Suffolk Police defends ‘inadequate’ and ‘requires improvement’ ratings following recent inspection
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) says the constabulary is on the right track – despite an unfavourable report judgement.
The report, issued by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), identified areas in which Suffolk’s police force needs to improve.
These include an ‘inadequate’ rating for how the force responds to the public, and two ‘requires improvement’ ratings for protecting vulnerable people and managing offenders.
The report, initially released on October 4, was brought up during last Friday’s accountability and performance panel where Suffolk PCC, Tim Passmore, along with police representatives, discussed at length what had been done since the judgement was revealed.
The ‘inadequate’ rating, Deputy Chief Constable, Robert Jones, says, was due to a lack of staff to keep up with demand when responding to 999 and 101 calls.
Since HMICFRS’ inspection in late May, however, the force has used £1.4m of last year’s council tax money to employ several operators to deal with the increased demand, now supporting over 140 staff, up from just over 100.
Mr Jones continued: “We work really hard together to keep Suffolk safe and to make it a good place to live and work and invest.
“By every indice, Suffolk is a genuinely safe place.”
Mr Passmore said these changes should paint a better picture come the next inspection in January.
He explained: “I think we can be confident that there will be a substantial improvement and I would be flabbergasted if that wasn’t the case because I’ve seen the data which already shows we’re on the right trajectory.”
The report also outlined the need for improvement in ‘protecting vulnerable people’, particularly about domestic abuse.
Police data has revealed 32.6 per cent of violence with injury cases are related to domestic abuse, putting figures 5.3 per cent above the yearly average for 2019.
Although there is some good news to go along with this increase, with repeat victims at 8.9 per cent, down from 14.2 per cent of all violence with injury, Mr Passmore insists police remain committed to driving these figures down.
He said: “We’ve had some tremendous successes, but my goodness me, there’s still a heck of a lot more to do — nobody’s complacent, particularly when it comes to serious violence.”
Having made domestic violence a key priority since he joined in 2012, Mr Passmore has worked to introduce a new digital desk, and rapid video response into the force by the end of March.
Suffolk’s PCC also emphasised the need to invest in preventative measures as a way of driving cases of serious violence, including domestic abuse, down.
He said: “It’s a complicated area, but we’re really determined to carry on, and particularly working with youngsters who were sadly brought up in an atmosphere of violence and abuse.
“Prevention is far better than cure, and breaking that vicious cycle is really important.
“This has been a top priority since I started, and this work is jolly well going to continue, come hell or high water.”