West Yorkshire PEEL 2015
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
West Yorkshire Police is graded as good because we found it takes seriously the need for an ethical and inclusive workforce. Local police teams have a good understanding of their neighbourhoods and engage positively with the public.
The force is compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and decisions made by Taser-trained officers are generally fair and appropriate.
Overall, HMIC is satisfied that West Yorkshire Police meets the public expectation that a force should be legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.
HMIC found that, in West Yorkshire Police, there is good engagement with the workforce. The force’s ‘People Ambition’ programme effectively sets out how the force supports its staff in policing in an ethical manner. The Code of Ethics is promoted by the force and appropriately incorporated into force policies.
However, we found that the processes used to deal with complaints and misconduct allegations may have led to inconsistencies in the way complaints were being investigated and resolved.
When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and successfully engages with all the people it serves, we found that most officers and staff, in the main, engage fairly and positively with the public and understand their needs, although the approach to engaging with people of Eastern European origin needs to be developed. As a result we are satisfied that the force generally has a good understanding of the needs of local people and that most officers treat people 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 the police use them fairly and appropriately. HMIC found that the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme is being complied with by West Yorkshire Police and oversight of the use of Taser is effective and its use is mainly fair and appropriate. HMIC concluded that the force is compliant with the best use of stop and search scheme and its use of Taser is effective and mainly fair and appropriate.
To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?
In West Yorkshire Police the temporary chief constable and senior officers have effectively engaged with the workforce. They have achieved this using a variety of methods, including roadshows, video briefings and the force intranet. We were told by staff that the force listens to them and acts upon what they say. There is still work to do in some areas to ensure all staff understand the messages from chief officers.
In 2014, the force launched its ‘People Ambition’ programme, which sets out how the force will develop and how it will support its staff to police ethically and professionally. The programme included recruitment and retention, training, leadership development, wellbeing, engagement, reward and recognition, ethics and integrity and organisational development.
The Code of Ethics is effectively promoted by the force and incorporated into force policies, procedures and training. The force continues to work to ensure the Code of Ethics is central to how officers and staff behave.
The processes used to deal with complaints and misconduct allegations may have led to inconsistencies in the way the force is investigating and resolving complaints.
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?
West Yorkshire Police uses appropriate methods to understand the public it serves, including surveys and the use of police data and information from partners, both at a force and local level.
West Yorkshire Police engages well with the public and understands how this promotes police legitimacy. The diverse nature of the area means that engagement has to be varied and innovative and the force is succeeding in this through established methods, such as meetings and by using both traditional and social media.
The force effectively tells the public what it has done to respond to their concerns and encourages people to participate in policing.
The force acknowledges that more could be done, for instance in engaging better with people from Eastern European backgrounds. However, there is an effective engagement structure and an acknowledgement that this needs to be retained to enhance the legitimacy of the police in the eyes of the people of West Yorkshire.
The officers and staff of West Yorkshire Police mainly treat the public with fairness and respect. Call-handlers and front counter staff are polite, courteous and professional.
To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?
West Yorkshire Police is complying with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, the link between the item searched for and the outcome of the search needs to be published and information about use of these powers should be more accessible.
Generally, frontline officers using stop and search powers do not explicitly refer to the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) when using them but most understand the reasonable grounds needed to stop and search a person. Some local officers are not confident about the use of these powers. However, when the powers are used, the use is mainly fair and appropriate.
The deployment of Taser in West Yorkshire is well managed and used by very well-trained officers, who mostly use the National Decision Model effectively. We had some concerns about the quality of the explanations for the use of Taser in a number of the reports we reviewed. However, an effective review mechanism is now in place and is supported by comprehensive analysis of data about use of Taser.