Merseyside PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Merseyside Police has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
Merseyside Police is good in the way it deals with the public, treats its workforce and how it promotes ethical and lawful behaviour among its workforce. It treats the people that it serves and its officers and staff with fairness and respect. The culture of the organisation reflects this through its fair and respectful treatment of people, and ethical, lawful approaches to integrity. The organisation’s fair and respectful treatment of its workforce and its concern for welfare and wellbeing of officers and staff also demonstrate this. Senior leaders actively promote the force’s values.
Merseyside Police continues successfully to reinforce messages to its workforce about how important it is to treat people with fairness and respect. The force regularly seeks feedback about how the public perceives that they are treated by its officers and staff and whether this is fair and respectful treatment. To do this, it has formal and well-established arrangements in place for independent advice and challenge. The force’s governance structure oversees and monitors whether officers and staff treat the public in a fair and respectful way. However, it could do more to understand how the wider public, particularly those of the public who do not come into contact with the police, perceives whether Merseyside Police officers and staff are treating people fairly and respectfully.
The force continues to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully.
The workforce understands what serious corruption is and how to report it. The force has effective methods to deal with potential corruption and continues to make sure that its IT systems are secure. The force monitors risks to the integrity of the organisation well through its comprehensive vetting of officers and staff. It identifies the early warning signs of corruption by sharing information appropriately, both internally and with other forces. The force deals robustly with cases of abuse of authority for sexual gain.
Merseyside Police understands well the importance of wellbeing for its workforce. It analyses its management information and has a good understanding of the wellbeing risks to the organisation. It uses this analysis to provide wellbeing services for its workforce and is making further investment in this area.
Merseyside Police is not able to demonstrate whether its individual performance assessment process is effective. Its process is based on the assumption that an officer or member of staff is competent, with the performance development process used mainly in the context of poor performance or when an officer or staff member is applying for promotion. We found some examples of good informal performance assessment, but we also found officers who had not had an assessment of their performance for three to four years.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
The force maintains oversight of fair and respectful treatment through an effective governance structure. This includes meetings about the use of force and stop and search, scrutiny from its independent advisory groups and independent custody visitor scheme and scrutiny from a force-wide equality, diversity and human rights group.
Merseyside Police regularly seeks feedback on the public’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment through formal and well-established arrangements that allows the force to get a fuller understanding of the people it serves using this feedback to improve services.
The force works closely with people who have less confidence in the police to ensure that they know what the force understands by fair and respectful treatment. However, it could do more to understand how the wider public perceives that police treatment is fair and respectful, particularly those of the public who rarely come into contact with the police.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Merseyside Police continues to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It has a strong ethical culture and its workforce understands what serious corruption is and how to report it when they see it.
The force monitors the risks to the integrity of the organisation well through its comprehensive vetting of officers and staff. It identifies early warning signs of potential corruption by sharing information internally and with other forces.
Merseyside Police provides public reassurance that the force ensures that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully by publicising misconduct hearings on its website, including information about attending open hearings, and releases the outcome immediately. It takes officers or staff to court in cases of abuse for sexual gain, rather than dismissing them and allowing them to avoid punishment and be able to apply for other work, even though this could compromise the force’s reputation. It uses internal publications, presentations and the chief constable’s road shows as well as other activities to communicate to its workforce the behaviour it expects and the consequences of not complying with these standards.
The force has made progress on the two recommendations that HMIC made in 2014: communicating to its workforce lessons learned on integrity and corruption across the service: and publicising and monitoring its policy for accepting gifts and hospitality.
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.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Merseyside Police is good at ensuring it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. Evidence for this comes from its culture of inviting feedback, listening to staff and taking action on their comments.
The force has a good understanding of the wellbeing needs of its workforce. It has analysed its management information thoroughly to identify wellbeing risks and threats to the organisation. As a result it provides good services to support the wellbeing of officers and staff and is investing more in this area. The force is also raising awareness of the greatest threats to workforce wellbeing, such as pressure on people’s mental health, and it has started to train supervisors to spot early warning signs. However, across the force staff do not feel consistently supported and attribute this to the variable quality of their supervisors.
Merseyside Police is not able to demonstrate whether its performance assessment process is effective, as it is based on an assumption of competence; only where staff need development or are going for promotion do they receive a PDR. We found some good examples of informal performance assessment, but we also found officers who had not an assessment of performance for three to four years.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that its supervisors can recognise and provide support with wellbeing issues.
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance.