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Gloucestershire PEEL 2015

Legitimacy

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

Last updated 11/02/2016
Good

Gloucestershire Constabulary’s chief officer team has put a significant amount of work into developing and maintaining an ethical culture across the organisation. The constabulary values and promotes positive engagement as a way of improving legitimacy.

The constabulary does not comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and we had concerns that a high proportion of the records we checked did not sufficiently demonstrate that reasonable grounds existed to undertake a lawful stop and search. 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.

In Gloucestershire Constabulary, HMIC found evidence that the chief officer team has put a significant amount of work into developing and maintaining an ethical culture across the organisation. Staff have a good understanding of the constabulary’s values and ethics, are encouraged to challenge processes or decisions, and are confident to report inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.

We found evidence that there is inconsistent support for staff who had dealt with dangerous or traumatic incidents, with some staff reporting they had not received any support following their attendance at such incidents.

We are disappointed that misconduct information between police staff and police officers is treated differently, and that the constabulary has made little effort to ensure that decisions are made fairly.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found the constabulary values and promotes positive engagement with the public as a way of improving legitimacy. The continuous improvement team works alongside the training and communications and engagement team to promote knowledge and understanding of successful individual interactions and their importance in contributing to public confidence.

During the fieldwork there was a consistent finding that front office counter staff are courteous and helpful to their customers. HMIC is satisfied that officers and staff behave fairly and with respect when they engage with their 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. The constabulary does not comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and we had concerns that a high proportion of the records we checked did not sufficiently demonstrate that reasonable grounds existed to undertake a lawful stop and search. Taser officers in Gloucestershire Constabulary are suitably trained and we did not find any evidence of inappropriate use of Taser.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

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

HMIC found evidence that the chief officer team has put a significant amount of work into developing and maintaining an ethical culture across the organisation. Staff have a good understanding of constabulary values and ethics, are encouraged to challenge processes or decisions, and are confident to report inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.

We found evidence of inconsistent support for staff who had dealt with dangerous or traumatic incidents, with some staff reporting they had not received any support following their attendance at such incidents.

We were surprised to find evidence that misconduct information relevant to police staff members is removed from constabulary systems upon completion of any sanction imposed. This means any future misconduct issues would be treated in isolation rather than in the context of patterns of behaviour. This is not the policy in respect of police officer misconduct cases.

We were also disappointed that the constabulary has made little effort to ensure consistency in how complaints or misconduct cases are dealt with, or to ensure that decisions are made fairly.

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?

Staff at all levels and in all roles across the constabulary demonstrate good levels of knowledge and understanding and are able to explain how the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) is used to inform their own individual decision-making. The constabulary values and promotes positive engagement work as a way of improving legitimacy. The continuous improvement team works alongside the training and communications and engagement team. They promote knowledge and understanding of successful individual interactions with the public and their importance in contributing to public confidence.

The constabulary used a one week period of active listening to and analysis of calls for service, to help inform decisions concerning the constabulary operating model. They also carried out additional analysis of the calls to establish how effective the constabulary was in providing a response to those with mental health needs. During the fieldwork there was a consistent finding that front office counter staff interacted in a courteous and helpful manner with their customers. HMIC is satisfied that officers and staff behave fairly and with respect when they engage with their communities.

Good
4

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

HMIC found there is inconsistency in regard to the level of knowledge and understanding of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and a number of officers we spoke to had not heard of the scheme at all.

The constabulary does not comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and we had concerns that a high proportion of the records we checked did not sufficiently demonstrate that reasonable grounds existed to undertake a lawful stop and search.

Taser officers in Gloucestershire Constabulary are suitably trained and we did not find any evidence of inappropriate use of Taser.

As Gloucestershire 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 – Gloucestershire 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 records are accurate and contain the required information in respect of reasonable grounds.
  • 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.