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West Midlands PEEL 2015

Legitimacy

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

Last updated 11/02/2016
Good

West Midlands Police has a strong ethical culture with good support for the wellbeing of staff. The Code of Ethics is part of day-to-day practice, and we found no bias in any disciplinary investigations.

The force understands the importance of effective engagement and the role it plays in the legitimacy of the organisation. West Midlands Police engages well with the communities it serves, understands their concerns and treats them with fairness and respect. The force complies with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and the 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.

HMIC found that West Midlands Police articulates its values effectively, and staff commented that an ethical culture is something they live and breathe. There is a comprehensive occupational health service, and the Code of Ethics has been incorporated into relevant training. Practical understanding of the code is enhanced using an online debate about real-life dilemmas.

HMIC considered that West Midlands Police is taking positive steps to ensure that complaints and misconduct matters for officers and staff are being dealt with fairly and consistently.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that there is a good understanding of the communities it serves; the force engages effectively and staff at all levels of the organisation understand the importance of effective engagement in police legitimacy. The force uses a range of tailored methods, from social media to conventional face-to-face meetings to seek the views of the community and provide feedback and reassurance. It actively consults with the people it serves to identify their preferred method of engagement. As a result, the people of West Midlands can be reassured that the force understands the importance of treating people with fairness and respect and tailors its engagement to suit diverse 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 that the police use them fairly and appropriately. HMIC found that there is effective strategic oversight and governance of the use of stop and search powers in West Midlands Police, but that the force needs to publish the full range of data required by the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. There is a comprehensive understanding, oversight and scrutiny of the use of Taser and a willingness and ability to share data with the public. HMIC concluded that West Midlands Police complies with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and the use of Taser is fair and appropriate.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

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

HMIC found that West Midlands Police articulates its values effectively, and staff commented that an ethical culture is something they live and breathe. We found that messages from chief officers are not always applied consistently across the force and there is a perception of inconsistency in decision-making.

The force ensures promotion and selection processes are free from bias and it is trying to increase recruitment from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to become more representative of the population of the West Midlands.

We found a comprehensive occupational health service and action taken to understand the wellbeing of the workforce. The force has undertaken consultation regarding the change programme using an online staff survey to better understand the views and experiences of the workforce.

The force promotes the Code of Ethics and incorporates its principles into relevant training. Practical understanding of the code is enhanced using an online debate about real-life dilemmas. Further work is required to ensure the application of the code is understood fully at all levels.

HMIC considered that West Midlands Police is taking positive steps to ensure that complaints and misconduct matters for officers and staff are being dealt with 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?

In West Midlands Police HMIC found that officers and staff at all levels in the organisation understand their communities and know that providing a quality service and effective engagement has a positive effect on public confidence and police legitimacy.

Staff demonstrated a good awareness of the communities they serve and each neighbourhood has a neighbourhood profile, although we found that in some areas of the force the neighbourhood information needs to be refreshed. Community tension summaries and impact assessments are used effectively.

The force engages well with the numerous communities it serves and there is a range of tailored methods from social media to conventional face to face meetings that are used to seek the views of the community and provide feedback and reassurance. They actively consult with the people they serve to identify their preferred method of engagement.

The chief constable has been active in delivering a message to the organisation that they should seek to provide: “a service of which our friends and family would be proud”. This message is resonating with staff and we found that members of the public are generally being treated fairly and with respect when they come into contact with the West Midlands Police.

Good
4

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

HMIC found that West Midlands Police is not complying with some aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.

There is a good internal structure that allows robust scrutiny of stop and search and effective external overview through a series of local scrutiny panels, who examine a comprehensive array of data. The force also effectively monitors the impact of the use of stop and search powers on young people and members of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

HMIC was particularly impressed by the innovative use of technology in relation to stop and search that enabled the person searched easy access to information on police powers, how to make a complaint or give feedback.

There is a comprehensive understanding, oversight and scrutiny of the use of Taser within West Midlands Police and HMIC was particularly impressed with the willingness to share data with the public through the police and crime board meetings which are broadcast on the internet.

Taser-trained officers use the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) to good effect and have a comprehensive understanding of the model and all the restrictions applicable to the use of Taser. HMIC is satisfied that the use of Taser in West Midlands Police is fair and appropriate.

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force should comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme in relation to recording and publishing outcomes.