Cumbria PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Cumbria Constabulary is good at how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. For the areas of legitimacy we looked at this year, our overall judgment is the same as last year. The constabulary is good at treating all of the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is also good at how well it ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and, following improvement, is now good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
Cumbria Constabulary is good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
The constabulary is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. Leaders have ensured the workforce has a good understanding of this; reinforced through appropriate training. Robust processes are in place for scrutiny of coercive powers: data is used to improve interactions with the public, though there is an opportunity to improve this further through better use of body-worn video cameras. The constabulary has developed frontline officers’ understanding of unconscious bias and there are plans to extend this to the wider workforce by the end of 2017.
The constabulary is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Ethical decision making forms part of their ‘big six’ priorities and decisions are appropriately reviewed. Ethical considerations are included in training programmes and leaders encourage debate within the workforce. The constabulary is still not compliant with national vetting guidelines, but has plans in place to address this. The complaints system is easily accessible and complainants are given detailed information at the beginning and end of an investigation; however, updates could be more detailed and improvements are being made. The constabulary is mostly good at identifying, responding to and investigating allegations of potential discrimination.
Cumbria Constabulary’s approach to treating its workforce with fairness and respect is good. Leaders seek feedback about concerns and there is a strong emphasis on the line manager relationship. An improved interim performance review system now records information on staff progress, skills and development and the constabulary is seeking to improve its identification of high potential officers and staff through a trial talent identification scheme. Significant emphasis is placed on workforce wellbeing. The provision of counselling and psychological profiling where appropriate, together with wider access to occupational health services, are effective measures in managing wellbeing problems. Recognising the warning signs and how to provide support and guidance forms part of supervisor leadership training.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
HMICFRS found that Cumbria Constabulary has a good understanding of the importance of treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. Chief officers have demonstrated and communicated this through extensive internal engagement, including face-to-face roadshows with officers and staff. The ‘big six’ priorities for keeping Cumbria safe while acting with integrity, fairness and respect are well established. All officers and staff that we spoke to knew the priorities and displayed a good understanding of their responsibilities in meeting these priorities.
The constabulary has made progress in developing the workforce’s understanding of unconscious bias, but training on this has been incorporated into programmes that are primarily attended by frontline officers. There has been limited training provided to frontline police staff such as front counter and control room staff. We are pleased to note that the constabulary has plans to extend unconscious bias training to the wider workforce by the end of 2017.
There are good arrangements in place to scrutinise how well the workforce treats people with fairness and respect in relation to the use of coercive powers. Regarding stop and search, the constabulary examines a range of data at both an operational and strategic level to understand and improve the use of the power, but more could be done to understand the effect of its use on local priorities. We found that chief officers were fully engaged with scrutiny panels comprising independent members drawn from local communities. There was evidence that the findings and recommendations from both internal and external scrutiny were being acted upon. There is an opportunity for the constabulary to make more effective use of body-worn video equipment to understand better and improve the extent to which officers and staff treat the people they serve with fairness and respect.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should ensure that its officers routinely use body-worn video during interactions with the public, and that footage is regularly scrutinised to establish areas for individual and organisational improvement.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
HMICFRS judges Cumbria Constabulary as good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully.
The constabulary’s ‘big six’ plan sets the standard against which the workforce is encouraged to make ethical decisions. A Code of Ethics implementation plan, owned by the head of the professional standards department, ensures that there is a co-ordinated approach to making ethics and standards a routine part of practice across the constabulary. This includes bespoke Code of Ethics training for all officers and staff and the inclusion of ethical considerations in a range of training programmes. Constabulary leaders consider the ethical implications of their decisions and seek external scrutiny through the ethics panel and independent advisory group. Decisions are reviewed daily through the operational management meeting framework to ensure that they are ethical and appropriate. Constabulary leaders engage with the workforce at all levels, from chief officer roadshows to one-to-one discussions with staff, encouraging two-way challenge between leaders and the workforce on ethics and standards.
The constabulary is still not compliant with national vetting guidelines. A risk-based approach to vetting officers and staff is in place to address the current backlog. The constabulary has a plan which includes a short-term increase in staff to deal with the immediate backlog and a long-term increase in the resourcing levels to maintain up-to-date vetting across the workforce.
The constabulary website contains guidance for the public on how to make a complaint about the police. Officers and staff we spoke to were knowledgeable about the complaints process and how to advise members of the public wishing to make a complaint. Our file review of complaint cases found the overall quality of investigation files, for both complaints and misconduct cases, was good. The files were clearly written and evidence was sufficiently detailed and logically presented. However, we found that in the majority of files reviewed, updates to complainants lacked sufficient detail. The constabulary tell us that improvements have since been made to the quality of updates provided to complainants and that this has been scrutinised by the ethics panel.
Code of Ethics training and regular communications provided to the workforce has provided a good understanding of discrimination and its effect, and has given the officers and staff we spoke to the confidence to identify and respond to discrimination. There are generally effective processes in place across the constabulary to identify and investigate potential discrimination by officers and staff, and all those investigating allegations of misconduct and discrimination are trained to apply the IPCC guidance on discrimination. However, our review found two cases in which a referral to the IPCC had not been identified, and two out of ten cases containing allegations of discrimination had lines of enquiry that could have been pursued further. There is an effective framework in place to monitor the workforce’s ability to identify and respond to discrimination.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should ensure that its plan to comply with all aspects of the national vetting standards, in line with HMICFRS’ nationwide recommendation in December 2016, is credible and will be achieved by December 2018.
- The constabulary should improve the quality and timeliness of updates to complainants and those subject to allegations of misconduct in line with IPCC statutory guidance.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Cumbria Constabulary’s approach to treating its workforce with fairness and respect is good. Through roadshows, one-to-one meetings, ask the chief and business improvement groups, chief officers have effective systems in place to seek feedback and challenge from the workforce. There is still a strong reliance on the relationship between individuals and their line managers to identify and resolve workforce concerns. The constabulary has recently set up a people board with oversight from a superintendent which considers and monitors workforce concerns. However the constabulary recognises that it needs to do more to establish trends and patterns so it can identify and understand these concerns at an organisational level.
There has been significant investment by chief officers in prioritising and providing for the wellbeing of the workforce. Wellbeing features prominently in the big six priorities, the 15-week staff reviews, and daily management meetings. The provision of counselling and psychological profiling for staff and officers in high-risk roles, together with wider access to occupational health services for the entire workforce, are effective early-action measures to identify wellbeing problems and prevent escalation. Recognising the signs of potential wellbeing concerns and how to provide support and guidance forms part of supervisor leadership training.
The constabulary recognises that currently there is a reliance on first-line managers to identify talented individuals and provide the support for development. In response, a pilot project for talent identification in West Cumbria has been introduced, with early feedback being positive. External advertisement for promotion and transfer demonstrates a commitment to diversifying its workforce, bringing new talent and experience into the constabulary. The introduction of an interim performance development review system provides a more consistent and corporate approach to the management of individual performance and places it on a more formal footing than the 15-week review process. The recent establishment of the people department brings together human resources, occupational health and the professional standards department and a new plan has been approved which sets out a co-ordinated approach to developing a workforce that can meet the future needs of the communities of Cumbria.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should review how high potential members of the workforce are selected for leadership development.