Skip to content

HMICFRS is consulting on our proposed policing and fire & rescue services inspection programmes

Please give us your views on these programmes by 5pm on Monday 19 February 2018.

Northamptonshire PEEL 2017

Legitimacy

How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 12/12/2017
Requires improvement

Northamptonshire Police is judged to be requiring improvement in how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. For the areas of legitimacy we looked at this year, our overall judgment is less positive than last year, when we judged the force to be good. The force is judged to be requiring improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is judged to be good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully, but judged to be requiring improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats its workforce with fairness and respect.

Northamptonshire Police requires improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. Although the workforce understands the importance of treating people with fairness and respect, the force is unable to produce data to show they have all received relevant training on unconscious bias, communication skills or stop and search. The force is therefore unable to identify possible gaps in the workforce’s understanding.

The workforce understands how to use stop and search powers fairly and respectfully. However, the force needs to better monitor its stop and search data so that it can identify unfairness. External scrutiny for assessing grounds for stop and search is good, although external scrutiny of data on use of coercive powers is limited.

Northamptonshire Police is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Chief officers are very good role models and the workforce understands the importance of ethical behaviour. The complaints system is easy for the public to access, although the force needs to make it easier for those who may have less confidence in the police to make a complaint. Most complaint investigations are conducted well, with complainants receiving regular updates.

The force requires improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. While the workforce has confidence in chief officers, it has less confidence in middle management and it does not always see role-selection and promotion processes as fair. Some officers and staff we spoke with have concerns about how the new service delivery model will affect them and do not always feel they have been listened to. The force does not always take early action to improve workforce wellbeing. Inconsistent first-line management in some departments is leading to deficiencies in some welfare support and individual performance management.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?

Northamptonshire Police requires improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats all the people it serves with fairness and respect. Senior leaders promote the force’s values, for example at leadership events and through the force intranet, and these values are understood by most of the workforce. Knowledge and understanding of unconscious bias is generally good and the workforce understands how to use coercive powers fairly and respectfully. All officers we spoke with told us training on the use of force had been provided during their annual officer safety training days. However, the force cannot produce data on how many of its workforce have received training on important aspects such as understanding unconscious bias and effective communication skills and therefore identify potential gaps in understanding.

The workforce understands how to use stop and search powers fairly and respectfully. The force complies with the national recording standard on use of force and has started to scrutinise data (including body-worn video footage) on all types of use of force, including stop and search. Wider monitoring of stop and search data and scrutiny of coercive powers more generally is inconsistent, which means that the force may not be identifying unfairness. The force makes good use of external scrutiny for reviewing reasonable grounds for stop and search. However, its work with independent advisory groups needs improvement.

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure relevant training or guidance is provided to all staff and officers to ensure they treat members of the public with fairness and respect.
  • The force should ensure it has effective arrangements for providing external scrutiny to improve treatment.
  • The force should ensure it regularly monitors comprehensive data on stop and search powers to ensure they are being used fairly, including undertaking work to understand the reasons why black people are more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.
2

How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?

Northamptonshire Police is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Chief officers are ethical role models and officers and staff understand the importance of ethical behaviour. The force has internal and external ethics committees that discuss ethical dilemmas raised by the workforce. However, it could improve the workforce’s awareness of these committees and of the outcome of discussions. Officers and staff we spoke with were familiar with the National Decision Model and the Code of Ethics and understood how these frameworks support ethical decision making.

The complaints system is easy for the public to access, for example on the force website, through the control room and in front offices. However, the force needs to make it easier for those who may have less confidence in the police to make a complaint. Complainants receive updates on the progress of their case, although not consistently. The force is not always providing complainants with appropriate information, in line with legal requirements, and could improve its service to complainants.

The force generally identifies discrimination well, but should ensure that it refers all cases to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) that meet the mandatory referral criteria. The force does not always apply the IPCC discrimination guidelines to these cases, resulting in inconsistent investigations.

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The force should offer additional support to communities with less confidence in the police to ensure that all complaints are made by the public.
3

To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?

Northamptonshire Police requires improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. The force seeks feedback from its workforce, but some of the workforce do not feel it takes action in response. Officers and staff we spoke with have concerns about how the new service delivery model will affect them and do not feel they have had the opportunity to provide feedback and challenge. The force’s consultation with the workforce and staff associations has not been detailed enough.

While the workforce has confidence in raising concerns with chief officers, they have less confidence in support from middle management. The force’s grievance procedure is under-used and some do not trust it. Although the force has some understanding of the importance of addressing potential disproportionality in recruitment, retention and progression, it could do more to address this.

The force is currently operating with a significant number of police officer vacancies which is having a negative impact on its existing workforce. The force does not take early action to improve workforce wellbeing. We found a lack of consistent or meaningful first-line management in some departments, leading to inadequate welfare support and individual performance management. The force does not have a coordinated talent management programme to develop officers or police staff and some of the workforce do not see role-selection and promotion processes as fair.

Requires improvement

Areas for improvement

  • The force should improve its provision of preventative healthcare measures for its workforce, including reviewing how it supports those suffering from work-related stress (both those still at work and those off sick), and how it deploys pregnant officers.
  • The force should improve how it manages individual performance and identifies talent within the workforce.