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Staffordshire Police action to improve quality of investigations

Staffordshire Police is working to improve the quality of its investigations after it was highlighted as an area of concern by inspectors.

The Staffordshire Police Headquarters on Weston Road, Stafford. Photo: Google

The force was found to be inadequate in investigating crime, managing offenders and suspects and responding to the public in 2022, following an inspection by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

It was placed in special measures, with two Accelerated Causes of Concern identified. Progress to tackle the issues is being monitored and last month one Accelerated Cause of Concern – responding to the public – was discharged by HMICFRS.

The other Accelerated Cause of Concern for Staffordshire Police is quality of investigation. Chief Constable Chris Noble told Staffordshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Ben Adams how the force was working to improve on this area at this month’s meeting.

Chief Constable Noble said: “We have identified a number of ongoing challenges as well as some very good investigations. I have made the decision, and my deputy is leading on it. that we are going to look at over 5,000 of our investigations and see how we can improve them and give feedback to the officers.

“If there is learning we will learn and if we need to recover the service provided to victims we will do that in a very thoughtful and careful way.

"If we have missed investigative opportunities or lines of enquiry because people have been busy at the time or haven’t had the experience we will then look to follow those and close those down.

“I don’t think there is any force of our size undertaking internal scrutiny work like that. It is not about being negative with our staff or ‘red penning’ what they have done, it’s about identifying learning, recognising really good work in investigations and making sure we lift the skills set and experience, especially of our front-line investigators and their supervisors.

“That is a key piece of work for us and one I know HMI are very interested in as it goes forwards. I very much welcome the approach of the HMI body – collaborative but clearly challenging for us.

“I am not going to waste energy on debating the whys and wherefores of the challenges we face; we’re going to focus on solving them and getting better at what we do.

"And sometime, hopefully in the near future, we will step out of that more intrusive level of monitoring, but that for me is just a stepping stone in terms of where we can get Staffordshire back to in terms of being outstanding and not being comfortable with delivering a service which is simply better than a poor service.

“All I see across leadership and frontline staff is a real pride in what they believe they should and can be delivering. I think we have got a police service that is really up for getting back to being where it was in terms of being the very top performing forces in the country.”

Mr Adams responded: “That is exactly where the public want us to be. A number of forces are receiving similar attention around contact and quality of investigation.

“I think that is positive for the whole country. We want to see everybody working at the standards we are aspiring to.

“What has been notable in your response is it’s not defensive. You have said ‘where can we learn from the best’, so we’ve had visitors, peers, other organisations in – the college and HMI themselves – assisting, as well as the high-level energy and commitment of the team.

“We talked at the last meeting about investigations being a slightly slower burn in terms of seeing improvements because we’re almost waiting for the outcome investigation, which can sometimes be months or years later. But HMI are looking at the practice and the process.”

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