Force fails to identify repeat victims
DEVON and Cornwall Police have made some progress in tackling antisocial behaviour, but are failing to consistently identify repeat victims, official inspectors have warned.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary carried out a review in spring 2010 to establish how the police can best tackle the low-level offences which undermine community confidence.
A follow-up inspection by HMIC, published last week, found that progress on the issue had been made by Devon and Cornwall Police which receives tens of thousands of reports of antisocial behaviour every year.
But HMIC said the force did not always identify repeat or vulnerable antisocial behaviour victims as soon as they contacted the force and therefore did not always receive the support they needed.
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Dru Sharpling, HM Inspector of Constabulary for the western region, said: "Anti-social behaviour is a blight that can wreck lives and communities.
"Our review shows that Devon and Cornwall Police has made some progress in how it tackles the problem, and that victim satisfaction is in line with the national figures for England and Wales.
"The force should be commended for this – especially as it comes against the backdrop of significant budget cuts across the service.
"However, there is no room for complacency. In particular, Devon and Cornwall Police should continue to work on ensuring repeat and vulnerable callers are identified at the first point of contact. This progress is therefore only the first step in delivering a much better service to victims."
HMIC said there had been a "committed focus" on antisocial behaviour with the introduction of an assessment, using data from a range of other agencies as well as its own, which gives a clearer view of the issues affecting the two counties.
Inspectors said neighbourhood policing teams had very good knowledge of their local antisocial behaviour issues, despite the challenges presented by current IT systems.
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said it was continuing to work on the recommendations made by HMIC.
He said: "The force has given enhanced training to communications and call handling staff to better enable them in identifying those who are vulnerable, and the introduction of a new command and control system is another opportunity to improve our processes at the first point of contact.
"Antisocial behaviour remains a priority for the force, due to the damaging effect it can have on our communities and an action plan and working group are in place to ensure we continue to improve."
The force fell foul of HMIC earlier this year when a review "indicated some cause for concern – specifically the under-recording of crime". Inspectors said "considerable numbers of crimes and antisocial behaviour incidents were not being correctly recorded". Some of these the force said had now been addressed.