Cambridgeshire police ‘requires improvement’ in both investigating crime and in the time it takes to respond to the public.

The criticisms are contained in a report produced by Roy Wilsher, HM Inspector of Constabulary.

Preventing crime, treatment of the public and managing offenders were rated ‘adequate’.

On a positive note, recording of crime data, protecting vulnerable people, developing a positive workplace and use of resources, he said the force was ‘good’.

“I am satisfied with most other aspects of the constabulary’s performance, but there are some areas in which it needs to improve,” says Mr Wilsher.

Ely Standard: Findings of an inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of ConstabularyFindings of an inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (Image: HMICFRS)

He says Cambridgeshire police “still isn’t routinely attending incidents quickly enough.

“If the constabulary doesn’t attend incidents in time, it can cause victims to lose confidence in it, or in more serious cases to be put directly at risk.”

He says Cambridgeshire police “must improve the quality and timeliness of investigations.

“The constabulary must improve how it investigates and supervises crime.

“I saw examples of good outcomes secured for victims of crime, but the constabulary doesn’t supervise investigations effectively and doesn’t consistently set initial investigation plans.

“This means victims may not always get the service they deserve.”

His team reviewed 130 case files as well as 20 cautions, community resolutions and cases where a suspect was identified but the victim didn’t support or withdrew their support for police action.

“The constabulary answers emergency calls quickly but needs to improve the time it takes to answer non-emergency calls,” says the report.

"When calls are answered, the victim’s vulnerability isn’t always assessed using a structured process.

“Repeat victims aren’t always identified, which means that this information isn’t taken into account when considering the response, the victim should receive.”

Mr Wilsher says Cambridgeshire police should aim to respond to calls for service within the timescales it has set.

“The constabulary’s response should take into consideration risk and victim vulnerability, including any information obtained after the call.

“The constabulary often doesn’t respond to calls appropriately.

“Victims weren’t always informed of delays and therefore their expectations weren’t always met.

“This may cause victims to lose confidence and disengage from the process.”

And victims were not always informed if their crime was not going to be investigated further.

Mr Wilsher says investigations were sometimes not carried out quickly enough and relevant lines of inquiry often weren’t completed.

There was frequently a lack of effective supervision of investigations and investigation plans” he says.

“When effective timely investigations aren’t carried out, victims are let down and offenders aren’t brought to justice.”

Other findings include the conclusion that more needs to be done to properly record violent crime.

“Many of the violent offences that weren’t recorded were domestic abuse-related offences, which is a particular concern,” says the report.

“Domestic abuse victims often need substantial support to protect them from further abuse, but they are deprived of this support if crimes aren’t recorded.”

The report says behavioural crimes such as harassment and stalking aren’t always well recorded.

And on sex offences it concludes that “reports of rape aren’t always recorded appropriately.

“It is especially important that crimes are recorded accurately to make sure victims receive the service and support they expect and deserve”.

Mr Wilsher says Cambridgeshire doesn’t always record crimes against vulnerable victims.

"Some of the crimes missed were crimes of a serious nature, such as rape, indecent images of children, and controlling and coercive behaviour,” he says.

“When the crime wasn’t recorded there was often no investigation and sometimes no safeguarding of the victim. Failure to record these crimes can result in perpetrators not being identified or brought to justice.

Response and attendance times also faced criticism by HM Inspectorate.

“We found that response and attendance were within the target time in only 41 out of 79 incidents,” it concludes.

The report also tells Cambridgeshire police to “improve the time it takes to deal with non-emergency calls.

“Failure to respond effectively to enquiries from the public can cause callers to lose confidence in the service and inappropriately tie up the emergency 999 line.”

Read the full report here