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Cambridgeshire PEEL 2015


How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 11/02/2016

The chief officer team takes seriously the need for an ethical and inclusive workforce and there is an effective approach to improving the wellbeing of its staff. Local teams have a good understanding of their neighbourhoods and engage positively with the public and decision-making by Taser-trained officers is fair and appropriate. The constabulary has more to do in order to comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.

This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible.

In Cambridgeshire Constabulary, chief officers have set a clear vision and values for the organisation and staff support these and feel that they are trusted to do the right things. The constabulary has made sufficient effort to establish the Code of Ethics, and has incorporated it into its own statement of vision and values. The Code of Ethics was launched in April 2014, and set out nine policing principles that should be applied by all officers and staff: Accountability; Integrity; Openness; Fairness; Leadership; Respect; Honesty; Objectivity; and Selflessness. These principles should be used to underpin the decisions and actions taken by officers and staff.

When HMIC looked at how well the force understands and engages with all the people it serves, we found that the constabulary understands the importance of engagement with its communities and uses a broad range of methods to communicate with the public. There are good examples of officers listening to and understanding local concerns and responding to them appropriately. Officers and staff generally treat people fairly and with respect. Also, the constabulary supports the wellbeing of the workforce effectively.

Stop and search and Taser are two ways that the police can prevent crime and protect the public. However, they can be intrusive and forceful methods, and it is therefore vital the police use them fairly and appropriately. HMIC found that Taser use is generally appropriate and scrutiny of its use is good. However, the constabulary needs to satisfy itself that it has the right number of Taser-trained officers in the right places.

The constabulary does not comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and has more to do to ensure officers and supervisors understand the grounds by which people can be stopped and searched.

Questions for Legitimacy


To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?


Cambridgeshire Constabulary has set out its vision and values, and there are a wide range of ways for officers and staff to engage in discussion about them. Most staff support these values and feel they are trusted to do the right thing.

The constabulary has also set out the ‘RISK’ priorities (Responding to local concerns; Investigate crime and protect the most vulnerable; Staff professionalism; and Keep people safe). We found staff understand the priorities and they feel supported and trusted by senior officers.

We were encouraged to find that staff are confident to challenge inappropriate behaviour at all levels and arrangements are in place to support staff who report misconduct.

The constabulary works effectively to support the wellbeing of the workforce. Officers and staff have a wide range of services available to them including counselling and general health checkups.

There are different approaches to the initial assessment of how serious a misconduct allegation may be dealt with for police officers and police staff. This could lead to police staff being dealt with more harshly than police officers. However, the constabulary’s professional standards department plans to standardise approaches for police staff and police officers.


To what extent are forces recording crimes in accordance with the Home Office Counting Rules?


This question has not been inspected or graded in 2015.


How well does the force understand, engage with and treat fairly the people it serves to maintain and improve its legitimacy?


In Cambridgeshire Constabulary, neighbourhood policing teams have a good understanding of their communities and work closely with them using a range of methods to engage them. There are good examples of the constabulary engaging Eastern European communities and finding solutions to overcome language and cultural barriers.

The constabulary values local people participating in policing activities and there is a wide range of neighbourhood watch schemes in place. The refreshed recruitment process for volunteers and the new structure to manage their contributions is positive.

Neighbourhood policing teams demonstrate a positive attitude to working with their communities to gain an understanding of their concerns, the causes of these and the most effective way for them to be resolved. This is viewed as a key responsibility and a core activity for local staff. More could be done to make better use of local community profiles to further improve this engagement work.

Call-handlers and front desk staff are polite, friendly and helpful. A priority for the constabulary about ‘Changing Behaviours and Habits’ is contained within the constabulary’s communications plan and this details the areas of leadership, pride and standards of behaviour expected when officers engage with the public.

Officers and staff in Cambridgeshire Constabulary treat people with whom they come into contact with fairness and respect. There is a good understanding of the National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) and how to apply it in daily policing duties.


To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?

Requires improvement

Cambridgeshire Constabulary is not compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and more work is needed to ensure that officers understand the features of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and apply the National Decision Model, including the Code of Ethics, when using the power.

The new Stop and Search Community Scrutiny Group is a positive step. However, more needs to be done to ensure that the views of young people are captured, including those from within black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

In Cambridgeshire, Taser is used by officers trained to the right standard with a good understanding of the National Decision Model. However, it has comparatively low numbers of Taser-trained officers compared to other similar forces. The constabulary should consider whether the current number of Taser officers and their deployment pattern reflects current demand, to ensure this tactic is available to improve the safety of the public and officers.

Taser deployment and use in the constabulary is the subject of effective oversight and its use is fair and appropriate.

As Cambridgeshire Constabulary was not compliant in three or more aspects of the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme in 2015, HMIC revisited the force in 2016 to assess improvements made since the initial inspection.

Best Use of Stop and Search letter – Cambridgeshire Constabulary

Areas for improvement

  • The constabulary should ensure that officers understand the features of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and how to apply the NDM (including the Code of Ethics) when using the power.
  • Of the records reviewed that did not have reasonable grounds recorded, all had been endorsed by a supervisor. The constabulary should ensure the processes for recording reasonable grounds are understood by both officers and those supervising them.
  • The constabulary should put in place an action plan setting out how it will comply with all the features of Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. HMIC will revisit the constabulary within six months to determine what improvements have been made.