North Wales PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
North Wales 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 more positive than last year, when we judged the force to be requiring improvement. The force is judged to be good at how well it ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. It is judged to be requiring improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats all of the people it serves with fairness and respect.
North Wales Police is judged to be good overall in respect of how legitimate the force is at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Previously, the force has acted when notified of areas for improvement, and its leaders have demonstrated a real commitment to ensuring the workforce understands the importance of treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. This includes how well it communicates with people and how fairly it uses coercive powers. However, the force requires improvement in some aspects of the way that it understands the extent to which its workforce treats members of the public with fairness and respect. It needs to do more to ensure its external scrutiny is effective in bringing about changes wanted by the communities it serves, including the way that it monitors and scrutinises the use of stop and search powers, to ensure these are used fairly.
North Wales Police has a good ethical culture. This is demonstrated by senior leaders, and officers and staff throughout the organisation, who take an ethical approach to decision making. Members of the public are able to complain easily when they feel that they have not received the service they expect from officers and staff in North Wales Police. Furthermore, the force is good at providing its workforce with the skills needed to identify, respond to and investigate discrimination. Leaders are fully committed to promoting the wellbeing of the workforce; a healthy lifestyle is encouraged and support is provided to those who need it. There are structures in place which allow the workforce to contribute new ideas, challenge leaders and receive feedback. However, the force needs to do more to encourage black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) representation within its workforce. It also needs to ensure the new appraisal process is understood by everyone, with a greater emphasis on individual development and organisational learning, and that it is valued and trusted by the workforce.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Although the force is good at understanding the importance of treating all the people it serves with fairness and respect, it nevertheless requires improvement in the way that it does this. Leaders have demonstrated a commitment to ensure officers and staff understand the need to work with impartiality, integrity and transparency in the best interests of the public. This message is embedded in the force’s values, through campaigns and training, and in the annual appraisal process, so that the extent of this understanding can be regularly tested and improved upon. Officers and staff understand the importance of good communication skills and how to use coercive powers fairly and respectfully.
However, HMICFRS found that some members of the workforce did not understand unconscious bias, although the need to avoid prejudicial and discriminatory practice was well understood. We also found the force’s IAG is not sufficiently representative of the communities it serves, which limits the effectiveness of its scrutiny. The force has a good understanding of the extent to which it is using coercive powers fairly and respectfully. However, the grounds for the use of stop and search powers are not well understood by all officers who apply them.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that all officers and staff have a good understanding of how to recognise and overcome unconscious bias.
- The force should improve its process for regularly and frequently scrutinising a broad range of stop and search data and information, to gain a better understanding of the relationship between age, gender and ethnicity and the number of stop and search encounters resulting in outcomes that were linked to the original reason for the search.
- The force should ensure that all external scrutiny groups have diverse membership representative of its local communities, including young people.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
North Wales Police is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force has strong leadership in relation to ethical decision making and sends clear messages to the workforce to ensure its members understand what is expected of them. The officers and staff we spoke to were positive about the ethical role-modelling by leaders within the force. Members of the workforce are able to raise ethical problems through an established referral system, and leaders are able to demonstrate that staff feel comfortable in using the system. Chief officers publish information relating to their own gifts and hospitality, business interests, pay and rewards. The force has made it easy for members of the public to complain by providing a range of options by which to do so, including via the internet. North Wales Police is good at providing complainants with the information they need to understand how their complaint is being progressed, and provides a satisfactory service throughout the complaints process. However, it needs to ensure that it maintains accurate records of communication with both the complainants and those who are subjects of complaints. HMICFRS found that officers and staff who investigate allegations of discrimination have the knowledge, skill and experience to apply the IPCC guidelines. The force has a good understanding of discrimination, and identifies, responds to and investigates allegations of discrimination well.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that, in all cases, it is recording the action taken to update both complainants and those who are the subjects of complaints, in line with IPCC statutory guidance.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
North Wales Police is good in the extent to which it treats its workforce fairly and with respect. The force has made good progress since 2015, by promoting more challenge, and by taking a greater interest in the wellbeing of the workforce. HMICFRS is pleased to see that the force’s commitment to existing initiatives like ‘Bend the boss’s ear’ has been maintained, while new initiatives such as ‘My Voice’ have been introduced. HMICFRS is pleased to see that the external counselling service to support staff, a previous area for improvement, has been re-established. North Wales Police clearly makes resolute and determined efforts to manage grievances effectively, to maintain open communication, and to identify opportunities for early resolution. However, HMICFRS considers that the force should be doing much more to attract, retain and promote BAME people within the organisation. HMICFRS is pleased to see the force has introduced a new annual appraisal process, another previous area for improvement, but leaders need to ensure that supervisors understand the new process. The force also needs to ensure that promotion is seen as fair, open and accessible during all stages of the application process. The selection process for vacant roles also needs to be made clearer.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it has effective processes in place to identify and understand the causes of potential disproportionality in the recruitment and progression of officers and staff from BAME backgrounds, and should take action to address these causes effectively.
- The force should ensure that its selection processes are open and accessible throughout all stages of the application and are clearly understood by all members of the workforce.