South Yorkshire PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
South Yorkshire Police requires improvement in the way it interacts with the communities it serves and its workforce. Enabling fair treatment is a stated priority for the force, but recent changes in the way it operates have had an adverse effect on how it understands and is able to respond to its communities and the morale of its workforce.
The force has a good understanding of threats to its integrity. Most of the systems to ensure integrity in the workforce are good, and it communicates with the public well about misconduct hearings and their outcomes.
South Yorkshire Police’s stated priority is to treat everyone it serves fairness and respect. Despite this it could do more to reassure itself it is obtaining feedback from all the communities it serves.
The recent change in the force’s operating model has led to a reduction in involvement with many communities. We found good examples of specific engagement, and the force also has a substantial and active social media following. It does not, however, collate or analyse feedback to develop a complete picture. South Yorkshire Police ensures that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It has a good understanding of most of the risks to the integrity of the organisation, informed by well-managed intelligence from a wide range of sources, and in the main has good systems in place to secure the integrity of the organisation.
The force communicates effectively with the public; it advertises misconduct hearings and publishes the results on the internet. Although it shares the results of misconduct hearings with the workforce, not all officers and staff were aware of the cases or what had been learned from them.
The force should treat its workforce with greater fairness and respect. It uses a range of methods to assess how members of the workforce feel they are treated, but not frequently and consistently enough for a full understanding. The force has made some changes in response to feedback, increasing measures to support wellbeing and introducing a new electronic individual performance assessment process (PDR), but the workforce does not see how these changes relate to its feedback. The new electronic PDR is a forward-looking tool for development and wellbeing, but at this early stage we cannot say that it ensures consistent and fair assessment and development for the workforce.
Low morale is a problem throughout the force. The command team recognises this and is working to alleviate the pressures on leave and rest days.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Although South Yorkshire Police treats people with fairness and respect, it could do more to reassure itself it is obtaining feedback from all the communities it serves. The force understands the importance of treating people with fairness and respect and its FIRST principles (fairness, integrity, respect, standards and trust) are central to the force’s vision and values. Enabling fair and respectful treatment is also an important strand of the force’s monthly organisational business meeting, which focuses on how the force can improve its service to communities in South Yorkshire.
However, the recent change in the force’s operating model has led to a reduction in its involvement with many communities. This means that the force is not receiving the level of feedback that was apparent in our inspection last year. Centrally and in local districts we found good examples of specific engagement activities and the force has a substantial and active social media following. It does not, however, collate or analyse feedback from these and other areas to provide a complete picture of community experiences. The basis for change in force activities lacks substance, feedback to the public is limited and the force undertakes little analysis of whether the changes it makes are improving the treatment of the people it serves.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it seeks feedback from the people it serves about their experiences (or perceptions) of how the police have treated them.
- The force should improve how it identifies and understands the issues that have the greatest impact on public perceptions of fair and respectful treatment.
- 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?
South Yorkshire Police acts effectively to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force clarifies and reinforces acceptable standards of behaviour. It has a good understanding of the risks to the integrity of the organisation, informed by intelligence from a wide range of sources. This intelligence is assessed and progressed appropriately by the anti-corruption unit. The force has systems to ensure that the integrity of the organisation and its workforce is not compromised by inappropriate business interests or associations. The force vets recruits effectively, but needs to ensure that the whole workforce is vetted to an appropriate standard in line with national guidance.
The force takes abuse of authority for sexual gain seriously when it is identified, but should do more to ensure it is gathering all the available intelligence about such behaviour.
South Yorkshire Police communicates effectively with the public: it advertises misconduct hearings and publishes the results of hearings on the internet. The force shares learning from misconduct cases internally through its PSD champions’ meeting, the intranet and internal publicity campaigns. Many staff receive this information from the force, but others are less clear about where to find it and rely on the media or information from colleagues.
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.
- The force should ensure it complies with all aspects of the current national guidelines for vetting.
- 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?
The force needs to treat its workforce with greater fairness and respect. It uses a range of methods to assess how members of the workforce feel they are treated, but not frequently or consistently enough to gain a full understanding. The force’s last full workforce survey took place in 2014. The force told us that the response rate for the survey was 28 percent. Although this response rate is quite low, the force identified important issues, and involved officers and staff in working groups to develop solutions.
Recognising the importance of improving wellbeing, the force has developed a range of resources to support the workforce. However, some staff are unaware of the increased provision and many who were aware of it did not realise that it had been introduced in response to staff feedback. The new electronic PDR introduced to the force was also a response to concerns raised by the workforce. The new system is a forward-looking development and wellbeing tool, but at this early stage we cannot say that it ensures consistent and fair assessment and development.
Morale is an issue throughout the force; the command team recognises this and is working to alleviate the pressures on leave and rest days. It plans a further staff survey later this year.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it identifies and understands the issues that have the greatest impact on workforce perceptions of treatment.
- The force should improve how it communicates the action it has taken in response to issues identified by the workforce.
- The force should review the arrangements that allow staff and officers to take annual leave, to minimise excessive carry-over of leave.