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Cumbria PEEL 2015

Legitimacy

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

Last updated 11/02/2016
Good

There is a positive and supportive culture within Cumbria Constabulary that encourages all staff to behave professionally and ethically. Cumbria Constabulary understands its communities, treats them with fairness and respect and engages with them effectively.

While the use of Taser is fair and appropriate, there is further work required regarding key elements of the Best Use of Stop Search scheme and recording of reasonable grounds for search before they are compliant.

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

There is a positive and supportive culture within Cumbria Constabulary that encourages all staff to behave professionally and ethically. Senior leaders are clear on the expected standards of behaviour and the workforce has a good understanding of force standards.

The wellbeing of staff is seen as important and the responsibility of managers. There is a good system of support for staff through the internal trauma-related, incident management network of counsellors.

The occupational health unit is seen as visible and proactive. Most staff we spoke to were familiar with the Code of Ethics and the firm expectation on them to apply the code during their duties.

When HMIC looked at how well the constabulary understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found that officers and staff understand the importance of treating people with courtesy and respect, and the link with public confidence. They also have a good understanding of the issues and concerns of their communities. The constabulary effectively engages with the public through conventional surveys, face-to-face meetings, digital technology and social media. There is a healthy involvement of local people in policing activity, and the constabulary is looking to boost recruitment to the special constabulary to previous levels.

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 Cumbria Constabulary is only partially compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. According to officers we spoke to, it was clear that there was a lack of understanding on how to record the reasonable grounds for a stop and search.

Taser is being used fairly and appropriately by Cumbria Constabulary.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

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

There is a positive and supportive culture within Cumbria Constabulary that encourages all staff to behave professionally and ethically. Senior leaders are clear on the expected standards of behaviour and the workforce has a good understanding of constabulary standards.

Staff can use the constabulary intranet to directly ask the chief constable questions. We found that questions raised are responded to promptly by chief officers, and this forum is frequently used across the constabulary.

The wellbeing of staff is seen as important and the responsibility of managers. There is a good system of support for staff through the internal trauma-related incident management network of counsellors. The occupational health unit is seen as visible and proactive.

The principles of the Code of Ethics have been made clear to all staff, having been promoted by the chief constable, and then reinforced through more formal training provided to all staff. Most staff we spoke to were familiar with the Code of Ethics and the firm expectation that staff would apply the code during their duties.

We found discrepancies in how misconduct investigations relating to police officers are recorded and finalised when compared to those relating to police staff.

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?

Cumbria Constabulary fully understands the relationship between engagement and legitimacy at both a strategic and local level. Cumbria is made up of many widespread and rural communities, with some large towns, which means that engagement is of necessity locally-based. The new engagement strategy aims to introduce minimum standards for engagement in the new policing structure, while also reducing the number of face-to-face engagement events. This will be while improving the quality of the interaction with the public and the feedback received.

Officers and staff understand the importance of treating people with courtesy and respect and the link with public confidence. They also have a good understanding of the issues and concerns of their communities.

We found that the constabulary effectively engages with the public through conventional surveys, face-to-face meetings, digital technology and social media. There is a healthy involvement of local people in policing activity, and the constabulary is looking to boost recruitment to the special constabulary to previous levels.

HMIC is satisfied that Cumbria Constabulary effectively engages with their communities, understands their concerns and treats them with fairness and respect.

Good
4

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

Cumbria Constabulary is only partially compliant with the Best Use of Stop Search scheme. It is clear to HMIC that there is a considerable lack of understanding by officers, in respect of recording reasonable grounds for a search.

According to officers we spoke to, there is sufficient space on the constabulary’s electronic hand-held terminal for a thorough explanation of why the stop and search was carried out, but it was clear that officers did not understand how to record the reasonable grounds.

We were encouraged to find that training in the Best Use of Stop Search scheme for initial recruits was more comprehensive, and that those officers who had joined the constabulary recently, had a greater understanding of their obligations under the scheme. It is important that all officers using the power also understand the principles of the scheme.

Taser officers are well trained and the use and oversight of the deployment of Taser is well managed. There is also an effective review process. We found that non-Taser-trained officers and staff felt well supported by their Taser-trained colleagues. Taser is being used fairly and appropriately by Cumbria Constabulary.

As Cumbria 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 – Cumbria 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.