Cumbria PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Cumbria Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
The constabulary has a good understanding of the importance of providing positive and fair treatment for all members of the public. There are good arrangements in place to work with local communities and the constabulary’s workforce, and to understand their concerns. However, there are limited arrangements for the constabulary to proactively identify corruption when it has not been reported.
Cumbria Constabulary has established good arrangements to listen to the public and understand their concerns. The constabulary is addressing public priorities and people’s perceptions of whether they have been treated fairly and respectfully in the course of their involvement with the police.
The constabulary investigates complaints from the public thoroughly. There is a system in place to analyse trends and to promptly address problems concerning individual officers who are the subject of repeated complaints. All staff have a good awareness of the high standards of behaviour and integrity required of them, and regularly receive updates and reminders on the standards of behaviour expected.
The professional standards department is adequately resourced to receive, assess and manage intelligence in relation to wrongdoing and corruption from across the constabulary. However, while the constabulary can vet all new applicants, there is insufficient capacity to carry out the full range of vetting required under new guidelines of staff who have been in the constabulary for some time.
There are strong governance arrangements in place to oversee disciplinary cases, and members of the workforce are supported when they report wrongdoing. While there are confidential reporting lines available to officers and staff, there is only a limited amount of proactive investigation of wrongdoing.
There is a strong reliance on the relationship between an individual and their line manager to manage the wellbeing of staff and to understand their concerns. The constabulary has conducted an internal staff survey and is responding positively to the issues raised by the workforce through the introduction of a new wellbeing strategy, which will extend the current physical and emotional support available to the workforce.
Performance assessment occurs at management, team and individual level. The new performance assessment is centred on the constabulary’s ‘big six’ strategy that clearly sets out its ambition and values.
Current performance appraisal arrangements are immature and there is a need to improve the way information on staff progress, skills and development is recorded and managed by the constabulary.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
HMIC found that Cumbria Constabulary has a good approach to treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. Officers and staff have a good understanding of the importance of positive and fair treatment for all members of the public and this is supported by guidance from chief officers. All officers and staff whom we spoke with recognised and related to the constabulary’s’ ‘big six’ priorities for keeping Cumbria safe, and understood the requirement to put the public first and act with integrity.
The constabulary has good arrangements in place to seek feedback and identify issues that could adversely affect people’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. The constabulary has a strong tradition of local engagement with local communities, with a range of feedback opportunities available to the public and through frequent face-to-face events with neighbourhood policing teams.
There is a fully independent custody visitors scheme, which regularly reports on the treatment of detainees to senior managers in the constabulary.
There are good and emerging new lines of communication with the public to understand their concerns. Complaints are assessed and acted on to improve service provision, with staff being given feedback on expected standards as part of routine performance monitoring arrangements.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
HMIC judges Cumbria Constabulary good in its approach to ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The constabulary has sufficient resources to provide vetting for all new applicants wishing to join the constabulary. However, there is insufficient capacity to carry out additional vetting for staff within the organisation who joined before 2006.
All employees are clear about the standards of behaviour expected of them and the constabulary publishes details of misconduct cases to reinforce standards and values.
There are good arrangements in place in the professional standards department to receive, assess and manage intelligence in relation to wrongdoing and corruption from across the constabulary. There are strong governance arrangements to oversee the way disciplinary cases are investigated, and members of the workforce are supported when they report wrongdoing. There are sufficient resources and expertise within the ACU to manage current investigations.
Staff are aware that abuse of authority for sexual gain is serious corrupt behaviour and would be prepared to report such conduct to their supervisors. There is scope to do more to protect constabulary computer systems from being misused by staff and to enhance security of serious and organised crime investigations.
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 constabulary should ensure that it complies with all aspects of the current national guidelines for vetting.
- The constabulary should ensure that it has the capability to monitor all its computer systems to identify risks to its integrity.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Cumbria Constabulary’s approach to treating its workforce with fairness and respect requires improvement. Chief officers take opportunities to speak and listen to staff at organised roadshows, performance development conferences, meetings and through the ‘Ask the chief’ forum. However, there is a strong reliance on the relationship between individuals and their line managers to ensure that officers and staff understand the standards expected of them, including how the public should be treated.
The constabulary has an understanding of those issues that most affect the workforce through an internal staff survey conducted in partnership with Durham Business School. The constabulary has developed plans to respond positively to the concerns raised by their employees in the survey.
There is a new constabulary wellbeing strategy in place, which is just being implemented across the constabulary to support the workforce but it is too early to assess the impact on the workforce.
Performance assessment occurs at management, team and individual level. The new performance assessment focus is centred on the ‘big six’ strategy and applies to all staff. However, current performance appraisal arrangements are immature and there is a need to record centrally information on staff progress, skills and development.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should improve how it manages individual performance.