Lancashire PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Lancashire Constabulary 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 constabulary is judged to be good at treating all of the people it serves with fairness and respect and ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully but is judged to require improvement in some aspects of how it treats its workforce with fairness and respect.
Lancashire Constabulary has been assessed as good in terms of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. It is good at treating all of the people it serves with fairness and respect. Leaders understand procedural justice and have made arrangements to provide the workforce with the knowledge and skills they need to treat the people they serve with fairness and respect. This includes training in unconscious bias and in communication skills. The level of internal and external scrutiny on the use of force and on stop and search powers is good. The constabulary complies with the national recording standard for the use of force.
The constabulary is good at ensuring that its workforce behave ethically and lawfully. A well-established ethics panel provides scrutiny, advice and guidance to leaders on the ethical implications of their decisions. Training on the Code of Ethics and regular meetings between staff and managers where they discuss ethical matters serve to remind the workforce of the importance of maintaining the standards of behaviour expected of them. The constabulary has made good progress with a plan to comply with national vetting guidelines.
The constabulary provides a variety of clear information to members of the public wishing to make a complaint through a range of sources. Records of meaningful and timely updates to complainants are inconsistent, however. Generally, the workforce are aware of discrimination, but this awareness is not comprehensive. When we conducted a review of complaint files that contained, or that we thought might contain, allegations of discrimination, we found that the constabulary was good at recognising and identifying discrimination. However, the subsequent investigation of those allegations was less satisfactory. While some positive work is taking place in many areas, the constabulary needs to improve some elements of how it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. The workforce use and value an online forum on which they can provide feedback and challenge leaders. The constabulary also has taken effective action to identify and address disproportionality in recruitment and progression.
Senior leaders promote the benefits of workforce wellbeing and have invested in improving the level of support available to the workforce. However, the level of awareness of wellbeing at lower management levels is inconsistent. This may limit the quality of support on offer to some officers and staff, and affect the workforce’s confidence in the commitment of senior leaders. Arrangements for individual performance management still require improvement. The constabulary has introduced an interim performance development review process. However, the workforce remain unclear about its benefits, and some first-line managers were unclear about how to deal with poor performance. The constabulary has taken steps to make the process of selecting leaders fairer. However, this change has not been communicated effectively to the workforce yet.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Lancashire Constabulary is good at treating all the people it serves with fairness and respect. Constabulary leaders demonstrate the value and benefits of procedural justice and the current arrangements equip the workforce with this knowledge. The importance of treating people with fairness and respect is understood widely. The constabulary provides training so that the workforce can recognise and overcome unconscious bias. Although not all the workforce has undergone such training, understanding of this subject is good. Training and scrutiny of use of force are good, and the constabulary complies with the national recording standard. The constabulary has effective processes for the internal monitoring and external scrutiny of stop and search, to understand the extent to which the workforce treat people well – and improve it.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should improve its guidance on and use of body-worn video (BWV) equipment in the exercise of coercive powers.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Lancashire Constabulary is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Leaders regularly clarify and reinforce acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and the constabulary has a credible plan to complete all re-vetting over the next 18 months. The constabulary has a specific structure of ethics committees to which decisions involving ethics may be referred. The constabulary has accessible policies and rigorous procedures that comply with the constabulary’s equality duty and reflect the Code of Ethics. The workforce receive adequate and relevant training on the code, which is embedded within the workforce’s culture and working practices. The workforce have a good general understanding and awareness of discrimination.
The constabulary’s website contains detailed information on how to make a complaint. It provides appropriate support for those with disabilities or language difficulties to register a complaint. Information is available in areas of police stations facing the public, providing guidance on the complaints procedure. Complaints containing allegations of discrimination are identified properly. However, there are inconsistencies in the quality of investigations into discrimination allegations and in the timeliness and quality of updates to complainants. We are disappointed to find a lack of awareness among some local staff of their responsibility to deal with complaints that may contain allegations of discrimination.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should ensure that it publishes chief officers’ gifts, hospitality, business interests, pay and rewards on its website in a way that can be easily accessed by members of the public.
- The constabulary should improve the quality and timeliness of updates to complainants, in line with Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) statutory guidance.
- The constabulary should ensure that all allegations that meet the mandatory criteria for referral to the IPCC are so referred.
- The constabulary should ensure that all investigating officers appointed to deal with discrimination allegations have a good understanding of equality and diversity and have the knowledge, skill and experience required to apply the IPCC guidelines for handling allegations of discrimination.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Lancashire Constabulary is committed to treating its staff with fairness and respect. However, it needs to do more to ensure that this is consistently applied at all leadership levels. Since our 2016 legitimacy inspection, the constabulary has made progress in some areas. It continues to offer ways for officers and staff to provide feedback to leaders, which the workforce trust and value. It has carried out work to identify disproportionality in recruitment, retention, progression and allegations of wrongdoing, and is taking action to address the problems identified. Senior leaders are committed to improving the wellbeing of the workforce and have introduced wellbeing ambassadors and dedicated leads for wellbeing in each BCU, alongside a range of wellbeing services. The chief constable has produced a series of video presentations to improve the workforce’s awareness and understanding. However, understanding and commitment are less evident at lower levels of management and the result is that some of the workforce do not feel that their wellbeing is seen as a priority. One cause of this may be the lack of effective training for managers on a meaningful, consistent individual performance management process, which supports development, performance and wellbeing. If the constabulary resolves this problem, it could improve the workforce’s perception of their treatment.
The constabulary has mechanisms to identify talented individuals, but this approach is not consistent and the emphasis remains on line managers identifying talent. The constabulary has made good use of national schemes such as Police Now and direct entry to increase the diversity of its leadership teams and ensure it has the skills to meet future needs. It has revised the promotion process to make it fairer, and recognises the need to communicate this change.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should ensure that its supervisors can recognise warning signs, intervene early and provide support on wellbeing matters.
- The constabulary should ensure that it has effective systems and processes and develops and supports its supervisors and managers to conduct honest, fair and effective assessments, support continuous professional development and manage poor performance.
- The constabulary should review the selection process for members of the workforce with high potential for leadership development.