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North Yorkshire PEEL 2018

Legitimacy

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

Last updated 27/09/2019
Requires improvement

The force needs to improve its understanding of how fairly its officers treat the public. A complete picture is needed of how both use of force and stop and search powers are being used in the community. The force needs a better understanding of how officers are using force. Officers electronically record when force has been used, but their actions aren’t being reviewed often enough by supervisors.

It is a similar picture for stop and search powers. Training needs to be delivered consistently, and supervisors should fulfil their role so that the public can be confident about the way the force is operating.

It is positive that four external community review groups are being set up. However, it is too soon to know what influence these groups may have, as only one of them had met when we inspected the force and independent chairs hadn’t been appointed.

Ethics are important and well understood in the culture of working within the force. However, officers and staff should have the option of speaking to someone independent of their day-to-day work if they want to raise a concern about unethical behaviour.

The force needs to make sure that those tackling counter-corruption can monitor all computer data so that any potential problems are brought to light and investigated. More training is needed so that all officers and staff fully understand the issue of abuse of position for a sexual purpose.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

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

Requires improvement

Officers treat the public fairly and with respect. North Yorkshire Police uses the national policing Code of Ethics and we found this is understood and followed by the workforce. The force recognises the importance of understanding its communities’ concerns and fosters close links with neighbourhoods, both in person and, increasingly, online. And it uses social media to support that engagement.

It is important that the use of police powers is legitimate and appropriate in the public’s eyes. Providing external scrutiny of these powers is critical. In North Yorkshire, external monitoring groups are being set up to provide an independent view of how use of force and stop and search powers are used by officers. But at the time of our inspection, only one of the four new scrutiny groups had met and independent chairs had yet to be appointed. This means that effective, independent understanding of the legitimacy of the use of powers isn’t yet in place.

There is also a need for effective internal monitoring. Supervisors aren’t routinely sent forms submitted by officers when they have used force. As a result, supervisors aren’t making use of their powers to review the use of force, and North Yorkshire Police misses opportunities to identify trends and learn lessons.

For stop and search powers, we found that not all officers have received the refresher training they need. The identification of correct reasonable grounds within stop and search records was lower than necessary to give confidence that these powers are being used fairly and appropriately. Once again, supervisors should be doing more to review the use of this power on each occasion so that feedback can be given immediately to make sure that it is used properly.

Areas for improvement

  • In respect of the use of force, North Yorkshire Police should:
    • ensure there is effective supervision and proper external scrutiny.
  • In respect of the use of stop and search powers, the force should:
    • ensure officers who use stop and search powers understand what constitutes reasonable grounds and supervisors understand their responsibilities to supervise the use of these powers;
    • ensure effective internal monitoring of a comprehensive dataset on stop and search; and
    • ensure effective external scrutiny of stop and search.

Detailed findings for question 1

2

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

Requires improvement

Chief officers are positive ethical role models. However, there is no independent route for officers and staff to raise any ethical concerns within the force. More could be done to tell the workforce how to raise such issues and make sure that officers and staff discuss such concerns with their line managers.

The force carries out checks on employees to identify those who might be at risk of corruption and has sound arrangements in place to adequately vet the workforce. However, it has gaps in its ability to monitor all of its IT equipment and this means that potential corruption may not always be identified. This needs to be addressed by the force.

While some work has been done to build relationships with agencies that work with vulnerable victims of crime, there is room for further improvement in this area. The force should make sure that victims are properly informed, engaged and protected from the potential for inappropriate behaviour by officers and staff.

The abuse of position for a sexual purpose is seen as a serious concern by the force. But it needs to take steps to enhance training and improve workforce understanding in this area, as we found little understanding of this critical issue during our inspection. The force should also give guidance to supervisors so that they can spot the warning signs and take early action to prevent harm.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should take steps to make sure that officers and staff are aware of how to raise ethical issues.
  • The force should ensure that its counter-corruption unit:
    • 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; and
    • builds effective relationships with individuals and organisations that support and work with vulnerable people.
  • The force should improve its workforce’s knowledge and understanding of the abuse of position for a sexual purpose.

Detailed findings for question 2