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Devon and Cornwall PEEL 2015

Legitimacy

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

Last updated 11/02/2016
Good

Devon and Cornwall Police is striving to develop and maintain an ethical culture, and the recently introduced mission statement, force standards and values are being provided to staff to ensure they are understood by all. The force has a good understanding of its communities and local officers and staff engage well with their neighbourhoods to understand the issues affecting them.

Devon and Cornwall Police is compliant with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop Search scheme, although the force is not yet publishing details of stop and search outcomes, and does not monitor the impact on young people.

Taser is used fairly, but the force must ensure that records properly reflect officers’ decision-making.

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

Devon and Cornwall Police is striving to develop and maintain an ethical culture, and the recently introduced mission statement, force standards and values are being delivered to staff to ensure they are consistently understood by all.

Staff wellbeing is a priority for the force, and there are a number of initiatives in place to advise and support the workforce. We found that officers and staff trust the force to investigate complaints and misconduct allegations fairly, but are concerned about not being kept updated regularly.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found that officers and staff work positively with the communities they serve. This enables them to understand the issues affecting local people and keep them informed of action taken to resolve problems. As a result, we are satisfied that Devon and Cornwall Police has a good understanding of the needs of its local communities and that most officers and staff treat people fairly and with respect.

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 Devon and Cornwall Police is compliant with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop Search scheme. Systems are in place to manage the deployment and use of Taser. However, the force must ensure that Taser-trained officers and supervisors properly understand and record their decisions using the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged), in accordance with the College of Policing training.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

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

HMIC found that Devon and Cornwall Police is striving to develop and maintain an ethical culture. It is clear that officers and staff have a good understanding of expectations in relation to their conduct and standards of behaviour.

The chief constable has recently launched a new mission statement, force standards and values, which included the Code of Ethics as an integral part of it. Some officers and staff are aware of the new mission and its relationship with the Code of Ethics; however, this is not consistently understood. We found posters and leaflets in some police buildings that promoted the previous force vision and standards which – although had synergies with the new mission statement and the force acknowledged this – could have led to this mixed picture.

HMIC found evidence that the wellbeing of staff is a priority for the force and a number of schemes are in place, such as one which provided mental health support.

We were told there are high levels of trust in the professional standards department in relation to the management of complaints and misconduct. However, some concern was expressed regarding staff being kept informed when complaints are managed at a local level.

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?

Devon and Cornwall Police demonstrates a good understanding of the importance of engaging with the public and how this helps to promotes police legitimacy. Neighbourhood teams are working closely with their communities and partner organisations to identify and solve local problems.

The force has a good understanding of the communities it serves and engagement work is tailored to meet the needs of specific communities. Neighbourhood meetings and surgeries, surveys and social media are used to seek the views of local people and keep them informed. The force uses this understanding to assess the likely impact of community incidents or problems on confidence in the police and respond effectively.

The public are encouraged to take part in local policing activities and there are a range of opportunities for them to do so. The force recognises the value that volunteers working within its communities can bring in improving engagement and trust in the police.

Call-handlers and front-desk staff in police stations were found to be consistently courteous, professional and helpful.

Good
4

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

HMIC found that Devon and Cornwall Police is compliant with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop Search scheme, although the force is not yet publishing details of stop and search outcomes, and does not monitor the impact on young people. The force has more to do to demonstrate 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 distribution of Taser officers and equipment is based on risk, demand and geography and is subject to regular review. Systems are in place to manage the deployment and use of Taser. However, the force must ensure that Taser-trained officers and supervisors properly understand and record their decisions using the National Decision Model, in accordance with the College of Policing training.

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force should comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme in relation to publishing details of stops and searches outcomes, and monitoring the impact on young people.
  • The force must ensure that Taser-trained officers and supervisors properly understand and record their decisions using the National Decision Model, in accordance with the College of Policing training.