West Midlands PEEL 2018
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
West Midlands Police treats both the public and its workforce fairly.
The force’s approach to the ethical and lawful behaviour of its workforce requires improvement.
The force communicates well with the public, including those parts of the community that are harder to reach.
Officers understand how to use force correctly and understand their obligations about recording its use. The scrutiny of stop and search is good.
West Midlands Police has a large number of officers and staff whose police vetting is not up to date. The force has recruited extra staff for the vetting unit and has speeded up re-vetting processes, but at the current rate of vetting it will take several years to get rid of the backlog. The size of the backlog and the fact it has existed for several years are causes of concern.
The force is clear about the standards of behaviour it expects from its workforce. It highlights misconduct cases to raise awareness of the consequences of corruption or misconduct. The counter corruption unit (CCU) has enough resources to manage its work. However, the force still cannot fully monitor all of its IT systems.
Officers and staff are confident that they can talk to senior leaders about problems, and that leaders will listen to them. The force has improved how it deals with grievances. It has also changed the promotion process to try to remove any possible bias.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
West Midlands Police is good at treating the public fairly. It is committed to building public trust and confidence in the police.
The force engages with the public in a variety of ways. It is collaborating with Cambridge University to find the best ways of engaging with particular communities.
The workforce now has a better understanding of unconscious bias and the importance of treating the public fairly. The force should make sure this improvement continues.
West Midlands Police makes sure officers receive appropriate training and guidance about how to use force and stop and search fairly. Officers we spoke to understood how and when to use force correctly, and how to record it. However, first-line supervisors need easier access to information and alerts when members of their team have used force.
West Midlands Police has improved its scrutiny of the use of force since our last inspection. It needs to make sure it carries out its plans for further improvements.
West Midlands Police has better established procedures for stop and search than for use of force. Supervisors are generally good at reviewing stop and search records. The force monitors trends or themes alongside feedback from the public and other sources to understand how well stop and search is used. Public scrutiny of stop and search is good.
The force is working to understand the disproportionate number of searches on people from a BAME background. It has not yet done a comprehensive analysis of data that could inform a plan of action.Detailed findings for question 1
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure it has a counter-corruption strategic threat assessment and control strategy which enables it to understand and manage the risk corruption poses to the organisation.
- The force should ensure its counter-corruption unit 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.
Cause of concern
The size of the vetting backlog within West Midlands Police is a cause of concern.
- The force should ensure all staff have received at least the lowest level of vetting clearance for their roles as quickly as possible, working to clear both the vetting backlog and new vetting renewals when they become due so that it complies fully with the national vetting guidelines.
West Midlands Police has a strong focus on ethical and lawful workforce behaviour. The force has clear standards for the behaviour it expects from officers and staff, which the workforce understand. It seeks to learn from complaints and shares learning.
The force includes ethical considerations in training plans for student officers. Discussions on ethics take place on force systems and within teams. The force has a new ethics committee made up of officers and staff, academics, members of the public and the office of the PCC.
However, more than half of West Midlands Police’s officers and staff do not have up-to-date police vetting for their role. The size of the vetting backlog and the fact it has existed for several years is a cause for concern.
West Midlands Police is improving how it tackles potential corruption. It recognises the importance of having a good understanding of potential corruption risks. But it needs up-to-date assessments and policies to support its anti-corruption work. The force has not completed its detailed strategic threat assessment for anti-corruption or implemented a formal control strategy.
The force has effective policies on the acceptance of gifts and hospitality, and on business interests. The counter corruption unit has enough capacity to manage its work. However, the force cannot fully monitor the use of all its IT systems, although it is buying new software to enhance its monitoring capability.
West Midlands Police and its workforce recognise abuse of position for a sexual purpose is serious corruption, and the harm this abuse causes.Detailed findings for question 2
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Areas for improvement
- The force should review its implementation plan for its new individual performance management system ‘WMP Conversations’, to identify opportunities to accelerate the rollout across the force and the anticipated benefits.
West Midlands Police is working hard to create a fairer and more supportive working environment for its workforce.
The officers and staff we spoke to were generally confident that they could raise concerns with senior leaders. They gave examples of changes to operational deployments, training and equipment as a result of concerns they had raised.
The force is dealing with internal complaints and grievances more quickly and effectively.
The force is gathering workforce data to help it understand levels of fairness. This includes fairness in recruiting women and people from BAME communities.
West Midlands Police is increasing its investment in supporting workforce wellbeing. However, many officers and staff continue to have large workloads. The force needs to make sure its employees know what measures are available to support their wellbeing and how to access them.
The force has a new individual performance management system. This encourages regular discussions between line managers and members of the workforce. However, the force is rolling this system out over three years, so many officers and staff still do not have regular meetings with their line managers. As a result, the force cannot make sure it is tackling poor performance effectively or identifying talent consistently.
The force has made good progress with addressing the workforce development needs of officers and staff. It is introducing new leadership development, support and talent management programmes. It has also redesigned its promotions process to remove potential bias.Detailed findings for question 3