Hampshire PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Hampshire Constabulary 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 and its workforce understand the importance of treating the public with fairness and respect, and the force seeks and acts on feedback. It has good arrangements for identifying risks to the integrity of the organisation. It takes seriously any abuse of power for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) and has improved staff awareness of this issue.
The force is committed to the wellbeing of its workforce.
Hampshire Constabulary is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect and this is a central part of the force’s values. The force actively seeks feedback and challenge; for example, from independent advisory groups, independent custody visitors and online surveys, as well as by working with specific groups in the community. It acts on this information to improve its service to the public and ensures the workforce are aware of good practice and lessons learnt by publishing examples on the force intranet. However, it could improve how it demonstrates to the public what action it has taken.
The force has good arrangements for vetting people applying to be officers, staff and volunteers, and undertakes some vetting of contractors. It also vets officers and staff on promotion or when moving to a more sensitive area of work. However, there is a backlog in re-vetting those people who have not been vetted for ten years, which the force is addressing.
Hampshire Constabulary has a systematic approach to clarifying and reinforcing acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. It is effective at identifying threats to the integrity of the organisation and undertakes proactive and reactive investigations to identify potential corruption. The workforce are aware of the confidential service for reporting information about possible corruption.
The force recognises the abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) as serious corruption. It routinely seeks information and intelligence relating to corruption from non-policing bodies, and has plans to extend this to organisations such as women’s refuges.
Hampshire Constabulary uses a range of methods to identify the issues that affect the workforce’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. However, it could improve its understanding by conducting exit interviews with those leaving the force, and by monitoring annual performance appraisals for data relating to staff perceptions. In addition, some staff do not feel confident that they would be listened to if they complained.
The force understands the importance of workforce wellbeing and has provided a range of services, including gym facilities, training for staff to support those with mental health needs and an employee support line for advice from welfare officers. Advice is also given on stress management. However, the force cannot collate easily all the information concerning wellbeing, such as sickness data, mental health wellbeing referrals or the impact of occupational health referrals, and so cannot achieve a comprehensive understanding of the needs of its workforce. In addition, delays in staff accessing occupational health services indicate that the current level of services is inadequate.
Hampshire Constabulary also needs to improve how it manages the performance of its officers and staff. The performance development review system is used inconsistently. It is not monitored closely for completion or value, and the review does not link consistently with performance improvement. The force as a whole does not have access to a system through which it can gather and monitor data centrally.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Hampshire Constabulary is good at treating all the people it serves with care and respect. This stems from the force’s commitment to the Code of Ethics which is reflected in the mission and values, policies, structures and practice, including an authoritative ethics committee. The force seeks feedback to identify those issues which have the greatest impact on the public’s perceptions of fairness through a variety of mechanisms, beyond the use of independent advisory groups, including online feedback as well as focused work with a range of different groups. We found overall that the force is working hard to improve how it responds to feedback, and keeps those who have given feedback informed about progress. However, it could do more to apply and evaluate this consistently across the force and to communicate this to the wider public.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it seeks feedback from the people it serves about their perceptions of how the police have treated them.
- The force should ensure that it acts on learning and feedback to improve how it treats all the people it serves.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Hampshire Constabulary is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It has effective and generally robust vetting arrangements. The force systematically clarifies and reinforces what constitutes unacceptable behaviour. As a result, members of the force now understand more fully what constitutes unacceptable behaviour. The force recognises, understands and manages risks to the integrity of the organisation from the activity of staff. While it recognises that it must refresh its strategy in relation to sexual predatory behaviour, it has taken specific steps to detect this behaviour. The force uses a range of effective means to communicate with both staff and the public about the outcomes of criminal cases and misconduct hearings in corruption cases, including holding hearings in public.
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 improve how it clarifies and reinforces standards of behaviour to its workforce, in particular when dealing with vulnerable people, including victims of domestic abuse.
- 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 ensure that it has the capability and capacity to monitor all its computer systems to identify risks to the force’s integrity.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Hampshire Constabulary requires improvement in how it treats its workforce with care and respect. This is not a judgment about the ethos of the force, nor does all performance fall within this category, but rather a reflection of the force’s reliance on systems which are not fully integrated so does not fully understand staff welfare and performance. This inhibits the force’s ability to treat its workforce fairly and respectfully.
The force has several effective mechanisms for engaging with the workforce, but its grievance procedures lack credibility. We found evidence of the force acting on issues raised by staff, but also instances of a delay in taking action. We acknowledge that these issues are under review.
Generally, the force is committed to workforce wellbeing and we found evidence of good practice through new facilities, increasing interest from supervisors, and individual initiatives. But it does not yet have the means to collate all information around wellbeing to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the needs of its workforce. The delays in staff accessing occupational health services indicate that the current level of services is inadequate.
Hampshire Constabulary also requires improvement in how it manages the performance of its officers and staff. The performance development review system is used inconsistently. It is not thoroughly monitored for completion or value, and does not link consistently to performance improvement.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its workforce’s access to occupational health provision.
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance.