Cambs police has improved domestic abuse response, report finds

Cambridgeshire Police

Cambridgeshire Police - Credit: Archant

Being good at investigating crime is what you would expect of a police force, and Cambridgeshire is on the mark, according to its latest inspection report.

The county constabulary also impressed Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in plenty of other key areas such as focusing on victims of crime, preventing reoffending and coping with the Government inflicted budgets cuts.

The inspection, known as a PEEL assessment, examined three core areas – effectiveness, police integrity and corruption, and efficiency.

The results in each area were given the thumbs up for the force – good ratings, the second best possible outcome after outstanding.

But there were also a few weaknesses highlighted by the inspectors.

In the effectiveness arena – dealing with crime, victims and preventing offending – it was generally positive. While there was a one per cent increase in recorded crime between June 2013-14, the overall trend was downward – a 22 per cent reduction over the past four years.

Cambridgeshire remains below the national average for the number of crimes committed per 1,000 population – 54.9 compared with 60.7 – while there were 7.6 burglaries per 1,000 homes compared with 8.9 across England and Wales.

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The detection rate of 26 per cent matched the national average.

And if you have been a victim of crime, then Cambridgeshire police provide an “excellent service to victims”, the report notes, adding: “What is particularly clear is that victims’ needs are paramount; this is the case even if a victim does not want to support a prosecution.”

The inspector also concluded that the officers were “skilled at tackling criminality at all levels, from crime which occurs on a day-to-day basis to serious offending that is less prevalent but potentially more harmful.”

However, the report adds that there was sometimes inconsistency with investigation plans, and the “greatest weaknesses occur with crimes being investigated by safer neighbourhood officers”.

One area of concern raised at a previous inspection was the approach to domestic abuse. However, HMIC said things had improved and domestic abuse units were better resourced, including support for children who witness the violence.

In other areas of the force’s work, the report found there was a strong track record of achieving savings – Cambridgeshire is have to save £19.8million between 2011 and 2015 – and had clear plans on how to make ends meet. It collaboration work with neighbouring forces, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, was praised, having achieved savings across the three forces of about £26m.

However, the budget cuts have had an impact on officer numbers. In March 2010, the police officer head count was 1,471. In March 2015 it is expected to be 1,341 – a reduction of 130. Over the same period PCSO numbers will drop by about 59 to 150 and support staff by 253 to 819. The number of specials will increase by 133 to 300.

The force’s use of technology was seen a positive way of preventing officers from being tied up with paperwork. The police invested in 150 tablets for mobile working, saving an hour of time for each officer who uses them.

Chief Constable Simon Parr is also praised for his clear leadership.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire Sir Graham Bright, welcomed the report: “I am particular pleased that HMIC has recognised the work that all those in the constabulary do in support of both victims of crime and the vulnerable whilst at the same time maintaining a focus on those individuals who cause most harm to society.”

He added: “I would like to thank all those in the constabulary and partners for their contribution to making Cambridgeshire a safer place, something that HMIC Inspectors recognised.

“However, as highlighted by HMIC, there are many challenges ahead and there is always room for improvement.”