Surrey PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Surrey 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 the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is also judged to be good at how well it ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force is judged to require improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats its workforce with fairness and respect.
Surrey Police and its workforce have a good understanding of the importance of treating people fairly and with respect. Officers and staff understand the importance of effective communication skills and how to use coercive powers fairly and respectfully. Officers and staff understand the concept of unconscious bias and how to overcome it, despite limited training on the topic. The force works well with the independent advisory group which provides external scrutiny and advice. The force scrutinises stop and search data well, although from our review of records we found that some officers and supervisors still do not understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for stop and search. The force could do more to scrutinise data on its use of force to identify trends and learning in order to improve practice.
Surrey Police is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. There is a strong focus on the Code of Ethics throughout the force. However, it does not have a formal mechanism for considering and discussing ethical dilemmas and policies. It also needs to review its plans to reduce its backlog in vetting its workforce to comply with the national vetting policy. Surrey Police has made it easier for the public to make a complaint and has publicised the complaints process in communities which might have less confidence in the police. However, the force needs to ensure that the workforce has a better understanding of discrimination.
Surrey Police requires improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. The force could improve the way in which it communicates with its workforce. Leaders could do more to encourage challenge and feedback from the wider workforce, and to publicise any action it takes as a result, so that the workforce feel that Surrey Police is listening to them. The force has a range of wellbeing services but they are not as well publicised or as easy to access as they could be. It could do more to take preventative and early action to improve workforce wellbeing, and ensure that supervisors have sufficient training to recognise early warning signs and make appropriate referrals for support. Senior leaders are aware that the workforce is feeling stretched, but some officers and staff do not feel that their wellbeing is viewed as a priority. In both our 2015 and 2016 legitimacy reports, we found that more needed to be done to support staff wellbeing, as staff were reporting that they were struggling with high workloads. In 2017 we found little progress in this area has been made; supervisors had still received no training to identify wellbeing needs early, and the level of service provided by the occupational health unit has declined. The force’s approach to managing and developing individual performance remains inconsistent. Force selection processes for talent and temporary promotion are also inconsistent.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Surrey Police and its workforce understand the importance of treating people fairly and with respect. The force has integrated the Code of Ethics into all training processes and promotes it regularly on the force intranet and in internal bulletins. Officers and staff have a good understanding of the importance of effective communication skills in their day-to-day interactions with the public. Most of those we spoke to had an understanding of unconscious bias and its effect on fair decision making.
The force ensures that its training includes a focus on how to use coercive powers fairly and respectfully but training on stop and search needs to be improved. In our review of records we found that some officers and supervisors still do not understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for stop and search.
Surrey Police could do more to scrutinise data about its use of force to identify trends and use learning to improve practice. The force holds ‘StopWatch’ meetings to provide detailed scrutiny of stop and search data, which are also attended by members of the independent advisory group. External scrutiny of the force’s activities is provided by an independent advisory group which also highlights community concerns. The force addresses any problems that are raised.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that officers likely to use stop and search powers receive sufficient training.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Surrey Police is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It promotes a strong focus on the Code of Ethics throughout the force. The force is developing a leadership strategy, framework and programme which will set out the chief constable’s expectations about standards of behaviour. It does not have an ethics committee, but the professional reference group provides an external forum where ethical dilemmas can be discussed. However, more could be done to encourage a wider conversation of everyday ethical dilemmas to promote ethical decision making at all levels.
The force needs to reduce the backlog in vetting its workforce so that all officers and staff have up-to-date security clearance. The existing plan to address this backlog will need to be revised because the force is merging its vetting database with that of Sussex Police.
Surrey Police has made it easier for members of the public to make a complaint and has improved how they can do this by using its website. Complaints can also be made by letter, phone and social media and at police front counters. However, the information on making a complaint is only available in English.
The force needs to improve the way it provides information and regular updates to complainants but it is good at informing them of the final outcome of their complaint. . It is also good at identifying and responding to potential discrimination, but could do more to investigate the complaints involving allegations of discrimination more thoroughly.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it has a credible plan to comply with all aspects of the national vetting standards by December 2018, in line with HMICFRS’ nationwide recommendation in 2016.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Surrey 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, for example at communication events and through its online forum, but many are reluctant to express their views publicly. Despite the range of activities the force uses to identify workforce concerns, including regular staff surveys, it does not publicise the changes it makes in response and therefore is missing an opportunity to show that it listens to its workforce and takes positive action to address their concerns.
The force recognises that it has a disproportionately low number of black, Asian and minority ethnic people, and women in its workforce and is addressing potential disproportionality in recruitment, retention and progression of staff with protected characteristics.
Many officers and staff do not know about the force’s wellbeing projects because they are not well publicised. The projects are often based at headquarters, making access to them difficult for many people. The force could do more to take preventative and early action to improve workforce wellbeing. Supervisors have not been given sufficient training to recognise early warning signs and make appropriate referrals for support. Senior leaders are aware that the workforce is feeling stretched, but we found that the workforce do not feel that their welfare is a concern to the force.
The force’s approach to managing and developing individual performance remains inconsistent, although the use of PDR has improved since our last inspection and supervisors are generally aware of the importance of having regular conversations with officers and staff. Grievances are often being dealt with informally, which means that actions are not recorded and as a result some members of the workforce have little confidence in the grievance process.
The selection processes for development opportunities and temporary promotions are also inconsistent and are perceived to be unfair by the officers and staff we spoke to.
Areas for improvement
- The force should prioritise workforce wellbeing and improve how it identifies and understands the concerns of its workforce, using a range of data, information and analysis to do so.
- The force should ensure that it can respond effectively when wellbeing concerns are identified. As a priority, consideration should be given to how waiting times for referrals to OHU can be reduced.
- The force should ensure that its leaders act in response to feedback and challenge from all parts of the workforce, and tell the workforce what has been done.