There is still more work needed to improve the way Cambridgeshire Constabulary investigates crime and how it handles domestic abuse is also a ‘cause for concern’.
Zoe Billingham, of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, made the findings following a recent assessment which looks at effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.
In her preliminary report, Ms Billingham, found the constabulary requires improvement in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
She also found there was need for improvement in the way crime investigations are carried out.
She said: “In HMIC’s crime inspection in 2014 we recommended that improvement was needed in the quality and consistency of crime investigations.
“In this inspection we found that there are still the same areas for improvement. There are inconsistencies in the quality and supervision of initial investigations, which means there is a risk that opportunities to gather the best evidence to bring offenders to justice may be missed.
“It is disappointing not to see more progress in improving the standard of these initial investigations.”
But she did concede that after the initial response, the quality of subsequent investigations is ‘adequate’ and Cambridgeshire police is good at managing those offenders causing the most harm.
It was also found that while the constabulary generally provides a good service in identifying vulnerable people and responds well to them, there is room for improvement.
She said: “For example the response to the investigation and safeguarding of domestic abuse victims is a cause of concern to HMIC.
“The constabulary may not be consistently dealing with domestic abuse offenders in the most appropriate way, to prevent reoffending and protect victims.”
But Cambridgeshire police is good at disrupting the activity of organised crime groups and staff responsible for investigating serious and organised crime are “highly skilled and experienced”.
The leadership has strong oversight of the force’s ability to respond to national threats, such as terrorism, national cyber-crime incidents and child sexual abuse.
Its own arrangements for ensuring it can meet its national obligations in this regard - such as planning, testing and exercising - are good.
The report found Cambridgeshire Constabulary to be good at efficiency.
“It has a good track record in reducing its costs while maintaining its police officer numbers. It has plans in place to meet its entire anticipated future savings until 2019/20, with a lower than average reduction in police officer numbers,” said Ms Billingham.
“It has focused on improving efficiency by using technology to make best use of police resources and through collaborating with other police forces. It has also sought to protect frontline services by reducing the numbers in senior ranks where possible.”
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hopkins said: “Today’s HMIC report into effectiveness does not reflect where we want to be as a force and highlights a number of areas in which we are committed to improving.
“The report recognises that we work hard to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour and that we manage offenders well, it also highlights our inconsistency in investigations and keeping victims updated, especially our more vulnerable victims.
“We have already started to address these issues, moving away from targets and towards outcomes that are the best for our victims of crime, but we know we have some way to go.
“We welcome the report and will continue to make improvements to ensure we deliver a more consistent service to the people of Cambridgeshire.”