Merseyside PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Merseyside Police is judged to be good at how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. For the areas of legitimacy we assessed this year, our overall judgment is the same as last year. The force is judged to be good at treating all of the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is also judged to be good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
Merseyside Police has been graded as good at how legitimate it is in keeping people safe and reducing crime. The workforce understands the importance of treating people fairly and with respect, including recognising unconscious bias, using effective communication skills and proportionate use of coercive powers. The force has excellent arrangements for using external scrutiny to improve the extent to which the force treats people with fairness and respect, and effective monitoring of the use of force and stop and search.
Merseyside Police works hard to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Leaders promote ethical decision making through clear behavioural expectations and encouraging the use of discretion within an ethical framework. The force has an easy-to-follow complaints process that is easy to access, and complainants receive consistently good service from the force. Well-trained and experienced investigators within the professional standards department identify and respond to allegations of discrimination and conduct good investigations, in line with IPCC guidelines but needs to ensure allegations meeting the mandatory criteria are referred to the IPCC.
Merseyside Police is committed to treating its workforce with fairness and respect. The force encourages and responds positively to challenge and feedback, making changes where possible, or explaining why not. For example, the force has responded promptly to frustrations following changes to the operating model. The force is conscious of the need to reflect the communities it serves and has carried out media recruitment campaigns to try to increase the diversity of its workforce. Wellbeing awareness – particularly regarding mental health – has increased and the force has invested in additional wellbeing resources. The force has improved its processes for managing individual performance, and leaders emphasise the importance of one-to-one meetings. However, the reduced availability of supervisors may hinder the potential value of the process and understanding of performance across the workforce is not yet complete. . The force intends to pilot a new talent management programme and it has undertaken work to improve the way it selects it leaders.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Merseyside Police is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. The workforce understands the importance of treating people fairly and with respect and the force’s leaders encourage and support the use of professional discretion by officers and staff to ensure they do so, in line with its community first strategy. The force has clear processes in place to monitor use of stop and search and the use of force although it is not fully compliant with the national minimal recording standards for the use of force. It has excellent arrangements for external challenge and scrutiny.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Merseyside Police continues to work hard to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Clear leadership is displayed by the chief officer team regarding the force’s values and ethos through the ‘just’ principles and the community first strategy. The leadership sets clear behavioural expectations for its workforce, and opportunities exist to consider ethical decision making at all levels.
Merseyside Police has a complaints process that is clear, informative and easy for the public to use. Complainants receive a consistently good service from the force. The workforce can identify discrimination in all its forms and are confident that they would respond to it appropriately. The force has well-trained and experienced detectives within its professional standards department (PSD), with the necessary skills and awareness to identify and conduct good investigations into allegations where discrimination may be present. However, we found some examples of cases not having been referred to the IPCC when they should have been.
Areas for improvement
- The force 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 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?
Merseyside Police is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. The force encourages challenge and feedback from its workforce through a range of channels, and makes the necessary improvements. At the time of our inspection, we found clear frustrations from uniformed officers about shift patterns; however, the force had listened and responded to these promptly. The force may, however, need to do more work to communicate this action to the workforce more effectively.
There has been clear development regarding wellbeing, led by the chief constable. We found that wellbeing awareness had increased notably and the force has invested in additional wellbeing resources to support its workforce. There is an increased awareness of stress and mental health, which the force has identified as its biggest risk to workforce wellbeing. However, changes to the force’s operating model have left some of the workforce feeling isolated from their supervisors – who were not able to identify and support wellbeing concerns – and too busy to take up wellbeing services. The force is looking at how it can address this issue.
The force has emphasised the importance of having one-to-one meetings with officers and staff to discuss performance and wellbeing. Its process for managing individual performance has improved since our last inspection, but it is not yet being used by all officers and staff. The force is developing its talent management programme to develop the leaders of the future and has taken concerted action to improve the fairness of the promotion process. The force is conscious of the need for its workforce to reflect the communities it serves and it has carried out media campaigns to try to increase the diversity of its new recruits.