Policing in Cambridgeshire “requires improvement” according to the latest report by inspectors.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services found the force’s investigation of crime and reducing offending, together with the protection of vulnerable people, were below standard.
But police were “disappointed” with the finding, saying the inspection had been carried out at a time of unprecedented demand.
Deputy Chief Constable Alan Baldwin said: “We accept the findings of HMIC’s effectiveness inspection, however, we are disappointed with the judgement of ‘requires improvement’.
“Our inspection came at a time of unprecedented demand for the police service, not only in Cambridgeshire, but across the country, and the findings by HMICFRS reflect this.”
He said: “While we continue to have peaks in demand, our levels have returned to normal, and we are putting measures in place to reduce the chances of this happening again.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Jason Ablewhite said the arrival of 55 extra officers funded through a council tax rise would help boost policing.
The effectiveness report said: “Cambridgeshire Constabulary requires improvement in its approach to keeping people safe and reducing crime.
“Its performance has deteriorated in some important areas which is reflected in its overall judgement for effectiveness.”
But the report, which described the force’s handling of serious and organised crime and preventing crime and anti-social behaviour as “good”, said: “However, the force had identified the areas prior to the inspection and it is implementing a new operating model in 2018.
“The force believes this will address the shortfalls identified. The force was inspected following a period of exceptional demand in summer 2017 which has since returned to normal levels.”
Mr Baldwin added: “While the timing of the HMICFRS inspection demonstrated the strain on the force during the period of exceptional demand, we are still proud of the good work we are doing, as highlighted in the report, and will use the areas of improvement identified by HMICFRS, to ensure we continue to improve our service for the people of Cambridgeshire.”
Mr Ablewhite said: “Whist I acknowledge the grading of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services that our constabulary ‘requires improvement’, it is important to reflect on the positive progress made over the past year.
“Chief Constable, Alec Wood recognised our force was under significant pressure in autumn 2016. His response to this was to put in place a fundamental review of local policing. The local policing review brings additional resource to the frontline, increasing the number of warranted officers to ensure the force is in the best shape possible to both respond and protect people in our communities.”
Mr Ablewhite said: “I am also aware that this week many of you will be receiving your council tax bill which includes the £1 per month increase towards policing. The 55 new warranted officers this will pay for over the coming year will provide the resource needed by the frontline.
“I will, of course, continue to monitor progress but I am satisfied that together we are putting in place the necessary steps to tackle increased demand and respond to financial pressures.”