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Wiltshire PEEL 2015

Legitimacy

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

Last updated 11/02/2016
Good

HMIC found that chief officers promote ethical behaviour and there is an established force ethics board that informs policy making. The force has good processes for understanding and managing the wellbeing of its workforce. We considered that Wiltshire Police engages well with the communities it serves.

The force is not compliant with many aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. HMIC is satisfied that on the whole Taser is being used fairly and appropriately by Wiltshire Police.

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

We found chief officers in Wiltshire Police promote a culture of professionalism and ethical behaviour. There is an established force ethics board that contributes to leadership development and training, and informs policies and practices.

The force has good processes for understanding and managing the wellbeing of its workforce and it has developed a values-based appraisal system and more transparent procedures for promotion and selection. While not all staff could describe the Code of Ethics in detail, we found evidence of the code being considered in decision-making and the design of policies, and it features within training courses.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found the force has implemented a ‘people and culture’ high level plan that sets out how officers and staff should interact with the public. The force and police and crime commissioner also carry out consultation to understand the views of local communities. The force uses volunteers in a number of roles and the force’s ‘people first’ values emphasise the need for fairness and 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. HMIC found that Wiltshire Police is not compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Notably, it has not carried out work to understand why members of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in Wiltshire are more likely to be searched or arrested following a search. We found that Taser is being used fairly and appropriately.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

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

We found chief officers in Wiltshire Police promote a culture of professionalism and ethical behaviour and there is an established force ethics board that contributes to leadership development, training, and informing policies and practices.

The force seeks the views of its workforce through an annual staff survey and we found that many officers feel able to speak up and appropriately challenge managers, although their police staff colleagues are less confident in this regard. There are good mechanisms in place to support individuals who do challenge managers.

The force has good processes for understanding and managing the wellbeing of its workforce and it has developed a values-based appraisal system and more transparent procedures for promotion and selection.

Not all staff could describe the Code of Ethics in detail, but are nevertheless fully aware of Wiltshire Police’s values and required behaviours. We found evidence of the code being considered in decision-making and the design of policies, and it features within training courses.

Professional standards and human resources staff operate together within the people services department, and there is clear evidence of a consistent approach in decisions relating to police officers and police staff in complaints and misconduct cases.

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?

HMIC found that Wiltshire Police has implemented a ‘people and culture’ high-level plan that sets out how officers and staff should interact with the public. The force and police and crime commissioner also carry out consultation to understand the views of local communities.

Officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) work effectively to understand people’s concerns through door-to-door visits or regularly-established contact points at locations where there is a high footfall. Local issues are identified and prioritised in meetings attended by members of the community and local organisations. The priorities identified are then published on the local neighbourhood policing team web page. We noted however that some of these pages do not contain up-to-date information and the force is therefore missing an opportunity to explain how local issues are being addressed.

The force uses volunteers in a number of roles and the force’s ‘people first’ values emphasise the need for fairness and respect. We found that all officers and neighbourhood PCSOs have received training in the use of the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) and, while understanding varied, they consistently recognise the importance of having a reasonable rationale for the decisions they make in serving the public.

Good
4

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

Although Wiltshire Police’s officers generally understand and apply the National Decision Model we found that their knowledge of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme was limited, and that the force is not complying with most elements of the scheme. We were particularly concerned that the force does not understand the reasons for its disproportionate use of stop and search affecting black, Asian and minority ethnic people (BAME).

In relation to the use of Taser by the force, we found that all trained officers are familiar with the NDM and clearly understand their responsibility when considering the reasonable use of Taser. The force has effective selection processes for officers and there is effective oversight whenever the device is used. The force reviews the number of Taser-trained officers required, but does not regularly publish information on the use of Taser. Based on our assessment of the Taser forms and our fieldwork findings, HMIC is satisfied that on the whole Taser is being used fairly and appropriately by Wiltshire Police.

As Wiltshire 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.

Best Use of Stop and Search letter – Wiltshire Police

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • 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.