Hertfordshire PEEL 2018
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
Hertfordshire Constabulary is good at behaving ethically and lawfully. Officers and staff understand that ethics underpin everything they do. The force emphasises the Code of Ethics, which is a feature in all force training events. A regional ethics board is responsible for governance, but matters addressed don’t yet sufficiently involve the views of the workforce.
The force doesn’t yet fully comply with all elements of national vetting standards. It does take its vetting responsibilities seriously, however.
It is good at identifying and tackling corruption. While its current staffing levels can deal only reactively with incoming intelligence, it does have enough capacity and capability within specialist teams that seek out and tackle corruption.
At the time of our inspection, the force was re-prioritising part of its corruption prevention work to focus on supporting victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence.
In 2017, we judged Hertfordshire Constabulary to be good at treating both the public and 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. However, we reviewed a representative sample of 180 stop-and-search records to assess the reasonableness of the recorded grounds. We found that 87 percent of those grounds were reasonable. Our assessment is based on the grounds recorded by the searching officer and not those 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;
- 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. While it identifies the extent to which find rates differ across different types of searches, it doesn’t do that by ethnicity or separately identify find rates for drug possession and supply-type offences. It also doesn’t identify the prevalence of possession-only drug searches or the extent to which these align with local or force-level priorities.
We reviewed the force’s website and found a clear explanation of the factors affecting the disproportionality rate. However, there was no obvious mention of the analysis it had carried out to understand and explain the reasons for these disparities or any subsequent action taken.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Hertfordshire Constabulary is good at behaving ethically and lawfully. Ethics are well understood and accepted across the force. Every member of the workforce we spoke to was clear that ethics are at the forefront of everything they do. Force guidance to its workforce is framed by the Code of Ethics, and supervisors personally commit to uphold and carry out certain standards.
The force’s video series, designed to raise awareness of ethical dilemmas, is noteworthy. We saw evidence that officers and staff are self-aware, and consulted professional standards when they considered that their integrity may have been compromised.
Hertfordshire Constabulary gives guidance to its workforce about personal behaviour that could compromise their reputation. But from our review of their feedback forums, it seems it could do more to work with its personnel and reflect their concerns.
It may take two years for the force to fully comply with all elements of national vetting standards. However, it does take its vetting responsibilities seriously. We are satisfied that chief officers frequently monitor plans and will act to ensure full compliance.
The force is good at identifying and tackling corruption. It can identify those who are potentially at risk of being corrupted and is also effective at intervening.
Recently, Hertfordshire Constabulary has sought to increase its workforce’s awareness of notifiable associations and the abuse of position for a sexual purpose. It also routinely monitors their use of data, including on mobile devices, for evidence of misuse. We viewed samples of corruption-related intelligence reports and investigations, and in all cases, the force had taken appropriate action.
Areas for improvement
- The force should take steps to involve its officers and staff in raising ethical issues and evaluate the effectiveness of the process.
- 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 ensure that its counter-corruption unit 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.