Thames Valley PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Thames Valley Police 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 also good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
Thames Valley Police treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. The workforce receive the training it needs to perform their duties fairly and respectfully. This includes training on unconscious bias, effective communication skills and coercive powers such as use of force and stop and search. The force monitors its use of coercive powers to ensure they are being used fairly. It has recently improved its scrutiny of the use of force to help identify any disproportionality in its use. Independent advisory groups provide external scrutiny, although the force could better publicise these groups and provide group members with training to support them in their role.
The force is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. All members of the workforce receive training in ethical decision making. The force has groups that consider ethical issues, which could be improved by including external members. Information about how to make a complaint is available on the force website, but printed information was not available in the force enquiry offices we visited. The force investigates most complaints well and provides complainants with clear information, but it could improve the timeliness of its updates. It is good at identifying discrimination and investigates these complaints well.
Thames Valley Police treats its workforce with fairness and respect. The force seeks feedback and challenge and has a good understanding of the issues that concern the workforce. It is creating a new diversity plan to address disproportionality in its workforce, particularly to attract more candidates from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background. The force has a very good understanding of workforce wellbeing and provides a wide range of wellbeing and support services. It has a well-established talent management programme and has also introduced a new promotion process to remove potential bias and encourage different leadership styles. However, the one to one meetings between staff and supervisors that form part of the force’s individual performance assessment are not being used consistently and the scheme is not always valued by the workforce.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Thames Valley Police is good at treating all the people it serves with fairness and respect. Senior leaders consider the Code of Ethics in all policy development and the workforce receives effective training on the code. Frontline officers and staff receive training on unconscious bias and effective communication skills and can demonstrate a good understanding of them. Training on coercive powers such as stop and search and use of force ensures that officers understand how to use these powers fairly and respectfully.
Thames Valley Police monitors its use of force and now gathers data that will help it to identify any disproportionality in its use. The force also monitors its use of stop and search well. Independent advisory groups (IAGs) provide effective external scrutiny of the force’s activities, including the use of force and stop and search. However, the force could improve their effectiveness by providing group members with training and publicising their work.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it supports the work of the IAGs by providing training for members and by providing clearly accessible information about their work, and about how to become a member, on the force internet.
- The force should ensure that its arrangements to scrutinise use of force by its staff incorporate greater use of external scrutiny.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Thames Valley Police is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Senior leaders are good role models of ethical behaviour and are open to feedback and challenge. All members of the workforce receive training in ethical decision making. The force has groups that consider ethical issues. It could do more to publicise their work and use them more consistently, and should ensure that they include external members.
The force does not yet comply with the national vetting standards and is prioritising vetting for those who have not been vetted before, renewals and high-risk posts. However, it has an achievable plan to comply with the standards.
Information on how to make a complaint is available on the force’s website, but there was no force-specific information on display in the force enquiry offices we visited. There was also no information in these offices on how to access support to make a complaint for those who need it or for communities that are less likely to engage with the police. Thames Valley Police is good at providing complainants with clear information, but could improve the timeliness of its updates. The force is good at identifying discrimination and investigates discrimination complaints well.
Areas for improvement
- The force should do more to ensure it has made comprehensive arrangements to provide information and support to people who may wish to make a complaint against the police, in particular when they come from a group that might find this difficult or is less likely to engage with the police.
- The force should consider how it could ensure that the ethical implications of its policies and procedures are reviewed systematically and in a way that incorporates an external view – and that officers and staff are aware of how to raise ethical issues within the force.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Thames Valley Police treats its workforce with fairness and respect. Leaders seek feedback and challenge from the workforce and respond by making changes where appropriate. Overall, the force is good at identifying and resolving workforce concerns, although not all members of the workforce we spoke with had full confidence in grievance procedures.
The force recognises that it needs to do more to address disproportionality in its workforce, particularly to attract more candidates from a BAME background. It is planning to develop an equality and diversity strategy to help with this.
Thames Valley Police has a very good understanding of the wellbeing issues that affect its workforce through analysing statistical data (such as grievances and sickness rates) and survey results as well as through working with staff associations. Leadership training covers identifying and managing wellbeing issues and supervisors are expected to intervene early in tackling wellbeing problems. The force provides a wide range of wellbeing and support services and has a comprehensive wellbeing action plan that includes the prevention of mental ill health.
The force has processes to assess and develop the performance of its workforce, but they are not being used consistently. Although the majority of the workforce complete a performance development review (PDR) every year, it is regarded as an administrative burden and is not valued. Regular one-to-one meetings between members of the workforce and their line manager do not always take place.
Thames Valley Police has a well-established talent management programme for which the workforce can apply or be nominated by their line manager. We found those we spoke with viewed the process as fair. The force has introduced a new promotion process that is based on national best practice to remove potential bias and encourage different leadership styles.
Areas for improvement
- The force should do more to ensure that officers and staff have confidence in the grievance procedure and the new promotion assessment processes. The force should refresh the processes and provide more information to the workforce about them.