Northamptonshire PEEL 2018
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
The force doesn’t consistently seek feedback from the public to improve its approach, although we did see some good examples of force leaders working with communities.
The force understands how to use force appropriately. Officers use stop and search powers appropriately. And the force is committed to continue to learn and improve in this area.
Northamptonshire Police behaves ethically and lawfully. Effective anti-corruption measures are in place. Leaders publicise their expectations and the force’s values well throughout the workforce.
The force has a reasonable understanding of workforce diversity. It has made some improvements since our last inspection. This includes recruiting an equalities and positive actions officer.
It needs to be more aware of levels of wellbeing among its workforce. It will then be able to offer more, and better, support to staff. Plans are in place to improve the situation and staff have already seen positive changes.
There are limited talent management programmes or structured ways to develop both officers and staff. Poor performance is not always tackled. The workforce doesn’t perceive as fair the processes for performance, talent management and promotion. This is having a negative effect on workforce morale and productivity.
There is a new leadership programme for supervisors and we are pleased to find that most now have regular meetings with their staff. The workforce is feeling optimistic about the future and is positive about the vision of the new chief constable.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Northamptonshire Police needs to be more consistent in how it communicates with the public. It doesn’t consistently seek public feedback to improve its approach and the force could make more use of social media. The force would also benefit from focusing on harder to reach groups, and those less likely to contact the police. The force makes some good use of its cadets, volunteers and special constables.
The force complies with recording requirements relating to use of force. It uses lessons learned to improve its approach in this area. The force doesn’t yet externally scrutinise the use of force but has plans to introduce this.
The force’s reasonable grounds panel has improved recording standards around stop and search, but the panel isn’t seen as a support function by the workforce. This means that some officers are reluctant to use the power. The force would benefit from promoting the benefits of the panel among the workforce.
There is an external scrutiny group for stop and search, although membership doesn’t fully represent all communities. The force has started to better understand the disproportionately high numbers of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups being stopped. The force is now improving its practice as a result.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve the way it communicates with the different communities it serves.
- The force should make sure it has effective external scrutiny on stop and search.
- The force should make sure it has effective external scrutiny on the use of force.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Northamptonshire Police behaves ethically and lawfully. The workforce understands expected standards of behaviour and is aware of its obligations associated with business interests, reportable associations, gifts and hospitality.
All officers and staff have up-to-date vetting appropriate to their role. The force has enough resources to fully vet its workforce and recent system upgrades have made the vetting unit more efficient. The force complies with its obligations for barred and advisory lists.
The force uses feedback from its workforce when developing policies. It would benefit from promoting more awareness of its ethics committees among its workforce.
Abuse of position is well publicised throughout the workforce and is recognised as serious corruption. The force asks for information about corruption from a variety of sources and an anonymous public reporting line will be available soon too. The force provides appropriate support to staff and officers who report wrongdoing, and investigations are conducted promptly.
Northamptonshire Police has raised awareness of potential corruption among its workforce and has trained supervisors to look for the signs. It works to reassure the public by publishing cases.
Areas for improvement
- The force should monitor its vetting decisions to identify disparities and disproportionality (e.g. BAME groups), and act to reduce them where appropriate.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
There are examples of the force inviting feedback from staff. These include an ‘Ask the chief’ section on the intranet, and staff network groups are involved in plans for change. Decisions are sometimes made in isolation – for example, changing a shift pattern based on the feedback from one team. This may have a negative impact on the effectiveness of demand management force-wide.
The workforce is feeling optimistic about the future and positive about the visibility and vision of the new chief constable. The last staff survey was in 2017 and we look forward to seeing the results of the one planned for 2019.
The force needs to better understand wellbeing issues. Sickness absence across the workforce is high. Occupational health provision doesn’t meet demand, and the force only operates a limited range of preventative measures to improve workforce wellbeing. There is now improved support for those on maternity and paternity leave. Wellbeing services that are available aren’t publicised enough. Levels of support should improve when more permanent staff have filled temporary roles. Wellbeing is a priority in the new leadership programme, which should help address the problem.
The force needs to better support supervisors to tackle poor performance. It has plans to address this. There is a new leadership programme for supervisors and we are pleased to find that most now have regular meetings with their staff.
Outside national schemes, there are limited talent management programmes or structured ways to develop both officers and staff. The workforce doesn’t perceive as fair the processes for performance, talent management and promotion. This is having a negative impact on workforce morale and productivity.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve the way it communicates with the workforce to increase trust and confidence in its leaders. It should communicate the action it takes in response to issues identified by the workforce.
- The force should make sure that it has effective processes in place to identify and understand the causes of potential disproportionality, and to take effective action.
- The force should improve its provision of preventative healthcare measures for the workforce and ensure that wellbeing is considered in decisions around manging demand resource allocation. This should include making sure it provides suitable training, support and capacity for its supervisors so that they have the necessary time to recognise the signs and provide the necessary early intervention response for managing wellbeing issues.
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance and identifies talent within the workforce.
- The force should tackle the workforce perception of unfairness in Northamptonshire Police through ensuring that its performance, talent management and promotion and selection processes are accessible and perceived by the workforce as fair.