Nottinghamshire PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Nottinghamshire 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 continues to reinforce the importance of treating people with fairness and respect and to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It values workforce wellbeing and identifies and understands those issues that have the greatest impact on workforce perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. However, it is not able to demonstrate whether its performance assessment process is fair or effective.
Nottinghamshire Police is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect and its importance is understood by the workforce. The force seeks feedback and challenge from the people it serves, including those who have less trust and confidence in the police or are less likely to complain. It conducts victim surveys and surveys of those who have made complaints and also works with an independent advisory group (IAG) and a stop and search scrutiny board that include members of the public from diverse groups. However, although the force acts on learning and feedback, it does not always demonstrate clearly what action it has taken.
The force makes good use of social media and its website, which is easily accessible to those people whose first language is not English because it can display text in over 150 different languages. It has also considered the needs of people with sight or hearing problems, or dyslexia.
Nottinghamshire Police continues to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully, although there are gaps in its vetting processes to ensure that designated posts are vetted to a specific standard. The force has an ethical culture and the workforce understands what serious corruption is and how to report it. Staff and officers are aware of the gifts and hospitality register and notifiable associations procedure.
The force clarifies and reinforces unacceptable behaviour effectively. The force intranet contains very good reference material, and the Integrity matters newsletter provides real-life examples linked to the Code of Ethics. Officers and staff, including volunteers, have a good understanding of these standards. The force proactively and effectively identifies and manages the threat, risk and harm from corruption. It also identifies early warning signs of potential risks to integrity and corruption and shares information internally and with other forces.
Nottinghamshire Police recognises abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) as serious corruption. The workforce are clear that this behaviour is unacceptable. The force deals with it robustly by dismissing officers or staff and prosecuting them in court.
The force publicises misconduct hearings on its public website, including information about how to attend open hearings. The outcomes from gross misconduct and misconduct findings are also publicised on the force’s intranet and include the names of those involved.
Nottinghamshire Police needs to improve how it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. It is good at using a variety of methods to understand workforce perceptions, including: a people survey, a suggestion scheme, a people board, meetings with unions, the police federation, staff associations and staff networks, and exit interviews with those leaving the force. In addition, it conducts interview sessions with under-represented groups to better understand their views. However, the force needs to improve how it shares information about the actions it takes in response to workforce concerns.
The force actively monitors workforce diversity, complaints, misconduct and grievances, but we found that staff sometimes feel grievances are not dealt with effectively, with no action taken or no formal response provided.
The force’s understanding of the wellbeing needs of its workforce is generally good and is improving, although its provision is more reactive than preventative. It provides gyms and a sports and social club as well as a website called ‘Working well for East Midlands forces’, which covers dietary advice, fitness and other health-related matters. It is working to improve measures to support mental health.
Nottinghamshire Police is not able to demonstrate whether its performance assessment process is fair or effective. From April 2016 it became an online ‘self-service’ procedure and the force had provided no guidance or support for supervisors on how to manage the new process, apart from a link to a guidance document on the intranet. The force is not able to measure the outcomes of its performance assessment process, apart from when people are referred for unsatisfactory performance. The workforce do not value the PDR process and do not believe that it is fair or effective.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Nottinghamshire Police continues to reinforce the importance of treating people with fairness and respect through its PROUD values. The workforce understands the importance of treating people fairly and with respect and the force regularly seeks feedback on people’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. The force engages with those who have less confidence in the police to increase their understanding of its commitment to fair and respectful treatment, particularly those who are fearful of the police. It also encourages the public to make complaints in order to improve its service. The force analyses complaints comprehensively, but this analysis is not always shared as widely as possible with managers and supervisors so that the organisation can act on this information. The force does not always show clearly what action it has taken to improve the way it treats people.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it demonstrates that it has taken action to improve how it treats all the people it serves.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Nottinghamshire Police continues to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. There is an ethical culture and the workforce understands what serious corruption is and how to report it. The force clarifies and reinforces unacceptable behaviour effectively. There are gaps in its vetting processes in respect of the force’s ability to assure itself that designated posts are vetted to a specific standard, but it identifies early warning signs of potential risks to integrity and corruption by sharing information internally and with other forces.
The abuse of authority for sexual gain is understood by the workforce as serious corruption and the force prosecutes any officers or staff in court. There are good prevention and early intervention mechanisms in place for potential corruption and for ensuring the effective security of its systems. However, the annual integrity health check form is poorly understood and poorly completed, which means the force cannot be sure it is able to monitor or understand risks to the integrity of the organisation.
The force decided not to progress the recommendation we made in 2014 on ensuring compliance with declined applications for secondary employment or business interests. However, it is now working more effectively to ensure there are proactive counter-corruption processes in respect of all staff posted to the EMSOU.
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 ensure the business interest and notifiable association policies are current, effectively communicated to staff and properly managed.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Nottinghamshire Police can identify and has a good understanding of those issues that have the greatest impact on workforce perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. It has taken some action to address some of these concerns, but sometimes it is unclear to the workforce what these actions are. However, some issues are still perceived as being unfair, such as fair access to opportunities to develop.
The force demonstrates that it understands and values the benefits of workforce wellbeing and has plans to conduct a wellbeing assessment. The physical environment is managed well. It is working to improve measures to support mental health but there are signs that staff are overworked.
Nottinghamshire Police is not able to demonstrate whether its performance assessment process is fair or effective. It is based on an assumption that the workforce is competent and although a performance assessment is required to be completed annually, there is no monitoring of compliance. There are some good informal performance assessment practices. However, some officers and staff have not had an assessment of performance for some time.
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 ensure staff receive their annual leave entitlement and that they take the rest days owed to them, to support their health and wellbeing.
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance.