Cheshire PEEL 2018
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
Cheshire Constabulary is good at treating the public fairly.
The constabulary promotes an ethical culture, and the workforce is aware of expected behaviours and values. It now has an ethics committee.
It has learnt from a high-profile case involving one of its officers. Its work has involved reassuring the public and raising the profile among staff of abuse of position and the importance of reporting ethical issues.
The constabulary generally manages corruption risks well, and it is good at assessing intelligence. Threat assessments are good but would benefit from being more localised.
The constabulary is good at treating its workforce fairly.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2017 legitimacy inspection has been carried over. In 2017, we identified two areas for improvement:
- The constabulary should ensure that it records and monitors its officers’ use of force comprehensively and complies with the NPCC recording requirements.
This area of improvement has not been discharged. The constabulary needs to further develop its use of force governance and monitoring processes. We have given specific feedback and will revisit this area for improvement.
- The force should review and develop its independent advisory group arrangements, including being independently chaired with regular senior officer attendance. This should include guidance to bring governance and consistency for local policing in developing community cohesion groups.
The constabulary has developed its independent advisory group arrangements so this area for improvement has been discharged.
Despite this question not being subject to inspection in 2018/19, we reviewed a representative sample of 99 stop and search records to assess the reasonableness of the recorded grounds. We established that 89 percent of those records contained reasonable grounds. Our assessment is based on the grounds recorded by the searching officer and not the grounds that existed at the time of the search.
In our 2017 legitimacy report, we recommended that all forces should:
- monitor and analyse comprehensive stop and search data to understand reasons for disparities;
- act on those; and
- publish the analysis and the action by July 2018.
The constabulary has complied with some of these recommendations. But it doesn’t identify the extent to which find rates differ between people from different ethnicities and across different types of searches (including separate identification of find rates for drug possession and supply-type offences). And it isn’t clear that it monitors enough data to identify numbers of possession-only drug searches or how these align with local or force-level priorities.
We reviewed the website. This includes reference to a research report commissioned by the constabulary explaining the results of a survey of people who have been stopped and searched. However, the research report has not been published. There was no obvious mention of analysis it had carried out to understand and explain reasons for disparities or any action taken later.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Cheshire Constabulary has a positive ethical culture, and leaders ensure staff know the force’s values.
There is an open and learning culture. The constabulary now needs to highlight the work of its ethics panel to the workforce, so they can use it more.
There is confidence in the system of reporting potential corruption, and the counter corruption unit (CCU) is well-used.
Cheshire Constabulary complies with vetting procedures when recruiting. But the backlog in vetting renewals and reviews needs to be cleared.
The constabulary manages corruption risks well, and it is good at assessing this intelligence. It had good IT systems to assist this work.
It has developed good links with other agencies who support vulnerable people and encourage concerns to be reported. While the constabulary is good in this area, it could improve further by raising awareness among its workforce of its policies on business interests, gifts and associations. It then needs to monitor this information.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should expand the work and effectiveness of its ethics panel to ensure the workforce are aware of it and how to raise issues. Learning outcomes should be shared openly.
- The force should ensure all staff have received at least the lowest level of vetting clearance for their roles and clear any backlogs, ensuring it is fully compliant with the national vetting guidelines.
- The force should monitor its vetting decisions to identify disparities and disproportionality (e.g. black, Asian and minority ethnic [BAME] groups), and act to reduce them where appropriate.
- The force should ensure that its CCU has enough capability and capacity to counter corruption effectively and proactively.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
This question was not subject to detailed inspection in 2018/19, and our judgment from the 2017 legitimacy inspection has been carried over. In 2017, we identified an area for improvement:
- The constabulary should develop a process for recording and monitoring interventions made by its managers that do not result in grievances.
Our pre-inspection activity showed that the constabulary had good grievance procedures. And there was appropriate monitoring of fairness at work issues and availability of trend data. But this did not yet fully extend to management interventions.