Avon and Somerset Police have been praised in the latest series of HMICFRS reports for its “ambitious and innovative” approaches to be more efficient.
Against the backdrop of tight financial constraints, the force has received an outstanding grading by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Fire and Rescue Services for its efficiency in planning for the future.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said: “I am very pleased with the performance of Avon and Somerset Constabulary. The constabulary is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. It is also good at investigating crime and tackling serious and organised crime. It identifies and responds well to incidents involving vulnerable people and works effectively with other agencies to protect them.
“The constabulary is ambitious in its planning for the future and wants to be at the forefront of innovative practice. I am very impressed with its use of technology to understand changing demand. It uses this information very well to influence its development of finance and workforce plans for the future.
“Senior leaders ensure that the workforce understands the importance of treating the public and each other with fairness and respect. The constabulary continues to uphold an ethical culture and promote the standards of professional behaviour it expects.
“Overall, I congratulate Avon and Somerset Constabulary for its excellent performance over the past year. I am confident that it is well equipped for this to continue, “ said the Inspector.
The report said the constabulary was innovative in communicating with the public, noting its use of Facebook community groups and online forums to reach people and its tailoring of online messaging to reach different communities.
The report also highlighted the force as being “ambitious in its plans to transform the ways in which it uses estate. It uses co-locating to good financial effect”; to “identifying and nurturing talented staff” and using its “recruiting for difference” campaign to improve workforce diversity and leadership.”
And there was praise for Chief Constable Andy Marsh and Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, who the report said, “have effective measures in place to talk to and work with, the public. This ensures that the views and priorities of local communities are reflected in how the force area is policed.”
In addition to the outstanding grading the force has been graded “good” for its effectiveness to reduce crime and keep people safe and how it treats the public and its own workforce.
Areas highlighted include:
- Officers and staff have a good understanding of what makes a person vulnerable and are good at identifying vulnerable people at first contact, knowing the importance of prioritising the needs of vulnerable people.
- The constabulary manages well the risk posed by registered sex offenders, activity seeking to reduce their risk to the public.
- The constabulary works proactively with other organisations to uncover hidden harm, to protect vulnerable children through Operation Topaz.
- It offers a robust response to burglary, knife crime and county lines criminality through Operation Remedy.
- And Operation Encompass involves the sharing of information with schools, where domestic abuse has been identified.
- Officers attend 86 percent of domestic abuse incidents as an emergency or priority call. This compares with a 75 per cent response rate in England and Wales. The number of arrests and voluntary attendances per 100 recorded domestic abuse offences over the 12 month period to March 2019 was also slightly above the national figure.
- The constabulary is good at treating the public fairly. Its leaders understand the value of policing by consent and of treating the public with fairness and respect. The workforce knows about these values and understands them.
- The force was also praised for the way in which it uses its communications team to reach communities that might not otherwise make contact. We note its positive outreach efforts with members of the Muslim community.
DCC Sarah Crew said “In our last inspection in 2017/18 we were given a good rating for the three categories. The fact that this year we have been upgraded to outstanding for our efficiency is welcome step in the right direction.
“It is recognition of the hard work and effort by all – officers and staff – in Avon and Somerset against difficult economic challenges and new crimes trends such as on-line and fraud offences.
“But we refuse to be complacent and see this as another stepping stone to our desire to become an outstanding force nationally. It is great credit to the hard work, effort and commitment of our staff.”
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, added:“I am pleased that this report recognises the hard work, determination and effort of Avon and Somerset staff and officers. I hope local people can see that the Constabulary continues to take steps in the right direction to offer the best police service for the communities it serves.
“Protecting the most vulnerable from harm is a priority in my Police and Crime Plan so I am delighted that the report acknowledges the quality of the Constabulary’s investigations, in particular those involving vulnerable children and adults.
“However, it’s important that we remember that there is always more work to be done. I know the Constabulary are committed to continually improving and becoming an outstanding force nationally,” said Sue.
Avon and Somerset Police Federation Chair Insp Andy Roebuck said: This is an impressive report which highlights the hard work and dedication of so many police officers and police staff, who have been committed to their policing of Avon and Somerset. Against the background of some of the most severe cuts to policing, the officers and staff have provided some outstanding work in protecting so many communities – that is impressive.
“The new investment into policing, which will mean more police officers, police staff and increased use of technology will bring new demands and the ability to really tackle those offences and offenders that hurt our communities,” said Andy.