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Action to deal with devolved control of CID, more appropriate levels of civilian support, divisional restructuring ...
Action to deal with devolved control of CID, more appropriate levels of civilian support, divisional restructuring and better financial management are among the key recommendations of a Primary Inspection of Grampian Police carried out by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

The executive summary and recommendations of the report were published to coincide with publication of the independent report into Grampian Police's handling of the Scott Simpson murder. The full report will be completed and published by the first week in June.

Chief inspector of constabulary William Sutherland commended Grampian for acting quickly on one of his main recommendations to split up Headquarters CID allowing freed CID officers to be brought under truly devolved control of uniform commanders.

Sir William said:

'The primary inspection was carried out against a backdrop of the chief constable's decision to retire and the inquiry into the force's handling of its investigation into the murder of Scott Simpson. While we have yet to complete the full report, the executive summary and recommendations are available and it was my view that it would be sensible to publish these at the same time as Grampian publish the Simpson case report and their response to it.

'The Regional Procurator Fiscal informed us of his and Scotland's Law Officers' concern over the force CID. We examined two separate reports being drawn up by outside forces into the CID - not the Scott Simpson inquiry - and were not convinced that these reports' recommendations had all been acted upon. We strongly believe that a cultural shift is required within CID, away from centralised control to local accountability to the uniform divisional commander, and we expect the force executive to ensure that this happens. Individual CID officers met were found to be able, dedicated and committed and achieve notable successes.

'We therefore recommend that HQ CID be split up and freed officers brought under the truly devolved control of uniform commanders. I commend the force for acting quickly in this respect. I understand that the recommendations in this area will be implemented on June 1.

'To ensure best used of devolved resources, we also recommend that the divisional structure of the force match the boundaries of its constituent unitary authorities. We believe that the redrawing of divisional boundaries to be coterminous with those of its local authorities and the devolvement of resources to divisional commanders will combine to give Grampian communities a system of policing better suited to these partnerships and tailored towards the individual needs of its communities.

'We are also concerned with the lack of face-to-face communication between supervisors, CID and shift personnel in Aberdeen, where traditionally officers report on/off duty at a large number of small offices scattered across the city and are briefed by telephone or not at all. This leads to fragmentation and the gap in communications will have to be bridged. We recommend a reduced number of offices for reporting on/off duty in order that full briefings from CID, Traffic, Local Intelligence Officers and other specialist units are given.

'To implement the reports recommendations will require leadership of the highest calibre. The new chief constable will be ably assisted by a deputy chief constable who has served the force with dedication and loyalty for more than 33 years and the recently appointed ACC who has already made a marked impression for his openness, willingness to listen and the establishment of excellent relationships with local authorities and others.

'On finance, the Joint Police Board is praised for funding the force to its full Grant Aided Expenditure limit. However, we were disappointed to find financial information inadequate and diluted by inappropriate reporting lines and the force approaching the end of the year with a major underspend.

'Crime levels are starting to fall in the north east with Grampian recording a four per-cent reduction in 1996/97. However recorded crime in the Grampian Police are has risen by 7.4 per-cent since 1992, when crime started to fall in Scotland as a whole. This rise compared with a fall of 22 per-cent for Scotland over the same period. There are indications of crime figures responding to efforts made in respect of domestic housebreakings and drugs abuse but the force showed the lowest detection rate in Scottish forces, at 31 per-cent, down 34 per-cent the previous year.

'At the time of the inspection, the force had 1,161 officers - 61 short of the full establishment figure which the force is capable of funding. We are highly critical of the force in not responding early enough to the recruitment problem, the consequences of which are seen in undermanning throughout the force area.

'Many impressive initiatives are undertaken to deal with crime problems and strong links have been developed with local authorities to forge joint community strategies. Many other areas of good practice have been observed and will be referred to in the full report.

'Although Grampian Police is in the headlines, at the grassroots police officers and civilian staff faithfully do their job and do it well. The new chief constable will find a workforce of committed staff ready to be led to the next millennium'

The recommendations include:

- A reorganisation of CID, with Headquarters CID being split up, and freed CID officers being brought under the truly devolved control of uniform commanders. Accordingly, a reorganisation of the force's CID should include: a reduction in Headquarters CID to comprise only those necessary elements of CID support which cannot be sustained by local command areas and to function principally as a support arm with its command structure fully integrated within that of the force as a whole; a redistribution of freed CID resources, including inspector and other supervisory ranks, to local command areas, to be brought under the undivided control of uniform commanders; that the recommendations of external inquiries be revisited to establish that all recommendations have been acted upon; and the abolition of the stolen vehicle squad consistent with its other recommendations on structure.

- A review of Headquarters Division to: determine appropriate levels of civilian support roles, proper use of trained senior police officers and more appropriate lines of responsibility to ensure direct access between the force executive and specialist support functions

which are matters of vital strategic importance to the force; find a location for Media Services at the heart of the force, both physically

within headquarters and organisationally within a structure that allows it to perform a strategic role; and reviews the relative positions of the Force Crime Prevention Officer, the Community Involvement Unit Inspector, the Local Authority Liaison Officers and Local Commanders to ensure that the full benefits of a properly co-ordinated effort are enjoyed in establishing sound community safety strategies.

- That the divisional structure be reorganised to: to match divisions with the boundaries of its constituent authorities; and in Aberdeen City reduce the number of police offices used for reporting on/off duty in order that it becomes the norm for full briefings to be given by supervisors to officers coming on duty at centralised points.

These briefings should include regular contributions from specialist units, such as CID, Traffic and Local Intelligence Officers.

- That the Chief Constable prepares for the Joint Police Board a detailed plan to address the force's financial management toinclude: a review of the Finance Department to ensure adequate staffing levels and an appropriate skills base to bring internal financial procedures to an acceptable footing and to report on financial matters direct to the force executive; the urgent determination of service level agreements on a proper client/provider basis; a properly argued decision as to the future provision of a new financial system; the full delegation in practice of financial management to the Chief Constable; and a short-term strategy to overcome the inadequacies of the current accounting system and provide accurate, timely information to inform good financial decision making.

- To cope with the increasing numbers of non-criminal complaints HM Inspectors recommend that the establishment of the Complaints and Discipline Department be increased by one inspector.

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