A YORKSHIRE police force has been criticised for the way it handles anti-social behaviour in a report which warns vulnerable victims are slipping through the net and millions of people across the country feel let down by the way their complaints are dealt with.
North Yorkshire Police has made “little progress” in how it understands and tackles anti-social behaviour in the past two years according to damning findings by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) which warned some staff were unclear over how to identify repeat victims and control rooms sometimes failed to pass on incident history to officers responding to a call.
Today’s report by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Denis O’Connor reveals that forces across the country received around 3.2 million reports relating to yobbish behaviour and abuse in the past year but this is believed to be only a fraction of the problem.
Of these, one in three victims feel they are left out in the cold while one in seven called police for help more than 10 times, the report found.
Sir Denis said improvements have been made but it was impossible to rule out further fatal episodes such as the case of Fiona Pilkington who killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca Hardwick following 10 years of sustained abuse in Leicestershire.
The HMIC report assessed the progress and performance of all 43 police forces in England.
It warns that in North Yorkshire Safer Neighbourhood Policing Teams are increasingly taken off local duties with no policy in place to limit this.
The report also highlights concerns over the identification of vulnerable and repeat victims of anti-social behaviour across the region’s police forces.
West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Humberside, however, are all said to have made progress on tackling anti-social behaviour overall since HMIC carried out a review of the problem in 2010.
It identified weaknesses in the identification of vulnerable victims when it analysed calls to Humberside Police and said South Yorkshire Police’s IT system did not allow staff to identify repeat or vulnerable victims.
West Yorkshire Police’s system does enable staff to flag up if a caller is a repeat or vulnerable victim, but HMIC claims the force’s call handlers do not always make use of it. The report also warns that there is a perception within West Yorkshire that anti-social behaviour should be dealt with by Neighbourhood Policing Teams rather than investigators.
HMIC also highlights the fact that West Yorkshire does not have a plan for tackling anti-social incidents or a framework to monitor how it responds to calls.
Despite North Yorkshire being accused of making little progress a survey of victims found it has the second highest satisfaction rate in the country. Seventy three per cent were satisfied overall with the way police dealt with their complaint. It was the only authority in Yorkshire to be significantly above the national average.
Assistant Chief Constable Iain Spittal, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “We have reflected on the areas for development and are actively taking steps to drive all of them forward, seeking to further improve the quality of service and satisfaction levels provided to our communities.
“Make no mistake, anti-social behaviour can be a scourge on people’s lives and can affect whole neighbourhoods if left to fester. North Yorkshire Police and our partners fully recognise this and we simply will not tolerate such behaviour.”
A Humberside Police spokeswoman said: “We note the recommendation from the HMIC about the need for further work in relation to identifying vulnerable victims and we will take the necessary steps to ensure this matter is resolved.”
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