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Durham 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 chief officer team actively promote the vision and values of the constabulary to develop and maintain an ethical culture, and it is clear that significant efforts had been made to ensure the workforce feels valued and engaged in decisions which affect them. We found that engagement with the public is at the heart of the policing model in Durham Constabulary.

HMIC was concerned to see that 33 percent of the stop and search records we reviewed did not contain sufficient reasonable grounds for carrying out the search. However, the constabulary is complying with almost all the requirements of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and we are satisfied that 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 Durham Constabulary’s chief constable and chief officer team actively promotes its vision and values to develop and maintain an ethical culture. Significant efforts are being made to ensure the workforce feels valued and engaged in decisions which affect them. A culture exists where misconduct and unprofessional behaviour are challenged and reported, and where those who do so are supported.

When HMIC looked at how well the constabulary understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found that engagement is at the heart of the policing model in Durham Constabulary. It is both innovative and comprehensive, providing a thorough understanding of the issues affecting the community. The importance of engagement is understood at all levels of the organisation and the leadership of the chief constable in this area of business is impressive. As a result, we believe that engagement in Durham Constabulary is both sustainable and effective.

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 was concerned to see that 33 percent of the stop and search records we reviewed did not contain sufficient reasonable grounds for carrying out the search. However, the constabulary is complying with almost all the requirements of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. It still has more to do in recording and publishing outcomes, and explaining to communities how the powers are being used following a “community complaint”.

We are satisfied that Taser 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 Durham Constabulary’s chief constable and chief officer team actively promotes its vision and values to develop and maintain an ethical culture. Significant efforts are being made to ensure the workforce feels valued and engaged in decisions which affect them. A culture exists where misconduct and unprofessional behaviour is challenged and reported, and where those who do so are supported.

The constabulary seeks to understand the views of staff about their wellbeing, and provides various services to meet their needs.

The constabulary has continued to invest in promoting the Code of Ethics. Training is being provided to staff, and the code is being used to influence day-to-day decision-making.

Steps are being taken to ensure complaints and cases of misconduct for both officers and staff are investigated fairly and consistently.

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?

Durham Constabulary fully understands the relationship between engagement and legitimacy at strategic and local levels. Engagement is at the heart of the constabulary approach to policing and staff understand its importance and the link to legitimacy.

We found staff feel empowered and supported, and they are prepared to be innovative in their approach to engaging and working closely with local people. They try new methods to reach more people in the community, to successfully explain their approach to policing, and to seek information from the public in order to reduce crime and protect people. There is a comprehensive understanding of the issues and concerns affecting people.

The constabulary uses a range of both conventional engagement, in the form of surveys and meetings, as well as digital engagement through Facebook and Twitter, which is innovative and effective. The chief constable provides personal leadership in all aspects of public engagement, and is considered to be a role model for others in the organisation.

All staff spoken to know they are expected to treat people with fairness and respect.

Outstanding
4

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

HMIC was concerned to see that a large proportion of the stop and search records we reviewed did not contain sufficient reasonable grounds for carrying out the search. The majority of these forms had been endorsed by a supervisor, suggesting that both the officers carrying out the search, and those supervising them, do not understand what constitutes a legal use of the power.

However, the constabulary is complying with almost all the requirements of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. It still has more to do in recording and publishing outcomes, and explaining to communities how the powers are being used following a “community complaint”.

We are satisfied that Taser is used fairly and appropriately.

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 ensure that it complies with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, in respect of recording and publishing outcomes and explaining to communities how the powers are being used following a “community complaint”.