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Northumbria PEEL 2018

Legitimacy

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

Last updated 27/09/2019
Good

Northumbria Police is good at treating the public and its workforce legitimately.

Although the force is committed to treating the people it serves with fairness and respect, it requires improvement in this area. Community engagement is generally good, and relationships have been built with local community groups. But the force should make sure that its staff, especially those with stop and search powers, properly understand unconscious bias.

Northumbria Police keeps good records of when it uses force. It needs to make better use of this data to understand how force is being used.

The force is good at behaving ethically and lawfully. Ethical behaviour is important to the whole organisation, but we found they could do more to create an ethical culture. Workforce vetting has greatly improved, with vetting complete or in progress for almost all staff.

Northumbria Police staff should know how to report potential corruption or inappropriate behaviour in confidence. There are systems for reporting by telephone or online, but the force needs to ensure that staff know about them.

Reaction to corruption enquiries is good. But Northumbria Police should make sure that its counter-corruption unit has the capacity and capability to be proactive in its work.

The force is good at treating its workforce fairly.

Questions for Legitimacy

1

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

Requires improvement

Northumbria Police is committed to treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. Its values include being ‘proud to serve’, and this is often referenced in force documents, such as the community engagement plan.

However, some staff aren’t able to demonstrate an understanding of unconscious bias, or how their prejudices might unknowingly affect how they treat people. In 2017, we recommended that forces should make sure that all officers who use stop and search powers have been trained in unconscious bias. Northumbria Police hasn’t fully complied with this recommendation.

The force generally performs well on overall community engagement. It has community engagement teams (CETs) in each of the three area commands, and the force also consults local communities through a range of meetings and activities.

Northumbria Police lacks both internal and external scrutiny to make sure that officers and teams are using force appropriately. While its policies aim to make sure that any use of force is fair, it doesn’t analyse the data to check what is happening on the ground.

The force records and monitors information about stop and searches, and this data is thoroughly reviewed both internally and externally. There has, however, been a reduction in the number of stop and searches conducted by the force. Some officers told us they didn’t have time to conduct stop and searches because of other demands, and others said they were reluctant because of increased scrutiny. The force is working on developing new guidance for officers.

Cause of concern

Northumbria Police is failing to monitor adequately the way it is using force. This is a cause of concern.

Recommendations

  • The force needs to ensure it improves its understanding of how force is being used. It should use this understanding to identify trends, issues and disparities.
  • The force should ensure that it has effective internal and external processes and governance to analyse and scrutinise a comprehensive range of use of force data. It should use the outcomes from this to improve the way that force is used.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that all members of its workforce receive training in, and understand, unconscious bias.

Detailed findings for question 1

2

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

Good

Northumbria Police’s policies and procedures comply with the national policing Code of Ethics and the Equality Duty. The force treats ethical behaviour as an issue for the whole organisation, and it is monitored by several boards and advisory groups.

The force has made a good start in promoting an ethical culture, particularly through a series of short videos on the intranet, which have also been used across the northern region because they were seen as a good learning tool. It is trying to promote a blame-free culture, in which the organisation can learn from mistakes.

It has made great improvements in vetting the workforce, with vetting either complete or in progress for almost all staff.

The force is good at tackling corruption and has improved how it assesses risk. It uses information it holds on its officers to help those at risk of corruption before force integrity is affected. But the force needs to review how it evaluates staff interventions.

Too few officers have a regular PDR that includes an integrity health check. And although there is a confidential reporting online and telephone system for staff, few officers we spoke to knew about it.

The force has the capacity and capability to react well to corruption enquiries but not enough to pursue corruption proactively. It has fully implemented its plan to address our 2016 national recommendation on abuse of authority for a sexual purpose.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure its counter corruption unit has the capability and capacity to be effective in its proactive approach to counter corruption – and has full information technology (IT) monitoring to effectively protect the information contained within its systems.
  • The force should ensure its mechanism for the workforce to report potential corruption and inappropriate behaviour of colleagues confidentially is effective.

Detailed findings for question 2