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Northants Police Force showing real progress in performance following inspection by police watchdog

Author: Northants Police Published: 20th February 2024 09:26
 A new inspection report on Northamptonshire Police’s performance shows the Force has made clear improvements since its last inspection.

A new inspection report on Northamptonshire Police’s performance shows the Force has made clear improvements since its last inspection.

Following an inspection visit in mid-2023, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has today (Friday, February 16 2024) published its concluding report which highlights a number of areas where the Force is showing both progress and in, some cases, leading the way in terms of good practice.

In 2021 when an “adequate” rating was added for the first-time to the existing four tiers – outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate – the Force was judged to be adequate in four and requiring improvement in six areas.

HMICFRS has since revised its inspection criteria, measuring the Force against nine areas of business, including how Northamptonshire Police treats victims of crime, its legitimacy in its use of powers, how it protects vulnerable people and its effectiveness in investigating crime.

One is now judged to be outstanding, one good, six are now adequate with one area requiring improvement.
Among the key areas of progress highlighted were:

  • •Good overall approach to using police powers and treating people fairly and with respect. The watchdog also noted the Force’s external scrutiny panel worked effectively and involved young people

  • Top ranking across all Forces when it comes to quality of case files submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service for them to take forward to court proceedings
  • Improvements have been noted in the way the Force protects vulnerable people and manages registered sex offenders and those suspected of accessing indecent images of children

  • The Force’s approach to investigating shoplifting, linked to the cost-of-living crisis, has been cited as promising practice. The Force later showcased its approach to retail crime when the Policing Minister visited Northampton in December 2023

HMICFRS also flagged key areas linked to building trust and confidence including a positive and proportionate approach to Stop and Search powers, very good compliance around Body Worn Video and an arrest rate figure (34 per cent) for domestic abuse offenders, higher than the national average.

The Force was also shown to be complying fully with the Victim’s Code of Practice with victims kept regularly updated on cases by officers and staff.

Partnership working – a weakness highlighted in previous reports – has also improved in part by the data-sharing activity, known as the Observatory, between partner agencies, which has addressed the Force’s early intervention and prevention activity whereby support is provided to those at risk of starting a life of crime before it is too late.

The re-launch of Northamptonshire Talking, an online community engagement platform is also gaining traction with more sign-ups and the ability for users to engage with police via translation tools when English is not their first language.

Acting Chief Constable Ivan Balhatchet said: “The Force is continuing to move in the right direction from our last inspection in 2021 and we are a very long way now from the 2019 inspection report which identified some very serious gaps in performance and led to us spending a period in special measures.

“We took the findings from the last inspection and have worked hard to improve across a wide range of areas and while there is still work to do, there are a lot of positives to be drawn from this report.

“This Force and policing in general have never been under more scrutiny than it has over the past couple of years, so it is especially encouraging to see how well we have been assessed in terms of our legitimacy, the way we use powers and treat the public with fairness and respect.”

One area which HMICFRS has stated that the force requires improvement is how it investigates crime. Inspectors identified the Force sometimes allocated crimes to officers which lacked the capacity or capability to investigate effectively.

An area highlighted as needing specific attention was domestic abuse, but that approach is now subject to a detailed review in Force designed ensure we have the most robust response possible moving forward.

Work has already been put in place to address the findings of the latest report, including internal campaigns to identify why new recruits are leaving the Force, new technology to further bolster efficiency and performance. A new youth violence intervention unit to build on the Force’s approach to prevent and deter crime is also now in place.

Under the new grading system introduced by HMICFRS since the last inspection, no overall rating is given, instead the Force is judged against the following categories:

  • Crime Data Integrity – Outstanding

  • Police Powers and Treating the Public fairly and respectfully – Good
  • Preventing and deterring crime and anti-social behaviour and reducing vulnerability - Adequate

  • esponding to the public – Adequate

  • Investigating Crime – Requires Improvement
• Protecting vulnerable people – Adequate
  • Managing offenders and suspects – Adequate
• Building, supporting and protecting the workforce – Adequate

  • Leadership and Force management – Adequate

To read the full HMICFRS report, please click here.

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