Police officers in Leicestershire have been told they need to improve the way they investigate crimes, protect vulnerable people and support victims.
That was the message from government inspectors in a report conducted into operations within the force, which polices Melton and Rutland and other areas of the county.
The study, conducted in October by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC), praised the work officers had done in areas such as crime prevention and tackling anti-social behaviour.
But Leicestershire Police was given an overall rating of ‘requiring improvement’.
Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “Given the number of areas where HMIC has praised our work, our performance, and our innovation, it is naturally disappointing to be graded overall as requiring improvement.
“At the time of the inspection last year we pointed out areas where we felt we needed to improve, and set out the steps we planned to take to address these issues.
“Action has been taken, and further work is underway currently, to improve the way we respond to and investigate reports of crime and to ensure we support victims and keep them fully informed of progress.”
He added: “We remain determined to address each and every one of the areas that HMIC highlight as in need of improvement, and are confident that the changes we have already made are reaping dividends.”
Improvements suggested by the report inspectors include the need to investigate crimes more effectively and quickly and increase the proportion of investigations which lead to charges and summons.
Leicestershire officers are advised they should also improve their attendance record in response to reports of crime and upgrade the quality and supervision of initial investigations into incidents.
Criticisms were made about delays in contacting some victims of crime and the service the force provides to some vulnerable people, in particular those who suffer domestic abuse.
Lord Willy Bach, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Leicestershire, said he was disappointed with the conclusion of the report and he said the force did ‘a fantastic job’ with the resources available.
He said: “Whilst the population of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland has continued to increase at a rapid pace year after year, the money made available by government to fund policing has continued to diminish and as a result, we now have 547 fewer police officers than we had in 2009.
“At the same time, the nature and complexity of crime has changed dramatically, with a very significant proportion being committed online, and societal demands and expectations have drastically changed.
“You can’t keep doing more with less. The position becomes unsustainable and cracks begin to show. I’ve made my views clear on the funding situation and will continue to lobby for a fairer funding deal.”
He added: “The force has accommodated these changes extremely well, through sound financial management, effective leadership and innovative service delivery. “Whilst we will continue to strive to improve and will of course address all the HMIC’s observations, it is important that the totality of the services provided by the force are seen in context.”
Inspectors graded Leicestershire officers as ‘good’ at preventing crime and tackling both anti-social behaviour and serious and organised crime.
There was also praise for the way the force commits to local and neighbourhood police and how it engages with local communities and partner organisations.
Officers were also seen to be good at pursuing suspects who present a high risk to others and managing risks posed by dangerous and sexual offenders.