Durham 2016Read more about Durham 2016
This is HMIC’s third PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Durham Constabulary. PEEL is designed to give the public information about how their local police force is performing in several important areas, in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year on year. The assessment is updated throughout the year with our inspection findings and reports.
The extent to which the constabulary is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime: not yet graded.
The extent to which the constabulary is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is: outstanding.
The extent to which the constabulary is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is: good.
The efficiency and legitimacy inspection findings are published below. My overall assessment of Durham’s performance will be published in spring 2017.
Michael Cunningham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary
How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
PEEL assessments are updated throughout the year, as the results of the different inspections and data collections become available. The graded judgments for effectiveness will be published in March 2017. See last year’s assessment of the force’s effectiveness.
How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Durham Constabulary has been assessed as outstanding in respect of the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
Durham Constabulary understands the public demand for policing and the importance of using that understanding to organise its services. It has assessed the factors that are likely to influence demand over the next 15 to 20 years and has tried to identify demands that may be hidden at present, such as in relation to honour-based violence. The constabulary challenges itself to identify which of its own internal demands for additional services are unnecessary and to reduce these.
The constabulary understands the costs of the provision of police services. It consistently reviews how it can improve efficiency without reducing its service to the public, for example by making full use of a ‘diary car’ instead of an immediate police response where appropriate. It develops its policing and financial plans together, in the light of its overall priorities. It has a comprehensive ICT strategy to support these plans that is helping the constabulary both to work more efficiently and to improve its services. The constabulary involves all relevant internal departments in six-weekly strategic resourcing group meetings that monitor the policing and financial plans. Those present have the authority to take action to resolve any problems and fill any gaps that emerge. The constabulary’s internal audit team reviews not only how much the constabulary does, but also how well it is doing it. The constabulary has good working arrangements with other agencies and police forces to make sure that the right agency is tackling each task, that resources are shared effectively and that income is generated where possible.
Durham Constabulary’s plans for the future are well developed and ambitious. They make realistic assumptions based on comprehensive information about the future demand for policing and the resources that will be required. The plans take into account possible risks, including reductions in central funding. The constabulary has plans to increase its police officers from 1,150 full time equivalent in 2016/17 to 1,200 in 2018/19 and beyond. It has a detailed training plan to address the skills gaps created by those leaving the force.
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Durham Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
The constabulary has a culture in which high ethical standards are understood and practised across the organisation. It recognises the importance of enhancing public confidence and places great emphasis on ensuring that it continually reviews how this can be achieved. The constabulary continually reinforces messages of acceptable behaviour and this is widely understood across the organisation. There are however limitations in the capability to proactively identify corrupt practices. Staff wellbeing remains a priority and the constabulary recognises the link between providing an efficient and effective service to the public and maintaining a motivated, well-supported and well-managed workforce.
The constabulary and the office of the police and crime commissioner regularly use various methods, such as public perception and local area surveys, to seek the views of the public on their perceptions of treatment. The constabulary has established means of engaging with those with less trust and confidence in the police in order to understand their perception of fair and respective treatment. It has taken steps to address the concerns raised in HMIC’s 2015 legitimacy inspection, specifically relating to the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme. It uses Police and Community Together meetings and social media such as Twitter and Facebook to provide information to the community.
The constabulary understands the importance of vetting potential applicants and contract staff and has a vetting policy for recruits, including volunteers and other non-police staff, which is derived from and in line with national guidance. There is a backlog of staff who joined the organisation before 2006 and are still to go through this process. It has clear policies for business interests, notifiable associations, gifts and hospitality and social media use, and communicates these to the workforce, including volunteers. The professional standards department (PSD) raised awareness of these policies as part of its training on the Code of Ethics. The constabulary has a counter-corruption and integrity plan – developed using analysis of the National Crime Agency’s counter-corruption strategic assessment – that outlines areas of threat and gaps in service provision. Durham Constabulary uses a variety of ways to look for and encourage the reporting of potential corruption, including a confidential online system, ‘Bad Apple’. This is recognised throughout the organisation as an effective means of reporting wrongdoing. It has limited capacity to proactively seek intelligence on matters potentially related to corruption. The constabulary has an effective method for engaging with its own workforce and the public in relation to the outcome of misconduct hearings.
Durham Constabulary fully understands the benefits of engaging with its workforce in order to understand fully the matters that have most impact on its perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. The constabulary holds an annual staff survey, conducted in collaboration with Durham University Business School, designed to identify the issues that have the greatest impact on the individual while working within the organisation. Durham Constabulary fully understands the benefits of wellbeing within its workforce. Staff wellbeing is a force priority and the importance of ensuring that the workforce has appropriate support – including with regard to mental health issues – is widely recognised. Durham Constabulary has an established process for managing individual performance. Its performance development review (PDR) process is well understood and widely used by the workforce. The process enables staff to identify development and training opportunities to develop their skills and progress their career.
How well has the force performed in our other inspections?
In addition to the three core PEEL pillars, HMIC carries out inspections of a wide range of policing activity throughout the year. Some of these are conducted alongside the PEEL inspections (for instance, our 2016 leadership assessment); others are joint inspections.
Findings from these inspections are published separately to the main PEEL reports, but are taken into account when producing the rounded assessment of each force's performance.
Police leadership is crucial in enabling a force to be effective, efficient and legitimate. This inspection focused on how a force understands, develops and displays leadership through its organisational development.
Durham Constabulary communicates extensively with its workforce to define and communicate its leadership expectations. The chief officer team champions the ‘Durham Difference’ and welcomes challenge at all times. The constabulary uses several approaches to ensure a balanced perspective, including 360-degree feedback, personality ‘pack’ profiling, formal mentoring and coaching agreements.
Senior leaders communicate regularly with staff at all levels, and chief officers carry out formal mentoring and coaching programmes. The constabulary understands its leadership teams’ capabilities and proactively looks for candidates with senior leadership potential. The constabulary recruits externally. Three candidates from other forces were recruited recently to chief inspector and superintendent roles. Durham Constabulary demonstrates best practice across many areas and regularly hosts visits from other forces to share information. Officers are encouraged to be innovative and offer suggestions for improvement. The constabulary recognises the need to increase employee diversity above and beyond the nine protected characteristics, which include age; disability; and gender reassignment, and works hard to appeal to individuals from backgrounds where joining the police is not the norm.
This section sets out the reports published by HMIC this year that help to better understand the performance of Durham Constabulary.