Greater Manchester PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
After the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena on 22 May, in which 22 people were killed by a suicide bomber, HMICFRS decided jointly with Greater Manchester Police that we would not undertake our early June inspection fieldwork. HMICFRS later completed a limited inspection, which included a series of interviews and visits to operational departments and police stations. Although we were unable to implement the full inspection methodology, our inspection was sufficient to allow us to report on the legitimacy of Greater Manchester Police and to provide a descriptive assessment, although not to award a graded judgment.
In 2016, the force was judged to be good for legitimacy, including good for the extent to which the force treated people with fairness and respect, good for the extent to which the force ensured its workforce behaved ethically and lawfully, and good for the extent to which the force treated its workforce with fairness and respect.
Police officers and staff in Greater Manchester Police understand the importance of treating the public fairly and with respect. Those we spoke with demonstrated good understanding of unconscious bias and recognised the importance of effective communication skills. Greater Manchester Police monitors the use of force and other coercive powers by its officers and staff, including stop and search, to assure itself that its workforce treats people with fairness and respect. The use of such powers is also subject to external scrutiny by a range of independent bodies.
Officers and staff we spoke with told us that, overall, senior leaders set, model and maintain ethical values. The force’s internal standards board and external independent ethics committee provide effective direction and challenge to support ethical decision-making at all levels. The force makes it easy for people to access the complaints system, but we found inconsistent records relating to continuing contact with complainants. The officers and staff we spoke with are confident they can identify and challenge potential discrimination, but we were disappointed to find that the force was not consistently referring cases to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) when discrimination was identified. The force has taken action to address both of these areas. The quality of investigations into allegations of discrimination is generally high.
The force works hard to ensure it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. Senior leaders encourage the workforce to provide feedback and challenge, and members of the workforce seem comfortable to do so. The force identifies and responds well to workforce concerns and is taking effective action to reduce disproportionality in the workforce. Workforce wellbeing continues to be a priority for the force. This is reflected both in the force’s focus on early intervention to identify and support wellbeing, and the workforce’s positive perceptions of the wellbeing provision. The force’s approach to managing individual performance remains inconsistent, although this year we were satisfied that line managers are holding regular meetings with their officers and staff. Its identification and management of those with leadership potential is also inconsistent, although it has revised promotion selection processes to ensure fairness, and we found that members of the workforce were confident these processes were more accessible, fair and open.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Police officers and staff in Greater Manchester Police understand well the importance of treating the public fairly and with respect, and those we spoke with demonstrated a good understanding of unconscious bias and effective communication skills. The force monitors its use of stop and search powers to ensure that officers are acting proportionately, lawfully and ethically, but further work is needed by the force to improve the recording of the grounds for conducting searches. Senior leaders monitor the use of force by officers in line with national guidance. The use of such powers is also subject to external scrutiny by local IAGs and the ethics committee, which advises the elected mayor for Greater Manchester. The force monitors those incidents in which effective tactical communications skills have been used successfully in avoiding escalation to the use of physical force.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Leaders in Greater Manchester Police were generally seen by the workforce to set, display and maintain ethical values and behaviours. The force has an internal standards board as well as an independent ethics committee, which are used to provide both direction and challenge in terms of ensuring that decisions and policies are ethical. The complaint procedure is accessible, although our review of files found the force needs to improve the way it keeps complainants updated on the progress of their case. We were also disappointed to find that the force was not always referring allegations of discrimination to the IPCC, in line with legal requirements. We are pleased the force has already taken action to address this problem. The officers and staff we spoke with were confident that they understood and felt able to challenge discrimination. Investigations into allegations of discrimination are generally of a high quality with a good overall level of service provided to the complainant.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve the availability of its printed information about how to make a complaint, particularly at front counters of police stations and in custody units, as well as to non-police premises or organisations, in line with IPCC statutory guidance.
- The force should improve the quality, timeliness and recording of updates to complainants, in line with IPCC statutory guidance. These principles should be extended to witnesses and to those who are the subject of allegations.
- 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?
Greater Manchester Police works hard to treat its workforce with fairness and respect. Senior leaders seek feedback and challenge through a range of channels, and the force is good at communicating improvements made as a result. We found that the workforce had confidence in the grievance process and the force is taking effective action to reduce disproportionality in the workforce. The wellbeing of the workforce continues to be a priority for the force, and the importance of early intervention is acknowledged and understood. All officers and staff with whom we spoke were positive regarding the force response to wellbeing following the terrorist bombing in May 2017. The force approach to managing individual performance remains inconsistent, although this year we were satisfied that line managers are holding regular meetings with their officers and staff. The identification and management of those with leadership potential is also inconsistent. Promotion selection processes have been revised to ensure fairness and eliminate bias and we found confidence among the workforce that such processes are fair, open and accessible.
Areas for improvement
- The force should implement and then monitor the effectiveness of the revised personal development process for officers and staff throughout the force.
- The force should improve the awareness among the workforce of the talent management process and increase their confidence and participation in the scheme.