Northamptonshire PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Northamptonshire Police has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our findings this year are consistent with last year’s findings, in which we judged the force to be good in respect of legitimacy.
The force has a good understanding of the importance of treating the people it serves and its workforce with fairness and respect. It has an effective workforce vetting process, and the workforce can use range of ways to report corruption. The force seeks feedback from the workforce about their perceptions of fairness, and aims to identify their wellbeing needs.
Northamptonshire Police understands treating people with fairness and respect is important and this is a central part of the force’s vision and values. The force has made good progress in communicating its vision and values to the workforce, but does recognise it has more to do to ensure that they are understood across the whole workforce. It seeks feedback and challenge from the public, including through independent advisory groups and an independent monitoring group for custody suites. However, it could do more to ensure that the public are informed about the action it has taken in response to their feedback.
The force has an effective vetting process and a dedicated vetting unit, which works closely with the HR team and the counter-corruption unit (CCU). There are effective channels for reporting corruption. However, the force would benefit from a specific counter-corruption strategy to target resources to areas that pose the greatest threat to the force.
Abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) is treated as serious corruption and is the main priority for the CCU. At present, the force has insufficient resources to monitor systematically the use of force ICT systems to identify and respond to potential misuse, despite having the software to do this.
Northamptonshire Police seeks to understand the areas that have greatest effect on the workforce’s perception of fairness. It undertakes staff surveys and conducts exit interviews for those officers or staff leaving the force. The force also seeks to identify the workforce’s wellbeing needs. The force is addressing delays in accessing support services and concerns regarding the quality of some of those services, such as counselling. It is also improving the performance assessment process.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Northamptonshire Police understands clearly the importance of treating people with fairness and respect as a core part of the vision and values of the organisation. Good progress has been made in setting and communicating the vision and values, although the force recognises it has more to do to ensure the workforce understands them. Information about the values is included in all current training programmes.
The force identifies issues that affect public perceptions of fair and respectful treatment through analysis of its perception survey, and through its monthly police and public scrutiny process to examine stop and search encounters. It also has a variety of ways of seeking feedback and challenge from the public, including independent advisory groups and an independent monitoring group for custody suites. The force needs to do more to ensure that the public are informed about the action it has taken in response to their feedback, beyond using traditional engagement channels.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it seeks feedback from the people it serves about their experiences (or perceptions) of how the police have treated them.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Northamptonshire Police has an effective vetting process in place. It has a dedicated vetting unit, which works closely with the human resources team and the counter-corruption unit (CCU). However, it does not have a specific counter-corruption control strategy, which would provide direction in targeting resources to those areas that pose the greatest threat to the organisation.
The force operates a range of effective reporting channels. All corruption-related intelligence goes to the CCU, where it is recorded and assessed. Northamptonshire Police fully recognises the gravity of sexual predation by members of its workforce and addressing this serious corruption is the main priority for CCU. The workforce understand the seriousness of the issue and are confident that they would be able to identify and report a colleague who they felt may be engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a vulnerable victim.
The force currently has insufficient resources to monitor systematically the use of force ICT systems to identify and respond to potential misuse. However, it does possess adequate software to do this, including the ability to monitor website use and to track force vehicles.
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.
Areas for improvement
- Annually, the force should produce a local counter-corruption strategic assessment and control strategy, to identify risks to the force’s integrity.
- The force should review the capacity and capability of its counter-corruption unit (CCU) to ensure it can manage its work effectively.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Northamptonshire Police identifies areas that have greatest impact on the workforce’s perception of fairness in several ways. It runs surveys, it offers the opportunity for its workforce to ask the chief constable questions through an online forum and it conducts exit interviews for those officers or staff leaving the organisation.
The force has several ways of identifying the workforce’s wellbeing needs. For example, the health and safety executive board routinely examines the level of assaults on officers and the places where these assaults occur. The human resources team monitors both those people referred to counselling and the themes emerging from the overall use of the service. It also examines sick absence data and cross-references this against other potentially significant data such as the level of grievances.
Some staff and officers had experienced delays in accessing support services, and there were concerns regarding the quality of some of those services, such as counselling. The force is aware of these issues and it is taking action to address them at chief officer level. It is also taking steps to improve the individual performance assessment process in order that all members of the workforce receive better supervision.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its provision of preventative healthcare measures for its workforce.
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance.