Cleveland PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Cleveland Police has been assessed as requiring improvement in respect of how legitimate it is in keeping people safe and reducing crime. The force needs to improve the ways it seeks feedback on issues of fairness and respect from the people it serves, how it ensures its workforce acts ethically and how it treats its workforce with fairness and respect.
Cleveland Police has shown improvement since our 2015 PEEL inspections in respect of the workforce’s awareness and understanding of the Code of Ethics, including the importance of treating all of the people it serves with fairness and respect.
The force uses several sources to obtain the views of the public about how they are treated, but it does not bring this together with other management information to create a comprehensive picture of issues associated with fair and respectful treatment. This is particularly the case in relation to those with less trust and confidence in the police. However, the force has established the ‘everyone matters’ project, which aims to address this problem. As part of the project, the force provides sessions for officers and staff on cultural awareness and training about ‘words that hurt’ which raises awareness of language that may offend people.
Cleveland Police creates an ethical culture by vetting its new recruits according to national standards and by making the workforce aware of the standards of behaviour expected of them and of the policies they are required to adhere to. The force’s counter-corruption unit is able to investigate information once reported, but it does not have the capacity and capability to look for potential corruption. The workforce is aware of the seriousness of abuse of authority for sexual gain and reports of suspicious behaviour are investigated. However, the force could do more to raise awareness of warning signs among the workforce.
Both the public and the workforce are informed of the outcomes from misconduct investigations, and misconduct hearings are publicised.
Cleveland Police uses a number of techniques to seek feedback relating to the fair and respectful treatment of its workforce, including surveys and exit interviews. It could improve the way it communicates action taken in response to workforce feedback, as some of the staff we spoke to were not aware of what action had been taken as a result of the staff survey.
The force has a new wellbeing strategy and is working towards gaining national accreditation for its wellbeing provision, although as HMIC raised this issue last year, we had hoped to see more progress in this area.
The force has recently introduced a new performance assessment process that is yet to be adopted fully across the force. There is currently no supervision of the system and it is not clearly linked to continuous professional development or performance processes.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Cleveland Police was able to demonstrate that it uses a variety of methods to communicate and engage with the public. There were some examples of the force seeking feedback. Victim surveys are conducted and independent custody visitors speak to detainees in custody. However, apart from these standard processes, we did not see any evidence of the force regularly seeking challenge and feedback from those with less trust and confidence in the police. The ‘everyone matters’ project team has started some work in relation to making contact with those members of the community who are less likely to use traditional means to give feedback.
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?
Cleveland Police needs to improve the steps it takes to ensure its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The workforce is aware of the standards of behaviour expected of them and all the staff we spoke to had received some briefing or training regarding the Code of Ethics. The counter-corruption unit investigates reports of potential corruption but has limited resources to conduct any proactive intelligence gathering, and the recording and the force’s assessment of intelligence is not comprehensive. The force publishes misconduct outcomes and provides information to its workforce about lessons from misconduct investigations. The force vets all new recruits, including volunteers and contractors. It is currently recruiting new staff and the retrospective vetting of existing staff is on hold.
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.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure it complies with all aspects of the current national guidelines for vetting.
- The force should review the capacity and capability of its counter-corruption unit, to ensure it can manage its work effectively.
- The force should improve the way corruption intelligence is assessed, graded and stored.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Cleveland Police has sought the views of the workforce in relation to their perception of fair and respectful treatment but it could do more to tell the workforce it has taken action to address issues raised. We found examples of initial steps taken to improve the workplace, such as the ‘Everyone Matters’ project. This project is in its infancy and its effectiveness is yet to be established.
The force has recognised the importance of wellbeing, particularly psychological wellbeing. It is just beginning a self-assessment process to gain national accreditation for its wellbeing provision. Supervisors have received training from the mental health charity MIND to identify areas of concern among their staff.
The workforce performance assessment process has recently changed as a result of a poor completion rate across the force. There is no formal oversight of the process and the force cannot be sure that assessments are fair and effective.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance.