Devon and Cornwall PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Devon and Cornwall Police 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 respect of legitimacy.
The workforce has a good understanding of the importance of treating people with fairness and respect, and makes improvements where concerns are identified. It could do more to seek feedback from those with less trust and confidence in the police. The force needs to improve the way it identifies and intervenes early to reduce risks to its integrity, particularly through analysis, vetting and auditing. The force is good at identifying and responding to workforce concerns and supporting workforce wellbeing, but needs to improve perceptions of the fairness and effectiveness of individual performance management.
The importance of treating people with fairness and respect is reflected well in Devon and Cornwall Police’s mission statement. The force uses different methods to engage with the public and gather information about the origins of negative and positive perceptions of the police. It provides feedback on lessons learned to its workforce and promotes understanding.
The force’s performance assessment system is mature and survey work has helped it gain a thorough understanding of the communities it serves; its high levels of public satisfaction confirm it is strongly committed to improving how it treats all the people it serves. The force vets new officers, staff and volunteers in an appropriate way; however HMIC found that 326 individuals had no current vetting in place. It is also unclear what effect its vetting process is having on its recruitment of a diverse workforce.
The force effectively clarifies and reinforces acceptable and unacceptable standards of behaviour. It engages with the public and its workforce about the outcomes of misconduct and corruption cases.
The force must ensure it has a clear grasp of areas of known risk, and that it consistently identifies and tackles emerging misconduct threats. The force sees the abuse of authority for sexual gain as serious corruption. It publishes the outcomes of misconduct cases internally and externally.
Positively, elements of the force’s approach are outstanding. The force takes wellbeing seriously and acts positively to identify and understand the workforce’s wellbeing needs. We found good evidence of the force addressing the cultural impact of changes in advance of making these changes, to help secure emotional engagement from the workforce.
The workforce’s views of the purpose and value of performance appraisal system are mixed. Devon and Cornwall Police’s alliance with Dorset Police offers greater opportunities to ensure workforce appraisal systems are used consistently, effectively and fairly.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
The importance of treating people with fairness and respect is reflected well in Devon and Cornwall Police’s mission statement. The force uses different methods to engage with the public and gather information about the origins of negative and positive perceptions of the police to determine what changes it must make to policies, systems and practices. The force could do more to consistently seek feedback about perceptions of fair and respectful treatment, though it does provide feedback on lessons learned to its workforce and promotes understanding of how to treat people fairly and respectfully. It also uses a variety of data during its performance review process, giving particular attention to areas of vulnerability such as domestic and sexual abuse, and survey work has helped it gain a thorough understanding of the communities it serves. Devon and Cornwall Police’s performance management process is being refined to include feedback from those who might have less trust and confidence in the police.
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?
The force vets new officers, staff and volunteers in an appropriate way; however the force has identified that 326 individuals have no current vetting in place. We found that there was no clear plan in place to reduce this number. The force’s strategic assessment in relation to counter-corruption is out of date and it has not responded to all of the recommendations set out within the 2014 HMIC police integrity and corruption inspection report.
The force effectively clarifies and reinforces acceptable and unacceptable standards of behaviour. It engages with the public and its workforce about the outcomes of misconduct and corruption cases and takes steps to understand and identify risks to the integrity of its workforce. The PSD operates a tasking process each day where information from different sources is assessed to establish whether there are any emerging corruption issues.
The force does also see the abuse of authority for sexual gain as serious corruption. It has engaged with its workforce to ensure officers and staff are aware of how severely sexual misconduct is viewed. Wider engagement with vulnerable groups offers greater opportunities to identify and target predatory behaviour. The force publishes the outcomes of misconduct cases internally and externally and it ensures that the national register of disapproved officers is updated.
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 – Devon and Cornwall Police
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 anti-corruption unit (ACU) to ensure the unit can manage its work effectively.
- The force should improve its process for carrying out regular audits of integrity-related registers, as per HMIC’s previous recommendations.
- Annually, the force should produce a local counter-corruption strategic assessment and control strategy, to identify risks to the force’s integrity.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
The force has used a range of methods to identify the areas that have the greatest effect on workforce perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. However, it recognises it needs to ensure it does more to update the workforce about the action it takes in response to issues that are raised.
HMIC is impressed by the extent to which Devon and Cornwall Police was able to demonstrate that it takes wellbeing seriously. The force’s executive (its chief officer team) shows an authentic commitment to the improvement of wellbeing. Mental health and personal resilience are particularly prominent themes. The force also provided good evidence that it was engaging effectively in advance of making changes in order to identify any cultural issues.
The workforce’s views of the purpose and value of the force’s new annual performance appraisal system are mixed. There was positive feedback about the level of face-to-face meetings with supervisors. However, while guidance on its use has been issued to supervisors, it is not universally understood. HMIC found that some staff viewed it as solely for recording evidence to support promotion. The outcomes sought from the force’s assessment process are also unclear. The force therefore needs to do more to do to make the reintroduction of the system effective.
‘Performance and reward’ is a distinct theme in the force’s People Strategy 2016-2020. It was devised in conjunction with Dorset Police human resources team, which is now a unified function for the two alliance forces, and may offer greater scope and capacity to ensure workforce appraisal systems are used consistently, effectively and fairly.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it communicates the action it has taken in response to issues identified by the workforce.
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance.