HMIC Reports 2015
This page provides links to HMIC reports either specifically following an inspection of Essex Police or with regard to national policing but with direct relevance to Essex.
Please note that the PCC response to the HMIC reports should be published within 30 days of the report being issued.
December 2015: HMIC police effectiveness (Vulnerability) – An inspection of Essex Police
PCC Response to HMIC inspection of police effectiveness (Vulnerability)
Protecting vulnerable people must be at the heart of the work of our police service, every minute of every hour of every day.
As Police and Crime Commissioner I have made reducing the many hidden harms that affect vulnerable people, and especially domestic abuse, a key area of focus for Essex Police. I appointed a Chief Constable who cares as deeply about these issues as I do and who is committed to driving change and improving the performance of Essex Police in these areas.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary performs a crucial role in reviewing the operational work of police forces and I respect and value their work.
But this report into a key aspect of Essex Police performance is of real concern. Whilst there is much in the report that speaks of improvement, it also reveals the extent of the challenge that remains. It is essential that Essex Police acts upon the recommendations of the HMIC report. Whilst I am confident that improvements are being made, I will continue to scrutinise the work of Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh and Essex Police to ensure that they are fully delivered. Protecting vulnerable people requires a multi-agency focus and commitment, so I will also take a strong interest in how well Essex Police is working with its partners.
Every day in Essex, there are four times as many domestic abuse incidents requiring an emergency response as house burglaries. I have supported the Chief Constable’s decision to put significantly more police officers and specialist staff into Essex Police’s Public Protection Unit. The force must also ensure the structures and working practices provide the best possible protection for those at risk of domestic abuse, including any children in the household, and target and monitor abusive perpetrators effectively.
Essex Police has made use of the powers and tools available, such as Domestic Violence Protection Orders and body worn video cameras to capture evidence. These innovative initiatives will be fully evaluated to ensure they are as effective as possible. The force’s work around high risk domestic abuse cases has significantly improved, and that is good news. But HMIC is clear that Essex Police must review the working practices for medium risk domestic abuse cases, and address the unintended consequences of separating responsibility for investigation and safeguarding between different teams.
HMIC identified concerns around supervisory systems and practices in the area of domestic abuse. With regard to protecting children, the inspection identified more fundamental cultural problems in identifying and investigating child sexual exploitation and this is a real concern to me.
It is increasingly clear that for decades, across the country, many agencies with important roles in protecting vulnerable children failed both to understand child sexual exploitation or to identify its signs. Helping and protecting these young victims requires time, empathy and specialist skills. It is imperative and urgent that we complete the training of police officers and police staff to provide them with the knowledge to deliver a first class service for vulnerable people in our county.
Essex Police needs to redouble its effort to target perpetrators of child sexual exploitation and to work yet more closely and effectively with social care and partner agencies to safeguard children. Everyone in the force, in fact all of us, must be alert to the signs and risk of child sexual exploitation.
I will continue to lead work with local authorities and specialist agencies such as refuges and rape crisis centres to provide more consistent support for vulnerable people across Essex. My office has funded 24 Independent Domestic Violence Advocates in our county, enabling earlier intervention and support to victims in some of the most high risk domestic abuse case. We are also funding the development of domestic abuse perpetrator programmes so we can robustly tackle and address the behaviour of perpetrators. In addition, we are funding work with the Children’s Society to better understand and respond to child sexual exploitation in our county.
Years of complacency and the poor practices and wrong cultures that resulted from that cannot be put right overnight. Training detectives takes time. Processes and practices need continuous improvement and effecting cultural change can be slow and difficult. But it is essential.
More must, and will, be done. From my discussions with HMIC I am confident Essex Police is improving; but more improvement is needed and it needs to happen fast. I am thankful that every year, more people are having the confidence to report domestic abuse and sexual assaults on children. But we also know that across our county vulnerable people continue to be at risk, go missing and be in desperate need of our help. All of these vulnerable victims deserve, and must receive, our support and protection. The Chief Constable and I are committed to making this happen.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex
December 2015: HMIC Inspection into national police response to honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation
PCC Response to HMIC Report on national police response to honour-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation
I welcome the report and share the HMIC’s view that ‘crimes committed in the name of so-called honour are despicable and damaging’. They have no place in our society, and I have made tackling Hidden Harm a specific area of focus in the Police and Crime Plan for Essex.
It is clear that police forces across the country are still learning about these crimes. Indeed, HMIC noted that progress would be most effective where service development is informed by the voice of the victim.
I share this view and believe that the voice of victims must be at the heart of the police and partner agency response, and I expect Essex Police to continue to develop and improve its response to “honour”-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex
October 2015: HMIC PEEL police efficiency- An inspection of Essex Police
PCC Response to HMIC PEEL Report on police efficiency
The HMIC report into Police Efficiency provides some important comparisons with police forces across the country, and I note its findings. During the summer of 2015, Essex Police developed a number of options around the property estate, contact between police and the public, and the future of the police workforce. My team and I entered into serious discussions with Essex Police Chief Officers about these plans. I note that the HMIC report states that Essex Police projected workforce model is for 138 PCSOs as of March 2018. This was one of the models considered over the summer, as was an option to reduce the number of PCSOs to zero. Formal consultation began with PCSOs and police staff on October 5, 2015, around proposals to reduce the number of PCSO posts to 60 and the number of front counter staff posts to 36.
One fundamental principle at the heart of police efficiency and effectiveness is ensuring that police officers, with a warrant card and power of arrest, are able to use those powers on a regular basis. Some roles which have historically been performed by police officers do not necessarily need a warrant card. So, as an example, some child abuse investigator roles can be performed by trained police staff until the investigation is developed to the stage where warranted powers are needed.
With regard to the funding of our police, I believe that Police and Crime Commissioners should to be allowed to make a responsible judgement as to the level of council tax funding of policing in their force area. As we, the people of Essex, pay the second lowest amount through council tax for our policing of all the shire counties, I am making the case with government to be allowed to increase the police portion of council tax by 50 pence per week, which is equivalent to 300 police officer posts. I took part in an interview and phone-in on the BBC Essex breakfast show on October 19, and every single caller was prepared to pay this amount towards policing in Essex. In addition, changes just announced to the funding formula for the central government grant look likely to increase the amount that Essex Police receives by a small amount.
I will continue to make the case, both locally and nationally, for Essex Police to be fairly and reasonably funded. I am also clear and certain that Essex Police officers, PCSOs and staff will continue to work tirelessly to keep our county safe.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex