Northamptonshire Police has made improvements but crime investigation still 'requires improvement’, according to watchdog

The police force was praised for its improvements, but also given areas to work on
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Improvements have been made at Northamptonshire Police but how crime is investigated is still rated ‘requires improvement’, according to the police watchdog.

The police force was inspected in September 2023 by HMICFRS under the PEEL programme, which is an assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy of police forces.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Roy Wilsher has today (Friday February 16) published his report and ranked Northamptonshire Police as ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ in two categories, ‘adequate’ in six categories and ‘requires improvement’ in one. Under a new grading system, the PEEL programme does not give police forces an overall ranking.

Acting Chief Constable Ivan Balhatchet (left) and the rankings of Northamptonshire Police (bottom right).Acting Chief Constable Ivan Balhatchet (left) and the rankings of Northamptonshire Police (bottom right).
Acting Chief Constable Ivan Balhatchet (left) and the rankings of Northamptonshire Police (bottom right).

Northamptonshire Police PEEL rankings

  • Recording data about crime - outstanding
  • Police powers and public treatment - good
  • Preventing crime - adequate
  • Responding to the public - adequate
  • Protecting vulnerable people - adequate
  • Managing offenders - adequate
  • Developing a positive workspace - adequate
  • Leadership and force management - adequate
  • Investigating crime - requires improvement

In 2021, the force was found to be ‘adequate’ in four areas and ‘requires improvement’ in six. In 2019, the force was labelled inadequate in two areas and adequate or better in just one.

Inspector’s summary

In summary, Mr Wilsher said: “I am pleased with some aspects of Northamptonshire Police’s performance in keeping people safe, reducing crime and providing victims with an effective service. But there are areas in which it needs to improve.

“Since our last inspection, the force has made a concerted effort to review and improve its performance. In particular, it has improved how it communicates with its communities to identify local problems and gather intelligence.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I have concerns about how the force is investigating crime. We were concerned that offenders may not always be brought to justice and that victims weren’t always getting the most appropriate outcomes.

“For example, the force doesn’t always follow national policy on issuing community resolutions in cases of intimate partner domestic abuse.

“We alerted the force about this problem at the time of our inspection, and since then it has started work to address our concerns.”

What needs to improve

The report noted that the force is not answering 999 calls within the timescales set by national targets or attending non-emergency calls within set times.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Another area of concern raised was how crimes were allocated within the police force.

The report adds: “We found that some crimes involving vulnerable victims had been inappropriately allocated to response and neighbourhood policing officers. These included complex cases, such as cases involving high-risk domestic abuse and cases relating to the possession of indecent images of children. Officers in response and neighbourhood teams are investigating these cases on top of their usual role of responding to calls for service, or neighbourhood policing.

“The force should make sure it allocates crimes to the person or team with the capacity and capability to progress the investigation in a timely way, bring offenders to justice and make sure that vulnerable victims are safeguarded.”

The inspectors did also note that there had been “an amount of instability”, referring to the suspension of Chief Constable Nick Adderley, which happened a short time after the inspection. The watchdog says it will closely monitor how this affects the force’s performance.

Positives

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In his summary, Mr Wilsher highlighted successes in officers understanding the importance of appropriate behaviours, and communicating effectively with the public.

He also added that in most cases, the force records reasonable grounds for using stop and search and that the force works effectively in partnership with a wide range of other agencies to divert young people away from crime.

In its highest ranked category - ‘recording data about crime’ - the inspector said the force has improved how quickly it records crime.

The report adds: “In 2020, we found that 79 percent of crimes were recorded within 24 hours of being reported. In 2023, we found that the force now records 93 percent of its crime within 24 hours.”

What the police force and commissioner said

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Acting Chief Constable Ivan Balhatchet said: “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.”

The force also added that the approach to domestic abuse is now subject to a detailed review within the force, which a spokesman says is designed to ensure the force has the most robust response possible.

According to the force, 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 and a new youth violence intervention unit to build on the force’s approach to prevent and deter crime.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Commissioner Stephen Mold added: “Victims of crime are supported to an extremely high standard - which is an absolute priority for me - and this is clearly a force that treats people fairly and with respect. The work being done to tackle retail crime is leading the way nationally and the force is top performing in the quality of evidential files passed to the Crown Prosecution Service.

“But there is always more to be done. I want to see quick action to ensure that there are consistent and thorough crime investigations to bring offenders to justice and ensure the public receive the best service when they report a crime.”

Mr Mold said that £590,000 will be invested in further training and development for police officers in the coming year and a further £800,000 will go into the force control room.