Hampshire Police requires improvement in respect of its effectiveness at keeping people safe and reducing crime, inspectors have ruled.

The force’s effectiveness rating has been downgraded from “good” to “requires improvement” by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

HMIC’s third annual PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Hampshire Constabulary was published on Wednesday (April 12).

It states: “The force should be commended for its commitment to neighbourhood policing and it has improved how it tackles serious and organised crime. It generally protects vulnerable people well."

"However, HMIC has serious concerns about the way in which the force is supporting some victims of domestic abuse. The force needs to take action to address the low arrest rates for domestic abuse related crimes and the disproportionately high number of investigations that are not progressing due to the victim not supporting police action.”

The inspector said she was “pleased” with Hampshire Constabulary’s approach to preventing crime and tackling antisocial behaviour but said the force needs to improve aspects of how it investigates crime.

“The force needs to understand why it has a higher proportion of victims of crime who are unwilling to support the police investigation than any other force in England and Wales,” the report adds.

“This year I have expressed some deep concerns about Hampshire Constabulary’s practices relating to some victims of domestic abuse.

“However, since our inspection the force has taken active steps to address its falling arrest rates for perpetrators of domestic abuse, and is working hard to understand why approaching two thirds of investigations into domestic abuse do not progress because it is said that the ‘victim does not support police action’.

“This is far above the figure in many other forces. I am also reassured that the force has suspended its practice of only speaking to some victims of domestic abuse over the phone instead of visiting them to make sure they and their children are safe and not at risk from harm.”

The report states the force is working well with partner organisations to protect other vulnerable victims, including those suffering from mental illness and those vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

It adds the force tackles serious and organised crime well and has made progress in identifying so-called hidden demand, such as child sexual exploitation.

Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane said: “HMIC have judged Hampshire Constabulary as good in many areas.

"Those areas that HMIC have identified as requiring improvement give a helpful indicator for focus for the Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable and for me, on behalf of the community, in what will keep residents even safer and protect them from the greatest threats and risk of harm.

Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane
Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane

“I am paying close attention to the areas identified by the HMIC and the constabulary’s strategy for the future to ensure it provides the safest options for the communities I serve.

“I welcome the acknowledgement by Zoe Billingham, our inspector, that the force has moved quickly to address her concerns and that it continues to provide a good service."