CAMBRIDGESHIRE police needs to improve its work solving the crimes that matter to the people it serves – that was the verdict of the first national Police Report Card. The force was praised for the way it tackles serious crime, but the report, published

CAMBRIDGESHIRE police needs to improve its work solving the crimes that matter to the people it serves - that was the verdict of the first national Police Report Card.

The force was praised for the way it tackles serious crime, but the report, published last week, highlighted solving smaller crimes - such as burglary and vehicle crime - as an area where there was "considerable scope" for improvement.

Cambridgeshire police, which overall was given a 'fair' grade, said it has already made changes and improvements have been seen.

The assessment, part of a national survey carried out by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), found Cambridgeshire was better than comparable forces at tackling serious sexual and organised crime and had become a national leader in tackling human trafficking.

It was also doing well in the fight against anti-social behaviour, improving satisfaction in ethnic minority communities and suppressing gun crime.

HMI for Cambridgeshire Zoë Billingham said Cambridgeshire's performance in reducing crime was in line with similar forces but that there remained "considerable scope for improvement in solving the crimes that matter to local people, including house burglary and vehicle crime."

Deputy Chief Constable John Feavyour said the force had already taken steps to resolve the problem areas highlighted in the report, which used data up to September 2009.

He told The Hunts Post the constabulary was being more proactive in its approach to solving crime and dealing with anti-social behaviour, and working with other agencies to help repeat victims.

"The issue is that four or five years ago, we were responding - now we are ahead of what's going on. Our systems and methods are much more dynamic now," said Mr Feavyour. "We are as disappointed as the other nine other forces given the same grading. It refers to burglary, vehicle crime, robbery and violence against people, areas where we were aware we were not doing well in some communities.

"We have changed our approach and are beginning to get much better results.

"The chief constable [Julie Spence] has led a relentless programme of focusing on today's jobs today, and following everything up, and we are starting to see the benefits."

Mr Feavyour said police had found success from improving intelligence networks in communities, and from identifying and approaching the most prolific offenders in any given area as soon as crimes are committed.

One of the force's priorities is to improve public confidence, which the latest Home Office figures put at 47.6 per cent, on track to meet the 2012 target of 59 per cent.

The force's own confidence survey already shows a figure of 60 per cent.

Mr Feavyour said: "The importance of confidence in the police cuts across all grades. It knows no boundaries - we need to make sure that confidence is there in everything that we do."

A key part of raising that confidence is responding to all calls where people were distressed or upset, known as "Pledge incidents".

Mr Feavyour said: "If someone is upset we should make it a priority to get to the people who need us.

"Together with the comments on what the force does well - and even better than others in some areas - there are challenges which we understand only too well and readily accept. The Report Card tells us we're good in many parts - but could still do better."

STOP AND SEARCH

CAMBRIDGESHIRE police is nearly three times more likely to stop-and-search a black person than a white person, according to figures released by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The stop-and-search rate per 1,000 people in Cambridgeshire stands at 14.5 for white people, but 38.3 for black people, a ratio of 2.6. The figures put Cambridgeshire in the lower half of a table ranking forces according to their black/white stop-and-search ratio, well behind Hampshire police which stopped 5.7 times as many black people as white in 2007-08.

Asian people were also stopped more often than white people in Cambridgeshire: 15.6 people per 1,000, or a ratio of 1.1.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said: "Any officer stopping a person on the street must have a justifiable reason to do so and record that decision. This process is monitored closely by the force to ensure any individual or group is not being targeted unfairly.