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Lancashire PEEL 2015

Legitimacy

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

Last updated 11/02/2016
Good

HMIC found a positive and supportive culture within Lancashire Constabulary and the wellbeing of officers and staff is considered very important. The constabulary is outstanding in the way in which it engages with its communities to understand their concerns.

The constabulary is not compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and while Taser is used fairly and appropriately, it is not always recorded accurately.

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

HMIC found a positive and supportive culture within Lancashire Constabulary. Senior leaders are clear on the expected standards of behaviour required from all staff and the workforce has a good understanding of these standards. Wellbeing of officers and staff is considered very important and there is a strong network of support for all staff using trained, ‘wellbeing ambassadors’ within the constabulary and external support services.

Complaint and misconduct cases are seen to be dealt with fairly and consistently by the professional standards department and this is confirmed by our independent review of case files.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found that officers and police staff of the constabulary are committed to understanding and serving the communities of Lancashire. They use an extensive and effective range of online and face-to-face methods to engage with the people they serve and to monitor their needs and report back results. The constabulary seeks and identifies improved practice from elsewhere and in conjunction with its partners it is using new methods to predict, understand and prevent problems of local public concern. The constabulary’s officers and staff treat the public 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. The constabulary is not compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and a considerable proportion of the search records we checked did not include sufficient explanation of the legal grounds to use this power.

Taser officers understand and apply the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) and Authorised Professional Practice in their use of Taser, but how they record these incidents requires improvement.

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 Lancashire Constabulary. Senior leaders are clear on the expected standards of behaviour required from all staff and the workforce has a good understanding of these standards. The chief constable speaks to new joiners and employees on promotion to remind them of their responsibilities under the ‘know yourself, know your stuff and know your staff’ approach.

There is an online internal discussion forum for all staff to discuss matters affecting them and the constabulary.

The constabulary considers the wellbeing of its officers and staff as very important and there is a strong network of support for all staff using trained, ‘wellbeing ambassadors’ within the constabulary and external support services. There are 48 wellbeing ambassadors trained by the constabulary to refer colleagues in need of advice and guidance to appropriate support networks.

The constabulary has not used the College of Policing’s Code of Ethics to inform policy and practice. While the code has been circulated on the intranet, the constabulary purposely avoided conducting an explicit campaign to promote it. Instead, the emphasis is on the constabulary values of fairness, integrity and respect. If the constabulary had given greater focus to all nine principles of the Code of Ethics it would have been graded as outstanding.

Complaint and misconduct cases are seen to be dealt with fairly and consistently by the professional standards department and this was confirmed by our independent review of case files.

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?

Lancashire Constabulary officers and police staff are committed to understanding and serving their communities. They use an extensive and effective range of online and face-to-face methods to engage with the people they serve and to monitor their needs and report back results. The constabulary seeks and identifies improved practice from elsewhere and works with its partners to use new methods to predict, understand and prevent problems of local public concern.

The constabulary has trained its officers and staff well and there is strong evidence that they operate ethically and professionally using the National Decision Model. It has invested in skilled staff supporting local areas and has successfully recruited volunteers from the community who are improving the policing service provided. We found staff within the call centre and enquiry counter staff are polite and professional in dealing with people. The constabulary trusts its staff and invests in them to improve and extend their skills. It checks views and perceptions among the people it serves routinely. It is dedicated and effective in its engagement with the public. The constabulary’s officers and staff treat the public fairly and with respect.

Outstanding
4

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

Lancashire Constabulary is not compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. The information it publishes does not include details of current data explaining stops and searches being conducted, including the outcome of searches or information about proportionate use of the powers. The constabulary has not yet implemented an effective policy providing a ‘community trigger’ and there is no published method through which the public might have opportunity to observe searches.

A considerable proportion of the search records we checked did not include sufficient explanation of legal grounds and, although the constabulary has introduced recent changes, there are also gaps in the requirements for supervisor oversight of such searches.

The constabulary uses appropriate methods to select and train officers in the use of Taser, and has procedures in place which ensure each use is recorded and then scrutinised by operational supervisors, as well as senior officers. Taser officers understand and apply the National Decision Model and authorised professional practice in their use of Taser, but how they report these incidents requires improvement.  

As Lancashire 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 – Lancashire 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.
  • The force must ensure that Taser-trained officers properly understand and record their decisions using the NDM in accordance with the College of Policing training.