A panel of independent people set up to help Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens scrutinise the police has reported back for the first time.
In June, Sue Mountstevens announced that a panel including local people and people who work with victims, academics and the Probation Service would come together to look at police case files across the three police areas in Avon and Somerset (North East, Somerset and Bristol).
It was part of Sue Mountstevens’ vision to provide assurance of the quality and consistency of the police service: “I wanted to satisfy myself that the service being delivered to our local residents is the same high standard victims and witnesses expect across the force area,” she said.
The new Service Delivery Assurance Panel conducted their first sessions in July focussing on anti-social behaviour, burglary, hate crime, victims and violence against women and children.
At each of the sessions panel chairs selected cases at random from the last six months, they had access to 999/101 calls (where available), police logs and any other specialist forms on request.
In their first report, feedback from the the Service Delivery Assurance Panel looking at anti-social behaviour included views that the victim in their case was always at the heart of the investigation.
In the cases of hate crime, the panel felt that there were examples of good work by Neighbourhood Policing Teams particularly helping vulnerable victims to cope and recover.
In cases dealing with child protection crimes there were a number of excellent examples where the voice of the child was recorded, giving the panel assurance that the views, wishes and welfare of the child had been heard.
In its report, the Service Delivery Assurance Panel sought assurances over how the Constabulary will share the good practice identified.
In making suggestions for improvement the Panel noted inconsistency in the response from call handers, along with concerns around the police’s file quality and the recording of updates to victims.
On all the points the panel raised the Constabulary has responded including developing a framework for organisational learning, recognising that the police need to continue to focus on file quality and the Constabulary are introducing a new crime recording and management system which will help the quality of police files.
Sue Mountstevens said: “This was a really important exercise to look in detail at the real life experience victims of crime are having with our local police service.
“It’s essential that the police acknowledge and respond to feedback good and bad and the police have recognised the value of the independent Service Delivery Assurance sessions in scrutinising their work in a positive way in order to continue to learn.
“There were lots of good points raised across the sessions and any learning has been looked at in detail by the Constabulary and I am pleased with their response. This is definitely something that we will continue to do on behalf of residents.”
Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Crew said: “We are here to serve the public so it’s critically important that we invite the public, and representatives of the public, to scrutinise what we do.
“We are keen to know how our service feels for the person seeking our help, particularly those who are vulnerable. It’s great to hear that we are doing things well but it is even better to learn where we can improve.
“The insight we have gained from this exercise is now being used to help us improve our services and especially for those who need them most.”
While the panel looked at a very small sample of cases, compared to the amount of crime and incidents the police deal with on any typical day, the panels did note evidence of response and capacity issues.
The Constabulary in their response accept the on-going challenges presented by resourcing demand for its services in the context of declining budgets.
You can read the full report on the PCC website here.