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Police watchdog review into Derbyshire Constabulary gives mixed feedback

A recent inspection into Derbyshire Constabulary has found the force are 'good' in the way it treats the public, but found room for improvement in other areas.

The most recent inspection from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has found that Derbyshire Constabulary is good in the way it treats the public.

It has also recognised that the behaviour of the workforce is ethical and lawful, and officers and staff are treated fairly.

Police chiefs have said they are on a long-term journey to modernise the force to ensure it is fit for purpose for today and for the changing world ahead.

The service says it has invested in people, in analytics, in new technologies and in it's estate to make sure that it has a sustainable and stable future. Many of these investments are still in the process of being delivered and they expect to see the results over the coming years.

The role of HMICFRS is to come in to the organisation and provide a snapshot, a moment in time, of how services are being delivered. 

The inspectorate who visited the force in summer of 2019, has published its findings today.

The report highlighted that the quality of investigations had fallen at the time of the review and safeguarding measures for vulnerable people could be improved.

A Spokesperson for the force said they believe this to be a direct consequence of 10 years of austerity where frontline officers and staff have been working beyond their capacity to protect the public.

HMICFRS noted that senior leadership were aware of some of the gaps and were making plans to address them. The force has already taken a number of steps to improve in these areas and is continuing to develop its partnership working, training, data quality and supervision.

Chief Constable Peter Goodman said: “While there is always much to learn from HMICFRS inspections, we are confident about the strategic journey we are taking and the long-term modernised organisation we are building. I welcome the report which gives us an opportunity to reflect on our current working practices and the reality testing within the workforce. Since their visit we have already moved forward in some of the areas where we were deemed to require improvement.

“My officers and staff are highly committed to keeping the public of Derbyshire safe, and protecting those who are vulnerable. We all come to work to make a difference, and I want to ensure they have the right tools, training and ability to provide an excellent public service.

“We now have a chief officer leading a number of scrutiny boards, including achieving excellence in investigations – which takes an in-depth look at how we are caring for victims, as well as our performance; and there has been a programme of changes to improve our compliance with the national crime recording standards, which I am confident is already showing clear improvements.

“We have a full training schedule in place to ensure officer safety training is delivered, and address any of the potential gaps in the skills we have in force. We have already changed our approach to professional standards and organisational learning, having moved away from a blame culture to ensure we can swiftly identify learning opportunities and quickly communicate them to our officers and staff.

“Vulnerability is a priority for us and it encapsulates most of what we do every day; from antisocial behaviour, through to domestic abuse, modern slavery, county lines and homicide. We have a clear vulnerability strategy in place but need to continue our work in this area to identify those who are most vulnerable and ensure they have access to the help, support and services they need.

“I recognise that we have financial challenges ahead of us, and we have plans in place to address this, both in the short-term and longer-term, dependent on funding decisions from the Government. We are looking to maximise their investment in 20,000 new police officers, and the positive impact that this can have for the people of Derbyshire, but this in itself is not without its own challenges to get people into the organisation.

“The PCC supported us by securing a precept funding increase for the financial year 2019/20, but at the time of the inspection, the impact of this would not have been felt. It is now helping us to make a difference in addressing some of the issues we face.”

Since October, a new Partnerships, Prevention and Collaboration team has been collaboratively set up with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, to establish stronger joined-up approaches to problem-solving, as well as developing shared priorities across all local agencies. Sharing available knowledge and ensuring data is available and accessible is also helping to target the most appropriate resources in the most effective way. The report noted the impact of austerity on increasing gaps in partnership working across public, private and voluntary sectors, and the resources available to commit to this area.

The force has introduced a Business Change and Innovation team, with specialist skills to help fully understand the demand the force faces. They have already piloted an analytics programme which is now being rolled out across the force, with a number of dashboards at various levels made available, cutting across different systems and offering a clearer picture of calls for service and demand.

CC Goodman continued: “We need to continually understand the changing nature of crime and where our demand is across Derbyshire and the impact that it has on our communities. With the PCC’s support, we have invested in our frontline services, ringfencing our safer neighbourhood team resources to ensure that along with our partners we have the right resources to tackle local issues at the earliest opportunity.

“We are an innovative force, who want to lead the way in how we use technology in our work. We have 24/7 drone coverage across Derbyshire, and all officers now have a variety of mobile devices to ensure they are more visible and not reliant on having to come back to a station to do paperwork to progress investigations.

“There is more work for us to do, and I know we are not there yet, but I want to reassure the people of Derbyshire that alongside my hard-working, highly dedicated and determined officers and staff, we are committed to providing the best service possible and we will never be complacent in what we do.”

Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa said that while the report was disappointing it was inevitable that after 10 years of austerity and the loss of over a quarter of the workforce, something would give.

“The Chief Constable and I have a shared ambition, namely we want to keep Derbyshire safe. It is accepted, rightly as one of the safest places in which to live, work or visit. We want to see it stay that way.

“The report and its recommendations are simply a realistic assessment of the force’s performance at the time of the inspection.  I’ve discussed this in detail with the Chief Constable and we both welcome the recommendations and of course the recognition that steps had already been taken to address some of the issues raised.  However, we all accept that there is more to be done and I have every confidence in the Chief Constable to do this as soon as practically – and financially – possible and he has my full support.”

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