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HMI has 'serious concerns' about North Yorkshire's strategic planning

NYP has been asked to ensure that senior leaders have effective oversight of the force's enabling functions, and to develop a workforce plan that meets present and future policing needs.

A lack of 'effective oversight' within North Yorkshire Police (NYP) is impacting its ability to respond to the public and reduce crime, HMICFRS has found.

The inspectorate identified significant concerns about the force's strategic planning and organisational management, rating its ability to operate efficiently as 'inadequate'.

While there were areas of good practice, and HM Inspector Roy Wilsher praised individual officers and staff for their contributions, these efforts risk being undermined by a lack of oversight at the top. 

Mr Wilsher said: "I have serious concerns about its [NYP's] strategic planning and organisational management.

“Senior leaders in the force need to ensure they have effective oversight of its enabling services, such as IT and HR functions. Failures in these areas impact the service the force provides."

NYP Chief Constable Lisa Winward has acknowledged these failings and said changes have already been made. 

Thanking inspectors for their work, she said: "They told us that while the right actions might be taking place on the ground by our people, they were not able to find sufficient evidence of how this was directed and overseen through our governance structure.

"The Inspectors told us that every single person they spoke to was committed, fully engaged in their work and doing a really good job in difficult circumstances.

“Since we received the hot debrief from HMICFRS in October 2022, we have been working at a pace to address the issues that they have raised so we can focus on our core responsibilities to the public."

The shortcomings identified by HMICFRS are impacting how effectively the force responds to the public and investigates crime. 

Between November 1, 2021 and July 31, 2022, NYP answered 41.9% of 999 calls within ten seconds - well below the expected 90% standard and the third lowest across all forces in England and Wales.

According to CC Winward, this situation has already improved as a result of a £1.85m investment into the force's control room which she said led to an average of 72% of 999 calls being answered within 10 secs in Feb 2023.

HMICFRS also found that NYP had a 12-month backlog in its digital forensic unit, and that although there were plans to increase the staffing, the unit still wasn't fully resourced by October 2022.

CC Winward confirmed that the force has committed £400,000 to cutting this backlog, and aims to reduce this by 50% by the end of June. 

Efforts have also been made to address concerns raised about efficiency, specifically relating to the police fleet which HMICFRS was not supported by any 'effective replacement strategy' within the force.

According to CC Winward, the force will roll out 63 new vans in the coming months.

Outside of these issues, HMICFRS also found there to be significant workforce pressures within the force that are impacting the service to the public as well as staff wellbeing.

Inspectors found: 'The current recruitment approach is failing to fill vacancies, which is placing increased pressure on existing staff and resulting in fewer officers and staff providing policing services.'

One example of this was PIP2 detectives. As of March 31, 2022, 79% of the force’s 202 PIP2 roles were filled with accredited detectives. HMICFRS found there was a 'limited plan' to address the shortfall. 

There were also a large number of vacancies in the control room at the time of inspection, during which the force said it loses 25% of its staff each year. Investments have since been made in this area.

In terms of other recruitment, CC Winward said the force is building up its Safeguarding team with 21 additional posts being added in phase 1 of the programme.

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