Federation concern after HMICFRS report
The Force needs to improve how it protects vulnerable people, according to the findings of the latest inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
Inspectors who carried out the latest PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) review said the Force particularly needed to consider how it assesses risk.
"This element of the inspectors' report should be worrying to us all," said Andrea Breeze, chair of Cleveland Police Federation, "The primary functions of a police force are to fight and prevent crime, keep order and protect the vulnerable.
"If we are not looking after the vulnerable people in our communities, then that is a significant failing on our part. However, I must point out that this is just another sign of how the cuts to policing budgets are having a detrimental impact on the policing service we are able to provide for the public.
"Our members are giving it their all, trying to do a very difficult job in challenging circumstances. They are trying to meet increased demand with reduced resources and this is exacerbated by the police picking up the pieces where other agencies are failing due to their own budget restrictions.
"It is time the Government listened to the Police Federation and to its own inspection teams and re-invested in policing to avert a crisis."
HMICFRS said Cleveland Police is:
- 'good' at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour
- 'good' at investigating crime and reducing re-offending
- 'requires improvement' at protecting vulnerable people, and
- 'good' at tackling serious and organised crime.
On a positive note, HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said: "Cleveland Police has an effective approach to reducing crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and keeping people safe. It prioritises and invests in preventing crime through its approach to neighbourhood policing, working with other organisations.
"The Force has a good understanding of its communities and what matters to local people influences its identification of threat, risk and harm. It is good at tackling crime and anti-social behaviour with partner organisations."
But, highlighting concerns about how it protects the vulnerable, he explained: "It is effective at identifying vulnerability: it answers calls promptly, treats victims with empathy and ensures their immediate safeguarding needs are addressed. Despite this initial good work, it needs to improve the quality of its the quality of risk assessments, which is currently unsatisfactory.
"The Force does not refer all high-risk domestic abuse cases to a multi-agency risk assessment conference and does not always refer standard and medium-risk cases quickly enough.
"On a more positive note, the Force is generally good at investigating crimes involving vulnerable victims, although the outcomes it achieves for domestic abuse cases could be better. And more should be done to properly manage the risks posed by registered sex offenders. We found that the Force works well with partner organisations to support vulnerable people with mental health problems."
Nationally, inspectors said while most forces were maintaining a good standard of service to the public, despite increases in demand and financial pressures, the cracks were starting to show.
HMIC Zoe Billingham, who said policing is 'under significant stress', explained: "On occasion that stress stretches some forces to such an extent that they risk being unable to keep people safe in some very important areas of policing."
About a quarter of forces are often overwhelmed by the demand they face, leading to backlogs of emergency jobs, she said.
HMICFRS also pointed to a shortfall of 5,000 investigators, echoing the Police Federation's campaign launched last week to raise awareness of a crisis in detective policing.
The Police Federation's national chair Calum Macleod says the report shows policing is reaching 'breaking point'.
"The Government's own inspector has said that some parts of the police service in the country are so stretched that people may be put in danger," he said.
"If this is not a wake-up call I don't know what is. We cannot allow this situation to deteriorate to such an extent where people are routinely put a risk. That is unthinkable - but shockingly it seems - not unrealistic."
He added: "This independent report paints a desperate picture. It makes difficult reading for all and I hope the Prime Minister and Home Secretary will take action as soon as possible to ensure that the cracks don't lead to irreparable breakages to this most vital public service."
Two of the 43 police forces were found to be 'outstanding' at crime prevention and four 'outstanding' in the way they tackle serious and organised crime. Only one force, Durham, was found to be 'outstanding' overall, with 30 forces being judged as 'good'. No forces were found to be 'inadequate' overall.
PEEL: police effectiveness 2017 - Cleveland Police