HMIC say Staffordshire are inadequate at dealing with vulnerability

Tuesday, 15th December 2015

STAFFORDSHIRE Police and Crime Commissioner says vulnerable people must be supported by Staffordshire Police after the force was branded ‘inadequate’.

The report, released today branded Staffordshire Police, which covers 1,048 square miles as one of only four police services in the country to be branded ‘Inadequate’.

Mr Ellis has highlighted the needs of protecting vulnerable people after an inspection published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), called Police effectiveness 2015 (Vulnerability), found “urgent improvement” was needed in several areas to ensure Staffordshire Police kept vulnerable people safe. The inspection report said Staffordshire Police had a “poor approach” to formally assessing the risks faced by domestic abuse victims.

“The most vulnerable people must get the support they need at the time they need it.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis following an inspection report on Staffordshire Police.

The report which can be read in full here also said Staffordshire Police needed more effective processes to assess the potential risk to vulnerabilities.

Statistics

The 'below average' workforce numbers in Staffordshire compared to the national average.

The ‘below average’ workforce numbers in Staffordshire compared to the national average.

When looking purely at the figures for Staffordshire Police within the report, mixed results can be seen.  For instance; in a 12 month period to 31 March 2015, 20.1 out of every 1000 ‘calls for service’ to Staffordshire Police were due to domestic abuse compared to the England and Wales average of just 15.8.

In Staffordshire, 26.5% of total crimes recorded (excluding fraud) in the same period had a victim classed as vulnerable, this dwarfs the England and Wales average of just 10.7%. This shows that Staffordshire has an ‘above average’ number of crime involving domestic abuse or vulnerable victims.

The good news is that 89.1% of victims of crime were satisfied with the outcome of the investigation in Staffordshire compared to the England and Wales average of just 83.8%.

In a statement release to Tamworth Informed, Mr Ellis said: “The HMIC report raises serious issues but also highlights anomalies with the way inspections are undertaken by HMIC focusing solely on an individual service, at a time when there is a drive towards closer co-operation and joint working across public services.

“Staffordshire Police must accept there are failings in the way they deal with and support some vulnerable people, specifically in relation to domestic abuse. These failings are not minor issues and the Chief Constable has accepted the need to significantly improve the force’s approach and ensure that the most vulnerable get the support they need at the time that they need it.

“This is even more troubling because, as part of internal governance arrangements, my office highlighted eight months ago the need for police to be more consistent with assessing the risks to individuals using the force’s DIAL (Domestic Incident Assessment Log) process.

“That has clearly not been addressed adequately, leading to an inconsistent approach. The Chief Constable has accepted the failure and ensured more rigorous processes – and people have been put in place to address the issue.

“But Staffordshire Police has also been judged by HMIC as identifying twice as many vulnerable victims than the average of all police services across the country. A person reading or hearing that sentence could draw the conclusion that most police services are not identifying vulnerability or that the numbers of vulnerable victims in Staffordshire are twice the national average.

“It also follows a recent OFSTED inspection in Stoke-on-Trent which assessed the multi-agency approach, including Staffordshire Police, to domestic abuse and missing children. That report suggested all was well.

“In the end, the first priority must be the safety of vulnerable individuals. Staffordshire Police must improve their consistency of approach when identifying potential risk. This does, however, also raise the problem with single agency inspections when more integrated working across multiple public services is becoming more normal practice.”

Supporting victims and witnesses is one of four key priorities in the Staffordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis’ Safer, Fairer United Communities strategy for more local and effective policing in the county.

The new Staffordshire Victim Gateway was launched at the start of September to put the needs of victims and witnesses at the heart of the criminal justice system. Information is available at www.staffsvictimsgateway.org.uk or by ringing 0330 0881 339.