Suffolk Police have been commended by HM Inspector of Constabulary for preventing crime but told their approach to protecting the vulnerable requires improvement.
In the same report, the inspectorate rates Norfolk Police as one of only three forces ‘outstanding’ in preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
The report released yesterday rated Suffolk as ‘good’ at reducing and preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, its effectiveness and its ‘legitimacy’ in the way it works.
But under ‘effectiveness’ the report says: “Suffolk Constabulary generally provides a good service in identifying vulnerable people and responds well to them. However, there are several areas where improvement is needed to ensure the service is consistent and that vulnerable people, particularly children, are kept safe.”
It says the force generally investigates crimes against the vulnerable well and assigns the right level of expertise, but adds: “The caseload within the teams who deal with rape and child abuse investigations are on occasions unacceptably high, and can become unmanageable.”
The NSPCC said it was concerned about the workload adding: “This can lead to delays in investigation and a reduced service to the victim. Vital opportunities to protect vulnerable children or identify a potential risk of sexual exploitation may be missed.”
Suffolk Police say eight additional detectives and 12 staff investigators have been added to the protecting vulnerable people directorate over the last year.
Suffolk Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said: “We recognised the significant increase in reported crime involving vulnerability and have taken a range of steps towards strengthening our resources.
“Our improved financial position following the Government’s autumn statement and the PCC’s decision to raise the council tax precept means that we can strengthen our teams even further.”
Norfolk Police were rated as outstanding or good in all the sections and only minor improvements were suggested in handling certain data.
Deputy Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: “To have our work praised in this, the first graded assessment of the Constabulary’s overall effectiveness, is very pleasing and a credit to the dedication of our officers and staff.”