Suffolk PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Suffolk Constabulary is 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 good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
Suffolk Constabulary continues to demonstrate that it treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. Members of the workforce understand the force’s vision and values and receive the training they need, which is also reinforced with internal communications. The force monitors the use of its coercive powers and ensures any learning from this is used to improve workforce training. Effective external scrutiny is provided through public meetings and independent advisory groups. The force is introducing body-worn video cameras for frontline officers, which will enable further scrutiny.
The force is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and its policies are based on the Code of Ethics. However, the force needs to do more to ensure that it complies fully with current national vetting standards.
Suffolk Constabulary provides comprehensive information about how to make a complaint, both on its web page and in force buildings. . It also has a network of community contact links which helps the force to reach communities that may have less trust and confidence in the police. The force reviews all public complaints and internal misconduct investigations to ensure it learns from its mistakes. The force’s joint professional standards department with Norfolk Constabulary undertakes satisfactory investigations in cases involving alleged discrimination. However, it needs to ensure it identifies all allegations involving discrimination, it updates complainants and those who are the subject of allegations in a timely manner (in line with its legal requirements) and that updates contain sufficient information on the progress of the investigation.
Officers and staff told us that there is a positive organisational culture in which leaders are receptive to feedback and the workforce are encouraged and feel confident in expressing their views. The force is continuing to improve the range of workforce wellbeing services it provides. It is making progress in increasing the diversity of its workforce so that it better reflects the communities it serves. The workforce consider selection and promotion processes to be fair and free of bias. However, the force needs to improve the way individual performance assessment is used and ensure that officers and staff recognise the value of this.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Suffolk Constabulary is good at ensuring that it treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. Members of the workforce understand the force’s vision and values and receive the training they need, including on unconscious bias and how to overcome it, effective communication skills and use of coercive powers such as force and stop and search. The force also provides online briefings and messages to officers to reinforce the information that has been provided at training sessions. Frontline officers have a good understanding of how to use their coercive powers fairly and respectfully and follow national guidance when using stop and search.
The force has effective methods for internal scrutiny of use of force and stop and search to ensure these powers are being used fairly. Learning identified from this scrutiny influences the training the force provides to its workforce. External scrutiny is provided through public meetings and by independent advisory groups, which have a diverse membership. The force provides members of the groups with training to help them perform their role effectively and is seeking to expand the involvement of young people. The force also has additional external scrutiny through a local scheme where the public can accompany officers on patrol and provide feedback. Suffolk Constabulary is issuing frontline officers and staff with body-worn video cameras, which will enable further scrutiny
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Suffolk Constabulary is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force’s policies are based on the Code of Ethics; new and revised policies are scrutinised by the independent advisory group and are available to the public on the force’s website. Leaders are good role models and are open to feedback.
The force does not comply fully with national vetting standards because of a large number of officers whose vetting has expired. However, it has plans to address this and is prioritising vetting for posts that have the highest risk.
Suffolk Constabulary has comprehensive information on its website about how to make a complaint, including how to access additional support such as translation and advocacy services. Police public reception areas, police detention facilities, local authority buildings and support organisations display posters that provide information on how to make a complaint. The force also has a network of community contact links who can support people within communities who may have less trust and confidence in the police who may wish to make a complaint.
The force identifies and responds adequately to allegations of potential discrimination. The workforce receives training on discrimination and has a good understanding. However, the force needs to do more to ensure that all allegations are recorded correctly. The joint professional standards department is good at investigating cases involving allegations of discrimination but needs to ensure it identifies all allegations of discrimination, refers to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) all cases that meet the mandatory criteria and consistently provides informative updates to complainants and those who are the subject of allegations. The force routinely reviews all public complaints and internal misconduct investigations to ensure it learns from its mistakes.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve the quality and timeliness of updates to complainants, including matters of misconduct, in line with IPCC statutory guidance.
- The force should improve the level of understanding among its workforce so they can identify and respond appropriately to initial reports of discrimination.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Suffolk Constabulary is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. The force encourages the workforce to provide feedback and challenge, for example through forums and staff surveys. Members of the workforce we spoke with felt encouraged and confident to speak directly with local leaders and senior officers. The force also has a confidential reporting system for those who want to remain anonymous and an effective grievance procedure for those who feel they have been treated unfairly. The force reacts positively to feedback and takes action in response to concerns raised both at a local and forcewide level.
The force is addressing disproportionality in its workforce to ensure it better reflects the communities it serves. It has not set recruitment targets for those from under-represented groups but is trying to make its recruitment processes as open and fair as possible and is using social media to provide information and encourage people to join the force.
Suffolk Constabulary is good at understanding and promoting the wellbeing of its workforce. The force is continuing to improve the range of wellbeing services it provides. Officers and staff are aware of the services available and how to access them. Supervisors receive training and support to manage their wellbeing responsibilities. A new joint occupational health, safety and wellbeing strategy working group aims to identify and address any matters affecting the physical and mental wellbeing of the workforce.
The force carrries out selection and promotion processes consistently and with independent oversight. The workforce consider these processes to be fair and free from bias. The force needs to continue its work to ensure that the performance assessment framework is used consistently and that officers and staff recognise the value of performance development reviews.
Areas for improvement
- The force needs to ensure that the staff performance assessment framework is consistently and fairly applied throughout the force and that there is a clear monitoring process so that staff consider it valuable in supporting their development.