North Wales PEEL 2015
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
HMIC found that North Wales Police takes seriously the need to establish an ethical and inclusive workforce, and is committed to supporting staff wellbeing. Local policing teams have a good understanding of their communities and are committed to the service they provide to victims of crime.
North Wales Police is compliant with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, however, HMIC is concerned that reasonable grounds for stops and searches are not being properly recorded, or being properly supervised. We are satisfied that Taser is used fairly and appropriately.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
The chief constable has clearly set out a vision for staff to ‘do the right thing’, and the force is working towards a position where an ethical culture forms part of everyday policing. North Wales Police is fully committed to the wellbeing of staff and has a broad range of services in place. The force has set out to integrate the Code of Ethics, and more work is planned for it to be fully established. There is a consistent and fair complaints process and misconduct policy and staff told us they feel they would be treated fairly. There are issues reported in relation to timeliness and staff training for managing complaints.
When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found evidence of effective local connections with local agencies and some communities; however, relevant and up-to-date information about policing actions dealing with local problems is not always provided in a consistent way. There is good evidence that the public of North Wales are being treated fairly and with respect by their local police.
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. North Wales Police is compliant with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, with the exception of a ‘ride along’ scheme. HMIC is concerned that reasonable grounds are not being properly recorded for stops and searches, or being properly supervised. We are satisfied that Taser is used fairly and appropriately.
To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?
The chief constable and chief officer team have sent clear messages of their commitment to operating ethically and with appropriate standards of behaviour. These are understood by most staff. The force is working towards a position where an ethical culture forms part of everyday policing.
North Wales Police is fully committed to the wellbeing of staff. The force is in the process of developing a fully integrated programme of health and wellbeing, with evidence of good practice. This process is not yet complete and more needs to be done to ensure that all staff are made aware of the wellbeing policy.
The force has set out to integrate the Code of Ethics in support of its people strategy and its policy on values and behaviours. While there is some understanding of the Code of Ethics, it is not yet fully established at every level nor is it routinely used in everyday decision-making.
The force has a robust, consistent and fair complaints process and misconduct policy. Staff feel that they would be treated fairly and have confidence in both the process and the management investigations, although there are issues reported in relation to timeliness and staff training for complaint management.
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?
North Wales Police is committed to engaging with the public. The force promotes and emphasises the values and ethical principles that it expects its staff to maintain. Staff understand and are supportive of these principles.
The force is beginning to use modern social media tools effectively, but there is still a reliance on face-to-face contact through meetings and local community engagement events. Such contact needs to be sustained, but it is necessarily limited in scope. The force does not consistently provide information by which people can judge how local issues are being addressed.
HMIC found that the force has improved the way it engages with victims of crime, and has developed ways to make sure they are kept updated. Call-backs to victims and externally provided surveys are used to check how effectively this is being done. Recent data indicates high levels of satisfaction among people who have reported crime.
There is good evidence that the public of North Wales are being treated fairly and with respect by their local police. The results of local surveys would also suggest this is being recognised by the public.
To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?
North Wales Police is compliant with most aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, with the exception of a ride-along scheme. For some reason, the force has restricted the ride along scheme to members of its independent advisory group and some local councillors, but not members of the public.
HMIC is concerned that reasonable grounds are not being properly recorded for stop and search, or being properly supervised. This is something that the force needs to address.
The force has put in place arrangements for external scrutiny of stop and search encounters, involving review by an independent panel, which includes young people and representation from minority communities. The review also includes examination of body-worn video recordings, where these are available.
HMIC is satisfied that Taser is used fairly and appropriately. However, some officers are not completing the Taser form correctly and this is an area the force should address.
As North Wales Police 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 force should ensure that stop and search records include sufficient reasonable grounds to justify the lawful use of the power, and that officers and supervisors fully understand the grounds required to stop and search.
- The force must ensure that (i) Taser-trained officers properly record their decisions, in accordance with the College of Policing training, and (ii) these forms are properly supervised.