Lincolnshire PEEL 2015
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
The force works hard to fully establish an ethical culture. It supports the wellbeing of staff and ensures that complaints from the public are dealt with fairly and consistently in a way that is free from bias.
Lincolnshire Police engages and communicates well with the communities it serves. The involvement of local people in policing activities, especially as volunteers, is commendable. Training on the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) ensures that officers and staff are knowledgeable and have the skills required to treat members of the public fairly and with respect.
The use of Taser is fair and appropriate although the force is not compliant with all aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, however, there are advanced plans in place to introduce mobile data and body-worn cameras. Officers lack understanding of what constitutes reasonable grounds for a search and the force should ensure it acts swiftly to address these concerns.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
The chief constable and his chief officer team promote an ethical culture and the shared values of the organisation. These are well established and staff speak clearly about ‘policing with PRIDE’ in Lincolnshire (professionalism; respect; integrity; dedication; and empathy). There is less of an understanding of the Code of Ethics for those in more junior positions which the force intends to address by refreshing its internal messages to staff. This code was launched in April 2014 and sets out nine policing principles that should be applied by all officers and staff.
There is a positive approach to how the force considers health and wellbeing. Complaints and misconduct are generally dealt with in a fair and consistent manner.
When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that a range of methods are being used to support effective engagement. There is clearly a good understanding of local communities, although this information is not captured in a formalised way, which would enable it to be shared beyond the local neighbourhood team. The people of Lincolnshire can, however, be confident that the force listens to its communities, responds to them and provides effective means by which priorities and concerns can be raised.
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. HMIC found that the force is not complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and there is a lack of understanding by officers to what constitutes reasonable grounds for a search.
At the time of inspection, it is not: recording and publishing all outcomes; monitoring the impact of stop and search on young people and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups; nor is it providing opportunities for the public to observe officers using the power. However, the force has advanced plans in place to implement mobile data terminals which incorporate a new stop and search form. In addition, from April 2016 onwards it plans to distribute body-worn cameras to all frontline officers so they can record stops and searches and these will be shared with the newly formed stop and search scrutiny group.
More positively, it is clear that Taser-trained officers are aware of the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged), and understand its application. The model provides an important framework to decide to what extent police powers should be exercised ethically and proportionately.
The use of Taser is monitored and evaluated at a senior level and reviewed by qualified staff. The force uses Taser fairly and appropriately.
To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?
Lincolnshire Police has developed and maintained an ethical culture where challenge and improvement are supported. The senior leadership team promotes the shared values of the organisation which are well-established. Staff speak clearly about them and state that they feel able to challenge inappropriate behaviour, irrespective of role or experience. They feel comfortable discussing ethical dilemmas with managers. There are systems in place to promote integrity and allow staff to report wrongdoing.
Overall, awareness of the Code of Ethics is good and it is being incorporated into force values, policy and practice, which have been adopted by the external supplier of services to the force. There are plans to refresh the communications with staff about the code.
There is a positive approach to health and wellbeing, and staff are aware of occupational health services. Line managers are very supportive and provide good pastoral care, although there are concerns about the increasing disruption to planned rest days.
The professional standards department is proactive and there is a quality assurance process to improve investigations and raise standards. Complaints and misconduct are generally dealt with in a fair and consistent manner; however staff have concerns regarding consistency between officers, staff or contracted staff.
Lincolnshire has made significant effort to create and maintain an ethical culture, and has very good processes in place.
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?
Lincolnshire Police has a clear understanding at a force level of the importance of effective engagement and this is supported within the policing plan.
It has a good understanding of the importance of positively engaging with local communities and sees the benefits to support police legitimacy. Local information and knowledge is used to inform community threat assessments and enables the force to respond to issues of concern. However, this local knowledge is not recorded to enable it to be shared more readily.
An extensive range of methods are used to ensure effective engagement with local people. The public are kept informed through updates provided at local meetings and through a variety of communication routes including LincsAlert, Facebook and Twitter.
Lincolnshire Police engages and communicates well with the communities it serves and the involvement of local people in policing activities, especially as volunteers, is commendable. This includes the provision of informal interpreting services to assist engagement with communities where English is not the first language.
Training on the National Decision Model ensures that officers and staff are knowledgeable and have the skills required to treat members of the public fairly and with respect.
To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?
Lincolnshire Police has accepted the principles of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme but there is still considerable work to be done to fully establish and integrate all the elements of the scheme.
Officers have a lack of understanding in relation to what constitutes reasonable grounds for a search, and stop and search records do not always include sufficient reasonable grounds to justify the lawful use of the power.
The force is not complying with recording and publishing outcomes, monitoring the impact of stop and search on young people and black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME). Nor is it providing opportunities for the public to observe officers using the power. However, there are advanced plans to introduce mobile data and body-worn video to all frontline officers by early 2016 and this will improve compliance with the scheme.
More positively, it is clear that Taser-trained officers are aware of the National Decision Model and understand its application. The use of Taser is monitored and evaluated at a senior level and reviewed by qualified staff. Use is reported in accordance with national guidance although there is currently no external independent oversight. Taser is used fairly and appropriately by the force.
As Lincolnshire Police was not compliant in three or more 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 fully understand the grounds required to stop and search.
- The force should put in place an action plan setting out how it will comply with all the features of Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. HMIC will revisit the force within six months to determine what improvements have been made.
- The force should ensure that Taser-trained officers properly record their decisions using the National Decision Model in accordance with the College of Policing training.