The Police and Crime Panel considered a report of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) relating to an inspection of Leicestershire Police entitled Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy 2018/19. A copy of the report, marked ‘Agenda Item 7’, is filed with these minutes.
Arising from discussions the following points were noted:
i. HMICFRS operated a risk based approach to conducting inspections and would prioritise areas which were less strong in previous inspections. This was the first inspection where Leicestershire Police had been rated ‘good’ in all areas inspected, however, the Force recognised there were still areas for improvement. The next inspection of Leicestershire Police by HMICFRS was expected to take place in spring 2020.
ii. The Force had challenged HMICFRS with regard to some of the findings in the inspection report particularly in relation to how Leicestershire Police identified and developed talent in the workforce. The Force acknowledged that they may not have demonstrated well enough to HMICFRS the work that Leicestershire Police carried out in this area but the Panel was given reassurance that skills and leadership audits had taken place. It was agreed that after the meeting information would be circulated to Panel members regarding the current workforce in Leicestershire Police, the skills which staff had and where the skills gaps were.
iii. The PCC shared the concerns of Panel members regarding the proportion of crimes where the victim did not support police action, and he provided reassurance that he was monitoring the issue and it was a priority in the Police and Crime Plan. The figures for the Leicestershire Police force area were very similar to the national figures with the exception of robbery where locally less victims came forward than nationally. It was explained that it was possible to obtain a conviction when the victim was not willing to participate in the prosecution process, and Leicestershire Police did attempt this when appropriate, however securing a conviction without the support of the victim was much more difficult. The PCC informed the Panel that he was satisfied that Leicestershire Police dealt with Domestic Abuse in the most appropriate way and that every effort was made to support victims and persuade them to support the prosecution process. The PCC acknowledged that the number of repeat victims was an issue and they needed to be managed more assertively.
iv. The Government had altered the process for bail in order to reduce the time suspects were on bail. A new process had been introduced where the suspects were ‘Released under Investigation’ however this led to people under investigation being released with no time limit or deadline for conclusion which was unsatisfactory.
v. In response to concerns raised by a member, the PCC acknowledged that it was worrying that the number of crimes which resulted in a prosecution had not increased in line with the increase in overall crime and he suggested that a lack of resource may have contributed to this. There were also occasions when Leicestershire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service had differing views on whether a prosecution should be brought. The Code for Crown Prosecutors had been amended which required the Police to undertake more work in the initial stages before the Crown Prosecution Service would agree to a charge. Whilst there were good relations between Leicestershire Police and East Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, using the CPS Direct telephone service was more challenging. By way of reassurance it was explained that work was being undertaken nationally, led by senior Home Office officials and the Deputy Chief Constable at West Midlands Police, to consider how crime outcomes could be improved.
vi. With regard to concerns raised by HMICFRS around officers’ understanding of rules of disclosure, reassurance was given that a training programme was underway in Leicestershire Police for both new and experienced officers. It was further explained that disclosure issues were more complicated in the digital age particularly with regard to mobile phone messages and Leicestershire Police were aware that further work needed to be carried out to ensure that this kind of disclosure was carried out correctly.
vii. Panel members raised concerns that as Leicestershire Police had managed to receive a good inspection report despite the funding reductions, the government might take this into account when considering future funding for the Force. Whilst acknowledging that this was a possibility, the PCC stated that he was making the case for additional funding and making the argument that Leicestershire Police could perform even better were it to be better funded.
viii. In response to a question about local policing the PCC clarified that whilst there would not be more police officers on the streets there would be more investment in neighbourhood policing in the wider sense and the ability of the Force to respond to incidents and investigate crimes would be enhanced as a result of the Precept increase.
ix. The PCC stated that he was content that the way Stop and Search was conducted by Leicestershire Police was reasonable and appropriate. In support of this the PCC informed the Panel that the Ethics Integrity and Complaints Committee reviewed real life Stop and Search cases, including observing the body worn video, and satisfied themselves that the approach taken by the officers involved was the correct one and submitted comments to the Force when necessary.
x. Concerns were raised that the proportion of black and minority ethnic staff in Leicestershire Police was lower than the overall proportion of black and minority ethnic people in the population of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. The PCC provided reassurance that efforts were being made to tackle the issue. New Panel members were informed that this issue had been covered in depth at the previous Panel meeting and it was agreed that the report and minutes from that meeting would be circulated to new members for their information.
That the contents of the report be noted.