Tower, whilst officers across the force rose to the challenge of the country’s threat level being raised to critical twice. CC Crowther added: “We have nominated people identified [for improvement] in each area highlighted in the report, and plans are already in place to make sure every HMIC recommendation is addressed as soon as possible. “In particular, we are focussing extensive time and resources into enhancing the way we are able to spot the signs of vulnerability – be that a missing child, a victim of Child Sex Exploitation or a victim of modern slavery. “Over the last few years, we’ve seen the railway environment changing – passenger numbers have increased significantly, stations are becoming busy entertainment hubs with shops and bars, and our officers are facing more challenges than ever before. “As the environment changes, we are adapting and changing to match that demand and ensure that BTP is in the best possible position to keep the travelling public, and those who work on the railway, safe.” View On Police Oracle
  4. Inspectorate says that reasons for disproportionate targeting of black people must be explained. All forces must be able to demonstrate their use of stop and search powers is reasonable and fair by the middle of next year. HMICFRS says the over-representation of black people as subjects of the tactic must be explained. By July forces in England and Wales will have to publish an analysis of their stop and search stats, explaining the reasons for any disproportionality. They will have to continue to do this on an annual basis. In its PEEL legitimacy inspection report the inspectorate notes the rate at which the ethnicity of those searched is “not stated” in data collections range from 1 to 31 per cent across different forces. The inspectorate also found that searches of black people for drugs are less likely to find anything than those of white people. The report says: “The disparity in find rates is troubling; it suggests that the use of stop and search on black people might be based on weaker grounds for suspicion than its use on white people, particularly in respect of drugs. “There may be a number of reasons for these findings but, taken alongside the fact that black people are more than eight times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched, they require an explanation that the service is currently unable to provide.” Overall in the PEEL inspections, there were 35 forces graded as good, six requiring improvement and one, Kent Police, outstanding. Greater Manchester Police was not given a rating as their inspection was due to take place just after a terror attack took place in the city. HMI Mike Cunningham, who led the inspection, said: “We assessed well over three quarters of forces as either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ […] but that is not to say that there aren’t elements forces could and should improve upon. “Of particular concern is the continuing over-representation of black people in stop and search figures. “Forces must be able to explain the reasons for any disparity in their stop and search figures if they are to enhance the trust and confidence of all communities.” The use of stop and search has often been discussed by politicians. In October Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that chief constables should explain more about the disparities between different force areas on its use. Last month Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said the tactic saves lives. View On Police Oracle
  5. Poorly-funded force received inadequate rating last year. Kathryn Holloway says Bedfordshire Police has been treated unfairly Complaints about the way a force was inspected have been referred to legal counsel. Bedfordshire Police was rated as inadequate for effectiveness last year by HMICFRS and was told it requires improvement in its efficiency this year. The force has long said it does not receive enough funding. Police Oracle has previously reported that chief officers in the force have raised issues with inspections – and now PCC Kathryn Holloway has revealed a formal complaint has been made. She said: "I have to confirm that very regrettably in July of this year I had to take the first complaint in its history against HMICFRS to question a lack of impartiality, balance and fairness [in not] properly recognising the context in which my force operates. "I would contend that there's nothing fair about putting together a report which contains a handful of phrases which point to the acute financial challenges, the lack of resources, the lack of officers and then putting together recommendations, implied or stated, as actions to take, which are known to be unaffordable, and as a result unachievable. "[This is] suggesting to the public that this is a matter of choice rather than, as is the case, of necessity." She told MPs at the Home Affairs Committee the inspectorate's own metrics show the force works "miracles based on the budget they have". The Conservative added: "The chief inspector of constabulary now assures me that there will be an independent investigation led by a QC." Ms Holloway's spokesman clarified to Police Oracle the complaint has been made jointly with the force and said it is not about one single assessment rating, but the process. A spokeswoman for HMICFRS said: "HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Thomas Winsor has referred those representations to leading counsel for evaluation, and it is likely that a report from leading counsel to the chief inspector will be produced in April 2018. "The investigation does not amount to a re-inspection of the efficiency and effectiveness of Bedfordshire Police.” In a debate on the funding of the force on Monday night, Policing Minister Nick Hurd said he recognises the force is working to improve its performance after its recent ratings. He added: "Those judgments have been challenged, and the leadership is working tirelessly, as I said, to improve those ratings. "However, we must recognise the challenging context and that comparable forces in what we call the most similar group - Essex and Kent - are rated good in all those categories while receiving funding per head that is equal to or lower than Bedfordshire’s." He said he is working on funding assessments for police forces across the country. View on Police Oracle

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