Lancashire PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Lancashire Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
The constabulary treats those it serves with fairness and respect. Staff understand the importance of treating the public fairly and respectfully. Recent training has reinforced this. The constabulary has established arrangements in place to obtain feedback from the different communities it serves and is developing new arrangements through new digital channels to improve communications. There is also evidence that the constabulary is acting on feedback to improve how it trains staff, such as in the exercising of stop and search powers.
The constabulary ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. There is an established forum on the intranet, the internal ‘Buzz’ discussion page, where staff can discuss standards and ethical issues. This is well used. However, there is a need to re-communicate expectations around some standards of leadership behaviours as some members of the constabulary are unclear about this.
Staff wellbeing is a priority for the constabulary, and employees are treated fairly and with respect. While there are performance monitoring arrangements in place for staff, there is scope to improve the process to ensure everyone receives a performance discussion with their line manager.
The constabulary treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. Training has been provided to help staff understand that the way they behave affects the way that the public and their colleagues see them, and that this is important.
The constabulary engages well with the public to identify their concerns. There are established arrangements in place to obtain feedback through an increasingly representative independent advisory group (IAG). The constabulary is developing several different feedback methods so that it can communicate more effectively with the public and also understand how people feel they are being treated by officers. There are ethics committees which give advice on decision-making, and guidance on how constabulary services might be improved.
The constabulary has an established intranet forum to discuss standards and other relevant matters. This is widely read. Many of the staff consider it to be useful and believe that it reinforces expected standards of behaviour. However, we found that many staff still do not use this platform and are disengaged from the most important messages and themes that emerge from it.
Complaints from the public are considered and analysed well. Both the public and officers are given feedback to show that the public’s concerns are taken seriously.
The constabulary ensures that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. There are confidential reporting lines available to staff, and employees also have the confidence to raise any concerns about wrongdoing with their line managers in the first instance. There is a risk matrix, which enables the constabulary to identify members of staff who are most susceptible to corrupt practices.
The wellbeing of staff is a priority for the force. There are many health and wellbeing facilities and events, and good networks in place to provide effective support as necessary.
Supervisors do not apply performance monitoring arrangements consistently. The constabulary needs to go further to ensure that all members of the workforce have meaningful performance and development discussions with their line managers.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Staff at the constabulary understand the importance of treating people with fairness and respect. Staff have recently been trained so that they can understand how their behaviour impacts on the public, and how their behaviour affects the reputation of Lancashire Constabulary.
The constabulary has continued to develop ethics boards to inform discussion and decision-making on the appropriateness and fairness of the constabulary’s actions, and to increase understanding of ethical behaviour.
The force seeks to understand how well services are being received by undertaking regular surveys. A quality of service board meeting has been introduced in each division to review and improve the service provided by officers and staff on each area. The constabulary has established lines of communication to obtain feedback from local communities through independent advisory groups, and it is working to increase its understanding and engagement with different sections of the community, including young people and the eastern European community to ensure that the service provided is delivered fairly and appropriately to the all the people of Lancashire.
Areas for improvement
- 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?
The constabulary generally ensures that its staff behave ethically and lawfully but more could be done to increase the workforce understanding of expected standards.
The constabulary complies with national vetting guidance in the way it vets police personnel. However, there is a backlog of some vetting checks for low-risk employees and in carrying out required ‘aftercare vetting’ or post-employment vetting at enhanced levels. The constabulary has developed an employee-based risk-matrix, which enables it to proactively identify those members of staff who might be more susceptible to corruption. Abuse of authority for sexual gain is considered as serious corruption and is dealt with as such. However, officers need more clarity on how to support and relate to vulnerable members of the public who they meet on duty.
The Buzz internet forum is an important tool for communicating and reinforcing standards. However, not all staff use it and are unaware of important messages being communicated. The constabulary could do more to ensure all staff are aware of the outcomes of misconduct hearings to improve their understanding of the boundaries of unprofessional 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
- The force should improve its workforce’s understanding of the Notifiable Associations policy.
- 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.
- The force should ensure it complies with all aspects of the current national guidelines for vetting.
- The force should improve how it communicates with its workforce about lessons learned.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
There are good examples of points raised on Buzz that have influenced decisions taken by senior managers to benefit the workforce. The constabulary has conducted three internal staff surveys in the last five years. The most recent took place in May 2016. The results are now being evaluated.
The constabulary has completed a self-assessment of its wellbeing arrangements and has a plan to monitor progress towards meeting requirements of the Workplace Wellbeing Charter. All divisions and departments have wellbeing boards, chaired by a senior manager.
The constabulary has built up a network of 42 wellbeing ambassadors, who can support colleagues. They will discuss any issues confidentially, where wellbeing may play a part and support or help colleagues in any way they can.
Many members of staff are not clear about the way they should engage with the performance assessment process and their responsibilities within it. Performance interviews with staff were inconsistent. Some staff discussed performance regularly with their line managers, but others were not having conversations about their personal development or wellbeing needs.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance.