Sussex PEEL 2015
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
The force is making good efforts in creating and maintaining an ethical culture. Decision-making by Taser-trained officers is fair and appropriate and the force is complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
The chief constable and deputy chief constable have made considerable efforts to work with staff to stress the importance of the Code of Ethics and the need for an ethical culture.
The force is proactive in promoting the wellbeing of staff, for example with training, workshops and wellbeing clinics, as well as the force physiotherapy scheme. The force intranet contains information and guidance regarding health and welfare, although this is limited for managers and supervisors when supporting those on restricted duties and those who have experienced traumatic cases or incidents.
We found no bias in respect of gender, ethnicity or rank in how the force deals with complaints and internal misconduct allegations, although the force has insufficient supervisory arrangements for complaints that are locally resolved.
When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that the force has good consultation arrangements with its communities and creates opportunities for people to contribute to policing as volunteers. As a result, the force is working well to engage with the people it serves.
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 considers that the force complies with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Taser use is fair and appropriate in Sussex Police.
To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?
HMIC considered that the chief constable and deputy chief constable have made considerable efforts to work with staff, and to stress the importance of the Code of Ethics and the need for an ethical culture. Sussex has agreed a joint vision and strategy with its partner force, Surrey Police, that identifies how the Code of Ethics would be incorporated into the forces’ culture.
The force is proactive in promoting the wellbeing of staff, for example with training, workshops and wellbeing clinics, as well as the force physiotherapy scheme. The force intranet contains information and guidance regarding health and welfare.
We found no bias in respect of gender, ethnicity or rank in how the force deals with complaints and internal misconduct allegations. However, we found no check to ensure that decisions to locally resolve complaints are appropriate, and also that a person of sufficient seniority had not conducted the initial assessment. The force had locally resolved some complaints that we reviewed but, in our view were not suitable for local resolution, as we considered the circumstances severe enough to warrant an investigation.
Overall, the force is making a good effort to create and maintain an ethical culture, although there is more to do.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that its advice and guidance to officers and staff better assists them when supporting those on restricted duties in returning to full operational roles.
- The force should ensure that officers or staff who have experienced traumatic cases or incidents have access to support.
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?
Senior officers in Sussex emphasise the importance of effective engagement. Neighbourhood policing teams have a good understanding of their local communities. Officers also understand the need to build public trust and confidence through their everyday actions, and the force is making effective use of force-level engagement plans to gather views on policing and communicate with local people. We found regular use of surveys to understand levels of satisfaction, and local officers consistently provide relevant information to the public.
The force responds effectively where there are issues of particular concern to the community, and it encourages participation in policing using volunteers to support its services in a variety of useful roles.
Although some specialist officers use the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) effectively, understanding among officers in other roles is less consistent.
Call-takers and front desk staff are polite, friendly and helpful. Those people who live in Sussex can be reassured that officers and staff treat people fairly and with respect.
To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?
Sussex Police complies with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. The force provides for lay observation of officers while out on patrol. Officers generally understand how they should apply the National Decision Model for their use of stop and search powers, and in the files we reviewed nearly all had reasonable grounds for use of the stop and search powers recorded.
Taser officers understand the National Decision Model and make adequate records of their Taser use. Sussex monitors and evaluates the use of Taser across the force but it does not publish this data.
The use of Taser is fair and appropriate in Sussex.