Cumbria police must improve non-emergency call handling, watchdog says

Cumbria Constabulary has been congratulated on its overall good performance Credit: ITV News

Cumbria police have been awarded a 'good' overall performance rating but "needs to improve in some areas".

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) graded Cumbria Constabulary’s performance across eight areas of policing and found the force was outstanding in one area, good in three areas and adequate in four areas.

They said the areas requiring improvement included how the force handles non-emergency calls from the public and its neighbourhood policing resourcing.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Andy Cooke, said: "I congratulate Cumbria Constabulary on its performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime, although it needs to improve in some areas to provide a consistently good service."

He noted that the force's best work is in the management of registered sex offenders as well as everybody being "proud to work for Cumbria Constabulary".

However, the handling of non-emergency calls needs to be improved.

Mr Cooke said: "Cumbria Constabulary does need to improve its call handling performance. Emergency calls are answered and responded to quickly; however, sometimes abandonment rates for non-emergency calls aren’t meeting national standards.

"It also needs to review its neighbourhood policing resourcing and deployment model. I am reassured that the force has been developing work to address this following our inspection.

"I will monitor Cumbria’s progress towards addressing the areas I have identified where the force can improve further."

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall has said he is "pleased" with the outstanding rating they received for "managing sex offenders and high-level violent offenders" which was awarded to just two forces across the country.

He also explained that the force has already made "a number of improvements" since the report.

He said: "The Constabulary has already made a number of improvements on the findings of this report and continue to do so to continuously improve the service they provide.

"The report highlights that we have an efficient, effective and legitimate Constabulary in Cumbria.

"I will continue to hold the Chief Constable to account on the areas in which we can improve at my Public Accountability Conferences and together we can keep Cumbria safe."

Chief Constable, Michelle Skeer, said: "We welcome HMICFRS’s recent findings recognising the Constabulary as 'Outstanding' in the management of sex offenders and high-level violent offenders and as 'Good' in the areas of investigating crime and our work to keep vulnerable member of the communities safe.

"We are incredibly proud to have received recognition for the hard work and dedication of our staff and officers in numerous policing areas, which was achieved despite having to quickly adapt to the evolving challenges that policing COVID has presented.

"The findings recognised that Cumbria Constabulary remains one of the top performing forces in the country for areas including domestic abuse arrests, charge-summons rates and 'action taken' outcome rates."

She added: "The force’s work to prevent and reduce crime, including partnership working and the innovative work officers are facilitating in communities, were also positively recognised.

"However, we are never complacent, we want to provide an outstanding service across the board for Cumbria.

"Improvements to response times for answering non-emergency calls, were identified as needing improvement. A call-back system and a live-webchat facility have both since been launched, with positive results already being achieved. These facilities are in addition to reporting online via our website or calling 101."