Warwickshire PEEL 2018
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
The force values working with communities. It uses this engagement to make decisions at both local and strategic levels.
The force works with independent advisory groups (IAGs) to build trust. These groups make sure that officers and staff are aware of equality and diversity issues. The force uses community messaging well. But few members of the workforce have had specific communications skills training.
The force has updated its policies on use of force and stop and search. It now needs to make sure that use of force training is up to date for relevant members of the workforce. We note that not all officers have access to body-worn video equipment.
The force also needs to make sure that training in the use of coercive powers, including stop and search, is up to date. And it needs to work with partners to understand the underlying causes of disparities in its use of stop and search.
The force is good at behaving ethically and lawfully. It maintains an ethical culture. It has an effective approach to tackling corruption. It should continue to promote awareness among its workforce, including supervisors, of the risks of abuse of position for a sexual purpose.
The force is good at treating its workforce fairly. It needs to make sure that its assessment, development and management of officers and staff are consistent, with good supervision and performance management in all – rather than only some – areas.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Areas for improvement
- The force should review its arrangements for training, monitoring and independently scrutinising how force is used.
- The force should ensure that all relevant officers and staff have in-date personal safety training.
- The force should review the training of effective communication techniques to best equip the workforce with the necessary skills to achieve its community engagement ambitions.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Treating people fairly and respectfully
The force’s leaders value working with communities. This work helps shape decisions, particularly about local priorities and activities. It also influences some strategic level decisions: the force’s rural crime initiative resulted from such engagement.
IAGs support this work. The deputy chief constable (DCC) plans to visit IAGs during 2019. The IAGs are diverse, representative of local communities and include a new youth IAG. The force has built trust with these groups. And it is confident about sharing challenges with them. IAGs train new staff to raise awareness of equality and diversity issues.
The force works with communities in a range of ways, including visits to care homes, schools and other forums. Police and partnership events focus on the make-up of communities and how to best meet their needs. Teams run beat surgeries and work with communities that are hard to reach through ambassadors or by visiting places that people frequent.
The force uses community messaging widely. It publishes details of its neighbourhood teams to enable direct contact. The force’s use of a WhatsApp group in Stratford-upon-Avon helped that community to become part of the solution to local ASB problems.
Volunteers within neighbourhood teams connect with communities through social media and help to shape local priorities in this way. The 10-week citizens’ academy explains policing services to participants. Some have gone on to volunteer through the special constabulary or as members of IAGs.
Alongside an existing NCALT package, a new instructor has been giving unconscious bias training since October 2018. Uniformed officers, members of the CID and people in key roles, such as the professional standards department (PSD), have taken part in this training. Personal safety training also incorporates unconscious bias training.
Officers and staff have said that training encourages their improved awareness of vulnerabilities, and that RMPs now include more references to vulnerability. Officers spoke of a change in the force’s culture and language.
Few people spoke of having received any specific communications skills training. Specialist interviewing for children and vulnerable victims, and domestic abuse training, both include elements of communications skills training for investigators. And officer safety training involves de-escalation and conflict resolution techniques. But frontline staff do not receive tailored training in effective communications skills.
Warwickshire Police has recently updated its use of force policy. Officer safety training includes use of force, proportionality and recording. It is delivered in line with the College of Policing’s syllabus. Officers and staff in frontline roles should receive training in the correct use of force once a year. The force confirms, however, that 10 percent of its officers are out of date with their safety training. And not all officers know when their training validity expires.
Line managers should risk-assess these officers at the start of every shift, to determine whether or not they should be on patrol. Currently, systems do not make sure that the workforce is sufficiently well trained in the use of force. Officers whose training is out of date are at increased risk of using techniques inappropriately or ineffectively.
According to force policy, officers must complete a use of force reporting form every time force is used. Supervisors should then audit these forms. However, the force cannot be confident that officers always complete the necessary report. And few frontline officers reported receiving any feedback from a supervisor about their use of force. Officers told us that some forms are not being completed for instances of compliant handcuffing and when multiple officers use force on one person.
Officers should also use body-worn video when they use force so that supervisors can review footage. But not all officers have access to body-worn video equipment.
An inspector dip-samples around 15 percent of body-worn video recordings of use of force. But the force does not review or dip-sample custody video footage. This would give valuable information about how officers use force. It would also be a way for the force to check that forms have been submitted.
The force scrutinises officers’ use of Taser for compliance with policy. The service improvement board, chaired by the DCC, provides high-level governance, considers trends and oversees the dip-sampling process. However, this forum is strategic in nature, with a broad agenda. As a result, it relies on exception reporting by a dedicated inspector and an internal scrutiny group to alert it to risk in this area. The force is reviewing internal scrutiny and governance arrangements in preparation for the imminent end of the alliance.
The force publishes a range of data, and gives information on its website, about use of force. This includes its response to a freedom of information application about its use of Taser.
A strategic IAG member also sits on the panel of the service improvement board. But the force does not use the wider IAG network to scrutinise its use of force. Independent scrutiny is an important element of police legitimacy. This is a missed opportunity. The force also does not publish any lessons learned on its use of force.
Using stop and search powers
Recently, the force updated its stop and search policy. Training is in line with national guidance. The force includes training as part of annual officer safety training sessions, which include role play through scenarios. Given that many officers’ safety training is out of date, the extent and currency of stop and search training is in question.
Nevertheless, officers value their stop and search training when they receive it. It helps them to understand how to use stop and search powers. Supervisors endorse all electronic stop and search records to show they are satisfied, among other details, with the sufficiency of the grounds that were recorded to justify the action. Supervisors have been trained to oversee the use of this coercive power.
We reviewed a representative sample of 217 stop and search records in order to assess the reasonableness of the recorded grounds. We found that 91 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 Warwickshire Police has complied with some elements of this recommendation. The force identifies and monitors the extent to which searches where nothing was found differ between people from different ethnicities. But it does not specifically identify if the item that was searched for was found. And it does not do this across different types of searches (including separate identification of find rates for drug possession and supply-type offences).
It is not clear that the force monitors enough data to identify the prevalence of possession-only drug searches. Also unclear is the extent to which such searches align with local or force-level priorities.
We reviewed the force’s website and found a clear explanation of the factors affecting the disproportionality rate. But there is no clear mention of the analysis that the force has carried out to understand and explain reasons for disparities in different search types or different ethnicities. There is also no clear mention of any subsequent action that the force has taken.
Since June 2018, an inspector has reviewed every stop and search record, giving officers individual feedback. The force reports that this has helped improve consistency and quality. It has also helped to reduce the frequency with which officers need such feedback.
The force monitors its use of stop and search powers at quarterly strategic and tactical level meetings. The meetings feature performance data to identify trends and review outcomes. The data includes comparisons with West Mercia Police and other similar forces. Monitoring shows a reduction in the number of stop and search forms that are returned to officers. It also shows an improvement in quality. However, monitoring does not explore how the use of stop and search has affected crime levels or the community.
The force believes that unconscious bias training will help it to address ethnicity disparities in the use of stop and search. It has published an analytical report proposing reasons for the disparities. Such reasons include the use of stop and search powers to target specific criminal groups.
The stop and search database allows additional information to be recorded, so that analysts can identify searches that are conducted as part of a specific, named operation. The database can then be used to provide further insight into those operations that show high levels of disparity. IAGs welcome the contextual insight that this information brings to the data. But there is no evidence that the force is working with other partners to understand and take a long-term approach to tackling the underlying causes of such disparities. Without such work, current training and analysis will only go some way to achieving meaningful improvements in this area.
In February 2019, the force launched a youth independent advisory group. The first session focused on stop and search, including practical scenarios and role play. The four local IAGs review stop and search data (including find rates and ethnicity data). IAGs also scrutinise six stop and search incidents selected from a list that the force has given them. The IAGs consider whether the grounds were reasonable in each case.
The force publishes stop and search information on its website. It has also published a relevant freedom of information request and its related result. It invites scrutiny through the ride-along scheme to increase community understanding of police work.Summary for question 1
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that its counter-corruption unit has enough capability and capacity to tackle corruption effectively and proactively and that it 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.
- The force should continue to improve knowledge and understanding across the workforce of the abuse of position for a sexual purpose.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Maintaining an ethical culture
Warwickshire Police is good at maintaining an ethical culture. The force has circulated the Code of Ethics. Officers and staff have signed to confirm their understanding of the code.
The force makes appropriate use of the national decision model, of which the Code of Ethics is a core element. The alliance holds a quarterly ethics panel chaired by the West Mercia DCC, in line with national guidance. Warwickshire Police will now need to establish its own panel in preparation for the end of the alliance.
The ethics panel invites ethical dilemmas from the workforce. It discusses these dilemmas and shares some of them more widely with the force to stimulate discussion and encourage learning. When such dilemmas are shared, there is a high response rate from the workforce, and some people told us that supervisors and colleagues discuss the topics in team meetings. Learning from panel discussions is reflected in changes to working practices. One example is the training that custody staff now receive about the needs of transgender people. The ethics of stop and search also feature in annual officer safety training.
Force leaders act as role models and foster a no-blame culture. Staff commented positively on the visibility and approachability of senior leaders. Chief officers have redoubled their efforts in this area after feedback provided through a staff survey conducted in 2018. Chief officer roadshows, blogs and other methods encourage open discussion.
The force has introduced a continuous improvement team to promote a learning culture. Recently, the force appointed an organisational learning manager. It is also setting up a ‘lessons learned’ board. These initiatives are in the early stages of implementation. It is, therefore, too early for us to be able to assess the results.
Often, the force shares Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) national lessons learned with the appropriate force lead. Maintaining and making these activities routine will help to further promote a no-blame culture, and encourage a learning mindset, across the force.
The force is up to date with the vetting of most of its personnel and there are no backlogs. The force complies with the national Vetting Code of Practice. The number of officers and staff without the minimum security clearance for their roles is substantially lower, and therefore better, than elsewhere in England and Wales. The force has achieved the HMICFRS 2016 vetting recommendation.
However, enhanced vetting is not up to date for a very small percentage of the workforce who operate in the most specialist roles. This means that some people working in relevant departments have not been subject to enhanced vetting and the associated aftercare. The force is addressing this gap with a dedicated team allocated to aftercare arrangements, and plans to bring all officers and staff up to date by February 2020.
The force carries out vetting of its external contractors. It has also arranged for members of the IAGs to take part in appeals processes. This involvement will increase the diversity, scrutiny and transparency of the appeals process.
The force has changed its vetting systems to enable it to monitor the results of its vetting decisions, which means that it can now identify disparities. When recruitment staff identify potentially disproportionate failure rates affecting certain groups of people, the PSD reviews the relevant files. To date, all decision making has been found to be in line with the College of Policing’s authorised professional practice guidance. Effective vetting helps the force to maintain the integrity of its workforce and its information.
The force clarifies and reinforces standards of behaviour through policies, training, workforce discussions and publications. It asks all officers and staff to sign an annual integrity health check. The force reports that this has resulted in increases of 55 percent in business interest applications and 25 percent in reports of notifiable associations.
The force has a review process for business interests. But it does no proactive monitoring unless this is triggered by specific intelligence. Reinforcing and maintaining these standards helps the force to maintain public legitimacy and encourages the public to work with the force to tackle crime and ASB.
Warwickshire Police has an effective approach to tackling corruption.
The force has both a current PSD strategic threat assessment and a control strategy. A people intelligence board reviews analysis and information about potential risks within the force.
Due to the current IT infrastructure, the force cannot monitor some of its IT systems. But it has approved a business case and set aside funds to enable this monitoring when infrastructure improvements allow.
The ACU has a good understanding of its auditing capability. An ACU analyst is developing a proactive approach to the analysis of ICT systems, so that the force can identify officers and staff who may pose a risk of corruption. The absence of technical solutions to monitoring means that the force is very reliant on limited ACU analytical capacity. Competing demands, such as freedom of information requests and for support to management meetings, further reduce analytical capacity. Despite these problems, the force’s approach to tackling corruption helps it to uncover and deal effectively with corruption risks. This maintains the force’s integrity, and public legitimacy and confidence.
The force views abuse of position for a sexual purpose as a serious corruption risk. It has an effective and comprehensive plan in place to tackle it. Activities include a ‘don’t cross the line’ communications plan, which includes a range of internal and external materials.
The IOPC confirms that the force refers allegations promptly. Recently, the alliance hosted a ‘Tackling police corruption in partnership’ event. This was well attended by different agencies. The event promoted awareness of the problems caused by corruption and the importance of early reporting to tackle concerns, including the abuse of position for a sexual purpose. Delegates included adult safeguarding services, probation services, health trusts, a rape and sexual abuse support centre, Women’s Aid, a drug and alcohol service, and children’s services.
Supervisors receive a presentation from the PSD on warning signs and key indicators, together with a checklist. The monthly PSD bulletin covers notable cases of abuse of position for a sexual purpose. It also reinforces standards and reporting expectations.
Many of the officers and staff we spoke to showed some understanding of the risks of abuse of position for a sexual purpose. Some referred to specific examples of disciplinary action that the force has taken in recent years. But others we spoke to, including supervisors, had no knowledge or understanding of the signs. The force should continue to promote awareness of this important risk.Summary for question 2
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Areas for improvement
- Individual performance reviews and processes for talent identification should be consistently and fairly applied across the workforce. Poor performance should be managed consistently. In this way these processes will be more valued by the workforce.
- Suitable training and support should be provided to supervisors so that they are fully equipped and confident to manage the performance and development of their staff, including effectively managing poor performance and identifying talent. The force should also create sufficient capacity for supervisors to manage performance.
- Promotion and selection processes should be made accessible and transparent to the workforce so that they are perceived to be fair.
We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the force’s performance in this area.
Improving fairness at work
Warwickshire Police is committed to identifying and improving potential unfairness at work. The workforce values this approach.
The force uses a range of formal and informal methods through which leaders can seek workforce feedback and challenge. These include in-person events; ‘ask the chief’ and chief officer roadshows; webchat and intranet blog events; and command team bulletins. These activities support the force’s confidence strategy, which aims to improve both internal and external levels of assurance.
Leaders encourage workforce representatives and staff associations to give feedback and to challenge. Leaders also sit on boards, including the workforce management group (WMG), and the health and wellbeing board. Staff reported good involvement by local policing area command teams too.
The workforce has genuine respect for its senior leaders. Staff feel consulted by them and spoke of a culture that encourages honest feedback and challenge. The force has made improvements as a result of feedback, and these have been communicated to the workforce. The innovations board has resulted in workforce ideas being developed and implemented. One example is the opening of a response base at Stratford-upon-Avon.
A programme of work links wellbeing and demand. This programme has stimulated substantial workforce engagement, which has, in turn, resulted in many changes. As well as process and operational changes, the programme has led to access to sports and fitness and wellbeing support. Workforce feedback on this programme is broadly positive. However, the feedback from response teams is mixed, perhaps because the benefits of such changes are less apparent to them.
Our grievance file review identified that the force’s grievance process is well run, with appropriate support provided to those who access it. The workforce is aware of the grievance procedure and feels confident in accessing information about it. But mixed views were expressed about its effectiveness. Some were cautious of using the procedure because of fears that they may be moved or stigmatised. The workforce gave consistent feedback that line managers deal with most workplace grievances. However, unless the force records and appropriately publicises such informal resolutions, this method does little to increase confidence and encourage reporting across the wider workforce. The force has reported a relatively low number of formal grievances in the past year.
The WMG reviews quarterly performance reports to identify fairness issues and trends from grievance processes. The WMG meeting includes representatives from staff associations, who are confident they can highlight workforce concerns.
The force’s legal services department reviews legal actions to identify issues of fairness. The people intelligence board also seeks to identify individuals or teams affected by bullying, because this can have a detrimental impact on perceptions of fairness and respect. The force proactively consults the workforce to understand perceptions of fairness. In January 2019, a force survey identified that 81 percent of the workforce believe they are treated fairly. But only 67 percent of respondents reported that decisions affecting them are made in a fair way.
The WMG reviews data on workforce disparities to support the vision of a representative workforce by 2025. The force has used analysis to identify the points in the process where BAME candidates are unsuccessful during recruitment. The analysis shows that, despite representative levels of BAME applications since late 2018 (14 percent of applicants), only one candidate was successfully appointed (3.8 percent of new starters). The force has worked to address this issue through a communications campaign aimed at BAME groups. It has amended selection processes to reduce the opportunity for unconscious bias. And it has run assessment centre workshops, aimed at supporting candidates from under-represented groups.
The force supports workforce members with protected characteristics who are seeking progression. For example, it makes reasonable adjustments for applicants who have disabilities. Internal support networks give additional support to colleagues from under-represented groups.
The force has used a specialist agency for recruitment to certain staff roles (such as ICT). It has appointed candidates on the basis of their levels of understanding of diversity and inclusion. The PSD has also taken steps to understand and tackle disproportionality. For instance, it has reviewed complaint cases and made changes to HR systems to help identify causes of disparity.
Supporting workforce wellbeing
Force leaders have a clear focus on workforce health and wellbeing. The force’s culture encourages and enables staff to discuss and take part in wellbeing initiatives. Strategic and tactical health and wellbeing boards give focus to the health and wellbeing action plan. These boards commission wellbeing initiatives and employee support in consultation with the workforce.
The link made between demand and wellbeing is strong. A dedicated team leads on implementing demand and wellbeing initiatives. It does this in partnership with Coventry and Warwickshire councils, and other partners, during this ‘year of health and wellbeing’.
The force prioritises mental health alongside physical health. It partners with MIND, the mental health charity, to give support and resources to the workforce. There is good evidence of supervisors and leaders seeing wellbeing as part of their role. Most supervisors offer good wellbeing support.
The force uses a range of information to understand workforce wellbeing. It monitors data in strategic forums. These include the health and wellbeing board, the strategic health and safety committee, the WMG and the strategic attendance management group. Staff associations highlight wellbeing concerns. They also carry out their own consultations and share the results of them.
The force has carried out wellbeing surveys. It also uses other feedback processes, such as the peer support network, to understand wellbeing issues. The occupational health team monitors trends through its reporting data. The employee assistance programme advises managers about the use of its services. The new wellbeing champions network is attracting many volunteers. The force is training more peer supporters. Staff spoke positively of the initiatives that are in place.
Some staff, particularly in response and CID roles, report that demand prevents their involvement in wellbeing programmes. Recruitment plans aim to strengthen these teams in the future, so that capacity is created to enable them to engage in these programmes.
The force has a range of preventative measures to improve wellbeing. These include health checks and a calendar of events to raise awareness of the importance of wellbeing. Supervisors understand wellbeing and mental health. They have the tools they need to manage their teams effectively, including a stress assessment process that can be administered with team members.
The CID omnicompetent investigative model has broadened the pool of officers requiring psychological screening. The increased demand and wider pool of officers mean that some officers who are investigating serious sexual offences and child abuse cases have not received psychological screening. Still, the level of occupational health support and the range of preventative measures in place are adequate. This support includes medical advisors, welfare officers, the employee assistance programme and initiatives such as preventative flu vaccinations.
Demand on the occupational health unit is high. Although the waiting time for appointments has increased, in most cases the workforce receives an adequate level of service without excessive delays. The force gives wellbeing support to staff who are absent or subject to misconduct procedures. It manages welfare plans effectively, keeping them updated. Supervisors are aware of their wellbeing responsibilities towards those who are subject to misconduct procedures.
Managing performance and development of officers and staff
Arrangements for the assessment, development and management of the individual performance of officers and staff are inconsistent.
The workforce considers the appraisal process to be beneficial only when seeking promotion. Many spoke of infrequent meetings with their supervisors and line managers. The force monitors PDR completion rates and publishes them on the intranet. The WMG monitors the data.
Few people are subject to poor performance procedures. The workforce spoke of inconsistencies between supervisors in their management of underperforming staff. Some sense that supervisors consciously tolerate underperformance.
We found examples of good supervision and performance management. But this was not the case in all areas. The new MAX programme and talent mapping process aim to improve both appraisal and staff development arrangements. Revised processes seek to improve both the use and value of workforce appraisal and development. However, these initiatives had not been in place long enough for us to assess their effectiveness at the time of our inspection.
Recently, the force has relaunched its competency and values framework. At the time of our inspection, this was due to become part of its promotion and development process. This focus should help to make sure that officers and supervisors complete appraisals, and that officers record appropriate evidence of competency.
The talent mapping process is open to everyone. But the workforce questions whether genuine opportunities can be given to all those who are identified through the scheme. Opportunities include the mentoring scheme, support from the learning and development department, and participation in leadership programmes. The force is also assessing leadership capabilities, behaviours and business skills, starting with police staff leads and chief officers. Its assessment will also include chief inspector to chief superintendent ranks, with more of the workforce being included in due course. The aim of the assessment is to help inform succession planning in connection with talent mapping and development plans.
Staff we spoke to questioned whether talent management will offer fair access to development. They also questioned the fairness of the administration of temporary promotion and other development opportunities.
Leaders recognise that continued work and communication are needed to improve a sense of procedural justice in development and promotion matters. This work is now being led by the head of people services.
In summer 2018, the force updated its promotion process to better integrate its new approach to talent management.Summary for question 3