Suffolk PEEL 2016
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Suffolk Constabulary 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 treats the people it serves, and its workforce, with fairness and respect. It has good processes to ensure its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force provides a wide range of wellbeing services to support the workforce.
Suffolk Constabulary is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. It seeks feedback and challenge using local media, rural newsletters, social media, the police connect messaging system (through which the public can receive updates relevant to where they live), live web chats with chief officers, the force website, traditional links with local parish and district councils and local public engagement. The force also seeks feedback from those groups with less trust and confidence in the police, and makes use of the independent advisory group and independent custody visitor scheme.
The force makes improvements based on the feedback it receives. For example, it recognised an increase in the number of complaints from people with autism and now has a learning package to help the workforce understand autism and adapt their approach. The force has also responded to the concerns raised by rural communities and has introduced a rural crime team using members of the special constabulary on horses and all-terrain vehicles to increase its visibility in remote areas.
Suffolk Constabulary is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force vets all people joining the organisation. It gives specific and detailed guidance on gifts and hospitality, notifiable associations, use of social media, information security and standards of behaviour. It also highlights lessons learnt from recent public complaints and misconduct investigations. The force uses a range of techniques to identify individual and organisational risks, including monitoring its own internal computer systems as well as open source information on social media.
The force recognises abuse of authority for sexual gain (taking advantage of a position of power to exploit vulnerable victims of crime) as serious corruption. It is preparing its workforce, and partner organisations who support vulnerable victims, to recognise the signs of inappropriate relationships or behaviour.
Suffolk Constabulary is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. The force uses the Ask the Chief email facility (which can be used anonymously), web chats with chief officers, staff leadership forums and seminars, online blogs by senior officers, specific forums and various staff focus groups to seek the views of its workforce. It listens to the concerns raised by staff and takes action to address them. At the time of the inspection, it had plans to conduct a survey later in 2016 to better understand the views of the entire workforce.
The workforce’s wellbeing is important to the force. It offers a wide range of wellbeing services, which it is looking to develop further by providing mobile health screening and occupational health drop-in centres. The force is also taking preventative and early action to improve workforce wellbeing, through proactive work to raise awareness of stress and mental illness and holding workshops for staff to help them identify stress factors in themselves and others. However, it needs to fully understand and take appropriate action to address the higher levels of short and medium-term sickness among officers and long-term sickness among PCSOs.
The force has developed and recently implemented a new way of assessing staff performance, after consulting the workforce and staff associations to ensure that the new process is fair and effective.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Overall Suffolk Constabulary is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. Staff recognise the importance of treating people fairly and respectfully in order to maintain public confidence and the force has recently revised its vision and values to support its approach further.
The force seeks feedback and challenge from the people it serves using a range of techniques. It has a good understanding of the issues that have the greatest effect on public perceptions of fair and respectful treatment and has recently introduced a satisfaction and confidence board, which could support the force in developing its understanding further.
Suffolk Constabulary has demonstrated that it listens to feedback provided by the public and responds by making changes in how it operates, to continually improve the service it provides. While the force is good at demonstrating what it has achieved for specific groups, the force could do more to demonstrate to the wider public how it is responding specifically to concerns about fair and respectful 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?
Suffolk Constabulary is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and has made good progress in responding to the issues we identified in the 2014 police integrity and corruption inspection.
The force is effective in vetting people joining the organisation to ensure it recruits officers, staff and volunteers with high standards of ethical behaviour. It has developed and maintains an ethical culture among its workforce and routinely reinforces acceptable standards of behaviour. The force is aware of the large number of people within its workforce whose vetting has expired and is taking action to address this.
Suffolk Constabulary has effective processes in place for early intervention and management of identified risks and seeks intelligence on potential corruption from a range of sources. It recognises abuse of authority for sexual gain as serious corruption and the potential impact on public confidence. It is preparing its workforce and partner organisations that support vulnerable victims to recognise inappropriate relationships and behaviour and needs to ensure that the issue is consistently understood across the entire organisation.
The force recognises the importance of being open with the public when the behaviour of its staff falls below that expected. It ensures that hearings and outcomes are publicised and uses a variety of channels to update staff on the outcome of complaints and misconduct investigations to reinforce acceptable standards of behaviour.
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 clarifies and reinforces standards of behaviour to its workforce, in particular when dealing with vulnerable people including victims of domestic abuse.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Overall, Suffolk Constabulary is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. It uses a variety of methods to identify and understand the areas that have the greatest effect on the workforce’s perception of fair and respectful treatment. It listens to concerns raised by staff and takes action to address them. The force plans to develop its understanding further by conducting a staff survey in 2016 to gain the views of the entire organisation.
Workforce wellbeing is important to Suffolk Constabulary and it provides a range of services to prevent and take action to address the wellbeing needs of its staff. The force is good at identifying and understanding workforce wellbeing and offers a wide range of wellbeing services, but could do more to fully understand and take appropriate action to address the higher levels of short-and medium-term sickness among officers and long-term sickness among PCSOs. Staff told us that they felt proud to work for Suffolk Constabulary and were complimentary about the services provided by the organisation.
The force has made good progress in responding to last year’s findings regarding how it assesses the performance of its staff, having developed and recently implemented a new way of assessing staff performance.