Kent PEEL 2014
Does the force act with integrity and provide a service the public expects?
Kent Police has a well established professional standards department including an anti-corruption unit, which has a good capacity. The force has made good progress since the last HMIC inspection, embedding positive behaviour and good standards and has a clear plan for implementing the Code of Ethics. The force needs to improve how it initially assesses, then investigates, misconduct and unprofessional behaviour. There is a need to improve the way in which the force proactively reduces the risk of corruption and increases its capacity to investigate, within the strategic alliance arrangements it has with Essex Police. There is an established joint process for monitoring contracts and related issues with Essex Police.
Further insights on legitimacy
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013) found that the proportion of respondents that think that the force does an excellent/good job was less than the figure across England and Wales. The same survey over the same period also found that the proportion that agrees that the force deals with local concerns was broadly in line with the figure for England and Wales. The force’s own victim satisfaction survey (12 months to June 2014) found that the proportion of victims that were satisfied with their experience was greater than the figure across England and Wales.
The inspection on domestic abuse found that there were effective systems in place to identify victims and conduct risk assessments, including those to identify repeat callers. However, there was a risk that domestic abuse incidents involving harassment, including stalking, may not have been appropriately prioritised and the victim may not have received the level of police response they needed.
The force has good crime-recording procedures in place when receiving reports of crime, meaning that victims of crime receive the service they should when they first report a crime.
HMIC is also impressed with the accuracy of the decisions taken by the force when making no-crime decisions (cancelling a recorded crime), nearly all of which are correct.
This means the public can have confidence in the way the force records crime.
The crime data integrity inspection found that the leadership in the force had worked tirelessly to transform the force culture and judged that this was a commendable improvement since the earlier inspection of recording practices.
To what extent does the force ensure that the workforce acts with integrity?
The chief constable and all the chief officers show strong leadership on the importance of values, ethics and personal behaviour. Policies and procedures address standards of behaviour and integrity.
HMIC found that staff are generally aware of their responsibility to challenge and report misconduct and unprofessional behaviour. There is a well understood, confidential process for individuals to report wrongdoing. The force has a clear plan to implement the Code of Ethics and staff are aware of this. Training on ethical and professional behaviour is provided to staff, supported by use of the force intranet and an in-house magazine article. However, there is no clear way to check what staff have learned from training. The force publishes information on chief officers’ expenses, gifts and hospitality, and information concerning officers’ business interests and secondary employment on the force website.
HMIC found that there is inconsistency between the force’s approach to misconduct by police officers on the one hand, and police staff on the other. Police staff are receiving significantly more serious sanctions than police officers for similar breaches of conduct. The professional standards department (PSD) investigates all public complaints that involve gross misconduct; all other complaints are sent to inspectors on the local policing teams. There are a large number of open investigations and excessive numbers of cases held by individual investigators.
The force has a strong process for ensuring that lessons are learned from investigations. Staff are able to give examples of how they have learnt from both Independent Police Complaints Commission and Kent PSD investigations.
The force has an established anti-corruption unit (ACU) and its staff have good knowledge, skills and understanding of the organisation and systems. The ACU has an intelligence department and is supported by an analytical and research function.
The risk that operations will be compromised by corruption is managed largely within the force. Where serious organised crime is concerned, the force operates, together with Essex Police, a joint security unit within the joint serious crime directorate. This joint security unit is responsible for operational security; it also completes corruption investigations on behalf of both forces.
The level of staffing does dictate how much proactive work can be completed by the ACU.
What are the public perceptions of the force?
HMIC considers that there are two sources of data that give an insight into the public’s perceptions of their police force: the Crime Survey for England and Wales, and the Victim Satisfaction Survey.
The data for Kent Police show that:
Crime Survey for England and Wales (12 months to March 2013)
- 55 percent of adults surveyed think that the police do an excellent/good job, which is less than the figure across England and Wales of 61 percent.
- 57 percent of adults surveyed agree that the police deal with local concerns, which is broadly in line with the England and Wales proportion of 60 percent.
Victim Satisfaction Survey (12 months to June 2014)
- 86.7 percent (±1.2 percent) of victims were satisfied with their experience which is greater than the figure across England and Wales of 85.0 percent (± 0.2 percent).
To what extent does the force respond to calls for service appropriately?
The value for money inspection found the force had set clear performance standards for response times, and these had remained the same since 2010. The inspection found that during this time, the proportion of calls attended within the set standards for both ’emergency’ and ‘priority’ calls had declined.
The crime data integrity inspection found that within the control room, operators were almost always polite, helpful and professional. However, the inspection found that sometimes operators did not explain their actions to the public. Sometimes the need to establish the caller’s location got in the way of the caller’s desire to ask for help or explain what was happening to the police.
The domestic abuse inspection found that there were effective systems in place to identify victims and conduct risk assessments, including those to identify repeat callers. Control room staff carried out checks of police databases to gather information on risk and to inform the speed of response needed. Control room staff had received effective training and used a series of questions to help gather relevant information. Cases involving harassment, including stalking, were given a default grading of ‘by appointment’. This created a risk that domestic abuse incidents that might be classed as stalking may not have been appropriately prioritised and the victim may not have received the level of police response they needed. This was a concern.
To what extent are the data and information provided by the force of a high quality?
The crime data integrity inspection examined 252 incident records and found that 186 crimes should have been recorded. Of the 186 crimes that should have been recorded, 179 were. Of the 179, all but three were correctly classified and 170 were recorded inside the 72-hour limit allowed by the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR). This was a good result for the force and gave confidence that victims who reported crime in this way were receiving the service and support that they should.
The inspection also examined 62 no-crime records and found 57 records to be compliant with the HOCR and the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS). The five records which were not compliant with the HOCR and NCRS all fell within the category of violent crime. The force’s approach to no-criming is generally acceptable.