Cambridgeshire Police needs to improve in a number of crucial areas according to government inspectors following an assessment carried out at the end of last year.
But Deputy Chief Constable Alan Baldwin said the inspection in September was carred out at a time of “unprecedented demand for the police service” and said they were disappointed with the findings of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire And Rescue Services (HMICS).
Inspectors assessed the force on its ability to investigate crime and reduce re-offending, protect vulnerable people and its specialist capabilities.
The HMICS report found the county force needs to improve its “approach to keeping people safe and reporting crime”.
Inspectors state the force needs to improve the way it reduces re-offending, and also the way crime is investigated with the report saying “Crimes were not always investigated to a high standard”.
They also said the force’s performance had deteriorated in some important areas, which had led to the overall rating of ‘requires improvement’ in its effectiveness.
The report said while the force made good use of intelligence to support investigations, and regularly updated victims on progress in cases there was some inconsistency in the level of supervision and direction to officers investigating crimes.
Stating: “Cambridgeshire Constabulary requires improvement in its approach to keeping people safe and reducing crime.”
DCC Baldwin said: “We accept the findings of HMIC’s effectiveness inspection, however, we are disappointed with the judgement of ‘requires improvement’.
“Our inspection came at a time of unprecedented demand for the police service, not only in Cambridgeshire, but across the country, and the findings by HMICS reflect this.
“While we continue to have peaks in demand, our levels have returned to normal, and we are putting measures in place to reduce the chances of this happening again.
“For example, we are currently implementing the Local Policing Review - a new policing model that will deliver a demand-led and victim-focused service to provide much needed support to the frontline, and our police and crime commissioner has the support of the public in the county to increase council tax by £12 per year, which will be used to recruit 55 new warranted officers.”
HMRCS did, however, praise Cambridgeshire Constabulary its well-developed relationships with partner organisations, which is helping support vulnerable people and address the needs of victims.
The force’s mental health triage scheme was also highlighted, which involves mental health professionals being located in the force control room to provide real-time clinical advice to police officers on patrol to help them identify and support people with mental health conditions.
While the service is not available 24/7, it has not only meant that fewer people have been taken to A&E - reducing pressure on hospital emergency staff, more importantly, it has improved the service provided by the police to people in crisis when at their most vulnerable.
The force’s limited use of Domestic Violence Protection Orders was identified in the report, however, the use of Clare’s Law has improved and the rate at which Cambridgeshire Constabulary charges domestic abuse offenders with a crime is above the rate for England and Wales.
DCC Baldwin added: “While the timing of the HMICS inspection demonstrated the strain on the force during the period of exceptional demand, we are still proud of the good work we are doing, as highlighted in the report, and will use the areas of improvement identified by HMICS, to ensure we continue to improve our service for the people of Cambridgeshire.”