South Wales PEEL 2015
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
The ethical culture of the force is strong with significant efforts being made by the chief constable and senior team to lead by example. The force engages well with communities in South Wales and treats people with fairness and respect.
The use of Taser in South Wales Police is fair and appropriate, with robust oversight and accountability.
The force does not comply with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and HMIC has concerns over the recording of reasonable grounds and the lack of supervisory arrangements. However, the force has recognised this and has clear plans in place to address it.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
The ethical culture of the force is strong with significant efforts being made by the chief constable and senior team to lead by example. The force places a strong emphasis on the wellbeing and pastoral care of the workforce. It is in the process of making sure staff understand the Code of Ethics, however, the force has not established whether its values align with the code.
The force deals with complaints and misconduct in a fair and consistent way and staff have a positive view of the professional standards department. We are concerned with the timeliness of investigations and monitoring of ethnicity information.
When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully engages and works with all the people it serves, we found that there is a detailed level of knowledge about the local communities and the force is making use of a wide range of methods to engage effectively, including with hard-to-reach groups. As a result, the force is able to respond to community concerns and understands the impact that problems have on 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. HMIC found that Taser is being used fairly and appropriately. However, South Wales Police does not comply with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. There is limited understanding of the scheme among staff, and any monitoring that does occur is based on minimal data. There is no publication of data on either the force website or the police.uk website. HMIC is also concerned that reasonable grounds for the use of stop and search powers are not being recorded properly, and that there is no supervision or oversight of these powers. While South Wales Police has clear plans to address the concerns, it does not comply with almost all aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.
To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?
HMIC found that the ethical culture of South Wales Police is strong with significant efforts being made by the chief constable and command team to lead by example. The force places a strong emphasis on the wellbeing and pastoral care of the workforce. It has a welfare department which offers advice, counselling and occupational health support and provides a range of health initiatives and wellbeing support for the workforce.
The strong ethical approach of the force is reinforced by staff who reflect the force values, being professional, proud and positive. Work is ongoing to ensure that staff fully understand the Code of Ethics and the force is making it part of day-to-day practice. The force has not yet established if its values align with the code.
The force deals with complaints and misconduct in a fair and consistent way. Staff have a positive view of the professional standards department and are confident they would be treated fairly if they were the subject of an allegation. Representatives from the office of the police and crime commissioner dip-sample complaint investigations.
HMIC is concerned with the time taken to investigate allegations, and the failure to record routinely the ethnicity of staff who were the subject of allegations.
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?
HMIC found a clear understanding throughout South Wales Police of the importance of effective engagement. The force has a comprehensive understanding at both a strategic and local level of the communities it serves. There is an effective understanding, at all levels, of the link between engagement and legitimacy and its importance.
Neighbourhood profiles are used to good effect and the force has shown innovation and energy when engaging with some of its most difficult local areas which had previously disengaged with the police. Engagement is inclusive with good links with young people, elderly people and a range of ethnic groups.
South Wales Police has many existing channels to inform the public of its activities and is tailoring its engagement to the needs of the community. It uses volunteers in important and novel ways.
There is a good understanding of the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) and this, together with the commitment to customer care and specific training, ensure that all staff in South Wales Police are aware of how they should treat and engage with their communities.
HMIC is satisfied that officers and staff in South Wales Police understand their communities, engage effectively and treat people with fairness and respect; however, we are concerned that the force has no process in place to provide staff with the opportunity to record their views and concerns, anonymously if necessary, and additionally that the force does not monitor the ethnicity of members of the public who have cause to complain.
To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?
HMIC found that, while South Wales Police has clear plans in place, it does not comply with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. There is limited understanding of the scheme among staff, and any monitoring that does occur is based on minimum data. There is no publication of data on either the force website or the police.uk website. HMIC is also concerned that reasonable grounds for stop and search encounters are not recorded properly, and that there is no supervision or oversight of these powers.
Taser-trained officers are aware of the National Decision Model and understand its application. HMIC is satisfied that the use of Taser in South Wales Police is fair and appropriate.
As South Wales Police 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.
Areas for improvement
- The force 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.
- None of the stop and search forms we considered had been subject to any supervision or oversight. The force should ensure that adequate supervision takes place to ensure that stop and search encounters are conducted lawfully and fairly.
- The force 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 force within six months to determine what improvements have been made.