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Devon and Cornwall PEEL 2017


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

Last updated 12/12/2017

Devon and Cornwall Police is judged to be good at how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. For the areas of legitimacy we looked at this year, our overall judgment is the same as last year. The force is judged to be good at treating all of the people it serves with fairness and respect and good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. However, it is judged as requiring improvement at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully.

The importance of treating people with fairness and respect is reflected well in the Devon and Cornwall Police mission statement. The force works hard to ensure that its officers and staff understand the need, and are trained to provide, a good service to the public. There are various internal and public scrutiny processes that monitor how officers and staff interact with the public. These work well, but the force needs to continue improving the way it manages the oversight of how coercive powers are used. In particular, the force needs to maintain a strong focus on monitoring how its staff use and record their stop and search powers and make use of body-worn video footage as it becomes more widely available.

The commitment to developing a strong ethical culture in the force is evident. Leaders at all levels promote the need to make policing decisions that are ethical and lawful and the workforce is able to recognise different forms of discrimination. It is relatively easy for the public to make a complaint about Devon and Cornwall Police and complaints are generally managed to an acceptable standard. However, improvements need to be made in the quality of discrimination investigations, how complainants are kept updated, and ensuring that all appropriate cases are referred to the IPCC.

There are established and well-used processes by which the workforce can provide feedback and challenge to the force leadership which means that their concerns are identified and resolved. The force understands that its workforce is not representative of the wider community, and is taking action to increase representation of people with different backgrounds across the organisation, but it has more to do. Elements of the way that the force treats its workforce are outstanding. The force takes wellbeing seriously and acts positively to identify, understand and respond to the workforce’s wellbeing needs. The majority of the workforce has responded positively and there is good engagement with the wellbeing agenda. However, the force needs to improve some of its other people management activity (most notably individual performance assessment), which is not as effective as it needs to be.

Questions for Legitimacy


To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?


The force is good in the way it treats the people it serves with fairness and respect. Leaders demonstrate a commitment to treating people fairly and ethically. Officers and staff are mostly well-trained, understand how to communicate effectively and use their coercive powers fairly. They are aware of unconscious bias and how it can affect their dealings with the public. Use of force monitoring takes place, but recent changes have not yet shown any benefit. The force reviews its stop and search activity in a number of ways, but monitoring remains incomplete pending the routine availability of body-worn video footage. Officers need to demonstrate they understand stop and search grounds and know how to record them properly.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that all stop and search records have reasonable grounds recorded.


How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?

Requires improvement

Devon and Cornwall Police has areas of good practice in how it ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully, but needs to make improvements in how it deals with complaints and discrimination allegations. Leaders are clear and visible in the promotion of ethical conduct and decision making based upon ethical judgments is evident across the force.

Staff training and force systems mean that the public can make a complaint against the force relatively easily, but more information needs to be made available in public areas of police stations. Workforce awareness of potential discrimination is high, but the force needs to improve the way that it investigates discrimination allegations, the way that it keeps complainants updated and ensure that all relevant referrals are made to the IPCC.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that all allegations of discrimination are investigated to a consistent and acceptable standard following IPCC guidelines.
  • The force should improve the quality and timeliness of updates to complainants in line with IPCC statutory guidance.


To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?


Overall, Devon and Cornwall police is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. It has well-functioning feedback and challenge processes between the workforce and senior leaders. The force has resources and activity in place to address disproportionality in recruitment, retention and promotion. Its approach to wellbeing is outstanding. The financial and human investment is significant and well-planned, demonstrating the importance the force attaches to this subject. Wellbeing leadership is evident at all levels, with new approaches to old problems and tangible cultural change in the workplace. However, the force needs to improve some of its other people-management processes, most notably individual performance assessment (PDR), which are not as fair or effective as they need to be.

Areas for improvement

  • The force needs to improve the management of its PDR process to increase its understanding of workforce performance, development and outcomes.