Police must get better at tackling organised crime

Staffordshire Police HQ Weston Road Stafford
Staffordshire Police HQ Weston Road Stafford -Credit:SENTINEL

Staffordshire Police has been told to improve the way it tackles serious and organised crime (SOC). Inspectors say the force needs more dedicated officers for dealing with SOC, and have also raised concerns over the quality of its plans.

But His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) praised Staffordshire Police for its understanding of its SOC performance, such as through the use of an 'innovative' performance framework dashboard. HMICFRS gave the force an overall rating of 'requires improvement' following its inspection last summer, and senior officers say they are already working to address the concerns raised.

According to the HMICFRS report on Staffordshire Police, neighbourhood policing officers who lead the local response to SOC lack 'proactive resources' and are often pulled way into response roles, and so 'rarely have time to dedicate to tackling SOC'. And while the force has a small team of financial investigators, they are limited to carrying out reactive investigations, meaning 'opportunities to tackle criminal finance are being missed'.

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Staffordshire Police has recruited more financial investigators, and since the inspection it has said it plans to invest in additional teams.

The inspectors also called on the force to improve the quality of its '4P' plans, which set out how it will pursue criminals, prepare for crime, protect individuals and organisations, and prevent people from engaging in crime. They found that there was 'little attention to recording actions, outcomes, intervention activity or objectives', and no quality assurance in place to maintain the standard of the plans.

But the inspectors said that Staffordshire Police was 'focused on understanding its serious and organised crime performance'. They were impressed by the contents of the force's performance framework dashboard, which includes data on different types of SOC, as well as regularly updated performance statistics showing areas for improvement.

The force says there were 'no surprises' in the report, and that it has made 'significant progress' since the inspection. This has included the creation of 'dedicated specialist resource' for tackling SOC. The force says its proactive teams made over 250 arrests, recovered six firearms and closed 19 county lines last year.

Improvements have also been made to the force's policing plans, and in how information is shared with partners.

Assistant Chief Constable Becky Riggs, said: "The inspection has identified we have some clear gaps around our ability to effectively tackle SOC, but it also recognises we understand this and have plans in place and underway to address some of these issues.

"They also acknowledged our clear aspiration to improve our work in this area through a measured approach and that we know our operating model needs to be a sustainable one. We are working on this, some remedial work has been done since the inspection and plans for the longer term work is ongoing. We are committed to reducing the harm caused by serious and organised crime and protecting those vulnerable to this threat."