Dorset Police is good at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, a recent inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has found.

The PEEL report into police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy states that the Force has an effective and visible neighbourhood policing model made up of police officers, community support officers and community safety accredited staff (CSAS), who work together with other agencies to tackle community priorities.

It praises the Force’s approach to reducing crime and disorder in communities, as well as tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB), and highlights the work of neighbourhood teams who consider the needs of all members of our communities, including elderly victims of fraud, black and minority ethnic and LGBT+ victims of hate crime and young people.

The inspection for 2021/22 also graded the Force’s efforts of building, supporting and protecting the workforce as good. It highlighted the Force’s recruitment plans, the investment in officers and staff and its inclusive culture that it places equality and diversity at the heart of the organisation.

It graded a number of areas as adequate including, treating the public with fairness and respect, protecting vulnerable people and managing offenders and suspects. The inspection noted the Force’s work around strategic planning, organisational management and ensuring value for money.

The report details two areas that were graded as ‘requires improvement’, namely how the Force is responding to the public and investigating crime. The Force had already recognised the need to strengthen in areas prior to the report and since the start of 2021 Dorset Police has seen the introduction and development of two Local Policing Area commands and investment in county lines teams, Neighbourhood Enforcement Teams and a dedicated missing person team.

HMICFRS states in its own report that as a result of changes to the PEEL inspection it isn’t possible to make direct comparisons between the grades awarded this year with those from previous PEEL inspections. The last PEEL inspection was in 2018/19 and this latest inspection took place in summer 2021.

Chief Constable Scott Chilton said: “I am pleased that the inspectors have acknowledged the work we have delivered in relation to preventing and proactively tackling crime and ASB, as well as our efforts to work alongside partner agencies to challenge the issues that matter the most to our communities.

“Since being appointed Chief Constable in August last year, I have set a very clear vision and purpose – to ensure Dorset is a safe county for everyone by being tough on crime, keeping people safe and putting victims first. This drive will see increased visible policing and relentless pursuit of criminals.

“The PEEL inspection took place at one of the most difficult times in Dorset Police’s history, not only for our organisation but also our communities. This included the tricky period through the COVID-19 pandemic, a period of peak demand and unprecedented visitor numbers as the lockdown lifted, an increase in public demonstrations and mutual aid support for national events including G7 and COP 26.

“As always we welcome review and scrutiny of the Force and it is reassuring that the suggested areas of improvement were already part of an ongoing programme of work to improve the service we provide to our communities.

“We are also making significant investment in our public contact systems, with a commitment to reduce call times and respond to incidents quicker. This will also mean we can easily identify vulnerable repeat callers and provide the right training to ensure staff give appropriate advice on the preservation of evidence and crime prevention.”

Chief Constable Scott Chilton continued: “I have made it clear that victims of crime must be our top priority and we remain focused on improving the service we provide by ensuring we support them through the process, pursue all investigative opportunities and achieve the positive outcomes they deserve.”

David Sidwick, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, said: “HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) have changed and expanded the way in which they grade police forces across the country, and I welcome the increased level of scrutiny, accountability and transparency that will now feature in the report.

“I am particularly pleased to see that Dorset Police has been rated as ‘good’ at preventing crime and at tackling anti-social behaviour – as cutting crime and tackling ASB is a priority in my Police and Crime Plan. The report has also issued a rating of ‘adequate’ for areas such as protecting vulnerable people and has highlighted areas where there is room for improvement, such as investigating crime and responding to the public and therefore the report both records the achievements of Dorset Police and provides a firm foundation for improvement.

“It should be noted however, that this PEEL report reviews a time before the introduction of both my Police and Crime Plan and the Chief Constable’s Policing Vision. Both the Chief Constable and I share the same high ambitions for policing, which essentially is to provide an excellent police force for the people of Dorset, and I will work alongside the Chief and his staff to ensure that the force achieves that ambition.”