Gwent PEEL 2015
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Gwent Police is making clear efforts to develop and maintain an ethical working environment across the force. The force has a good understanding of the communities it serves and uses a range of methods to engage with the people in its local neighbourhoods, seek their views and keep them informed.
Gwent Police complies with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and use of Taser is fair and appropriate.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
HMIC found that Gwent’s chief officer team is respected by staff and members are engaging well with the workforce, setting out their vision and values, to develop and maintain an ethical working environment. This has created a confident, engaged workforce that felt able to influence and improve its service to the public.
The force has undertaken awareness raising and training programmes to promote the Code of Ethics, to integrate ethical considerations into day-to-day decision-making. Complaints and misconduct cases are dealt with in a fair and consistent manner and lessons learned are identified and disseminated to improve practice.
When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that officers and staff use a range of methods to effectively engage with local communities, understand their needs and keep people informed. As a result, we are satisfied that Gwent Police has a good understanding of the needs of its communities and local people are being treated fairly and with respect.
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 that the police use them fairly and appropriately. Gwent Police is compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme; although more work is needed to ensure that stop and search records contain the required “reasonable grounds”.
The ways that Taser officers are selected and trained are measured and consistent, and HMIC considers Taser use is fair and appropriate. Taser-trained officers have a good understanding of the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged), but more work is needed to ensure its use is properly recorded on the Taser forms.
To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?
HMIC found that the chief officer team in Gwent Police has made significant efforts to engage with the workforce and set out its vision and values. The practices and behaviour in the force reflected an ethical culture.
The force has carried out surveys to improve its understanding of its workforce, including their values and views on how the organisation can improve. This approach created a confident, engaged workforce that feels able to influence the service provided to the public.
Staff spoken to feel confident to challenge unethical behaviour, either directly or using a confidential reporting line.
The force is committed to improving the wellbeing of its staff and has an effective occupational health department which is engaged with the workforce.
The force has promoted the Code of Ethics, for officers and staff to consider ethical issues on their day-to-day decision-making. We found that some officers and staff did not sufficiently understand the code to apply it routinely in their daily work.
Officers and staff considered that complaints and misconduct cases are dealt with in a fair and consistent manner. Lessons learned are fed back to the workforce to improve knowledge, understanding and practice.
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?
HMIC found outstanding engagement by Gwent Police with its local communities. Most officers and staff understand how this builds trust and confidence.
The force uses a range of methods to understand the needs of its local communities, including tailoring some to meet specific community needs. Regular public meetings, community surgeries, surveys and social media, are used to seek the views of local people and keep them informed. Through this engagement the force is able to assess the impact of any community incidents or problems and respond effectively.
The force recognises the value that volunteers working within its communities can bring and there are a range of opportunities for the public to participate in local policing activities.
Call-handlers and staff working on the front desk at police stations were found to be consistently polite and helpful. Most officers and staff spoken to understand the importance of making logical, ethical decisions and how their behaviour affects the level of trust and confidence that the public has in them.
To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?
Gwent Police is compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Stops and searches undertaken are reviewed regularly, including the potential impact on communities, and outcomes are published locally. The force has introduced a ride-along scheme and Section 60 authorisations have reduced.
Most officers understand their powers in relation to stop and search and use the National Decision Model when considering these powers. More work is needed to ensure that stop and search records contain the required “reasonable grounds”.
The ways of selecting and training Taser officers are measured and consistent, and HMIC considers Taser use is fair and appropriate.
Taser-trained officers have a good understanding of the National Decision Model, but more work is needed to ensure its use is properly recorded on the Taser forms.
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 fully understand the grounds required to stop and search.