Sussex PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Sussex 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. Effective scrutiny and governance arrangements manage risks to its integrity and ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force supports the workforce’s physical and emotional wellbeing by providing effective wellbeing services.
Sussex Police is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. The force’s vision emphasises the importance of fairness and respect, in line with the Code of Ethics, and its importance is understood across the workforce. The force seeks feedback from the public about the service it provides; for example, in community meetings, through its website and by undertaking surveys. It understands the importance of working with groups whose trust in the police is limited and works well with a range of external groups. The force responds to feedback by generating action plans, training and development, and ensures the workforce are made aware of any lessons to be learnt.
The force has a robust vetting process, which helps ensure that it recruits people with high standards of ethical behaviour. It gives clear guidance to the workforce on the standards of behaviour it expects, and reinforces this by publishing the outcomes of disciplinary procedures.
A control strategy and plan covers disclosure of information, computer misuse, associations with criminals and sexual misconduct. The force recognises abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) as serious corruption. It ensures that all intelligence on risks to the integrity of the organisation is collated, evaluated and analysed. Details of any officers or staff who are dismissed from the force, or who resign while under investigation, are entered onto a national database through the College of Policing.
Sussex Police is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. It uses staff surveys to help identify and understand the areas that have the greatest impact on workforce perceptions of fair and respectful treatment.
The force understands the impact work may have on the health of its workforce. It has identified specific issues and instigated preventative work to protect and support its workforce. The force’s wellbeing services are well understood by staff and held in very high regard.
The annual individual performance assessment process (known as the PDR) applies to both officers and staff. Although it is regarded as effective by the force, it is not obvious whether PDR appraisals are completed and valued at all levels of the organisation.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Sussex Police understands the importance of treating all the people it serves with fairness and respect. This is a clear part of the force’s vision. The PCC and chief officer team instruct the force to observe the Code of Ethics. Sussex Police has a variety of methods at an organisational and local level to seek feedback on people’s views and perceptions of service provision and the quality of service they have received. The force has an understanding of the importance of trying to access groups whose trust in the police is limited, and uses a number of ways to gauge independent feedback.
The force acts on feedback and learning by forming action plans and by training and development in appropriate areas. The force communicates relevant feedback to staff and staff associations so that they can understand where any changes are required. This may be as a result of formal recommendations, the identification of areas for improvement and lessons learned. Its purpose is to promote learning on how the public have been treated in terms of fairness and respect. However, although the force actively and regularly provides feedback information from a variety of sources, there is no test of how extensively this information is circulated or of how well it is understood by staff.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
The force is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force reinforces standards of behaviour by publishing outcomes of disciplinary cases and giving clear guidance to staff on expected behaviours about working in Sussex Police. There are checks and balances in place for the force to manage vetting of the workforce. The force can identify, understand and manage risk by ensuring that all intelligence received by the workforce, members of the public and other forces and agencies is collated, evaluated and analysed. The force has identified through its strategic risk assessment those principal corruption risks and prioritised them in its control strategy.
The force informs the public about the outcomes of misconduct and corruption cases via the media, social media and the force website. All officers and staff who are dismissed from the force, or who resign while under investigation, are now entered onto a national database through the College of Policing to provide greater transparency to the outcomes of police misconduct cases.
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?
The force is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. The force effectively identifies and understands the areas that have the greatest impact on workforce perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. It uses exit interviews and information based on detailed opinions of staff and engagement surveys to further develop this understanding. Sussex Police understands wellbeing issues and has taken a range of innovative action in this area.
The force understands the impact of the work on the health of its workforce. It has identified specific issues and instigated preventative work to protect and support its workforce. The force has invested in a new wellbeing strategy which responds to workforce needs via the ‘wellbeing hub’ and this comprehensive information means that it is well understood by staff and held in very high regard.
The force has an annual staff appraisal process (PDR), which applies to officers and staff. However, we found that PDR appraisals are completed and valued inconsistently at all levels of the organisation. All staff with whom HMIC spoke had had a PDR appraisal. However, the quality of these was mixed with some staff having limited or general objectives. Officers and staff perceive the graded system as not effective, leading to some frustration and demotivation.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance.