Derbyshire PEEL 2018
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
Derbyshire Constabulary has significantly improved its scrutiny of the use of force. It now has better data analysis, and an independent advisory group (IAG) aids transparency. The force also scrutinises its exercise of stop and search powers well. Supervisors and senior leaders check records, as do IAG members. Chief officers can monitor trends in the force’s use of stop and search, and its connection to force priorities.
Officers’ training about stop and search has been well received. The force needs to improve knowledge of unconscious bias across the workforce. It also needs to improve how frontline staff receive annual safety training: a significant minority are waiting more than 12 months for updates.
Senior leaders are driving a positive ethical culture, and take organisational learning seriously. All staff are encouraged to make decisions based on values, and in a spirit of ‘doing the right thing’. The force shares the results of misconduct cases with the workforce in a way that promotes awareness about why judgments have been reached.
The force has kept its high standards in vetting and in dealing with corruption. The workforce is clear about what constitute professional boundaries, especially in terms of abuse of authority for sexual purposes. The force manages intelligence about potential corruption well. Officers and staff know about their responsibilities to register business interests and notifiable associations.
In 2017, we judged the force as good at its treatment of the workforce.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that all relevant officers and staff have in-date officer safety training.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Treating people fairly and respectfully
Derbyshire Constabulary is good at treating the public fairly, and with respect. The force’s senior leaders work hard to foster a culture that encourages close co-operation with the community. This leads the force to be good at understanding public perspectives of fairness and respect. The PCC consults widely with the public through surveys. It also often takes part in community events, to hear in person how the public views the police. Chief officers routinely take part in discussions, meetings and media events (specifically, those that are held for minority communities, and to discuss how officers use their stop and search powers).
The force benefits from feedback and scrutiny from its well-established IAG.
The force makes good use of its safer neighbourhood teams. These carry out community policing duties. They also gain insight into public perceptions and attitudes towards the force through surveys, and by hosting forums for local people. The teams gather information that is collated from across the force. The force uses this to determine themes, and to identify the best methods to communicate with the public.
The force has identified six high-profile events (including minority community carnivals and Derby Pride) where it carries out more extensive research among participants. This complements the approach of the safer neighbourhood teams, which are encouraged to attend local fairs and seasonal events, not only to be visible but also to actively seek opinions.
Derbyshire Alert is an online community messaging system. It is closely linked to Neighbourhood Watch. It is a free service that supplies local news, details of appeals for help from the force, local crime information and prevention advice. It is an agile way for the force to share information quickly and in a more localised way, rather than relying on traditional media. The public can react to, or share, content through social media, and directly reply to appeals through the Derbyshire Alert website.
Within the workforce, networks exist to support people from protected characteristic groups. During our inspection fieldwork, we met representatives from several networks. We received a consistent message that they feel included and listened to by senior leaders. They are often asked to contribute to plans for change, to identify any risks of unfairness. They also meet senior leaders often, which gives them the chance to share any concerns. When issues have arisen about the force’s treatment of the workforce, senior leaders have acted quickly and in co-operation with the networks. Members of the networks did suggest that junior managers could access their expertise sooner, in order to resolve issues more promptly.
The force has a long-standing and effective commitment to encouraging people from all backgrounds to contribute to policing. It supports and manages its Citizens in Policing programme well. This encompasses the special constabulary, the cadets and police support volunteers. There is rich diversity and representation within the volunteer workforce, which is an asset to the force. We spoke to volunteers in different roles. Each volunteer felt welcomed and valued by the force. We can see that the force is at the early stages of tailoring the recruitment of volunteers on the basis of their skills. Similarly, it could have a more coherent approach to using other skills of the volunteer workforce (such as languages, professional accreditation or relevant experience). This would enable the volunteers to make a greater contribution to the force, and it would help the force to meet current and future demand.
Recently, the force has given the frontline teams some training about unconscious bias. But the workforce’s understanding of this subject varies. Some officers have received the training, whether as part of stop and search or officer safety training, or during new recruits’ initial training courses. They have a good working knowledge of unconscious bias. They can also describe how it applies in their approach to dealing with incidents. However, that isn’t the case among call handlers, or the officers and staff in specialist teams. The force should raise awareness of unconscious bias, and the effects of it, among all officers and staff.
Derbyshire Constabulary is rapidly improving its understanding about when and how force is used. In early 2019, it reconstituted an oversight group to achieve more thorough and meaningful insight into how it uses force. The group meets monthly and a senior officer leads it. Its activities are as follows:
- It considers detailed analysis of data about instances of use of force.
- It checks that recording and audit processes are adhered to.
- It identifies and reacts to any aspect of use of force that might undermine the public’s trust or confidence in the force.
- It determines whether there are any learning points from incidents.
- It makes sure that best practices, or recommendations from public bodies, are swiftly adopted.
The group includes leaders and a wide range of subject specialists from across the workforce. Representatives from both the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and the IAG bring some external perspective. There is a further IAG use of force scrutiny group, described below.
All police forces must keep accurate data about their use of force. They do this to help identify disparities when force is used, and to make sure that force is used lawfully. The data used by the oversight group reflects:
- in how many instances force was used;
- the type of force that was used;
- the characteristic traits of the person on whom force was used;
- the nature of the incident and any aggravating factors (such as alcohol, drugs or weapons);
- the location of the incident;
- the reason(s) why force was used; and
- whether the officer who used force was working alone.
During our inspection fieldwork, we spoke to officers and staff. Their knowledge about when to submit information about use of force was acceptable. But some were uncertain about recording the use of handcuffs on detainees who are compliant.
This gap in knowledge could be linked to a backlog in training for frontline teams, and particularly our concern that a significant proportion of frontline staff haven’t received recent safety training. This training prepares officers and staff to deal with circumstances where physical restraint or defensive techniques will be needed.
Force figures indicate that up to 28 percent of officers’ authorised training has expired. This means that their skills haven’t been refreshed or updated in the past 12 months. If officers and frontline staff aren’t regularly trained in protective equipment and techniques, they are less likely to be able to protect the public, or themselves, in violent situations. The force is developing plans to improve this situation. In any case, it should make sure that all frontline officers and staff receive up-to-date training as soon as possible.
Derbyshire Constabulary benefits from the advice and guidance of an effective IAG. The IAG offers external scrutiny in relation to how force is used by officers. It does this through a specific sub-group: the use of force scrutiny group. Members of this group have received training about relevant legislation and best practice.
The group meets every other month and reviews two randomly selected instances each of Taser deployments; use of a baton; incapacitant spray; physical restraint; and handcuffs. The group views accompanying body-worn video footage when an event has been captured on camera. It also sees the officer’s statement about the incident. A police officer who wasn’t involved in the selected incidents attends each meeting to give further information if it is requested. The group also receives statistical information about use of force from across the workforce. This helps the group to understand how often incidents occur; the nature of force used; and the characteristic traits of those involved. The group can then give feedback and opinion to senior leaders, on behalf of the public, if it sees fit.
Derbyshire Constabulary monitors public complaints about use of force. Such complaints are infrequent. We are confident that the extensive surveying and frequent contact between the public and neighbourhood teams give the force good opportunities to detect community concerns.
Using stop and search powers
Derbyshire Constabulary understands well how to use stop and search powers. It is making a significant effort to improve how officers record use of their powers.
We last inspected the force’s use of powers to stop and search during our 2017 legitimacy inspection. We published this in December 2017. Then, we reported that the force wasn’t part of the BUSS. It has since met all the criteria necessary to comply with this scheme.
When we spoke to officers across the force, the vast majority had received highly effective training and the further supplementary guidance for using their powers to stop and search. Several officers mentioned the high quality of the training; its relevance to their role; and how the information was presented in different ways to accommodate different learning styles. They felt that the training addressed ambiguity in relation to guidance about how to deal with situations involving the smell of cannabis as grounds for carrying out a search. Officers described the training as having a positive influence on their confidence to use their powers.
The force’s monitoring and analysis of stop and searches is very good. The force prepares a presentation for every stop and search internal scrutiny group meeting. A chief officer leads this group. Representatives from the OPCC and IAG are invited to attend. The force has improved the quality and depth of analysis it carries out for use of stop and search powers. This forms the basis for discussion and challenge during the meetings. The data accommodates a wide range of indicators and cross-references, including ethnicity; age; location; purpose; outcome; intrusiveness; and the officer involved. This allows for a detailed insight into patterns and trends. The force has a plan for its stop and search data to be available to supervisors in real time. The aim is to improve their understanding about how officers who are under their supervision use stop and search powers. The data will also include the people, purpose and location of those searches. In turn, this will help leaders to identify patterns early, as well as how many stop and searches match local crime prevention and other operational priorities.
In our 2017 legitimacy report, we recommended that all forces should:
- monitor and analyse comprehensive stop and search data to understand reasons for disparities;
- take action on those; and
- publish the analysis and the action by July 2018.
We found that the force has complied with some of this recommendation. However, the latest data pack published on the website and accurate to October 2018 indicates that, although the force identifies the extent to which find rates differ across different types of searches, it doesn’t look at how these differ between people from different ethnicities, nor does it separate drug possession and supply type searches. Additionally, it isn’t clear that it monitors enough data to identify the prevalence of possession-only drug searches or the extent to which these align with local or force-level priorities.
Furthermore, no analysis in relation to disparities or actions taken to reduce them are published on the force’s website.
In advance of our inspection fieldwork, we reviewed a representative sample of 322 stop and search records to assess the reasonableness of the recorded grounds. Of these records, 83 percent had reasonable grounds recorded. Our assessment is based on the grounds recorded on the record by the searching officer, and not the grounds that existed at the time of the search.
The force has a comprehensive structure in place to scrutinise stop and search records. It has produced a video to guide sergeants as to how to carry out effective reviews of stop and search records. This is an obligatory stage in the reporting process, and the first step in scrutinising the exercise of powers. It is positive that the force has highlighted this influential part of the process with a focused, easy-to-follow video guide. There are subsequent layers of scrutiny: every month, police inspectors dip-sample a random selection of ten forms that have been completed by officers under their supervision.
The force randomly selects a further ten searches for referral to the IAG, which has a specific group of trained volunteers who review the stop and search records.
They judge whether reasonable grounds have been recorded, and view body-worn video footage of the incidents. The group meets monthly. It is led by an experienced member of the IAG, who also chairs the meeting. All group members have received training about the legal powers of the police that are relevant to stop and search. They have also seen officers training, to gain an understanding of how officers should carry out stop and search interactions. For each case, the force shares fundamental information about the reason for the stop and search, and the person involved. A police officer is present to research further details, on request. The IAG gives feedback to the officers involved in all cases that it reviews. This feedback is well received by the officers.
The work of this group offers a good level of scrutiny of the incidents that it reviews, to determine if reasonable grounds existed for each stop and search. The force would benefit from expanding the group’s role by sharing more data (such as that from the internal security group). It would then hear members’ feedback about general trends, disparities and the impact on the community of how the force is using stop and search powers.
Every quarter, the force also holds a legitimacy board meeting. The deputy chief constable leads this meeting. It brings together all aspects of workforce behaviour that affects how the public perceives the force. At the meetings, detailed analysis of the force’s use of stop and search is presented, including trends and significant disparities in its use. A representative of the IAG is invited to attend and share their perspectives, as drawn from their monthly IAG meetings.
We spoke to members of the workforce who work closely with minority groups in the community. They advised us that there is good representation within the IAG of people from a range of backgrounds. Efforts are also underway to attract more volunteers to the IAG, so that the views of young people can be included.
The force asks members of the public who have been searched to give an email address. This is so they can receive an online link to a survey, where they can share their experience and give feedback. Those who decline to give an email address are given a card with details of how to access a record of their search and the force’s website address, so they can give feedback that way. The senior officer responsible for stop and search reads all the public’s feedback. The feedback also features in the agenda of the internal scrutiny group meetings. When negative feedback or a weak practice is identified, the force seeks to learn from it.Summary for question 1
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Maintaining an ethical culture
Derbyshire Constabulary is good at maintaining an ethical culture within its workforce. Chief officers have been progressive in developing an open, inclusive and values-driven environment within the force. This environment has three principles: do the right thing; make a difference; and shape the future. The force has set the first principle to encourage the workforce to make judgments that are ethically sound and the best for the circumstances. This is a move away from the tradition of using policy to drive decision making. While the principles are new, they are underpinned by the Code of Ethics. The workforce has received a guide to show the clear correlation between the two.
The workforce perceives senior leaders as role models. We consistently heard that each senior leader was perceived as accessible, friendly and considerate, and as having the best interests of the workforce at heart. There is a truly co-operative atmosphere within the force, with a strong sense of community and a desire to give the best service to the public.
The force is good at handling ethical implications that arise from its operations and dilemmas that officers and staff discuss. A chief officer leads an ethics and culture group. This receives and discusses dilemmas that the workforce has referred. During our inspection fieldwork, we reviewed the notes from several recent meetings of this group. The subjects reflected a wide range of concerns based on actual events. We did find that awareness of the group’s activity was variable, and that supervisor-led ethical discussions within teams weren’t common. However, the force does run an intranet-based ‘dilemma of the day’, which is well known to the workforce. The force could build on that success by clearly promoting and linking to the activity of the ethics and culture group on the intranet.
The force has made a demonstrable shift towards learning, and away from blame, when standards haven’t been met. It is more than symbolic that the professional standards department has been retitled ‘organisational culture, learning and ethics’, and that it has a broadened responsibility to drive all opportunities for the force to learn and improve. It still deals with public complaints, misconduct and corruption. But it also has a new and explicit role in making lasting changes following the outcome of such cases, to help the workforce sustain high standards.
It is understandable to us that cultural change takes time. This is especially so when supervisors are expected to take a more subjective approach when making a judgment against values, when standards haven’t been met. Broadly, the workforce understands this transition and has received it well. We did find signs of some unintended consequences. For instance, there were a few examples of supervisors reaching different decisions in ostensibly similar situations. This could give grounds for feelings of unfairness. The force might consider how to avoid potential unfairness, while giving supervisors confidence to challenge shortfalls in standards.
The force has improved how it shares outcomes from misconduct cases (and their basis) with the workforce. A new intranet site lists recent cases. It describes the circumstances of a case; the shortfall in performance; the implications; and the action that was taken towards the person responsible. The examples we saw were written in plain language. They had enough details to give full context, and a comments section on the webpage allowed people to add their opinions. The intranet site increases transparency regarding how the force deals with misconduct. And chief officers gain an immediate indication through the online comments as to how the outcome is perceived. This is a positive step, given that some members of the workforce in junior roles told us that they felt officers in more senior positions were more likely to be dealt with leniently.
The force is in a strong position in terms of workforce vetting. It complies with the national Vetting Code of Practice and Authorised Professional Practice in relation to recruiting, which includes contractors and volunteers. It supports these standards by effective vetting of health checks and renewals. The force rarely has any backlogs in any aspect of vetting. It has achieved our 2016 recommendation that, within two years, all members of the police workforce should have received at least the lowest level of vetting clearance for their roles.
The force can adapt its capacity to carry out vetting, according to demand. In early 2018, it successfully accommodated increased demand from the rapid recruitment of new officers, linked to the extra investments that followed the increase in the council tax precept.
The force displays a pragmatic and logical approach towards vetting rejections that could lead to disparities or unfairness among different minority groups. A senior member of staff reviews any cases of potential rejection that involve a candidate from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background. Such cases are discussed with colleagues who are equality specialists. They are also taken to a senior officer for consideration and assurance that a fair outcome is reached.
The force complies with its obligations to provide details to the College of Policing for the barred and advisory lists. These prevent people who have left the service under investigation, or whom the service has dismissed, from rejoining or from working in law enforcement.
Derbyshire Constabulary has a good understanding of the risk it faces from corruption, and it can tackle it. It has an effective counter-corruption strategic assessment procedure and control strategy. It updates both regularly. Both cover a wide range of the potential causes of corruption, along with designated operations that are underway to prevent and investigate potential cases.
The force makes good, ethical use of the information it holds about the workforce to help manage the risk of people becoming susceptible to corruption. The force considers this information (and any other intelligence it receives) during quarterly meetings between human resources and vetting staff.
The force manages well its integrity registers for gifts and hospitality, disclosable associations and business interests. The workforce’s knowledge about these registers does vary according to whether people have had first-hand experience of making a registration. But we are confident that the force would react swiftly to any concerns or changes in circumstance.
Specialist investigators can carry out corruption investigations, and there is always some proactive counter-corruption activity underway. The force always alerts those investigators immediately when police officers or staff are considered to be suspects of crime, to determine whether corruption is a factor. The force does monitor ICT systems, including mobile devices, for misuse.
The force is good at identifying and tackling the problem of abuse of position for a sexual purpose. It recognises this as serious corruption, and the main corruption threat that it faces. It has fully implemented its plan to address our national recommendation regarding the abuse of position for a sexual purpose. It has well-established links with other organisations that support vulnerable people, to encourage reporting of suspicious behaviour by police officers and staff.
From our contact with the force, it was clear that professional boundaries are understood at all levels. To this end, the force has used posters, presentations during training courses, and a video depicting a victim’s account from a local case.Summary for question 2