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Hertfordshire’s community engagement platform praised

The force’s latest PEEL assessment has said the platform enables the force to “effectively engage” with communities.

A platform established to enable Hertfordshire to engage with members of the public has been praised in the force’s most recent PEEL assessment.

Called ‘Echo’ – the public can use the platform to submit concerns about their local area as well as submit feedback on the force’s service.

An example was given following a violent crime in Hoddesdon – the constabulary and local authority used the platform to establish that the residents felt unsafe.

The force were then able to verify that following increased patrols and the council’s repairs of broken street lighting residents felt safer.

On the back of feedback given through the platform the force has been awarded funding to tackle ASB.

It has also been used to get feedback on stop and search encounters- with surveys being sent out to the searched persons. Survey questions have been written by community members on the scrutiny panel.

The force is currently seeing a 10% response rate from those who have been subject to stop and search and results have drawn attention to two issues that Hertfordshire was able to escalate action over.

Although the inspectorate found that the force does not always record the grounds for stop and search encounters effectively (80.8%) – the force has taken measures to address this, including by examining the stops of 20 officers who had used the power the most.

Training is further given to front line officers on interpersonal communication skills – conflict management, unconscious bias and de-escalation.

HMICFRS also praised the work the force has done with neighbourhood policing teams. Investments in digital software has resulted in the creation of IT dashboards which cover a range of crime and incident types enabling officers to quickly understand the data in their area.

Maps of hotspot areas and peak times are subsequently produced.

But the inspectorate did identify problems with call handling. 

HMIC found that the constabulary is under-resourced in the control room although short-term postings and longer-term recruitment and retention activity has mitigated this.

As of May 2022, there were 70 vacant posts in the FCR. A Gold group, work with HR and a prioritisation of control room staff in vetting meant that by September the number of vacancies was down to 40. It is estimated all posts will be filled this month. 

Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: “There is much that is positive in the report and we will look to build and improve on its recommendations.

"The HM inspector is pleased with the performance of Hertfordshire Constabulary in keeping people safe and reducing crime, and I am grateful for their input into how we can improve further to provide a consistently good service.

"I would like to recognise the hard work and dedication of Constabulary officers, staff, volunteers and our partners.  We will be looking to build on the good practise outlined in the report and will work to improve services further.”

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