Durham PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Durham Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
The constabulary has a culture in which high ethical standards are understood and practised across the organisation. It recognises the importance of enhancing public confidence and places great emphasis on ensuring that it continually reviews how this can be achieved. The constabulary continually reinforces messages of acceptable behaviour and this is widely understood across the organisation. There are however limitations in the capability to proactively identify corrupt practices. Staff wellbeing remains a priority and the constabulary recognises the link between providing an efficient and effective service to the public and maintaining a motivated, well-supported and well-managed workforce.
The constabulary and the office of the police and crime commissioner regularly use various methods, such as public perception and local area surveys, to seek the views of the public on their perceptions of treatment. The constabulary has established means of engaging with those with less trust and confidence in the police in order to understand their perception of fair and respective treatment. It has taken steps to address the concerns raised in HMIC’s 2015 legitimacy inspection, specifically relating to the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme. It uses Police and Community Together meetings and social media such as Twitter and Facebook to provide information to the community.
The constabulary understands the importance of vetting potential applicants and contract staff and has a vetting policy for recruits, including volunteers and other non-police staff, which is derived from and in line with national guidance. There is a backlog of staff who joined the organisation before 2006 and are still to go through this process. It has clear policies for business interests, notifiable associations, gifts and hospitality and social media use, and communicates these to the workforce, including volunteers. The professional standards department (PSD) raised awareness of these policies as part of its training on the Code of Ethics. The constabulary has a counter-corruption and integrity plan – developed using analysis of the National Crime Agency’s counter-corruption strategic assessment – that outlines areas of threat and gaps in service provision. Durham Constabulary uses a variety of ways to look for and encourage the reporting of potential corruption, including a confidential online system, ‘Bad Apple’. This is recognised throughout the organisation as an effective means of reporting wrongdoing. It has limited capacity to proactively seek intelligence on matters potentially related to corruption. The constabulary has an effective method for engaging with its own workforce and the public in relation to the outcome of misconduct hearings.
Durham Constabulary fully understands the benefits of engaging with its workforce in order to understand fully the matters that have most impact on its perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. The constabulary holds an annual staff survey, conducted in collaboration with Durham University Business School, designed to identify the issues that have the greatest impact on the individual while working within the organisation. Durham Constabulary fully understands the benefits of wellbeing within its workforce. Staff wellbeing is a force priority and the importance of ensuring that the workforce has appropriate support – including with regard to mental health issues – is widely recognised. Durham Constabulary has an established process for managing individual performance. Its performance development review (PDR) process is well understood and widely used by the workforce. The process enables staff to identify development and training opportunities to develop their skills and progress their career.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Durham Constabulary is good at treating all the people it serves with fairness and respect.
The constabulary has a culture in which high ethical standards are understood and practised across the organisation. The ‘Durham difference’ forms the basis of all policing activity. HMIC found that staff have a good understanding of the reasons why treating people with fairness and respect is so important in providing an effective service to local communities.
The constabulary recognises the importance of receiving both positive and negative feedback from as many of the people it serves as possible. The professional standards board identifies concerns about officer and staff behaviour and devises action plans to address these issues. The constabulary has an effective process for informing staff across the organisation about lessons learned.
Durham Constabulary regularly feeds back to the communities it serves through a variety of methods. It recognises the importance of enhancing public confidence and places great emphasis on ensuring that it continually reviews how to do so.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Durham Constabulary requires improvement in ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully.
The constabulary is effective in ensuring that staff within the organisation are aware of what standards are expected of them. It has a strong, robust and effective process of ensuring that important messages are communicated to and understood by staff. The constabulary has effective lines of communication for informing the workforce of the results of misconduct hearings and uses established processes to report cases of gross misconduct to the public.
However, the constabulary does not have sufficient capability to proactively monitor force systems. This was raised in HMIC’s 2014 police and integrity inspection and it is disappointing to see that this has still not been addressed. The constabulary also has limited capacity and capability to seek intelligence on potential corruption. Awareness of the threat posed by officers abusing their position for sexual gain is widespread across the workforce. However, the constabulary has no proactive capability for identifying officers who may be engaged in such activity.
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 it complies with all aspects of the current national guidelines for vetting.
- The constabulary should ensure that it has the capability and/or capacity to monitor all its computer systems to identify risks to the force’s integrity.
- The constabulary should review its procedures for mandatory referrals to the IPCC.
- The constabulary should establish and operate effective processes for identifying and managing individuals at risk of corruption.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Durham Constabulary has been found to be outstanding in the way that it treats its staff with fairness and respect.
The constabulary recognises the link between providing an efficient and effective service to the public and maintaining a motivated, well-supported and well-managed workforce. It has invested considerable time and effort into ensuring that the voice and wellbeing of its staff are the main reasons for changing its policies and working arrangements.
Working in partnership with Durham University Business School, the constabulary’s annual staff survey provides a detailed academic assessment of the current factors influencing staff perceptions of their work. The regularity of the process has enabled the constabulary to build on the improvements made since the first staff survey in 2013.
The constabulary has appointed wellbeing champions across the organisation, enhanced its welfare provision and given supervisors training to help them identify the early warning signs of stress.
The annual individual performance appraisal (PDR) process is well established and many staff members feel that it helps them identify and achieve training and development opportunities. Monthly one-to-one meetings with line managers are widely completed and established coaching, mentoring and secondment processes are available to all. The workforce perceives opportunities to progress within the organisation to be fair and transparent.