North Wales PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
North Wales Police has been assessed as requires improvement in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our findings this year are not consistent with last year’s findings, in which we judged the force to be good in respect of legitimacy. The force works hard to ensure that the behaviour of its officers is aligned with the Code of Ethics, is good at treating the people that it serves with fairness and respect and seeks feedback and challenge from its local communities. It has limited capacity to seek out and deal with potential corruption, however, and while it recognises the value of wellbeing, we found concerns among the workforce.
North Wales Police understands the importance of treating people with fairness and respect and the workforce understands the relationship between the force’s vision and values and the Code of Ethics. The force seeks feedback and challenge from the people it serves using social media and other methods, and has taken some action to communicate with those who have less trust and confidence in the police. North Wales Police vets applicants in accordance with national guidelines and has a comprehensive programme of action to highlight what is considered to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
The force has some understanding of strategic risks to the integrity of the organisation but has limited capacity to seek out and develop intelligence and conduct proactive enquiries to deal with potential corruption. It is taking action to prevent abuse of authority for sexual gain and informs the public and its workforce about misconduct outcomes. The force uses a several methods to seek the views of its workforce, and is aware of the importance and value of promoting wellbeing. However, not all staff feel equipped to recognise the signs of ill health and the force’s counselling service has been withdrawn. The force’s annual performance assessment is not yet perceived to be fair and effective.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
North Wales Police is good at treating all of the people it serves with fairness and respect. The force understands the importance of treating people with fairness and respect and the workforce understands the relationship between the force’s vision and values and the Code of Ethics, and the importance of acting ethically.
North Wales Police can demonstrate that it seeks feedback and challenge from the people it serves using social media and a variety of data collection opportunities. The force’s recently introduced local forums have focused on increased public participation to help improve the service it provides.
The force identifies and understands some of the issues that have the greatest impact on people’s perceptions of fair and respectful treatment. This could be enhanced by gathering information from the various sources and analysing it to identify those issues that have the greatest impact on public perceptions of how they are treated by the police. The force has taken some action to communicate with members of the public, including those who have less trust and confidence in the police, and is open to external scrutiny.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
North Wales Police requires improvement to ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force can demonstrate that it vets applicants to ensure that it recruits officers, staff and volunteers with high standards of ethical behaviour. It also has a comprehensive programme of action that reinforces the importance of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. It can demonstrate that it is taking action to ensure that the workforce understands the requirement to declare business interests, notifiable associations (including media), gifts and hospitality.
However, we found North Wales Police has limited understanding of the strategic risks to the integrity of the organisation as its strategic threat assessment is out of date and it has limited capacity to seek out and develop all intelligence about potential corruption. The force has some systems in place for identifying individual and organisational risk and is taking some action to intervene at an early stage.
North Wales Police has a zero-tolerance approach to sexually motivated misconduct and takes action where it suspects the abuse of authority for sexual gain is taking place. This is a PSD control strategy priority. The force informs the public and its workforce about misconduct outcomes, although not all outcomes are published.
In our 2016 national overview of police legitimacy, we recommended that all forces should have started to implement a plan to achieve the capability and capacity required to seek intelligence on potential abuse of position for sexual gain. In 2017, we reviewed of the plans put in place by all forces to in response to this recommendation.
Areas for improvement
- The force should review the capacity of its anti-corruption unit to ensure the unit is capable of seeking out misconduct and corruption, and developing intelligence once it is received.
- Annually, the force should produce a local counter-corruption strategic assessment and control strategy, to identify risks to its integrity.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
North Wales Police requires improvement in how it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. The force seeks the views of the workforce in several ways and has taken some action on areas identified by the workforce as requiring improvement. The force is aware of the importance and value of promoting wellbeing and takes action to ensure that the benefits are also understood by the workforce. However, at the time of our inspection, officers and staff were concerned about the extent to which they could access wellbeing services. The force has some processes in place to identify wellbeing issues and concerns, but not all of the workforce feels equipped to recognise the signs of ill health involving mental health issues, including stress at work. At the time of our inspection the force’s recently introduced annual performance process was not yet understood or perceived to be fair and effective by the entire workforce.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that its supervisors can recognise and provide support in relation to wellbeing issues.
- The force should improve workforce access to occupational health provision.
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance of officers and staff.