A WATCHDOG has criticised North Yorkshire Police for wrongly deploying officers to incidents, and using their own mobile phones to take photos of crime scenes.

The report, by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC), also said there was “a lack of ‘real-time intelligence’ to support some aspects of prevention activity,” and at the time of the inspection there was a backlog of intelligence reports.

The report – which made a series of recommendations for all 43 UK forces – also said: “HMIC found evidence during reality testing that some resources were being deployed to incidents which were not appropriate, such as; PCSOs being deployed to violent incidents; or, Roads Policing Units being deployed to low-level incidents, making them unavailable for their core role, and; multiple resources deployed to same incident, which is inefficient.

“The inspection team identified that the force does not consistently identify vulnerable and repeat victims. The force needs to ensure that the necessary checks are in place so that all potential vulnerability factors, such as disability or race, are identified.”

The report also criticised the lack of a database of crime-prevention activities carried out by officers, which meant the force “cannot effectively evaluate work or share good practice easily”, and said HMIC was “concerned that officers reported that they are using their own mobile phone devices for photographing exhibits, crime scenes and victim injuries,” which “presents risks to the organisation around data integrity and security”.

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick said the report recognised good work being done by the force, but made it clear there were areas which needed improvement.

He said: “We recognise this, and the work we have been doing towards the new Operational Policing Model (OPM) has already identified ways in which we can improve on some of the points made in the report, Iincluding providing officers with better technology so they can access force systems while out on patrol and how we can distribute our resources more effectively, so officers can spend more time out on the streets, where the public want to see them.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said improvements were already under way within the force, but said the changes had been tailored specially for North Yorkshire, and she did not agree with all HMIC’s suggestions.

She said: “Some of the national recommendations are less helpful in my opinion, and are restricting local police forces from meeting the needs of their specific communities.

“North Yorkshire Police quite rightly have different priorities to the Metropolitan Police for instance, and it is right that is reflected locally.

“Urging police forces to always adopt ‘best practice’ might sound good, but I am not convinced it is best for residents of and visitors to North Yorkshire.”