Surrey PEEL 2018
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
Surrey Police works hard to promote a no-blame, ethical, learning culture. It has set up an ethics committee, overseen by someone completely independent of the force. Not all staff fully understand regulations about notifiable associations (people in their lives who might compromise their position). The force needs to make sure everyone knows what a notifiable association is – and what to do about them.
Also, not all staff fully understand regulations on abusing a position for sexual purpose. The force is remedying this by giving supervisors clearer information and providing online training. On diversity, the Surrey Police Association of Culture and Ethnicity (SPACE) offers a mentoring scheme for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff. It has won several awards including the Excellence Award for Diversity and Inclusion at the 2018 HR Excellence Awards.
There are many innovative ways the force is supporting staff wellbeing. For example, wellbeing events show staff where they can get help and support. The force has also worked to reduce stress by making sure regular overtime isn’t seen as ‘business as usual’.
Service from the occupational health unit (OHU) needs to improve. Waiting times for staff needing help have reduced since 2017. But staff are still waiting up to a month for an appointment.
The force now uses informal ‘Focus’ discussions between staff and managers covering wellbeing, performance management and more. Staff like them, but they are informal and not recorded. That means the force can’t capture the results.
Some senior officers identify staff with potential and offer mentoring and coaching. However, this is inconsistent and only open to a few people. The force would benefit from a talent programme open to everyone.
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 122 stop and search records to assess if the recorded grounds were reasonable. Eighty-seven percent contained reasonable grounds. Our assessment is based on the grounds the searching officer recorded, 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.
The force has met some of this recommendation. The force analyses comprehensive data. This includes how far rates are different across different types of searches. However, it doesn’t do that by ethnicity or separately identify find rates for drug possession and supply-type offences. It also doesn’t identify how often possession-only drug searches take place or how far they are in line with local or force-level priorities.
There is no obvious mention of analysis on the force’s website to understand and explain the reasons for disparities or any action taken.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Surrey Police works hard to promote a no-blame, ethical, learning culture guided by the Code of Ethics. The force has recently set up an ethics committee with a chair who is completely independent of Surrey Police, to improve transparency.
The force tells staff the standards they are expected to meet in several different ways. These include live webchats by the professional standards department (PSD) to answer questions. There are also discussion forums on the force intranet, video blogs and a PSD website that people use often.
Staff have different levels of knowledge about declaring business interests and notifiable associations (people in their lives who might compromise their position). The force needs to make sure that all officers, staff and volunteers know what a notifiable association is – and the steps they need to take when they find one.
The force is good at dealing with abuse of position for a sexual purpose and refers all cases to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). It has an effective counter-corruption strategic assessment and control strategy to combat any corruption.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that information and intelligence on its staff is used more effectively, sharing appropriately to highlight corruption risks earlier.
- The force should improve its workforce’s knowledge and understanding of the abuse of position for a sexual purpose, and integrity policies involving business interests and notifiable associations.
- The force should ensure it 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?
The force has made lots of progress towards creating a more positive workforce by improving wellbeing. For example, it has reduced staff stress by making sure routine overtime isn’t considered a normal part of the job.
The force holds regular wellbeing events, including wellbeing weeks and wellbeing fairs. Through them, the force aims to support all staff and direct them to help if they need it. All new supervisors are trained in wellbeing to identify if staff have any problems.
The OHU’s service needs to improve. Staff are still waiting for a month to discuss their health and wellbeing concerns with a specialist. The service can also be inconsistent. This needs to be reviewed so staff get the right help.
The force appoints a welfare officer for staff facing misconduct allegations. However, the welfare support for officers and staff absent through maternity leave or sickness is variable.
It is positive that the workforce likes the more informal performance development reviews. The force needs to make sure it records them in some way to capture trends and make sure concerns are addressed.
Surrey Police’s promotion process is seen as fair and open for both officers and staff. The force also gets candidates’ views after each promotion process so it can get feedback.
Areas for improvement
- The force should complete a review of its Occupational Health Unit (OHU), to streamline processes and ensure a consistent and timely service is provided for staff.
- The force should improve how it records and monitors its ‘Focus’ discussions to ensure they are consistently applied across the force, and effectively capture issues such as wellbeing and counter-corruption.
- The force should ensure that it has a talent programme that is open to everyone and consistently applied.