Staffordshire PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Staffordshire 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 and at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. It is judged as requiring improvement in the extent to which it ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully.
Although we found some areas for improvement and some developments that had only been introduced recently, Staffordshire Police has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
Officers and staff receive training to ensure their interactions with the public are fair and respectful and the new chief constable has emphasised the importance of ethical behaviour. However some officers demonstrate only a limited understanding of certain coercive powers. Independent panels scrutinise a range of information on behalf of local communities, but the force does not routinely refer ethical decisions to these panels for external advice. Similarly, the force has an effective process for monitoring a range of stop and search data, but would benefit from disseminating any learning more widely throughout the organisation. Scrutiny of data on the use of force to identify any trends and organisational learning is not yet an established process.
HMICFRS found that published information relating to chief officers’ gifts and gratuities needs to be refreshed and updated more regularly, and only limited progress has been made in addressing the vetting backlog identified in 2016. Complaint investigators engage properly with complainants and apply Independent Police Complaints Commission guidelines consistently, resulting in a high-quality service. However, the force could do more to promote the complaints process, particularly to those who may have less trust and confidence in the police.
Various established methods are used to secure feedback from the workforce and the force responds well, making tangible changes as a result. Building on the Workforce Wellbeing Charter award achieved in 2016, the force continues to provide a programme of innovative and well-considered wellbeing projects. Promotion processes to select leaders are now far more open and are viewed as fair by the workforce, but further work is required to develop the force’s new talent enablement plan.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Staffordshire Police is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. The importance to the force’s change programme of leadership and having the correct culture is well understood and the new chief constable has communicated with the workforce to reiterate the importance of ethical behaviour. Officers and staff receive training and guidance on the importance of effective communication skills and unconscious bias to ensure their interactions with the public are fair and respectful. However, some officers demonstrate only a limited understanding of some coercive powers, including handcuffing, and the criteria which necessitate the making of an arrest.
The force records and submits the required data on use of force in line with the new national recording standard. However, it does not scrutinise these data regularly to identify any trends and promote organisational learning. The independent ethics, transparency and audit panel is made up of members of the public, who examine policing in Staffordshire at a force level and publish the results. In addition, each of the 11 local policing areas has its own independent safer neighbourhood panel, which scrutinises a range of data and information on behalf of local communities.
Only four of the 200 stop and search records examined by HMICFRS did not have reasonable grounds recorded. The force has an effective process for monitoring a range of stop and search data, including body-worn video footage, by age and ethnicity as well as other information. The force would benefit from publicising any learning from its stop and search monitoring more widely throughout the force. The force has not yet trained all of its frontline officers on how to use stop and search powers fairly and respectfully. It has provided NCALT stop and search training to 60 percent of its frontline officers and is monitoring the completion rate of the training to ensure that all relevant officers understand how to use the powers fairly and with respect.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve its recording and scrutiny of use of all types of force so that it can be certain that if force is misused, it can be identified immediately and remedial measures put in place.
- The force should ensure that learning and opportunities to improve, identified as a consequence of better scrutiny of use of all types of force, are promoted throughout the force.
- The force should ensure that all frontline officers have a thorough understanding of how to use all coercive powers fairly and respectfully; this should include the operational use of all types of force, the use of handcuffs and the criteria which necessitate the making of an arrest.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Although we did find some effective practices, Staffordshire Police requires improvement in how it demonstrates that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force does not routinely refer ethical decisions for any external advice, and published information relating to chief officers’ gifts and gratuities needs to be refreshed and updated more regularly. Only limited progress has been made in addressing the vetting backlog identified in 2016. We found limited evidence of the force providing written information on how to make a complaint at police stations and other public buildings or promoting the complaints process to groups with less confidence in the police. Information is available on the force website regarding how to contact the police using its deaf SMS text messaging and this information includes a sign-language video. However, more could be done to promote the full range of support available to people who may need additional assistance to make a complaint.
Complaint investigators engage properly with complainants and provide information at all stages of the complaints processes, adapting their communication methods where appropriate. The workforce is aware of the potential implications of discrimination for community relations. Those who investigate allegations of discrimination have a thorough understanding of equality and diversity matters and apply IPCC discrimination guidelines to their cases consistently, resulting in a high-quality service.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that its published gifts and hospitality register is kept up to date routinely.
- The force should make the complaints system more accessible; this should take account of people who need special assistance, communities who lack trust and confidence in the police and, more generally, the provision of information about an individual’s rights.
- The force should ensure that by December 2018 (in line with HMICFRS’ nationwide recommendation in December 2016), it complies with the national vetting standards by putting measures in place to ensure that all officers and staff are subject to periodic rechecking of their vetting status.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Staffordshire Police is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect, although there are still areas where it can further improve. Established methods are used to secure feedback from the workforce and the force responds well, making discernible changes as a result. The force provides effective support when grievances are recorded and these are investigated and resolved appropriately. New processes have been introduced by the force to improve its understanding of potential unfairness, in terms of recruitment, retention and progression and how officers and staff from minority communities are treated in complaints and discipline procedures. However, these processes are still too new to be able to provide the force with a thorough understanding of the problem or to devise appropriate action plans to address disproportionality, if it is identified.
Workforce health and wellbeing is clearly a priority for the force. Building on the Workforce Wellbeing Charter award achieved in 2016, the force continues to provide a programme of innovative and well-considered wellbeing activities. These are encouraging the workforce to come forward and make use of the force’s wellbeing provision, supported by supervisors who have a thorough understanding of wellbeing risks. Improvements have been made in how well the force manages individual performance, but these are not yet well established. Promotion processes to select leaders are now far more open and are viewed as fair by the workforce. Further work is required to introduce and develop the force’s new talent enablement plan, aimed at producing talent for the future.