Dorset PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Dorset 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 force understands the importance of fair and respectful treatment, and takes measures to seek public feedback. However, more could be done to bring vetting procedures into line with national standards, and ensure that the resources are in place to tackle corruption.
The importance of treating people with fairness and respect is reflected strongly in Dorset Police’s vision and values. The widespread understanding of this among the workforce should positively influence attitudes and behaviours, and the public’s perception of the force.
Different methods are used to identify the issues that affect the public’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. The force is working to obtain views from communities that might not have confidence in the police, or that want to engage with the force in different ways. More extensive contact with support networks should enable the force to increase its understanding of how it treats vulnerable people.
The force vets applicants effectively. However, HMIC could not find evidence of positive action being taken during the vetting process to support the recruitment of a diverse workforce.
Dorset Police clarifies and reinforces acceptable and unacceptable standards of behaviour, and initiates integrity-related investigations based on intelligence. However, the capacity of the anti-corruption unit appears limited.
The force is consistently proactive in publicising the outcomes of misconduct cases. Chief officers reiterate the importance of the standards of professional behaviour and the consequences of not adhering to them. The force understands well the importance of taking action to encourage fair and respectful treatment across its workforce. However, it is not always clear how the force informs staff about the action it takes.
The force understands strongly and values highly the benefits of workforce wellbeing. It works with public and private healthcare partners to provide support, analyses data relating to the welfare of its workforce, and has taken positive steps to address mental health wellbeing.
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 in the force’s vision and values; there is widespread understanding of this commitment among the workforce.
Across Dorset, different methods are used to engage with the public; however the force appears to place more emphasis upon identifying local priorities than it does on understanding the public’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. The force uses surveys to clarify what the public’s priorities are, and it is making progress in improving local-level engagement and communication. It demonstrates a clear understanding of the importance of informing the public about how it responds to community concerns. The force publishes information about the work of its neighbourhood policing teams on its website.
The force is working to obtain the views of communities who might not have confidence in the police, or who want to engage with the force in different ways. This would be improved by more extensive, formal contact with victim support networks.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Dorset Police vets applicants effectively but it does not conduct detailed analysis to help it to understand the reasons why some applicants with specific protected characteristics fail to get through the vetting process. The force clarifies and reinforces acceptable and unacceptable standards of behaviour. Officers and staff know that they need to report gifts, hospitality and declare business interests, but they do not always understand that they also need to report it when they refuse gifts or hospitality.
The force looks for intelligence about potential corruption. It encourages referrals from the workforce and a confidential reporting system is in place. The capacity of the anti-corruption unit appears limited for reviews of force registers and scrutiny of procurement. It is not currently able to monitor all of its IT systems effectively.
The force is consistently proactive in publicising the outcomes of misconduct and corruption cases to the public and workforce.
The force places a strong emphasis on the seriousness of sexual misconduct and the abuse of authority by the workforce. It is working with representatives of vulnerable groups to identify and target predatory behaviour.
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
- Annually, the force should produce a local counter-corruption strategic assessment and control strategy, to identify risks to the force’s integrity.
- The force should improve its workforce’s understanding of its gifts and hospitality policy.
- The force should ensure that it has the capability and capacity to monitor all its computer systems to identify risks to the force’s integrity.
- The force should review the capacity and capability of its anti-corruption unit (ACU) to ensure the ACU can manage its work effectively.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
The force uses a range of methods to identify the areas that have the greatest effect on workforce perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. It consults its workforce when it is managing changes to the way it operates.
The force understands the importance of taking action to encourage fair and respectful treatment across its workforce. It was not always clear how the force informs staff about the action it takes, although we did note that the chief constable holds an online forum.
The force understands and values the benefits of workforce wellbeing. The force analyses data relating to the welfare of its workforce and it has taken positive steps to address absences due to mental health concerns, which were found to be the most common cause of absence in the force. It provides a range of support including counselling and conducts mandatory health screening for certain roles.
The force has a comprehensive electronic PDR system and also uses a 360-degree assessment tool widely. However, the use and understanding of the benefits of the PDR system varied.
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.