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Suffolk PEEL 2015


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

Last updated 11/02/2016

The constabulary promotes an ethical culture and treats its staff well. The constabulary engages with the public, and listens to and acts on their concerns. However, there could be more consistency in its understanding of different communities and a more effective way to update them on local issues. There is a comprehensive understanding within the constabulary of the link between communicating effectively with those they serve and how its staff treat members of the public. There is effective oversight and scrutiny of the use of stop and search powers and the constabulary complies with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and uses Taser fairly and appropriately.

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

Suffolk Constabulary has strong leadership from the chief officer team in developing and maintaining an ethical culture within the constabulary. The Code of Ethics, which defines the standards of behaviour for everyone who works in policing, is widely understood. The health and wellbeing of its staff is important to the organisation and staff have access to a range of support programmes.

When HMIC looked at how well the constabulary understands and engages with all the people it serves, Suffolk Constabulary consults widely with its communities to understand and respond to their concerns. Overall, Suffolk Constabulary is aware of the policing needs of its communities and responds 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 that the police use them fairly and appropriately. Suffolk Constabulary complies with the requirements of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, which aims to achieve greater transparency and community involvement in the police use of stop and search powers. There is a more limited understanding of the disproportionate number of stops and searches of members of the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups in the community. Taser officers are well trained and their use is closely scrutinised by the constabulary. The use of Taser by Suffolk Constabulary is fair and appropriate.

Questions for Legitimacy


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


Chief officers in Suffolk Constabulary provide strong leadership in developing and maintaining an ethical culture. The Code of Ethics is understood by staff and has been incorporated within the constabulary’s vision, mission and philosophy statement, which establishes the standards, attitudes and behaviour for staff.

Staff are encouraged to report inappropriate behaviour and they feel confident they would challenge such behaviour and would be supported by the organisation. The constabulary has a well-tested mechanism for officers and staff to make anonymous reports.

Suffolk Constabulary makes sure that the way it promotes and selects its staff is fair and transparent. It has included staff associations within its promotion and selection processes.
Health and wellbeing is important to Suffolk Constabulary. A range of support programmes is offered to staff. Those who use the services are complimentary about the quality of support provided. People are proud to work for the constabulary, which has a people-focused feel to the organisation.

Overall, there is consistency and fairness about how the constabulary deals with complaints and misconduct allegations.


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?


Suffolk Constabulary uses a wide range of engagement activity to better understand local concerns. Staff at all levels have a clear understanding of the importance of engaging with the public.

The constabulary uses a range of methods to communicate with different communities. Methods used include a community messaging system and social media, including Twitter and Facebook. These are complemented by traditional publications in local papers and public meetings.

The constabulary recognises that it does not have a complete understanding of all the needs of its communities and is developing a communication and consultation plan to improve its approach.

The National Decision Model (the framework by which all policing decisions should be made, examined and challenged) is understood by staff within Suffolk Constabulary and is applied extensively in operational situations as well as internal processes. This is complemented by the Code of Ethics, which ensures staff treat people with fairness and respect.

Areas for improvement

  • The constabulary should ensure that officers and staff have access to information about the various communities in Suffolk, to help them better understand the communities they serve, and to develop a consistent approach to engagement.
  • The constabulary should develop methods to assess the effectiveness of its engagement activity.


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


Suffolk Constabulary complies with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.

Officers are aware of the National Decision Model and use it effectively. Officers are trained well and there is good awareness of the scheme.

There is rigorous internal and external scrutiny of the use of stop and search powers but the constabulary needs to ensure that recording of the reasonable grounds occurs on all occasions that stop and search is used. The constabulary is aware that it stops and searches more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and attributes this to intelligence-led operations.

All officers authorised to use Taser are appropriately trained and familiar with the National Decision Model. They clearly understand their responsibility to exercise good judgment and understand the importance of recording their rationale and the significance of public scrutiny. Taser is used fairly and appropriately by Suffolk Constabulary.