Police watchdog says Cleveland force has ‘no overarching crime prevention strategy’

Barry Coppinger
Barry Coppinger

CLEVELAND Police chiefs say they are not complacent after an inspection by watchdogs into how the force manages officers’ time.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) visited all 43 police forces in England and Wales between January and April for the inspection called Making Best Use of Police Time.

It focussed on how well forces are preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, how they respond to reports of crime, and how well forces are freeing up staff time so they can focus on core policing functions.

Some forces came in for criticism for their handling of low level crimes such as criminal damage and asking victims to carry out their own investigations.

HMIC said Cleveland Police needed greater emphasis on an overall crime prevention strategy.

Roger Baker, of HMIC, said: “Although the inspection found references to crime reduction and prevention in some of the force’s plans and documents, there is no overarching crime prevention strategy.

“This would provide greater clarity to officers, staff and the public, of the importance to the force of preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and how it will be achieved.”

But it also found some good examples of where the force had undertaken long-term crime prevention initiatives.

And the force won praise for its electronic database that inspectors found helps to prevent and solve crime in neighbourhoods.

Inspectors reviewed a number of Cleveland Police investigations including those where officers did not attend. They found that, in general, officers recorded updates of progress on the cases.

Mr Barker added: “The force is clear about how it will respond to calls for service from the public. It is one of the few forces that have a policy requiring officers to attend all reports of crimes and incidents.”

He added the force has clear procedures to enable it to identify vulnerable and repeat victims of crime and anti-social behaviour but adde d there was room for improvement.

HMIC also found the force was working to understand demand and how its resources are distributed.

It has also invested in mobile technology, such as phones and tablet devices which officers can use to access systems while out on patrol.

Deputy Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, Iain Spittal, said: “We are currently developing a much more detailed understanding of demand across the force area, in order that we can become more effective into the future and we have also invested in new technology to enable officers to access force systems while they are on patrol, when completed this will save officer and staff time.

“Overall I’m reassured by HMIC’s opinion of Cleveland Police, we are not complacent and recognise that we will need to continue to develop and improve the services we deliver to our communities in order to protect them from harm.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger added: “One of the most important things is that Cleveland Police provides an efficient and effective service to the communities in Cleveland.

“While there are some areas for improvement both at a local and national level, I’m aware that the Force has taken steps to start addressing the issues and it is certainly moving in the right direction.”