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Lancashire PEEL 2018

Legitimacy

How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?

Last updated 21/01/2020
Good

Lancashire Constabulary is good in the way it treats the public and the workforce.

It is good at ensuring that the workforce behaves ethically and lawfully.

Senior leaders act as role models, engaging with the workforce and giving guidance on ethical dilemmas. However, it needs to ensure that all leaders are discussing ethics with their officers and staff.

The constabulary has ethics committees to scrutinise its decisions. This helps to satisfy the public and the workforce that it is being fair.

The constabulary is introducing new technology to enable it to monitor the use of IT systems. This may generate more work for the counter-corruption team. The constabulary needs to ensure it has enough people to cope with any increase in demand.

The constabulary is good at treating the workforce fairly.

It seeks the views from every section of the workforce, and it involves them in making improvements. It is good at dealing with workforce concerns.

It makes sure that it looks after the wellbeing of the workforce. It has invested in occupational health services to support people. It treats mental health and physical health with equal importance. This is helping the workforce cope with the challenges of policing.

In response to a request from the workforce, the constabulary has developed a new IT system to support workforce development. The system meets the needs of the workforce, but not everyone uses it yet. In addition, not all supervisors hold regular meetings with their staff. This means that the constabulary could manage individual performance better. It recognises this and is developing a course to give supervisors the skills they need to develop people and manage their performance.

It recognises that it doesn’t have a scheme to identify talented people and is developing one. This will help it develop its future leaders.

In 2017, we graded the constabulary as good at treating the public fairly.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?

Good

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 243 stop and search records to assess the reasonableness of the recorded grounds. We found that 86 percent or 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;
  • take action on those; and
  • publish the analysis and the action by July 2018.

We found that the constabulary has partly complied with this recommendation. 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). 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.

We reviewed the constabulary’s website and found no obvious mention of analysis it had carried out to understand and explain reasons for disparities or any subsequent action taken.

2

How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The constabulary should undertake work to ensure methods are in place for supervisors to have regular discussions and interactions with staff about ethical dilemmas and ethical decision making.
  • The constabulary should ensure it can fully monitor all of its computer systems, including mobile data, to proactively identify data breaches, protect the force’s data and identify computer misuse.
  • The constabulary should ensure that its counter-corruption unit has enough capability and capacity to counter corruption effectively and proactively including the ability to meet future demand created by improvements in IT monitoring.
  • The constabulary should ensure that there are effective processes to record supervision of counter-corruption investigations.

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

Lancashire Constabulary is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. Senior leaders continue to promote the Code of Ethics and the importance of ethical behaviour and decision making. The workforce believes that force leaders act as role models for ethical decision making by being visible and engaging with them. They respond in an open and honest way to the Buzz online forum, where officers and staff discuss their issues and concerns. They act on feedback from the workforce.

For example, some officers faced criticism in the media recently after the arrest of a 14-year-old girl, which involved the use of force. The chief constable reviewed the incident, satisfied himself that the officers had done the right thing for the right reasons and responded quickly to the media criticism, supporting the actions of his officers. This strengthens the feeling among the workforce that they will be supported for making the right decisions and promotes a culture of learning rather than blame.

Theprofessional standards department (PSD) has a section on the constabulary intranet (Sherlock) that contains advice and guidance based around the concept of asking ‘Is it OK?’. The PSD blog contains ethical dilemmas with fictional scenarios based on real themes, designed to reflect decisions that staff may face in their day-to-day duties. The aim is to prompt thinking and conversations among the workforce about ethical decision making and to highlight the implications of some everyday decisions.

The constabulary has identified some areas where workforce decision making needs to improve. PSD is working with staff associations and the police federation. They are holding workshops on the significant areas, such as the use of social media, abuse of powers, police driving and the importance of documenting a rationale for decisions. This proactive, preventative approach is further evidence of the constabulary’s commitment to ethical behaviour.

Internal and external scrutiny helps to ensure that the force is acting in an ethical way. The joint audit and ethics committee meets quarterly. The chair is independent and there are several independent members including Lancashire County Council (which provides the internal audit service) and external auditors.

Internally, the constabulary has relaunched its tactical ethics committee. It seeks to promote good ethical practice, providing a forum for referral, discussion and resolution of ethical issues affecting the workforce. The committee members represent a broad range of police officer and staff networks and reflect the diversity of the constabulary. The Buzz online forum is used to provide feedback and updates to the workforce.

The constabulary acts in response to feedback from the committee. For example, the promotions process has been reviewed after the committee considered whether candidates who have not displayed ethical behaviour should be considered for promotion. The workforce was updated on changes to the process. Although it is still in the early stages of the relaunch, the tactical ethics committee is a positive move by the constabulary.

Force policies are all assessed for their impact on equality, and there is a governance framework for approving policies. The PSD is involved in the process. However, it is not explicit that policies are subject to ethical scrutiny prior to approval. The PSD considers the ethical implications as part of its input and has the option to refer to the internal ethics committee. The constabulary may wish to review this part of the process to satisfy itself that there is a sufficiently objective consideration of ethics.

First line supervisors do not routinely hold one-to-one meetings with their staff. Some supervisors have responsibility for officers and staff in different locations, which can make it difficult for them to have team discussions. This means that supervisors are having a limited influence on the decision making of their staff. This has been reflected in the findings from senior leaders and the police federation in their engagement with the workforce. The PSD and federation workshops will go some way to developing decision making, but the constabulary needs to do more to develop the capacity and capability of its supervisors to hold ethical conversations. 

The constabulary has reviewed its vetting process against Authorised Professional Practice (APP). The vetting unit complies with the Vetting Code of Practice and APP with just two exceptions. The force has a sizeable volunteer police cadet contingent and vetting checks are carried out by the police sergeant who manages the police cadets, rather than the vetting unit. The vetting unit dip samples 10 percent of the sergeant’s checks. It also completes a full vetting check for police transferees, which exceeds requirements.

The constabulary meets 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 been dismissed, from re-joining or working in law enforcement.

The constabulary has been monitoring any disparities in vetting regarding BAME groups since 2012. Monitoring is currently by ethnicity and gender to understand the overall decline rate versus the decline rate for BAME candidates, with a review of the reasons why BAME candidates are declined. Vetting unit staff have attended numerous positive action awareness events to encourage under-represented communities to apply to the constabulary. The unit works well with the workforce representation team, who work with under-represented communities to develop confidence and understanding of Lancashire Constabulary as an employer of choice. This is removing some of the barriers to people in under-represented groups applying for roles.

The constabulary has now achieved the 2016 recommendation that within two years all members of the workforce should have achieved the most appropriate level of vetting clearance for their roles. The number of non-vetted and renewals are well within the parameters of what could be considered business as usual. The force has recently reassessed the vetting levels for all roles to ensure that it reflects organisational change. This has created some additional vetting. However, a dip sample of staff in higher-risk roles, such as the serious organised crime unit, showed that all staff had vetting at or above the required level, with few staff at or approaching expiry of their vetting.

There are several well-established channels for clarifying and reinforcing acceptable behaviours, including the Buzz forum, intranet guidance, media campaigns, the PSD dilemma of the month and the ‘Is it OK?’ campaign. Reality testing showed that the workforce is aware of these channels and use them. There is a culture of open and frequent engagement between the workforce and constabulary leaders to the extent that it provides a constant measure of the workforce understanding of standards.

The constabulary publicises learning from the causes and results of complaint and misconduct investigations, including near-misses, and from other sources to raise standards of ethical behaviour. It publishes Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) bulletins. We found that this generates discussion on the Buzz and senior officers respond to give advice and guidance to the workforce.

The workforce is aware of integrity policies and procedures on business interests, reportable associations and gifts and hospitality, and provided inspectors with examples of their understanding and application. There are regular media campaigns to reinforce the requirements and it forms part of the initial training for all new members of the workforce.

Tackling corruption

The constabulary has a current local strategic counter-corruption threat assessment. This identifies some emerging threats. It sets the counter corruption priorities as sexual misconduct (including abuse of position for a sexual purpose), misuse of systems/disclosure of information, employee vulnerability and theft/fraud. The assessment does not include a profile of corrupt employees, external corruptors or locations within the constabulary where corruption is more prevalent. Including this information would assist the constabulary in deciding how to use its resources most effectively.

The control strategy proposes actions to address three of the four threat assessment priorities. These are sexual misconduct, misuse of systems/disclosure of information and employee vulnerability. The constabulary has consciously decided to prioritise these areas of corruption. They are monitored and reassessed by senior leaders in a monthly meeting. Theft is not a current priority but is outlined within the strategy.

The strategy would benefit from the inclusion of intelligence requirements so that the constabulary can get a better understanding of other threats. For example, steroid abuse is a national threat but is not featured as a priority in the local strategic assessment. However, the constabulary recognises the risk of drug misuse and funding has been requested to conduct intelligence-led and random drug testing within the workforce.

The integrity and anti-corruption team (IACT) draws information from a wealth of force data sources for consideration at a series of bi-monthly risk management meetings held across the force. It uses a locally devised risk matrix to identify those employees considered to be most at risk of corruption. It then uses early interventions to address vulnerabilities and tracks progress. It could benefit from evaluating the effectiveness of these interventions.

Overall, the constabulary makes good use of the integrity registers that record details of who in the workforce has notifiable associations, business interests or has received gifts and gratuities. The constabulary has identified a gap in workforce knowledge around submission of business interest applications in relation to voluntary work. It is reviewing and rewriting the policy to clarify this.

The monthly PSD strategic risk meeting links people in different departments, allowing them to raise concerns and share information and intelligence. This means they can assess risk properly and take appropriate and proportionate action to support people or deal with issues. The meeting monitors whether certain decisions to reject business interests or impose conditions are being complied with, but this is not comprehensive. The constabulary is aware of this and intends to introduce a process that consistently monitors compliance with all these decisions.

The IACT can respond effectively to incoming intelligence and is developing its surveillance capability. When more complex investigations develop, the capacity of the team can be stretched, but the force has access to support from other North West forces and the ROCU. The IACT can conduct specific audits of some individual systems, but this is time consuming and limits proactive work. The force acknowledges the limitations and associated risks of its current auditing capabilities, which reduce the overall effectiveness of the IACT’s activity to monitor potential misuse of systems. New IT auditing software has been procured which should provide the IACT with greater scope for both proactive and reactive corruption investigation. The constabulary needs to review continually the capacity of the IACT, as these auditing enhancements are likely to add to demand, particularly if the force increases the amount of proactive auditing it undertakes.

The constabulary has developed good links with external agencies that support vulnerable victims of crime. Since June 2018, it has provided inputs to a range of partner agencies supporting domestic abuse victims and safeguarding groups. They are aimed at raising awareness, improving intelligence links and providing reassurance. A review has ensured that these links are maintained and remain effective. The constabulary has refreshed its contacts within domestic abuse victim organisations and sex worker support groups. This activity has already resulted in some additional referrals to the IACT.

Corruption intelligence is held locally on a standalone system. We found this to be up to date and managed well with the data fully searchable. The constabulary recognises that this system could be improved to allow supervisors and managers to monitor progress of cases more readily.

As part of our inspection, we conducted a file review of corruption intelligence. Of the 60 cases reviewed, six required referral to the IOPC. These cases were all appropriately referred. In most cases we found that appropriate enquiries were conducted to confirm or refute intelligence. However, the limitations around IT monitoring had an impact on the effectiveness of some investigations. In some cases, obvious lines of enquiry were not pursued, and no rationale was recorded for this. For example, six cases did not have sufficiently broad IT and data audits and in two cases enquiries regarding possible inappropriate associations were not thorough.

Although there was clear evidence of supervisors overseeing intelligence developments, we found that shortfalls such as those outlined above were not always being picked up. Better use of investigation plans by supervisors would reduce these shortfalls. The workforce is aware of the confidential integrity line and email system for reporting wrongdoing and had confidence in both systems.

The constabulary recognises the abuse of position for a sexual purpose as serious corruption. It is reflected in the local counter-corruption strategic threat assessment. There has been good progress in implementing the constabulary’s plan to address our 2016 national recommendation regarding abuse of position for a sexual purpose, but it has not yet been fully implemented. Although the force has now purchased the IT capability to support proactive IT monitoring, this is not yet in place. It is also evident that current capacity within the IACT primarily supports reactive work, with only limited capacity for proactivity.

Links with external agencies are being developed effectively and contributing to increased reporting. It already has good relationships with a wide range of agencies supporting vulnerable people. The constabulary has acted on our insight findings and refreshed its contact with sex worker support groups and domestic abuse victim organisations.

The constabulary briefs its employees to ensure they are aware of the issue of abuse of position for a sexual purpose. This includes guidance for sergeants, inspectors and police staff equivalents on the warning signs to look out for. Officers or staff who come to attention as potential offenders are placed on a watchlist for a period with regular revisits of IT audits, emails and constabulary telephone records to look for any suspicious behaviour. When abuse of position for a sexual purpose cases occur, they are publicised as part of a proactive media approach. This helps to reassure the public that the constabulary is taking steps to prevent such actions re-occurring and encourages the public to report inappropriate behaviour. Our fieldwork found that there was a good awareness among all ranks of abuse of position for a sexual purpose and how to spot the signs because of the force’s training and guidance.

Summary for question 2
3

To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?

Good

Areas for improvement

  • The constabulary should ensure that it develops and supports its supervisors and managers to conduct honest, fair and effective assessments, supports continuous professional development and manages poor performance.
  • The constabulary should ensure it has a comprehensive, transparent and well publicised system to identify and support talented individuals across all ranks, grades and roles.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.

Improving fairness at work

Lancashire Constabulary is good in the way it treats the workforce with fairness and respect. There is a strong commitment from senior leaders, embedded in force culture, to engage with the workforce and seek feedback and challenge. Formal and informal channels are used. The workforce can ask questions and make comment on issues affecting them on the Buzz online forum. Senior leaders monitor and respond to issues and questions raised. It is seen by all as a valuable means of open and honest engagement. The annual Buzzometer staff survey provides a more detailed and structured insight into workforce levels of engagement, wellbeing and perceptions of fairness.

Leaders have regular meetings with staff associations, both formally and informally. Representatives from police and police staff groups spoke highly of the relationships they had with senior leaders. The valuing inclusion and diversity board, chaired by the deputy chief constable, allows representatives from a broad range of staff networks to discuss issues affecting the workforce. The tactical ethics committee is a further mechanism for challenge and feedback. Chief officers regularly visit teams across the constabulary for face-to-face engagement.

This variety means that the constabulary is hearing the voice of a diverse workforce. The success of this is reflected in the recent Buzzometer survey results. Engagement levels rose on the 2017 survey across all districts and departments.

The constabulary takes the views of the workforce seriously and responds to their feedback. The staff engagement survey told the constabulary that it needs to communicate change better. So, leaders met staff to set out the benefits of a new police station being built at Colne. This proactive engagement prevents workforce concerns arising.

As part of our inspection we reviewed 10 grievance files. Eight were found to be fully compliant with the ACAS guidance on handling grievances. The files were a good standard, easy to follow and organised in chronological order with tabulated pages identifying key stages of the grievance process. Five of the files involved alleged discrimination. All were correctly identified. In all relevant cases, support was offered or given to the person who instigated the grievance.

The workforce is aware of the grievance policy and has confidence that grievances will be taken seriously and dealt with fairly. Most staff we spoke to said they would raise any issues with a line manager and seek informal resolution rather than invoke the grievance procedure. The force works well in responding to workforce concerns. For example, a recent grievance case indicated an element of racism. The force recognised there was an issue of cultural awareness and ran workshops on professional boundaries soon after to educate the workforce.

The constabulary’s human resource and organisational development departments work together to share and analyse workforce data from a range of sources. This is helping to identify the issues that are affecting perceptions of fairness and respect. The constabulary has effective arrangements in place to monitor and understand potential disparities in recruitment, retention and progression across different protected characteristics and roles. This includes those qualified for promotion and those in acting or temporary promotion roles. The valuing difference and inclusion board includes members from the disability group, Christian Police Association, Unison, women’s network, LGBT network, Black Police Association and the Eastern European network. This gives the constabulary an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of any disparities and take an inclusive approach to reducing them.

The constabulary has a structured programme of review to ensure it understands and can address disparities in complaint and misconduct procedures. The analysis examines reporting, the investigation and its outcome. This gives the constabulary a more detailed understanding of any issues.

A team works in under-represented communities to raise awareness of the breadth of opportunities within Lancashire Constabulary. This team operates a myth-busters section on the constabulary website, which explains in simple terms what the force does. It also runs drop-in centres. These are not aimed exclusively at one section of the community but are run in areas where the constabulary knows it has challenges in recruiting. Social media is used, and advertisements are deliberately placed in geographic areas. The constabulary reports that it is seeing an increase in the diversity of applicants for roles.

Supporting workforce wellbeing

It was clear from the inspection that wellbeing is a priority. It is embedded and integrated into the culture of the constabulary. The wellbeing strategy is based around four pillars – prevent, promote, detect and support, and treat and recover. The wellbeing implementation board ensures that the strategy is converted into positive action that is felt by the workforce. Engagement through the Buzz, the Buzzometer staff survey and analysis of workforce data has ensured that senior leaders understand the wellbeing needs of officers and staff.

At all levels, we found that leaders have a good understanding of their wellbeing responsibilities. Support for their teams is a priority. The constabulary has established a wellbeing network in departments and districts to meet workforce needs, provide support and raise awareness about wellbeing provision. Leaders receive wellbeing training. Although line managers are better equipped to recognise the signs of wellbeing needs among their staff, we found that there is still inconsistency in the approach to one-to-one meetings with officers and staff.

There are local arrangements to analyse workforce information. A monthly meeting between workforce capability, HR, district leaders and other relevant parties, analyses workforce data and discusses those whose wellbeing is ‘at risk’ and may need support. District leaders are held to account for the wellbeing of their officers and staff through monthly checkpoint meetings with chief officers.

The force has invested £1.2m in its occupational health service since our last inspection. Provision around mental health is on the same footing as physical health. A dedicated team of mental health professionals are applying their skills in innovative ways to support the workforce. For example, they are available 24 hours a day to support officers and staff who have dealt with incidents that may have a traumatic impact on them. The team also run sessions to help the workforce recognise and cope with issues such as depression, stress and anxiety.

In addition to the OHU measures, the constabulary uses a broad range of actions, interventions and preventative measures to minimise the threats to workplace wellbeing. Wellbeing vans, which are equipped to perform basic health checks such as blood pressure, offer an outreach service that visits districts and departments on a regular basis.

Officers and staff can attend ‘recharge days’ with the police treatment centre in Harrogate. This is a safe environment in which individuals are educated in spotting signs and symptoms of stress, while linking them to a range of support techniques personal to them. The day demonstrates the links between good mental and physical health. Attendees are surveyed at the end of the day so that the constabulary can evaluate the effectiveness of this investment.

Across the constabulary, senior leaders have created dedicated quiet rooms for stressed officers and staff or those who just need some time and space. The contemplation room offers a calm and relaxing space for staff to unwind away from their desks. Therapy dogs, fitness ambassadors and a mental health support app that is available on handheld devices are just some of the wide-ranging and innovative offerings to support the workforce – including those that are subject to complaint or misconduct proceedings and those absent due to maternity or paternity leave. The constabulary is aware that it could do more to evaluate the effectiveness of some of these initiatives, but our inspection found that there is an inclusive approach to wellbeing.

Managing performance and development of officers and staff

The constabulary has a PDR system that has the potential to understand not only the performance of the workforce but also their aspirations and ambitions. This presents opportunities in future workforce planning, skills auditing and organisational culture.

The PDR system allows the setting of objectives, both personal and organisational. It helps staff to develop skills for future roles as the profiles and requirements are contained within the system. Staff select the role in which they wish to develop their skills and the system makes use of the competency and values framework to assist them in setting their objectives. This allows staff to demonstrate their continuous personal development when an opportunity is advertised. As the PDR system develops and more of the workforce engages with it, the constabulary is looking at smarter ways of identifying suitable applicants for roles as part of workforce planning.

The workforce raised the management of poor performance as an issue in the staff survey. The constabulary has restructured the HR department and introduced case managers to deal with more significant performance and attendance issues. This has been well received by leaders and staff associations, although some expressed concern about the capacity of the case managers.

We were less convinced of the constabulary’s ability to identify and manage routine instances of poor performance, due to the lack of capability among first line managers to conduct performance and development meetings. This is consistent with our 2017 inspection. There has been some slight improvement in the level of engagement between line managers and their staff, but it is generally informal and unrecorded. This means that the workforce may not be receiving the support they need to develop, and poor performance may be going unchecked. Both issues can affect perceptions of fairness.

The constabulary is aware that it needs to do more to give supervisors the capacity and skills to manage their teams effectively. This is an integral part of the workforce development plan. Skills workshops have been held and there are plans in place to work with an external company to develop skills around having powerful performance conversations.

At the time of our inspection, the constabulary did not have a formal talent management scheme. Some districts have processes to coach individuals and the district based organisational development inspectors provide local support, but there is a lack of central co-ordination. However, it has recruited a new head of learning, innovation and workforce capabilities with significant organisational development experience in academia, who recognises the need for a more structured approach. A temporary talent management lead post has also been created to develop a corporate strategy and structure.

Funding is in place to work with an external company to develop coaching and mentoring skills among leaders, which will be incorporated into the talent management strategy. There is more structure around external talent identification due to bespoke recruitment initiatives, links with academia and the work of workforce representation teams. For example, the constabulary actively recruits university IT students. There is a talent programme in place for BAME officers and staff (Talent 2025). This is to be expanded to include LGBT officers and staff.

The constabulary conducts regular reviews of its promotion processes and is making good use of the PDR system to ensure that they are viewed as fair and transparent by the workforce. It has responded to workforce feedback in developing its current process, which ensures that selection is based upon competence. The constabulary acts to ensure that sections of the workforce are not disadvantaged. For example, the recent superintendent process was delayed following feedback from staff that it may disadvantage Muslim officers by holding it during Ramadan. Nearly everyone we spoke to across the constabulary felt that the promotion process was fair and transparent.

Summary for question 3