COUNTY: Dorset Police has been criticised for the way it investigates some forms of offending.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has published its first PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of each force in England and Wales.

In the PEEL assessment five of the six areas assessed as ‘Good’ and only one area as ‘Requires Improvement’ in relation to how effective Dorset Police is at investigating offending.

Inspectors found that the Force “generally carries out investigations to a good standard” and that “staff show a good understanding of what might constitute a vulnerable victim and the importance of providing appropriate support”.

However, the overall rating for this area was downgraded due to a finding that there was a backlog of cases in the Safeguarding Referral Unit.

The HMIC believed this meant ‘potentially vulnerable victims were either waiting an unacceptable time for services or missed altogether’, and because of concern that the Force’s definition of vulnerability was too narrow.

Detective Superintendent Andrew Clowser, director of public protection for Dorset Police, explained: “The definitions we use to identify vulnerable adults and children are widely accepted and shared, they have not been chosen in isolation by Dorset Police.

“They are outlined in relevant legislation for children and adults, used by and agreed with our partners, and have passed the scrutiny of local safeguarding inspections.”

He added: “Following our feedback to the HMIC, we understood these points of factual accuracy had been understood and accepted.

“Therefore, while the details in their full report have been amended, it is disappointing that the overall rating for this area has not been reconsidered.”

In relation to the other two reports published today, the Integrity and Corruption inspection found high standards at all levels of Dorset Police.

The Crime inspection found the Force to have achieved large crime reductions and to have a good preventative approach, with some recommendations made around investigative practices. Responding to the reports, Deputy Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “Overall, I am pleased the HMIC’s findings reflect the excellent work that I know goes on across the county every day.

“Their PEEL assessment presents a Force that has continued to cut crime despite the financial challenge, that works hard to prevent crime and stop repeat offending, and that deals well with anti-social behaviour in partnership with other organisations.”

The HMIC found that crime has continued to fall in Dorset at a greater rate than England and Wales, although levels of victim satisfaction are slightly below average for some crimes.