Essex Police told to improve anti-corruption

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INSPECTORS judged that Essex Police is ‘good’ at effectively reducing crime and keeping people safe, ‘good’ at operating efficiently and providing sustainable services to the public, and ‘good’ in the way it treats the public and its workforce.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham said she was pleased with the positive performance of Essex Police, but said it has more to do to root out corruption.

She said: “It is good at investigating crime and has continued to improve how it identifies and protects vulnerable people. It does this through more effective joint working with partners and greater use of protective powers.

“Essex Police is ambitious in its planning for the future and wants to be at the forefront of innovative practice. The force understands its demand well. It uses this information to develop robust financial and workforce plans to make sure it uses its resources as efficiently as possible.

“The force continues to uphold an ethical culture and promote standards of professional behaviour well. But it has more to do to assure itself that it has the capacity and capability to root out corruption.

“Overall, I commend Essex Police for sustaining its positive performance over the past year.”

The report highlights that the force failed to meet a national deadline for vetting its workforce and needs to “improve how it ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully”.

The report stated:

<strong>Areas for improvement</strong>

• The force should ensure all officers and staff have at least the lowest level of vetting clearance for their roles and clear any backlogs, so it complies fully with the national vetting guidelines.
• The force should ensure that its counter-corruption unit:
• has enough capability and capacity to counter corruption effectively and
• can fully monitor all of its computer systems, including mobile data, to proactively identify data breaches, protect the force’s data and identify computer misuse; and
• builds effective relationships with individuals and organisations that support and work with vulnerable people.

But inspectors have been reassured that the backlog will be completed by the end of spring this year and the force is increasing the number of staff in its anti-corruption intelligence unit.

Responding to the report, Chief Constable BJ Harrington said: “I am pleased that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) recognise the hard work and commitment of my officers and staff, in particular praising the work we are doing around protecting vulnerable people, preventing crime and our service to victims.

“HMICFRS inspected Essex Police in September last year and we have not waited for the report to put into place action to improve where they identified areas where we could do better. In particular a lot of work has already been done in areas such as how we investigate crime, however, we continuously review and improve how we work and have established further measures since the inspection was held.

“The demands on our force have been challenging; they are increasing and changing, but we will always strive to give the best possible service to our communities and I am pleased that the report recognises this.”

Roger Hirst, police, fire and crime commissioner for Essex, added: “This is a very positive independent assessment and is a credit to the hard work and dedication of all of the officers and staff at Essex Police.

“In terms of outcomes for the public, while good progress is being made, we know that there is still significant work to do to reduce overall crime in particular to tackle violent crime and crack down on gangs.”

The full report can be found here

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