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Cheshire PEEL 2015

Legitimacy

How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 11/02/2016
Good

The chief constable and the chief officer team actively promote the values of the constabulary and staff we spoke to are positive about the culture in Cheshire. We found that police officers and staff in Cheshire Constabulary are diligent and committed in their use of a comprehensive range of methods to engage with the people they serve, to discover their needs and then report to them the results they achieved. However, too many of the stop and search records we examined did not contain sufficient reasonable grounds for conducting the search, and it was clear that Cheshire is not complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Taser is used fairly and appropriately.

This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.

HMIC found that the chief constable and the chief officer team actively promote the Code of Ethics which builds on the established values of the constabulary, set out in the ‘SPICE’ standards, comprising service; professionalism; integrity; compassion; and equality and fairness. These standards are reinforced by the constabulary’s people strategy.

Staff we spoke to generally expressed confidence that recruitment and promotion selection processes were fair, transparent and free from bias.

HMIC found that the constabulary dealt with complaints and misconduct in a fair and appropriate way. When HMIC looked at how well the constabulary understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that police officers and staff in Cheshire Constabulary are diligent and committed in their use of a comprehensive range of methods to engage with the people they serve, to discover their needs and then report to them the results they achieved. The constabulary is well directed through the ‘We’re here’ commitments, which clearly set out the service the public can expect. It has introduced a structure based on local policing teams designed to meet those promises, and it scrutinises performance to ensure its service does so. HMIC is satisfied that Cheshire Constabulary understands and engages well with its communities.

Stop and search and Taser are two ways that the police can prevent crime and protect the public. However, they can be intrusive and forceful methods, and it is therefore vital the police use them fairly and appropriately. HMIC found that too many of the stop and search records we examined, did not contain sufficient reasonable grounds for conducting the search. We are also concerned that the current supervisory efforts are insufficient when reviewing these forms. It is clear that Cheshire Constabulary is not complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.

However, HMIC found the constabulary does have effective processes to select and train officers in the use of Taser, and has robust procedures in place to ensure it is used fairly and appropriately.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?

HMIC found that the chief constable and the chief officer team actively promote the Code of Ethics which builds on the established values of the constabulary, set out in the ‘SPICE’ standards, comprising service; professionalism; integrity; compassion; and equality and fairness. These standards are reinforced by the constabulary’s people strategy.

We found good evidence that the Code of Ethics is fully embedded across the organisation, and that it has been adopted in the constabulary’s strategy, policy, practice and procedure. Staff reported they feel empowered and encouraged to raise concerns, and challenge issues of perceived unfairness.

Staff we spoke to generally expressed confidence that recruitment and promotion selection processes were fair, transparent and free from bias. Staff also recognise and understand the reasons behind the constabulary’s adoption of positive action, aimed at increasing representation of female and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff at all levels.

Historic problems in respect of the outsourcing of the occupational health service are recognised by the constabulary, and all staff we spoke to commented on the constabulary’s efforts to improve wellbeing provision.

HMIC found that the constabulary dealt with complaints and misconduct in a fair and appropriate way.

Good
2

To what extent are forces recording crimes in accordance with the Home Office Counting Rules?

This question has not been inspected or graded in 2015.

Ungraded
3

How well does the force understand, engage with and treat fairly the people it serves to maintain and improve its legitimacy?

HMIC found that police officers and staff in Cheshire Constabulary are diligent and committed in their use of a comprehensive range of methods to engage with the people they serve, to discover their needs and then report to them the results they achieved. The constabulary is well directed through the ‘We’re here’ commitments which clearly set out the service the public can expect. It has introduced a structure based on local policing teams designed to meet these promises, and it scrutinises performance to ensure its service does so.

The constabulary has trained its officers and staff and there is clear evidence that they understand and apply the National Decision Model in their choices and decisions. The constabulary has successfully recruited volunteers and ensures they have meaningful opportunities to improve policing services. Meanwhile the constabulary continues to invest in its staff to improve and extend their skills. The constabulary routinely checks the views and perceptions among the people it serves. HMIC is satisfied that Cheshire understands and engages well with its communities.

Outstanding
4

To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?

HMIC is concerned that too many of the stop and search records we examined, did not contain sufficient reasonable grounds for conducting the search. We are also concerned that current supervision is insufficient when reviewing these records. It is clear that Cheshire Constabulary is not complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. In particular, we found no evidence to suggest that the constabulary was undertaking analysis to understand why black, Asian and minority ethnic people were disproportionately affected by stop and search in Cheshire. However, HMIC found the constabulary has effective processes to select and train officers in the use of Taser, and has robust procedures in place to ensure it is used fairly and appropriately.

As Cheshire Constabulary was not compliant in three or more aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme in 2015, HMIC revisited the force in 2016 to assess improvements made since the initial inspection.

Best Use of Stop and Search letter – Cheshire Constabulary

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The constabulary should ensure that stop and search records include sufficient reasonable grounds to justify the lawful use of the power, and that officers fully understand the grounds required to stop and search.
  • The constabulary should ensure that adequate supervision takes place to ensure that stop and search is conducted lawfully and fairly, and that reasonable grounds are recorded properly.
  • The constabulary should put in place an action plan setting out how it will comply with all the features of Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. HMIC will revisit the constabulary within six months to determine what improvements have been made.