Hertfordshire PEEL 2015
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
The chief officer team takes seriously the need for an ethical and inclusive workforce; the constabulary has a good understanding of its communities and engages positively with the public. Decision-making by Taser-trained officers is fair and appropriate, however, the constabulary has more to do in order to comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Overall Hertfordshire Constabulary meets the public expectation that a force should be legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
In Hertfordshire Constabulary, the chief officer team takes seriously the need for an ethical and inclusive workforce and has an effective approach to developing an ethical culture. The principles of the College of Policing’s Code of Ethics, which sets out the standards of behaviour that the public can expect from officers and staff, is widely understood by officers and staff.
The constabulary understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves. There are examples where local officers engage well with their communities, including with ethnically diverse groups. The constabulary uses a wide range of methods to communicate with the public. Some of this good work is done with other local agencies and includes use of social media and online communication, allowing the involvement of a wide range of people.
This helps police and partners better understand their local communities and prioritise work to support them. The constabulary has a good understanding of the needs and concerns of the public.
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 officers are well trained and the use of Taser fair and proportionate. Training on the use of stop and search powers was last delivered in 2013. Not all officers use the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) when deciding to conduct stops and searches and this is important as the model is a framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged.
To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?
Hertfordshire Constabulary is developing a good ethical culture. Its equality, ethics and integrity board, chaired by the deputy chief constable, effectively monitors this process. The chief constable has revised the constabulary’s mission and values. This helps ensure that the Code of Ethics is part of everyday working practice.
The constabulary has not conducted an all-staff survey since 2010, but planned to carry this out in autumn of 2015 in conjunction with Bedfordshire Police and Cambridgeshire Constabulary as part of a survey about collaborative working.
Staff are confident to challenge inappropriate behaviour at all levels, and arrangements are in place to support staff who report misconduct.
The research carried out to analyse psychological-related absences is encouraging, and the additional development provided to first-line managers to enable them to better support staff is positive.
There are different approaches to the initial assessment of how serious a misconduct allegation is dealt with for police officers and police staff. This could lead to police staff being dealt with more harshly than police officers. However, the constabulary’s professional standards department plans to standardise approaches for police staff and police officers.
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?
Officers and staff across Hertfordshire Constabulary engage well with the public and understand how this promotes police legitimacy. This approach is supported by most officers and staff, and leadership is provided by chief officers who promote the constabulary’s values set out in ‘The Herts Way’.
There is sufficient understanding of the communities it serves and this is developed through a range of methods including meetings, surveys, community impact assessments and a commitment to listening and providing feedback to the public.
Engagement with communities is tailored to their needs, and social media is also used appropriately to provide further opportunities for public engagement and involvement.
The public are encouraged to engage in policing activities through local meetings, open days and social media and there are opportunities for voluntary work with the police.
Call handlers and front-desk staff are generally polite, friendly and helpful and most officers and staff behave in a respectful and fair manner – an approach that is encouraged and supported by the chief constable and senior staff.
To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?
Hertfordshire Constabulary is not compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. There is a limited understanding of the scheme among frontline officers and supervisors. Training on the use of stop and search powers was last run in 2013, before the scheme was introduced. Officers report that they are not confident about using stop and search powers and not all officers use the National Decision Model when deciding to conduct a stop and search. There is a ‘ride-along’ scheme for members of the public and a process to identify and respond to community complaints about stop and search, and section 60 authorisations where reasonable suspicion is not required, have reduced.
There is a clear rationale for the deployment and numbers of Taser officers. Officers use Taser appropriately and there is a robust process for selecting Taser officers.
The constabulary has a good system for ensuring that Tasers are used appropriately.
As Hertfordshire Constabulary was not compliant in one or two 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 constabulary should ensure that officers are confident about using stop and search powers and that they understand the features of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.
- The constabulary should ensure that it complies with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme in relation to publishing outcomes.