Leicestershire PEEL 2018
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
Leicestershire Police is good in the way it treats the public and its workforce.
In 2017, we judged the force to be good at treating the public fairly.
Leicestershire Police has a positive ethical culture. The workforce knows how to challenge unethical conduct.
The force has made good progress in improving its vetting procedures. It is good at tackling corruption, and it works with specialists from other organisations to look for signs of officers or staff abusing their positions for a sexual purpose.
In 2017, we judged the force to be 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. However, we reviewed a representative sample of 163 stop and search records to assess the reasonableness of the recorded grounds. We found that 95 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.
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 most of this recommendation and is well placed to improve by publishing more analysis. It does monitor a comprehensive range of data, including the find rate of different types of searches. That find rate data should be extended to show disparities between people from different ethnicities.
The force carries out some analysis on drug searches, but it should develop that to encompass the prevalence of possession-only drug searches, distinguish find rates for drug possession and supply-type offences, and, the extent to which these align with local or force-level priorities.
However, we reviewed the force’s website and found the force has published a 2015 study by De Montfort University on disproportionality. This included comment on the extent to which find rates differ between people from different ethnicities and across different types of search.
We will continue to monitor progress in this area.
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
Leicestershire Police works hard to maintain its positive ethical culture. During fieldwork, we spoke to many officers and staff in different ranks, roles and sections of the force. All the employees we spoke to clearly understood their responsibility to act ethically and challenge unprofessional conduct among their colleagues. The Code of Ethics has been part of the force’s culture for several years. The Bad Apple confidential online system, through which people can report any matters of concern anonymously, is well known. But most people have the confidence to challenge colleagues themselves, knowing their leaders will support them. Underlining that perception, we heard that they view their leaders as role models.
The PCC has set up an ethics committee, drawing on the skills and experience of members of the public who are independent of the force. The committee plays a useful role in providing an independent perspective on the ethical challenges the force faces. It also examines the force’s use of coercive powers. We found that most officers and staff are unaware of the ethics committee, and do not know how to suggest issues for it to consider. Generally, the force could do more to promote discussions among the workforce about ethical dilemmas.
Operation Fox, which the deputy chief constable chairs, oversees matters that present a risk to the force’s reputation or integrity. A force learning board considers what lessons can be learned from the outcomes of professional standards investigations – and what they say about ethical standards or organisational behaviour.
The force has made strong progress in achieving the minimum level of vetting for the whole workforce. The last 12 months especially have seen a sustained reduction each month in the number of people awaiting vetting. Staffing in the vetting unit has been increased. The force expects to complete vetting the whole workforce to the minimum standard by the first quarter of 2019.
All people in designated posts, which require the highest level of vetting because of the nature of their work, are suitably vetted. There are several tiers of vetting. We reviewed a team that need an enhanced level of vetting, but not the highest level. We found all of them were vetted to the correct level. This shows that the force maintains correct vetting levels for people in sensitive and high-risk posts. It is also improving its position concerning basic checks on the whole workforce.
The force has trained staff to create flagstone records. These prevent officers who have been dismissed for misconduct from becoming an officer again.
All forces need to understand whether people’s ethnic background disproportionately affects the results of vetting checks. Leicestershire Police manually cross-references vetting results with people’s diversity data, held on a different computer system. These results can identify any disparities and be referred to senior officers. There are plans to automate this process with a new computer system.
Leicestershire Police is good at identifying and tackling corruption. It has assessed the threat of corruption and developed a counter-corruption control strategy. It uses information held about officers and staff well to identify those potentially at risk of corruption. It is also effective when taking steps to intervene.
Knowledge levels vary among the workforce of the need to declare business interests and notifiable associations. Those with existing business interests were clear about their responsibilities and described how annual follow-ups take place. Awareness about notifiable associations was less consistent. It would be helpful if the force reminded all officers, staff and volunteers what constitutes a notifiable association – along with what steps they need to take when they encounter them.
The specialist teams that look for and tackle corruption have sufficient capacity and capability. We saw that they use effective techniques to follow up intelligence and investigate cases. The force has recently increased its technical ability to monitor the use of all force ICT applications.
We reviewed a sample of intelligence reports and investigations linked to corruption. We found that the material is handled appropriately. Referrals are made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct when necessary.
The force works closely with specialists from other organisations to support victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. These specialists have been trained to look for signs that police officers and staff have potentially abused their authority for sexual purposes. The force has also agreed plans with Crimestoppers on how to handle similar reports from the public.
The workforce is well aware of professional boundaries and the abuse of authority for sexual purposes. When we reviewed a sample of investigations into this type of behaviour, we found that the force dealt with each case appropriately.
An internal media campaign in November 2018 included a video message from a chief officer that reiterated potential signs of inappropriate behaviour, and what steps to take.
The force submitted a plan in 2017 to address our 2016 national recommendation about the abuse of position for a sexual purpose. This has been fully implemented.Summary for question 2
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.