Agenda item


This report provides a summary of HMICFRS’s latest PEEL inspection into Surrey Police.



Lisa Townsend, Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)

Ellie Vesey-Thompson, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner

Damian Markland, Head of Performance and Governance


Key points raised during the discussion:


  1. Regarding the PEEL inspection finding that ‘the force doesn’t always identify repeat and vulnerable victims’, a Member asked if the Force could use best-practice from other Forces to establish the right questions to ask when calls were received. The Commissioner explained that on the 22 February 2023, Surrey Police had upgraded to a new command and control system called SmartSTORM. This had brought several benefits, such as identifying repeat callers. In December 2023, the contact question set was changed, to ensure operators were identifying repeat callers. This was being dip-checked by the Quality Control Team to ensure compliance.


  1. A Member asked about the new deployment and grading system and whether the Force was revising down its ambition and targets to improve its chance of compliance. The Commissioner explained that once the final model had been agreed, the OPCC would provide further detail. The main change to the model was more gradings to allow for a more nuanced service. Currently, there was a disparity in attendance times between the different grades. Grade 1 deployment required attendance as fast as possible, Grade 2 within 60 minutes, and Grade 3 within 72 hours. The new model would move from four deployment types to six.


Action i: The Commissioner to update the panel on the new deployment and grading system, once complete.


  1. A Member noted the concern of HM Inspector Roy Wilsher that call performance for both 999 and 101 answering times had deteriorated despite being highlighted as ‘areas for improvement’ (AFIs) in the last inspection report. The Commissioner responded that staffing data for the call contact centre had previously been shared with the panel and the challenges of staff attrition were well noted. The contact centre was now back to over establishment and was in a place of service stabilisation. A recent update on contact centre performance highlighted that at the busiest times, 999 and 101 call performance was now well within the national target. The Commissioner was confident that performance improvements would be sustained.


  1. A Member asked about the call abandonment rate for 101 calls in March 2023, which had a 12-minute average waiting time. The Head of Performance and Governance explained that the abandonment rate for December 2023 stood at 17.3%, which was a historic low. They had high call-back success rates, at 99.2%. The Member asked if the messages that encourage people to use alternative digital reporting channels, adding to waiting times. The Head of Performance and Governance explained that the Force would continue to explore how to deal with channel shifting and was aware of the impact it had on wait times and call abandonment rates.  


  1. Regarding concerns raised around how the Force recorded anti-social behaviour (ASB), a Member asked if the Commissioner was surprised or disappointed by the result that “the force is failing to record most crime and to tackle antisocial behaviour effectively” and what changes the Force was seeking, to ensure ASB would be effectively recorded and tackled. The recently established bi-monthly ASB performance board was addressing concerns around ASB recording and investigating improvements. It would bring accountability and oversight across departments involved in ASB and oversight of tackling issues identified, in quarterly audits, which would drive compliance. The Head of Performance and Governance added that the Force was engaging with West Yorkshire Police Force, who were recording and tackling ASB well. The Force was looking at their mechanisms, processes and borrowing training packages for staff to help improve the recording of ASB.


Action ii: The Commissioner to pass onto the Chief and Borough Commanders that Public Space Protection Orders are something that can be implemented in boroughs and districts if there is a particular problem with ASB.


  1. A Member asked about continuing problems with the way Surrey records sexual offences, previously noted in the 2018 inspection as an AFI (area for improvement). In terms of processes, the Head of Performance and Governance explained that the Force had since put in place an improved audit function, looking specifically at sexual offences, to ensure they were being recorded correctly. The December 2023 data portrayed a 12.9% error rate, which was a marked improvement from the 66.6% error rate that the PEEL inspection identified. There was a new performance framework being embedded.  The OPCC response to the PEEL inspection, due to be published shortly, would include a more detailed explanation of the new processes that the Force was putting in place.


  1. A Member asked about HMICFRS findings on force culture issues and developing a positive workplace, which had been assessed as requires improvement. The Member asked what further reassurance the PCC would seek to ensure improvements were made in the areas highlighted in the report. The Commissioner explained that the Force were reviewing several areas including case-load supervision and suitable one-to-one support through the line management system. The results from the internal employee opinion survey were expected in February 2024, and following a review, a further plan would be developed. The Member asked if the internal employee opinion survey was the first in three years. The Head of Performance and Governance explained that there had been various internal surveys on different issues over the years but that, in terms of a formal Force satisfaction survey, it was the first in three years.


  1. A Member asked if there were plans to ensure that the category of ‘Protecting vulnerable people’ would improve, following its adequate rating. The Commissioner explained that the Force was not in a bad place. The Force was recording well, and the Force’s support offer was considered good, with good areas of practice, including the use of stalking prevention orders. The Commissioner confirmed that further discussion with the Force would take place, and it was an area less about significant revision and more about refinement. The findings of the inspection were useful and would be used when talking to the Force.


  1. Given the issues highlighted in the inspection report, a Member asked if the current scrutiny arrangements had been working effectively. The Head of Performance and Governance explained that scrutiny arrangements were multileveled. At the top level there was a formal scrutiny programme and scheduled meetings with the Chief and Deputy Constable to evaluate specific issues. The data hub made information available to the public. The OPCC were embedded on most Force performance and governance boards, which provided direct information of the challenges facing the force, which aided the building of the scrutiny work programme. The Commissioner added that almost all areas highlighted in the inspection report already had a plan in place for improvement. The Commissioner was attending meetings with the Chief Constable at least once a week, and was meeting frequently with other officers, and was confident that the OPCC had robust scrutiny arrangements in place.


  1. Regarding reoffending rates, a Member asked what plans could be developed to further improve upon schemes such as Checkpoint Plus. The Commissioner explained that a lot of work was happening to ensure the Force was making best use of this scheme. The Head of Performance and Governance brought attention to the published reoffending strategy on the OPCC’s website and explained that accommodation-based services were a pressure point when it came to reducing reoffending, with the national cost increases. The Chief Executive (OPCC) explained that this issue would get more focus over coming months as part of the government’s anti-social behaviour action plan under the proposed Immediate Justice Scheme. The Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner added that the women’s strategy forum in Surrey specifically looks at reducing initial offending, reoffending and the impact offending had on children.


Action iii: The Head of Performance and Governance to circulate the reoffending strategy.


  1. A Member asked if there were any efforts being made to increase the number of people who sign up to schemes aimed at reducing reoffending and what the strategy was for those that do not. The Chief Executive (OPCC) explained that it depended on the scheme. There was an element to the Checkpoint plus scheme, where if a person did not complete the intervention, then there was the risk of prosecution. In terms of immediate justice, there was less of a compulsion to take part, but those who had been involved in the pilot schemes in other force areas had reported good rates of engagement.




That the Surrey Police and Crime Panel

  1. Notes the update provided and looks forward to the formal response to the Inspection being published imminently. The Panel will issue its formal response to the inspection once this is received.


  1. Notes that the Inspection report highlights areas of good performance (preventing crime, managing offenders) but also a number of areas for improvement that have been highlighted by the Panel including around call performance and response compliance. Expresses its concern that ‘responding to the public’ is currently assessed as inadequate and asks the Commissioner to report to the Panel in June 2024 on progress addressing this and other ‘Areas for Improvement’, and on assurances sought from the Chief Constable. Further notes the importance of ensuring Surrey Police is equipped and resourced to address these concerns.


  1. Highlights that although the Force is experiencing challenges in the way it responds to the public via its contact centre, considerable efforts have been made by the Chief Constable to respond to broader concerns raised by residents over shop lifting and in public policing your community events. This has led to increased operational focus in areas important to the public which is to be commended.


  1. Welcomes Surrey Police's relatively high use of Community Resolutions because it reduces reoffending. However, the Chief Constable is right to prioritise increasing the charge rate, which is the lowest in the country. Hopefully, this can be done without charging offenders who would be more appropriately dealt with by Community Resolutions.


  1. Urges the Commissioner to ensure that the Force continues to improve solved rates and that the quality and professionalism of the police is maintained.


Supporting documents: