Dorset PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Dorset Police is judged to be 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 force is judged to be good at treating all the people it serves with fairness and respect, good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully but requiring improvement in some aspects of treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
The importance of treating people fairly and with respect is reflected in the force’s vision and values, and leaders demonstrate a commitment to it. Officers and staff are trained to communicate effectively with the public and use their coercive powers fairly, but the force needs to improve workforce understanding of unconscious bias. The force has various internal and external processes to scrutinise how officers and staff interact with the public. Generally these work well, but the force needs to improve how it works with the community to ensure effective independent scrutiny and challenge of its stop and search activity.
The commitment to developing a strong ethical culture in the force is evident. Leaders at all levels promote the need to make ethical policing decisions with officers and staff having a good understanding of how to make ethical decisions in the working environment. The force generally makes it easy for the public to make a complaint and the workforce is able to recognise, respond to and investigate discrimination well, although it needs to ensure that referrals to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are made correctly.
The force needs to improve how it works with officers and staff to maintain internal standards of fairness and respect. The force has many processes in place to engage with, and support, the workforce, but these are not always effective or valued. High workloads are evident across the force and it needs to consider the consequences this has on individual wellbeing. The force needs to improve some of its other people management processes, most notably individual performance assessment which is not as effective as it needs to be.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Dorset Police is good in the way it treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. Leaders demonstrate a commitment to treating people fairly and ethically. Officers and staff are mostly well trained, understand how to communicate effectively and use their coercive powers fairly, but their awareness of unconscious bias needs to be improved. There are appropriate levels of monitoring in place that seek to improve the service provided to the community, but work is still needed to make sure that use of force data is properly collated and shared. The force monitors its stop and search activity, but needs to improve the levels of external scrutiny to provide greater reassurance to the public. Monitoring will be improved when body-worn video is used regularly.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that all members of the workforce have a sufficient understanding of unconscious bias.
- The force should evaluate how stop and search activity reflects its priorities, to provide further reassurance to communities that its use of stop and search is fair and effective.
- The force should improve its external monitoring of stop and search to enable the community to review intrusively all aspects of stop and search activity.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Dorset Police is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Leaders display ethical conduct and the force has an established process for referring ethical dilemmas. Policies are developed with ethics in mind, and the workforce is confident in applying ethical considerations to their decision-making process. The force makes it easy for people to make a complaint, and is good at keeping complainants updated on the progress of their complaint. The force is good at identifying and investigating discrimination, although it needs to improve how it refers cases to the IPCC.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that all allegations which meet the mandatory criteria for referral to the IPCC are so referred.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Dorset Police needs to improve some aspects of its relationship with its workforce. It has clear processes that allow the workforce to provide feedback and challenge to senior leaders, but the confidence of the workforce in their effectiveness is mixed. The force has resources and activity in place to address disproportionality in recruitment, retention and promotion and it has a positive approach to workforce wellbeing. However, high workloads are affecting the wellbeing of some officers and staff, and support for those involved in internal misconduct processes needs to be better. The force recognises that it needs to improve some of its people management processes, most notably individual performance assessment, which are not as fair or effective as they need to be.
Areas for improvement
- The force needs to improve the management of its performance development review (PDR) process to increase its understanding of workforce performance, development and end results.
- The force needs to improve levels of support provided to officers and staff who are either subject of, or a witness in, internal misconduct allegations.