Hertfordshire Police has been rated as having a “very mixed picture” following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).
The force was rated as ‘Requires Improvement’, the second-worst available rating and a step down from last year’s rating of ‘Good’.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham said she was both disappointed and optimistic.
She said: “Overall, I have judged Hertfordshire Constabulary as requiring improvement in how effectively it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force is operating well in some important areas but poorly in others, so it is a very mixed picture.
“I am disappointed to find that the overall performance of Hertfordshire Constabulary has deteriorated since last year, when we judged the force to be good. The force’s overall response to vulnerable people is inadequate due to weaknesses in the way it assesses risk and supports some victims. We found serious weaknesses in the way the force assesses the risks to victims at the point at which they first contact the police. At the time of the inspection the force was not adequately identifying risks, meaning that too often it was not in a position to provide the support to people who were vulnerable people.
“It was also potentially missing out on opportunities to collect crucial evidence that a crime had been committed.”
But she added: ““It is not all bad news. Hertfordshire Constabulary continues to be good at preventing crime and tackling anti-social behaviour. It works well with communities to understand their concerns and with partner organisations, like local councils, to address those concerns. The force is dedicated to maintaining a strong focus on community policing which I commend.
“The force is also good at tackling serious and organised crime. It works well with local and national organisations, like the National Crime Agency. I am pleased to find that the force demonstrates the ability to not only pursue and disrupt organised criminals, but to also prevent organised crime taking hold in communities. I would like to see the force continue to improve how it uses neighbourhood officers to prevent high-end organised criminality from causing further harm.
“Despite the problems we have identified, I am encouraged that the force responded immediately to our concerns. I am optimistic that this will lead to swift and significant improvements.”
Chief Constable Charlie Hall pledged to make the necessary improvements.
He said: “Normally Hertfordshire Constabulary receives mainly ‘Good’ or even ‘Excellent’ ratings from the HMIC and indeed overall this HMIC report recognises many areas of good work.
“As a recent arrival in Hertfordshire, I see the great pride and professionalism of the force being matched by my colleagues’ determination to ensure that the issues identified by the HMIC are addressed immediately and successfully.”
Read the full story in next week’s Gazette.