BREAKING NEWS: Northamptonshire Police given 'requires improvement' rating in round of Government inspections
The police force covering Northamptonshire has "weaknesses across a range of areas" from tackling gangs to helping vulnerable victims, a watchdog has found.
Chief constable Simon Edens has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabularies' (HMIC) PEEL effectiveness report by saying it "fairly reflects where we are as a force".
Each year, HMIC assesses each force in England and Wales on their effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy with judgments of outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate based on their findings.
Inspectors found Northamptonshire Police requires improvement in keeping people safe and reducing crime, and have detailed areas of focus the force must address.
The report found the force has: "Weaknesses across a range of areas. Crime prevention activity, investigative standards and the safeguarding provided to vulnerable victims all need to improve.
"The force has adequate arrangements in place to fulfil its national policing responsibilities, but needs to address shortcomings in its approach to tackling serious and organised crime."
The areas of improvement highlighted included investigative standards and the safeguarding provided to vulnerable victims of crime.
The inspectorate noted progress by the force around improvements to supporting and identifying vulnerable people following the previous effectiveness report in 2016.
The force has improved its response to missing and absent children and those at risk of sexual exploitation.
Responding to HMIC’s report, commissioner Stephen Mold, said he was committed to holding the force to account.
He said: "Having worked closely with the Chief Constable and his team on the creation of the Police and Crime Plan, I know that we are on a journey to the level of service we want to provide, however, we know there needs to be improvements to make our ambitions a reality.
“Northamptonshire Police have made real strides recently, including improving from a ‘requires improvement’ rating to a ‘good’ verdict from HMIC in the area of efficiency to add to a ‘good’ rating on legitimacy.
“I recently supported the chief constable with an additional Â£2million of funding to create 46 new frontline roles while the force are on the verge of introducing a new service delivery model designed to fix the gaps in service identified by HMIC."
Simon Edens, chief constable of Northamptonshire Police, added: “I believe this report fairly reflects where we are as a force.
“Our job is to protect people from harm and we are committed to providing the best possible service to the people of Northamptonshire.
“We have done a huge amount of work over the past year to understand the demands we face and work out the best way to deploy our resources to meet that demand. This work allowed us to design a new operating model and we are now implementing that model."
Mr Edens said he was in a process of recruiting and training more detectives to enable the CID department to work at "full capacity".
The report found the quality of investigations by the force is "inconsistent and needs to improve".
"Investigations are not always allocated to appropriately trained staff," it goes on to say. "Investigation handovers are sometimes poor and there is a lack of supervisory oversight.
"Vacancies in the criminal investigations department have resulted in a high proportion of serious and complex crimes being dealt with by trainee detectives, which means that victims do not always receive the level of service they should."