Wiltshire PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Wiltshire Police is judged to be good at how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. For the areas of legitimacy we assessed 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 judged to be good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
Wiltshire Police is committed to the principle that the behaviour of its workforce has a profound effect on community perceptions of fairness and respect. Improving communication skills forms an important part of training courses and it is clear that that this is having a positive effect on interactions with the public. However, the force needs to do more to ensure frontline officers and staff have an understanding of unconscious bias. The force has hate crime and stop and search scrutiny panels which provide external scrutiny and challenge for its decision making, and additional external bodies give advice on the policing of significant operations. However, as we also found in our 2016 legitimacy inspection, the force does not work with independent advisory groups (IAGs). We found significant progress was being made to introduce local and force level independent advisory groups from September 2017, but they were not in place at the time of our inspection.
Ethical standards are a high priority in the force and the members of the chief officer team provide good role models of these standards. The force has a number of programmes to build on the progress it has made, including the involvement of over 100 frontline officers and staff in developing an ethics and culture board chaired by a leading academic. The force is good at keeping complainants updated and it generally identifies, responds to and investigates allegations of discrimination well, in line with Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) guidelines.
The force has new initiatives to support workforce wellbeing and resolve workforce concerns, including a strong commitment to address workforce disproportionality. The force has effective ways for senior leaders to seek feedback and challenge from the workforce, and it has effective methods for identifying and resolving workforce concerns. The force has established a comprehensive programme of leadership training and development, although it has more work to do to improve how it manages the individual performance of its workforce.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Wiltshire Police’s leaders clearly understand procedural justice principles and promote the force values and behaviours to improve the extent to which all officers and staff treat the public with fairness and respect. Officers and staff understand the importance of communication skills in their interactions with the public and clearly demonstrate use of these skills, for example when dealing with vulnerable people. The force is also committed to addressing the risks presented by unconscious bias in the workforce. However, unconscious bias training is not provided to all members of the workforce and knowledge of unconscious bias and how to address it in decision making is mixed.
Wiltshire Police continues to develop both internal and external mechanisms to scrutinise the use of force. Firm governance procedures are in place to oversee the use of force by police officers. This ensures that if failings in procedures or any misuse of force are identified, there are measures to hold individuals to account and for the organisation to learn. However, the force has so far failed to introduce an independent advisory group, which would strengthen local and force-wide accountability and scrutiny arrangements. We were reassured to see well-developed plans to introduce independent advisory groups to oversee the use of police powers; this will deepen public scrutiny of the force and will be an area of interest for HMICFRS in future inspections.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it seeks and uses external challenge through independent advisory groups at force and local levels to help it improve the way it treats people with fairness and respect.
- The force should ensure that officers and supervisors understand and record grounds that are reasonable when stop and search powers are used.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Ethics and values are firmly established in Wiltshire Police. Senior leaders set standards of force behaviours and values through leadership events and staff forums and use operational examples to role model and reinforce these. The force is improving its process for officers and staff to refer ethical issues. One hundred workforce volunteers are working with the chief officer team to ensure the scheme meets the needs of those using it, although we found that wider knowledge of these changes was limited. The force makes the complaint system easy to access, but it could do more to support those people who may have less trust and confidence in the police. The force is good at keeping complainants updated on the progress of their complaints and it generally identifies and responds appropriately to allegations of discrimination. The force undertakes satisfactory investigations into allegations of discrimination, in line with IPCC guidelines, and provides a good level of overall service to complainants and other interested parties.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that the complaints system is accessible to all sections of the community; this should include individuals who have less trust and confidence in the police and people who experience cultural or language barriers.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
The senior leaders in Wiltshire Police are committed to treating the workforce with fairness and respect, including demonstrating a strong commitment to addressing workforce disproportionality. The chief constable makes himself and his senior team directly available to the workforce and we found evidence that concerns raised are listened to and acted on. A good example of this is the extra developmental support put in place for newly promoted sergeants. The wellbeing of the workforce is prioritised; all chief officers have personal objectives to drive through improvements for frontline workers.
Organisational support for the workforce is also evident through a comprehensive programme of leadership training and development that has been established in the force. We found some examples of frontline officers and staff expressing anxieties about unreasonably high workloads. It would be advisable for the force to determine whether this is of more widespread concern among officers and staff.