Suffolk PEEL 2018
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
Suffolk Constabulary is good at treating the public fairly.
The workforce has an ethical culture at all levels. It has a culture of learning not blame. But the force’s anti-corruption unit (ACU) is limited in its ability to pursue corruption proactively. A new ICT monitoring system intended to protect the force’s data may put further pressure on this unit.
Suffolk Constabulary is good at treating the 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 99 stop and search records to assess the reasonableness of the recorded grounds. We found that 71 percent of 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 force has complied with some of this recommendation. 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 force’s website and found a clear description of the factors affecting the disproportionality rate, such as residency, gang membership and county lines. Analysis to understand the reasons for disproportionality was published but this did not include analysis of the impact of gangs, county lines or other intelligence on the rate. The analysis was limited to residency status and showed that residency had minimal impact on the disproportionality rate and did not include analysis of find rates of different search types by ethnicity. There was no obvious mention of action taken to reduce disproportionality.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Suffolk Constabulary has an ethical culture. Leaders and the workforce understand the professional Code of Ethics that governs policing.
The force meets its obligations under the new Vetting Code of Practice. It provides the College of Policing with the details of former officers and staff who it has dismissed. This prevents such people from working in law enforcement. But the force has a vetting backlog. It has taken steps to reduce the risk this entails. It will increase staffing to clear the backlog.
In our 2017 legitimacy report, we recommended that the force improve the quality and timeliness of its updates to complainants. It has done this.
Suffolk and Norfolk share an effective counter-corruption assessment and control strategy. Suffolk Constabulary intervenes early to support members of its workforce vulnerable to corruption. But it doesn’t evaluate the results of such interventions to find out if they work.
The force’s ACU is limited in capacity and capability. It manages the information it receives effectively. But it does not always record it in a way that allows it to compare the data with national data.
The force is testing software to monitor its ICT systems in real time. This could increase the ACU’s workload. The force is watching this issue closely to ensure that workforce levels are sufficient to deal with it.
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.
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. However, Suffolk Constabulary had an area for improvement in the 2017 inspection. The force needed to ensure that the staff performance assessment framework was consistently and fairly applied throughout the force, and that there was a clear monitoring process so that staff considered it valuable in supporting their development.
The force introduced a new PDR process for the 2018/19 performance year. During fieldwork, we found that this was still being put in place. The PDR includes a checklist about standards of professional behaviour, which was being used well. Supervisors saw this as an effective tool to open discussions about integrity, ethics and wider welfare issues. Despite this progress, we found that officers and staff do not yet consider it to be valuable in supporting their development unless they are seeking promotion. The force still needs to do work to address this area for improvement, and we will continue to review it as part of our IPA inspection approach.