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PEEL inspection of Surrey Police

Today (Wednesday 06 December 2023) sees the publication of His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue (HMICFRS) police efficiency, effectiveness, and legitimacy (PEEL) inspection report into Surrey Police.

The purpose of the inspection was to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the force; supporting internal reviews and continuous learning and improvement to ensure the residents of Surrey are receiving a good standard of policing.

Chief Constable Tim De Meyer commented: “As the new Chief Constable of Surrey Police I, along with my senior leadership team, welcome the report published today by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue (HMICFRS).

“We must fight crime and protect people, earn the trust and confidence of all our communities, and ensure that we are here for everyone who needs us. This is what the Surrey public rightly expect of the police. We should never take for granted the trust of our communities. Instead, we should assume that in every issue, incident and investigation, trust must be earned. And when people need us, we must be there for them.”

Since the previous inspection in 2021, HMICFRS conclude that while Surrey Police is performing well in some areas, it has seen a decline in performance across a few key areas. The Inspectorate shares the force’s view that further improvement is required in its response to calls, the recording of crime and the support given to officers and staff within the organisation.

Inspectors however noted several areas of good work, promising practices, and industry leading activity within their report:

  • 93.4% of all reported crime (excluding fraud which is recorded differently by Action Fraud) is correctly recorded against Home Office standards.
  • Investment in the contact centre relating to technology, recruitment and leadership is improving performance.
  • Public have the option to contact the force through appropriate and accessible channels – social, live chat, website, telephone.
  • Excellent use of protective orders, with Surrey Police recording the highest number of full stalking prevention orders granted at court across England and Wales, demonstrating the force’s commitment to tackling violence against women and girls.
  • Checkpoint, the force’s deferred prosecution scheme, has an average re-offending rate of 6.3% versus 25% for those not going through the scheme.
  • The force uses stop and search powers fairly and respectfully – with a 33.3% decrease in searches since from the previous year (2021).
  • Public forums and independent scrutiny on stop search were highlighted as promising practice, with the force acting upon this scrutiny.
  • Innovative training with magistrates is improving their understanding on police approaches.
  • A newly introduced senior police staff leader for ASB brings together partners across the county to improve consistency when tackling ASB issues.
  • Pioneering technology is being used in the prevention and detection of serious acquisitive crime.
  • The force has a long-term commitment to problem solving, demonstrated by multiple award wins.
  • Positively improved engagement with communities who traditionally interact less often with, or may have lower levels of trust with police, through a new community engagement strategy.
  • Chief Constable De Meyer continues: “It is encouraging that the Inspectorate notes examples of where dedicated officers, staff and volunteers provide exceptional service to victims and witnesses.

    “This is represented in positive gradings for our ability to prevent and deter crime, reduce vulnerability within our communities, and manage offenders and suspects. It is evident that we make arrests swiftly, and we make effective use of our powers, including bail conditions and protective orders to protect vulnerable people.

    “Our focus on long-term problem solving, together with our partners, is also recognised as being at the heart of every investigation; evidenced by projects such as Op Spearhead, our suspicious activity public portal, Op Surfer, where we tackled repeated sexual exposure on the Basingstoke Canal and Checkpoint, our deferred prosecution scheme, all being specifically noted within the report as having a positive impact on our communities.

    “However, today’s report demonstrates that since the last inspection there are areas that we still need to improve and are of concern. These are areas of which we were already aware through our own internal reviews, and we take the issues raised by the HMICFRS very seriously.

    “Since the inspection earlier this year, much change has been implemented, particularly in the areas of responding to the public, crime recording and supporting our workforce. Significant investments have been made in technology, data, recruitment, and training, particularly within our Contact Centre.

    “This shows our determination to improve and swiftly bring about the change required. We are already seeing the benefits of this, with latest internal data, showing 88% of all 999 call are answered within 10 seconds, a declining call abandonment rate on 101 (now 18.2%) and enhanced checking on repeat callers to understand vulnerability and risk1.

    “Additionally, while HMICFRS found that over 90% of all reported crimes are recorded correctly, we continue to scrutinise our crime recording practices and support our dedicated teams to ensure that every crime which is reported to us is accurately recorded according to Home Office standards, all reasonable lines of enquiry are followed, and that crime is solved wherever possible.

    “We have many challenges including financial pressure, growth in non-crime demand such as mental health, and a highly competitive employment market. But these do not excuse poor performance.

    “I know that we have already improved and am confident that we will continue to do so. We will work with partners to improve the response to people with mental health concerns, thereby freeing up valuable police time to respond to crime faster and better. Our standards of investigation will improve and with that our rate of charging offenders. I therefore welcome HMICFRS’s continued support and review of Surrey Police.”

    The full report can be read here.

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