Surrey PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Surrey 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 treats the people it serves, and its workforce, with fairness and respect. It has good systems in place to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Workforce wellbeing services are good.
Surrey Police and its workforce are good at treating all of the people they serve with fairness and respect. This is part of the vision for the force, which is understood by most staff. The force uses a wide range of methods to seek feedback and challenge from the public, including through its website and social media. Its website has been redesigned to make it easier for the public to find out how to make a complaint.
The force understands the importance of communicating with groups who may have less trust and confidence in the police. It makes use of surveys, the independent advisory group and professional reference groups, as well as complaints data and information from victim satisfaction surveys. A full-time analyst monitors feedback, trends and patterns in public complaints.
Surrey Police is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The Code of Ethics is well understood by most staff. There are good procedures for ensuring all staff, including volunteers and contractors, are vetted before being allowed access to force premises or information and for re-vetting staff on promotion or transfer to certain posts where they are exposed to more risk.
The force has a comprehensive package of e-training modules that provide clear guidance on acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. These modules include an introduction to professional standards, ethical decision-making, social media awareness, security matters and sexual misconduct. Supervisors and staff have a good understanding of the force’s policies on gifts and hospitality, notifiable associations and business interests.
Good systems to find and assess intelligence about potential corruption are in place and the force has an experienced and efficient anti-corruption unit (ACU). Its ‘in house’ anonymous reporting system is effective.
The force recognises that abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) is serious corruption. About 75 percent of the workforce have completed an e-learning module on abuse of authority for sexual gain, but the force does not reinforce this with further training or other information. The force should consider actively seeking intelligence on potential abuse from organisations such as women’s refuges or sex worker support organisations.
Surrey Police is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. The force seeks feedback about the workforce’s perceptions of how they are treated through a range of channels including staff surveys, the force intranet forum, a force suggestion scheme, regular meetings with unions, police federation, staff associations and staff networks, and exit interviews for those leaving the force. It has consulted widely about its change programme and changes have mostly been well received, but some frontline staff feel under pressure from high workloads.
The force has made a significant investment in wellbeing services. Its nurse-led occupational health team provides appropriate support for staff and will refer staff for physiological or psychological advice and treatment when required. Wellbeing services are well understood by staff and held in very high regard.
However, we found that the performance assessment process is not effective and does not provide a rigorous process for recognising those who are talented or under-performing or for ensuring its workforce are working towards agreed objectives. Generally the workforce do not feel engaged with the process or recognise its benefits.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Surrey Police treats all of the people it serves with fairness and respect. The Chief Constable’s vision for the force is to ‘make the county as safe as it can be’. This vision and is set out in the force’s ‘plan on a page’ and understood by most staff. In HMIC’s legitimacy report 2015 we reported that some complaints could have been locally resolved rather than being subject to a full investigation and often took too long to bring to a conclusion. As a result of action the force has taken 50 percent of complaints are resolved locally as opposed to 20 percent previously.
The force uses a wide range of methods to communicate with the public. These include social media. The force understands the importance of communicating with community groups who may have less trust in the police by using a variety of means. It is not clear how the force assesses and uses the feedback from the public or how consistently and effectively subsequent action taken is communicated to them.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it identifies and understands the issues that have the greatest impact on public perceptions of fair and respectful treatment.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
The force has good systems in place to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The Code of Ethics is well understood by most staff. There are good procedures for managing the vetting of its staff, including staff being re-vetted on promotion or transfers to certain posts where they are exposed to more risk. There is more that it could do to identify the risk of officers and staff abusing their authority for sexual gain. The ACU’s control strategy prioritises sexually predatory officers and where inappropriate behaviour is reported a thorough investigation takes place. However, the force needs to be active in seeking intelligence from sources such as women’s refuges, in ensuring that supervisors receive training to identify the signs of predatory behaviour, and in making all staff aware of what is expected of them and of the consequences if their actions do not reach the required standard. The results of misconduct hearings are circulated both internally and externally to the general 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.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Surrey Police treats its workforce with fairness and respect but, as the PIYN model unfolds, there is more to do in connection with staff workloads (particularly the workloads of APT staff) and in ensuring there is a consistent and effective PDR system. The force has consulted widely about its change programme and communicated this to its staff in a number of ways. In the main the changes have been well received, but some frontline staff feel under pressure as a result of high workloads and a lack of appropriate skills to deliver what is required. The force has made a significant investment in wellbeing services (£1.25m). An in-house nurse led Occupational Health Team with links to the national wellbeing initiative provides appropriate support for staff and will refer staff for physiological or psychological advice and treatment where required. The performance assessment process is not effective. Most staff have a PDR but the quality is mixed. Some staff have only limited or general objectives. Staff generally do not feel engaged with the process or recognise its benefits.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it identifies and understands its workforce’s wellbeing needs.
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance.