The chief inspector of Nottinghamshire Police has defended the force after it was deemed to ‘require improvement’ in a watchdog’s report.
Nottinghamshire Police has been deemed inadequate in the way it protects the most vulnerable people in the county according to inspectors from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).
The report says the force’s work to prevent crime, tackle anti-social behaviour and keep people safe ‘required improvement’.
It was rated ‘inadequate’ at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims.
On a positive note, the force was found to be ‘good’ at investigating crime and reducing re-offending and ‘good’ at tackling serious and organised crime.
This week new Chief Constable Craig Guildford said the force has already dealt with many of the criticisms of the force which were made in the Summer of last year.
Nottinghamshire is one of 13 forces ‘requiring improvement’.
The HMIC report released this week said three forces - Nottinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Humberside - had not been “responding appropriately” to emergency calls during inspections.
Inspectors found failings in the way vulnerable people are treated when they first call the emergency control room.
During busy times victims were not always responded to quickly enough putting them at greater risk of harm.
And the force has been criticised for intentionally downgrading some emergency calls meaning a slower response.
Mr Guildford said work has been done to improve performance since the constabulary was inspected.: “The field work was done last year. Issues were raised around a number of domestic violence calls which were unresourced from the night before.
“That was raised to the attention of senior officers at the time and immediately addressed and as a result of some of those findings, from there on in it is monitored very carefully on a daily basis.”
He added: “The actions taken in response have placed the force in what I believe to be a much more positive position today.
“In particular, all incidents are now assessed for threat, risk, harm and vulnerability with much greater consistency.”
He said currently the force had just 13 ‘open’ domestic related incidents, compared to the 61 evidenced last summer, all of which had been assessed accordingly.”
On the issue of downgrading calls, he said: “First and foremost when a call comes in it needs to be assessed and that is what people do in the control room 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to deliver a really good service to the public.
“Compared to other forces we are good at answering those calls for service but when it comes to deploying responses we have to grade our resources accordingly to those that come in.
“And it is important that we do prioritise because we need to get to threat, risk and harm jobs.
“A traffic collision or really serious incident takes resources away from a list of incidents which have been already graded - so you constantly have to prioritise and regrade to make sure you are getting to those jobs which are most threat and risk to individuals. I make no apologies - they do that on an almost minute by minute basis.”
There were also concerns that neighbourhood officers are often diverted away from their main duties to investigate other crimes.
Mr Guildford said: “If there is an emergency situation which requires me to take an officer from one part of Nottingham to another to make sure that we get to a victim of crime then on occasions that will happen.
“We try and protect neighbourhood policing wherever we can, we deploy them to incidents on their patch - particularly to antisocial behaviour incidents.
“But on occasions when the threat and risk goes higher then we will use those resources to best serve the public.”
The findings come against a national backdrop of police forces struggling with cutbacks.
HMI Zoë Billingham, who led the inspection, said: Over the last few years, HMIC has said consistently that police forces were managing well in increasingly difficult circumstances. Nonetheless, today, I’m raising a red flag to warn forces of the consequences of what is, to all intents and purposes, an unconscious form of rationing of police services.”
Cheif Constable Guildford added; “Nationally I think it is absolutely inevitable if you take a quarter to a third of funding over a period of time out of policing that you get a different level of service.
“At a time when demand is increasing and we are very much rising to that challenge, but it is more difficult than it has been in the past.”
H added: “I absolutely believe in neighbourhood policing and it will continue in Nottinghamshire with partners in a way which delivers the very best service.”
Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “While I accept the findings of this report, I’m a bit disappointed that it doesn’t recognise the steps that were already in place at the time of the inspection and those that have been implemented since then, which are designed to address the issues that it raises as ‘requiring improvement’.
“It does highlight many positive points, including a good standard of offence investigation and the work to tackle serious and organised crime which was also found to be ‘good’. The way in which the force works with partners to reduce re-offending was complimented and HMIC found that it is adequately prepared to manage the risk posed by dangerous and sexual offenders.
Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero said: “The savage funding cuts that the Government has forced on police forces will of course impact on their performances.
“Nottinghamshire Police is seeing a real terms cut of more than £3.5m to its grant between the last financial year and this coming one.
“The number of police officers in Nottinghamshire has fallen 18 per cent from 2,409 in 2010 to 1,973 in 2016, while the number of PCSOs has fallen from 268 to 214 in the same time – a drop of 20 per cent.
“This is why residents are not seeing the responses they want and need to from police and looking at alternative ways to make themselves feel safer – the police are simply too stretched and the blame has to lie with the Tories.”
Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale said: “What we have done in Nottinghamshire is shift away from community policing. Mansfield used to be a shining light for that - it was really hands on community police work particularly in outer regions like Warsop . We have concentrated much more on serious crime.
“Even when we have had murders here there has been the argument that people should be taken from Mansfield into Nottingham where the need was said to be greater.
“We need policing here too.
“Local policing means dealing with things like antisocial behaviour crimes against neighbours and wives and local drug addiction.
“If you get that right the other issues drop into place naturally because the police are seen as a positive force and a boon to the community.
“We spent a fortune building a police station at Mansfield Woodhouse for out of town policing at Mansfield Woodhouse Forest town and Warsop, but it was run down and sold.
“It is not the force’s fault - there have been real cuts of about 20 per cent in recent years and if you have limited resources that is wrong and you should say it.When you are working on limited resources it is wrong. The police should be given the money they need.”
Sherwood MP Mark Spencer said: “The Chief Constable is new and we have to give him time to find his feet and set his agenda . When you look nationally there are areas such as Durham where they are performing very well and other forces where they are being criticised.
Clearly money helps but it is not just about money it’s about efficiency and using the resources we have got . I think we need to take the example from other forcers where they are being more efficient.
You realy do need the police when you are a victim of a crime to get a response. We have to recognise how hard individual officers are working in Nottinghamshire to support the public. This is not about individual officers it is about how they are being deployed . Clearly there needs to be improvements and we need to be more efficient with the resources we have. We have to give Mr Guildford time to work out where he wants to go and we can judge him on his results not other peoples.”