Gwent PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Gwent 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 requiring improvement at treating all of the people it serves with fairness and respect but judged as good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
The force prioritises the ethical behaviour of the workforce and supervisors play an active role in ensuring that standards are maintained. To reinforce this, the force has put a programme in place to simulate incidents that test the principals of ethical decision making. Known as ‘ethical dilemmas’, front line staff talk through hypothetical scenarios with supervisors to discuss how best to ensure that the force’s reputation is not undermined.
Leaders in Gwent Police have a limited understanding of the importance of treating all the people they serve with fairness and respect. This is reflected in a lack of understanding of skills of Gwent Police’s workforce and shortcomings in arrangements for external scrutiny. Its monitoring of the use of coercive powers is
too limited in scope to identify and respond effectively to individual and organisational concerns. These include uncertainty regarding the legal grounds necessary to stop and search members of the public.
The force provides information to the public about how to make a complaint, and is good at keeping complainants updated on the progress of their complaints. The force has effective knowledge and processes in place to identify, respond to and investigate allegations of discrimination.
Force leaders provide a range of channels to seek feedback and challenge from its workforce. The force takes action in response to issues raised, and informs the workforce accordingly. The force has a well-established and effective health and wellbeing strategy that is supported by a range of practical measures to promote physical and psychological wellbeing, and to take preventative and early action to address wellbeing concerns. The force has provided training for supervisors and has a well-understood policy for providing wellbeing support. It has seen reductions in short and medium-term sickness as a result. The force is beginning to improve how it manages and develops the individual performance of its officers and staff, but the process does not yet have credibility among much of the workforce. The force has an established process for identifying high-potential candidates, based on line manager support, application forms and interviews, and is in the early stages of identifying high-potential members of the workforce.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Leaders in the force demonstrate that they understand the importance of treating the people they serve with fairness and respect; this is reflected in the unconscious bias training and guidance provided to frontline officers and force leaders, and the fact that this is being introduced to the whole workforce. Officers and PCSOs whom we spoke to showed a good understanding of the fair and respectful use of coercive powers.
Force-level scrutiny of stop and search is taking place but this is currently limited in its scope. The force would benefit by extending its scrutiny regime to recognise any potential unfairness or good practice and to provide assurance that the power is consistently being used legitimately across the force. The force is not able to comply fully with the national recording standard on the use of force but does encourage and make use of some external scrutiny of areas that effect fair and respectful treatment of people by the workforce. The force does not currently review its body-worn video camera records in relation to its scrutiny of stop and search.
Areas for improvement
- The force should regularly and frequently review body-worn video footage as part of its scrutiny process for improving the way it uses stop and search.
- The force should put in place independent external scrutiny of its use of stop and search and ensure reviews are conducted more frequently.
- The force needs to develop and put in place more comprehensive analysis of its stop and search data.
- The force needs to comply fully with the national recording standard on the use of force.
- The force should ensure that officers and supervisors likely to use stop and search powers understand what constitutes reasonable grounds.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Gwent Police is good at ensuring that its workforce behave ethically and lawfully. The force has an effective system in place for the consideration of ethical decision making; this is reinforced by a comprehensive training programme. This training is understood and refreshed regularly, and further guidance is available in the workplace. Ethical dilemmas are used regularly across force; these focus on hypothetical scenarios which might undermine the force’s reputation and the workforce are tested on how they would respond to them. This initiative is coordinated by the force’s ethics board which is chaired by a chief officer; officers and staff spoke of their willingness and confidence to refer matters to the ethics board if they have concerns. Chief officers regularly publish examples of ethical decision-making and occasions when front line workers have acted positively to protect the reputation of the service
Chief officer expenses are posted on the force’s website, although some information is not up to date. The force’s vetting programme is not yet in a position to ensure that security clearance is in place for the entire workforce; there is a plan to improve this situation which will be carefully monitored by HMICFRS.
The force provides comprehensive information about how to make a complaint in English and Welsh on the force website, however better multi lingual literature should be made available to the public in police buildings. Once someone has made a complaint however, the force is good at keeping complainants updated about the progress and outcome of their complaint. The force ensures its workforce identifies and responds to potential discrimination and investigates allegations thoroughly in line with national guidance.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure it complies with all aspects of the current national guidelines for vetting and has a renewed vetting action plan.
- The force should ensure its gifts and hospitality register is up to date.
- The force should ensure that it has force specific literature in police stations and other public places on how to make a complaint in line with IPCC statutory guidance. In particular this should focus on communities with less confidence in the police.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
The force has a comprehensive set of systems and processes that ensure leaders seek feedback from the workforce, including post implementation reviews, ‘Ask the Chief’ events, the staff survey, ‘Time to Listen’ sessions with chief officers and regular communication with staff networks. In this way, the force identifies workforce concerns and is good at acting upon feedback from the staff survey. The workforce have confidence in these processes, and the force’s grievance procedure, which are effective at resolving workforce concerns.
The force continues to promote and improve physical and psychological wellbeing across the organisation via its health and wellbeing strategy. The force has a good understanding of the risks and threats to the wellbeing of its workforce and their underlying causes, and there is a range of information and support available to ensure that preventative and early action is taken in response to wellbeing concerns. The force’s policy of supporting staff members in the workplace has led to reductions in sickness and other absences.
The force is beginning to improve how it manages and develops the individual performance of its officers and staff, but the process is not yet fully effective as it does not yet have credibility among much of the workforce. The force has an established process for identifying high-potential candidates but there is still a feeling among the workforce that gaining particular ‘backers’ is a pre-requisite, and that police staff are not as well supported in this area. The force recently reviewed its promotion processes and has moved away from competency-based selection towards values-based selection.
Areas for improvement
- The force should review how high potential members of the workforce are selected for leadership development.
- The force should take steps to ensure selection and promotion processes are transparent to improve the perception of fairness of officers and staff.
- The force should continue to develop an effective system for managing individual performance to improve the perception of its value by officers and staff.