Northumbria PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Northumbria 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 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.
Northumbria Police is good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime, with elements that are outstanding. Our overall grade this year is consistent with last year’s however, it should be noted that the force has made many significant improvements since last year.
There is strong leadership around treating people fairly, and the workforce has a clear understanding of how to do so. There are good arrangements for external scrutiny in place. The force has scrutiny processes that monitor and review the use of stop and search and the wider use of force, but more needs to be done to ensure all officers and supervisors understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for the use of these powers.
Northumbria Police ensures that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully, with clear leadership from the chief officer team on the force’s values – the Proud principles. The team outlines and models high behavioural expectations and the workforce follows these. Decision making is devolved to officers and staff at all levels, who trust the organisation to support them should a decision turn out be the wrong one.
Northumbria Police has a good complaints process for the public that is clear and easy to use. However, the information about complaints on the force’s website could be improved. Complainants receive a consistently high level of service from the force. Allegations of discrimination are investigated thoroughly and professionally. We noted that gifts, hospitality, declarations of business interests and details of pay and rewards have not been updated since 2015.
Northumbria Police treats its workforce with fairness and respect. The force is very keen to seek feedback from its workforce and actively encourages members to submit new ideas and become involved in change and improvement. The force consistently considers the wellbeing of its workforce. Numerous initiatives identify early signs of problems such as mental health, and there are champions to support anyone who may show signs of suffering from these or other medical problems. The force has recently introduced a new professional development system, but the take-up is poor. The force needs to do more to make this process feel relevant to the entire workforce.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Northumbria Police is good at treating all the people it serves with fairness and respect, with elements that are outstanding. Fairness and respect constitute the cornerstone of what the force believes in, and this is constantly communicated and understood by the entire workforce. There is good leadership around values and expected standards of behaviour, and this is reflected in workplace activity.
The force has clear processes in place to monitor the legal and proportionate use of stop and search and the wider use of force. However, the understanding of what constitutes reasonable grounds to stop and search among some officers and supervisors requires strengthening. The force has outstanding processes in place for external scrutiny of a range of policing activities, including stop and search and the use of force.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Northumbria Police is good at ensuring that its staff behave fairly and ethically. All staff have had training in discrimination awareness and understand the importance of it. The workforce knows how they should behave and understands the reporting processes for any problems of fairness or discrimination. Staff and officers had a high level of confidence that the organisation would act positively should a report be submitted.
The force has excellent systems for recording complaints and it conducts high-quality investigations. The internal systems allow tight governance of the entire complaints process, and as a result, all complaints that were reviewed were found to have been well managed. The inspection team found good evidence of quality investigations by the force across the range of complaint, misconduct and grievance matters. Investigating officers have a good understanding of discrimination and how to investigate it.
Performance in respect of grievance and service recovery matters was particularly impressive. The associated processes provide examples of good practice which other forces may benefit from exposure to, in order potentially to bring about improvements in their own organisations. The inspection found evidence of a well-run and well-led professional standards department, that carries out and manages high-quality investigations treat people fairly and with dignity.
Our review of the force website highlighted that there were areas that could be improved. The site was not the easiest to use either to make a complaint or to obtain information about complaints. Gifts, hospitality, declarations of business interests and details of pay and rewards had not been updated since 2015.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it publishes up-to-date information on gifts, hospitality, business interests and pay for all senior staff.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Northumbria Police is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. The force is very good at encouraging feedback, and supporting its workforce to raise difficult matters through a variety of means. The force has a range of ways for the workforce to feedback and submit ideas and to alert leaders to problems. Leaders within the force listen and respond to these problems and, where possible and appropriate, make changes and implement the ideas put forward. Staff and officers were very positive about the leadership of the force and its commitment to seeking feedback and taking it seriously enough to make changes.
The force is outstanding in the wellbeing provision for its officers and staff. There is a clear commitment from the chief constable that is mirrored by leaders throughout the force. Wellbeing awareness if very high among the workforce, and this has led to an increase in prevention activity and early intervention from supervisors and trained staff who have the skills to be able to spot potential health problems and provide support at an early stage. Staff and officers were extremely positive about the force’s approach to wellbeing and believe that the force is totally committed to improving the health of its workforce.
The force has developed its personal development system, but the take-up is poor and not everyone has completed the process. The force needs to do more to make the process feel relevant to the whole workforce and to manage individual performance through this system.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure it has effective systems, processes and guidance in place, in which all staff and officers are engaged, to manage individual performance and development.