South Wales PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
South Wales Police has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our findings this year are consistent with last year’s findings, in which we judged the force to be good in respect of legitimacy. The force has worked hard to understand and ensure its values and behaviours are in line with all elements of the Code of Ethics. Treating people fairly and with respect is central to the force’s approach and forms the basis of all training. The force’s public engagement strategy outlines how it will engage and communicate with communities. It seeks feedback and challenge from the people it serves about the extent to which it treats them with fairness and respect.
South Wales Police is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. Its vision and values are clear, understood by staff and fully in line with the Code of Ethics, and its policies reflect this. The force identifies and works with people who have less trust and confidence in the police and seeks feedback from communities using a wide range of methods. It acts on learning and feedback to improve how it treats the people it serves and usually shares this learning across the force, and sometimes more widely with partner organisations and other police forces.
The force is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It takes vetting seriously and follows national guidance, in order to try to ensure that it recruits ethical officers, staff and volunteers. It has clear policies on business interests, notifiable associations, gifts and hospitality, and the use of social media. However, it does not routinely follow up on business interests that have been refused. The force ensures the public can access detailed information on the outcomes of public hearings. It also actively informs the workforce at all levels about the outcomes of gross misconduct hearings and misconduct meetings.
The force has a clear desire to treat its workforce with fairness and respect, but its current performance assessment process is ineffective. It plans to conduct a staff survey and introduce a more effective performance development review system, but these gaps should be prioritised. The force takes positive action to identify and understand the wellbeing needs of its workforce and provides support for staff who have physical or mental health issues.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
South Wales Police is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. The force has a clear vision and values that emphasise the importance of fair and respectful treatment, in line with the Code of Ethics. The values and the Code are well understood by staff, and well reflected in force policies.
The force is good at seeking feedback and challenge from those people who have less trust and confidence in the police, including those who are less likely to complain and take part in traditional forms of engagement, and it uses a range of methods to do this.
The force is good at acting on learning and feedback to improve the way it treats the people it serves and usually shares this learning across the force, and sometimes more widely with partner organisations and other police forces. The force sometimes evaluates the effectiveness of its actions, but it needs to improve the way that demonstrates to the public about the improvements it has made in response to feedback and challenges about police treatment.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it demonstrates that it has taken action to improve how it treats all the people it serves.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
South Wales Police is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force has an effective vetting process in place that follows national guidance, to ensure it recruits ethical officers, staff and volunteers, but has a large backlog of outstanding cases to clear. The force communicates clearly about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and staff understand the values and behaviours that are expected of them.
The force has clear policies on business interests, notifiable associations, gifts and hospitality, and the use of social media, and these are well understood by the workforce. The force has good monitoring and auditing processes, but does not routinely follow up on business interests that are refused. The force has effective reporting processes. The ACU generally takes a reactive approach, waiting for reports to come in, rather than being proactive in seeking cases to review. Nonetheless, there is some particularly positive work being undertaken in relation to tackling abuse of authority for sexual gain. The force publishes misconduct outcomes internally and externally.
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 ensure it complies with all aspects of the current national guidelines for vetting.
- The force should improve how it reviews refused business interests.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
South Wales Police has a clear desire to treat its workforce with fairness and respect. It has various mechanisms to seek views from its staff, but a formal staff survey would provide the force with a greater understanding of those issues that have the greatest impact on staff, and in the absence of a more effective and respected performance development review process, improvement is required in this area. Staff have mixed views about how far the workforce is included in decision-making and the force does not currently have a consistent approach to identifying and understanding the areas that have the greatest impact on workforce perceptions of fair and respectful treatment.
The force understands and values the benefits of workforce wellbeing. It takes some steps to identify and understand the wellbeing needs of its workforce – both physical and psychological – and does preventative work to improve wellbeing. This ensures that many supervisors can intervene early to support people with welfare issues.
The force’s current performance assessment process is ineffective, which is consistent with the findings of our 2015 legitimacy inspection. The force has plans to implement a new performance development review system soon.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve how it identifies and understands the issues that have the greatest impact on workforce perceptions of treatment.
- The force should improve how it manages individual performance.