Kent PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Kent Police has been assessed as outstanding in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our findings this year are consistent with last year’s assessment, in which we judged the force to be outstanding in respect of legitimacy.
The force’s approach to treating the people it serves with fairness and respect is outstanding. It is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Kent Police has an exceptionally strong ethical culture; the range of ways it effectively communicates with the public underpins its legitimacy. The force also has an outstanding approach to workforce wellbeing and fair treatment.
Kent Police is outstanding at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. The force seeks feedback and challenge from the public frequently, including from those who may have less trust and confidence in the police or who are less likely to complain or take part in traditional forms of engagement. For example, it holds public meetings, undertakes surveys and uses social media, and works with independent advisory groups. The force responds to feedback and ensures that the workforce are made aware of any lessons that should be learnt.
The force is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It has an exceptionally strong ethical culture in which it reinforces acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. The force vets all people applying to be officers, staff or volunteers, and contractors. It has a proactive approach to risks to the integrity of the organisation and uses a range of techniques to gather and assess intelligence relating to potential corruption.
Officers and staff understand the seriousness of the abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) and the force treats it as serious corruption. The force is proactive in seeking intelligence on potential abuse of authority from a range of sources, including women’s refuges, prostitutes, ethnic minority groups, and from monitoring its IT systems. It publishes full details of misconduct cases on its website for the public and on the intranet for its workforce.
The force is outstanding at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. Its use of culture and ethical boards alongside open challenge forums, such as ‘Ask the Chief’, have allowed it to identify and act quickly to improve the workforce’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. The workforce is involved in decision-making about wellbeing and ethical matters. Supervisors across the force have a comprehensive understanding of their wellbeing responsibilities, and are well prepared and supported to implement them. The force’s personal performance management arrangements are well established and effective, and are supported by the workforce.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Kent Police is outstanding at treating with fairness and respect the people it serves. The force has an exceptionally strong ethical culture which emphasises understanding of the Code of Ethics and the importance of fair and respectful treatment. The force seeks feedback and challenge in a range of ways. It communicates regularly and effectively with the public it serves, including encouraging those identified as having less trust and confidence in the police, and those less likely to complain or take part in traditional forms of engagement, to have a voice. Engagements with young people – in particular those engaged in crime and gangs – and those with the Gypsy and Roma communities, are notable. The force works with academic institutions and independent experts to understand the issues better and inform its responses.
The force makes good use of feedback and learning to improve how it treats all the people it serves, and we found that officers clearly understand their local communities. This means that the force’s very strong ethical culture has enabled it to listen effectively to its communities and to provide them with improved services.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Kent Police is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force vetting process is mostly compliant with national guidance on recruit vetting and this has been validated through an independent audit. The force is good at reinforcing acceptable and unacceptable behaviours, and the Code of Ethics is a routine part of standard force practices. All senior leaders and supervisors comprehensively understand the importance of the authenticity of how they act as ethical role models and act accordingly.
The force can identify, understand and manage risks to the integrity of the organisation, assisted by the use of pattern analysis, telephone audits and the proactive use of the ‘web crawler’ tool. The force deals effectively with corruption-related intelligence. It monitors performance in detail and is able to track the timeliness of its activity both to manage and investigate issues identified and the course of action taken. The force publishes full details of misconduct cases on its website and intranet for public and internal reference. This means that the force is exceptionally good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully, supported to a very large extent by the impressively strong ethical culture that it has developed.
In our 2016 national overview of police legitimacy, we recommended that all forces should have started to implement a plan to achieve the capability and capacity required to seek intelligence on potential abuse of position for sexual gain. In 2017, we reviewed of the plans put in place by all forces to in response to this recommendation.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Kent Police is outstanding at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. Its use of its culture and ethics boards alongside open challenge forums, such as ‘Ask the chief’, has allowed it to quickly identify and act to improve the workforce’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. The force has a comprehensive understanding of fairness issues, including grievances, complaints and misconduct matters, and uses this information to more effectively manage identified issues. The force consistently involves its workforce in decision making about wellbeing and ethical matters, and this clear focus on the wellbeing of officers and staff is recognised by the workforce and has a range of support mechanisms. Supervisors across the force have a comprehensive understanding of, and are well prepared and supported in, their wellbeing responsibilities. The force’s PDR arrangements are well established and effective, and are supported by the workforce. This clearly demonstrates that the force treats its workforce with fairness and respect.