Avon and Somerset PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our findings this year are consistent with last year’s findings, in which we judged the force to be good in this respect. The force has consulted with the communities it works with to understand their expectations and with its workforce to develop standards of service. It has systems in place to ensure its workforce behaves ethically and works hard to understand the views of its staff.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. The force consults with the communities it works with to understand their expectations of the service they receive from the police. It uses a number of methods to seek feedback and challenge from the public and has strategies to support this. The force engages with the public about the outcome of serious misconduct cases for officers only.
In 2015 we found that the force had made good progress in introducing the Code of Ethics and on this inspection we found that officers and staff had a good understanding of the Code and the need to treat people with fairness and respect. The force is good at identifying, understanding and managing risks to the integrity of the organisation and has a well established vetting process that complies with national guidance. It has developed a counter-corruption strategy and a process to assist it in identifying, understanding and managing risks to integrity. However, preventative work around identifying the risk of officers and staff abusing their authority for sexual gain is less developed.
The force works to improve areas that affect workforce perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. We identified a number of good initiatives to address workforce wellbeing. The force needs to improve its performance assessment process and has plans in place to do so.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. It has consulted with the communities it serves to understand their expectations of the service they receive from the police, and has used this feedback to create principles of policing that form the basis of its Be Proud programme. The force continues to use a number of methods to seek wider feedback and challenge from the public, including active monitoring of social media and well-established independent advisory groups that feed into governance structures at both strategic and local levels. The professional standards department reviews complaints and conduct issues and produces a quarterly learning the lessons bulletin that includes feedback from the independent residents’ panel. The force continues to make improvements to the way it uses and scrutinises use of stop and search, and service delivery, and also to demonstrate to the public that it has done so.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it seeks feedback from the people it serves about their experiences (or perceptions) of how the police have treated them.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force has a well-established vetting process that complies with national guidance. The values of the force, the Code of Ethics and other integrity-related policies are regularly reinforced to the workforce. The force has a counter corruption strategy and a process to assist it in identifying, understanding and managing the risks to integrity. Preventative work making clear to officers and staff the unacceptable nature of abusing their authority for sexual gain is less developed.
The force engages with the public about the outcome of serious misconduct cases for officers, but consideration has not been given to publishing the outcomes of staff cases or misconduct cases that do not result in the dismissal of officers and staff. The force’s publishing of misconduct cases internally has not been regular recently, but the force has plans to address this.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its workforce’s understanding of notifiable associations.
- The force should ensure that it has the capability and/or capacity to monitor all its computer systems to identify risks to the force’s integrity.
In our 2016 national overview of police legitimacy, we recommended that all forces should have started to implement a plan to achieve the capability and capacity required to seek intelligence on potential abuse of position for sexual gain. In 2017, we reviewed of the plans put in place by all forces to in response to this recommendation.
Abuse of position assessment – Avon and Somerset Constabulary
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is working hard to ensure that it treats its workforce fairly, and with respect. We identified a number of good initiatives to encourage feedback from the workforce. All the officers and staff we spoke with said they could raise problems or concerns in a number of different ways, and felt that they would be listened to. The chief constable road shows provide good opportunities for staff and officers to raise concerns on any subject directly with the chief constable, however this is limited to supervisors and managers. The force can demonstrate that it understands and values the importance of workforce wellbeing, and has clear plans in place to deliver improvements. However the workforce’s awareness of wellbeing activity – particularly with regard to mental health – was limited. The force’s current performance assessment process is not considered to be fair and effective by the workforce, and the force has plans to implement a new process by the end of 2016.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its provision of preventative healthcare measures for its workforce.
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance.