Kent PEEL 2015
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
The force has successfully established the Code of Ethics; which sets and defines the exemplary standards of behaviour for everyone who works in policing. The wellbeing of staff is thoroughly understood, considered and provided for and complaints and misconduct allegations were dealt with robustly and fairly.
The force engages positively with communities. The force’s use of Taser is fair and appropriate.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
The force has worked hard to develop an ethical culture and establish the Code of Ethics, and this is clearly demonstrated at all levels of the force. It has ensured that all staff have been trained and understand the code. Officers feel empowered to challenge decisions perceived to be unethical. Encouragingly, the force provides for the wellbeing of staff and continues to seek opportunities to improve these services. It deals robustly and fairly with complaints and misconduct allegations.
When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that the force uses an effective and robust range of methods to ensure meaningful engagement. Officers clearly understand their local communities, and neighbourhood crime profiles help to share this knowledge. As a result, we found the force understands its communities and provides effective means through which priorities and concerns can be raised for action by officers.
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 the force has adopted the principles of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and has complied with most but not all of the elements. The force provides training on the principles of the scheme but officers and their supervisors do not always record the grounds for stopping and searching a person.
We found monitoring of Taser use at a senior level and that qualified staff conduct reviews of Taser usage.
We consider that Kent Police’s use of Taser is fair and appropriate.
To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?
Kent Police has developed successfully an inclusive and ethical culture and has established comprehensively the Code of Ethics.
The Code of Ethics meeting and force-wide culture boards have been welcomed by staff and are helping to encourage an almost universal sense from officers of feeling empowered to challenge decisions they perceive to be unethical.
The force has a thorough understanding of the views of the workforce in respect of their wellbeing and provides for the wellbeing of its officers and staff.
The force’s decision to retain and supplement occupational health resources to meet the increased demand to support wellbeing is notable.
The force has worked hard to ensure that all staff have been trained and have a comprehensive understanding of the Code of Ethics. The training is described by staff as a “quality product”.
The widespread understanding and implementation of an ethical culture across the force is having a positive effect on the service to the public, as officers are motivated and feel supported to do the right thing in all their activities.
The force deals with complaints and misconduct robustly and fairly and investigations are free from bias. We found a potential for inconsistent decision-making in the same cases involving both police officers and police staff but the force recognises this and has put in place a process to overcome this difficulty.
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.
How well does the force understand, engage with and treat fairly the people it serves to maintain and improve its legitimacy?
Kent Police understands comprehensively the importance of engagement with the people it serves. Chief officers have developed and communicated a culture of inclusivity and ethical behaviour that is understood across the force. Staff understand that the way they engage with the public affects police legitimacy. The force invests in specialist staff and systems to understand communities and identify people’s concerns which enables the force to respond effectively.
The force has developed crime profiles containing local information and demographic data, and the force monitors community tensions effectively, with community liaison officers scanning overnight incidents to identify concerns within the community.
The force uses different methods to ensure effective engagement and the public are kept informed through updates at local meetings and a range of social media channels. Kent Police recognises the need to encourage participation and it successfully attracts volunteers in a variety of useful roles. Similarly, Kent’s Special Constabulary is active and its positive support has been recognised in a national award.
Kent Police trains its staff in the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) and it also carries out surveys to assess the quality of service it provides. Officers and staff have a clear understanding of the model and use it in their day-to-day decision-making. The force is working hard to engage with communities and ensure that members of the public are treated fairly and with respect.
To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?
The force has adopted the principles of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme but it does not comply with all the elements.
The force provides training on the scheme but officers and their supervisors do not record the grounds for stopping and searching a person.
Taser-trained officers apply the National Decision Model in their decisions about use of the device. We found monitoring of Taser use at a senior level, and that qualified staff conduct reviews.
Any use of Taser is reported in accordance with national guidance and we saw evidence of some external independent oversight. Kent Police’s use of Taser is fair and appropriate.
As Kent Police was not compliant in one or two 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.
Areas for improvement
- Of the records reviewed that did not have reasonable grounds recorded, almost all had been endorsed by a supervisor. The force should ensure the processes for recording reasonable grounds are understood by both officers and those supervising them.