Progress on volume crime welcomed but call management still a concern for Inspectorate

Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) has praised the progress made by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to take forward recommendations made surrounding volume crime and the use of police bail.

The findings of a follow-up inspection into volume crime and police bail published today (30 July) revealed that 90% of the recommendations made by the CJI inspection team in December 2006 that were within the PSNI’s capacity to deliver had been achieved.

“Inspectors were heartened to see the steps the PSNI had taken to progress the original inspection recommendations when we returned to assess progress in 2009,” said Brendan McGuigan, Deputy Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.
“The Professionalising Investigation Programme (PIP) which is designed to train officers to an agreed common standard of investigation has been implemented.  This means police officers are now better equipped with the basic investigative skills necessary to investigate volume crime, and are better placed to meet the needs of the public and the District Command Units in which they are working.
Mr McGuigan said the Inspectorate had also found that scientific support within the police was being used more effectively in the investigation and detection of volume crimes such as burglary, assaults, thefts and criminal damage.
“The time taken for a forensic identification to be converted into a detection has been reduced, and turnaround times for fingerprints lifts have on average been reduced to two days,” he added.
Inspectors who conducted the follow-up inspection of the handling of volume crime and police bail were however concerned that the PSNI’s plans to introduce a new call management system had been placed on hold.
“The implementation of National Call Handling Standards across all of the PSNI’s call management functions to enhance any subsequent investigation process was one of the key recommendations of this report.  In addition, call management arrangements were identified by CJI’s report into Policing with the Community as an important area for improvement,” said Mr McGuigan.
“While we accept the Police Service is piloting an alternative call management process, Inspectors believe an efficient call management system is an essential ingredient in assisting the PSNI to effectively manage its resources, and successfully meet the needs of the community it serves. This is an issue we will be keeping under review and will return to in future inspections,” he said.
In conclusion, the Deputy Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice said he welcomed the progress that has been made to date and the commitment shown by the PSNI to address the recommendations made by the Inspectorate in 2006.
“We would encourage the PSNI to continue to keep a focus on volume crime and the use of police bail in the future to ensure it retains a prominent place on the agenda of the organisation.
“The PSNI should continue to build on the progress made to date be ensuring it persists in equipping police officers with the skills required to discharge their duty to prevent, detect and investigate crime.
“By doing this, PSNI will be able to work towards fulfilling their stated aim of making Northern Ireland safer for everyone through professional, progressive policing.” Said Mr McGuigan.