Northamptonshire PEEL 2015
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
The chief officer team takes seriously the need for an ethical and inclusive workforce, and allegations against officers and staff are generally dealt with fairly and consistently. It is clear that local teams engage positively with the public, but this approach lacks consistency.
The force is complying with most of the features of 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.
Individuals at all levels in Northamptonshire Police consistently demonstrate that they seek to develop and maintain an ethical culture and that the Code of Ethics had been made part of the force’s training and development opportunities wherever possible. However, many staff hold a perception that promotion processes lack transparency and, in some cases, are seen as unfair. The force demonstrates a proportionate, fair and consistent response to complaints and misconduct.
When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found there is a good understanding of the need to build trust and confidence in the communities it serves.
There are some very clearly documented assessments of local communities and their policing needs, although this is not yet a consistent feature throughout the organisation. Local teams do not have sufficient information available to them to improve their understanding of local communities.
There is an effective system in place to identify and manage community tensions as they emerge through the use of community tension assessments.
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. HMIC found that Northamptonshire Police shows a commitment to implement the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Many of the aspects of the scheme are already being applied, and officers are now significantly better at recording the grounds leading to any stop and search. Taser is used fairly and appropriately by the force.
To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?
Individuals at all levels in Northamptonshire Police consistently demonstrate ethical behaviour. The Code of Ethics is a well-established part of the force’s training and development opportunities. Where training has been provided, the code is well understood by most of the workforce, and is used to inform day-to-day decision-making, although not all officers and staff have received training to ensure a consistent understanding.
Most of the workforce feels valued and engaged in decisions which affect it and is generally comfortable in challenging decisions where appropriate. However, we found that many staff hold a perception that promotion procedures lack transparency and, in some cases, are seen as unfair.
The force demonstrates a proportionate, fair and consistent response to complaints and misconduct. In the case files we reviewed, we found that swift and robust action was taken when necessary and no bias or unfairness was identified between staff and officer cases, although adherence to national guidance and better use of local resolutions would provide a more consistent approach.
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?
Northamptonshire Police officers and staff have a good understanding of the need to build trust and confidence in the communities they serve. Some assessments of local communities and their policing needs are very clearly documented but there is not yet a consistent picture throughout the force. Local teams should have sufficient information available to them to improve their understanding of local communities.
The force has an effective way to identify and manage community tensions as they emerge through the use of Community Tension Assessments.
Social media is used by some officers to engage with communities and the force actively uses its website to feature positive news stories. Volunteers actively engage in a wide range of policing activities and this is positive.
Training on the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) is provided to all staff alongside the Code of Ethics, and most officers demonstrate a clear understanding of how to apply the model in their daily decision-making. This training is provided through a variety of different training methods. The chief constable repeatedly reinforces messages to staff about treating people fairly and properly.
Areas for improvement
- The force should take steps to ensure its local teams have sufficient information available to them to improve their understanding of local communities.
To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?
Northamptonshire Police is implementing the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and most of the aspects of the scheme are already in place. Officers are now significantly better at recording the grounds leading to any stop and search.
Taser is being used fairly and appropriately by Northamptonshire Police. Taser devices are only issued by the force to specialist officers within the East Midlands Operational Support Services (EMOpSS), which includes officers from three other neighbouring forces.
Officers are well trained and understand their responsibility to consider all tactical options when deploying Taser.
As Northamptonshire 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 must ensure that Taser-trained offers properly understand and record their decisions using the National Decision Model in accordance with the College of Policing training.