Durham PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Durham Constabulary 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, following improvements, it is now judged to be good at how well it ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It is also judged as good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
Durham Constabulary has been assessed as good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The leadership has a strong culture of treating its people fairly and with respect. Officers and staff in Durham Constabulary have a clear understanding of how to treat people with fairness and respect, including acting without bias and communicating effectively, although some officers and supervisors still do not understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for a stop and search. The constabulary has good processes in place for monitoring and reviewing the legal and proportionate use of stop and search, although external scrutiny of stop and search could be improved to involve a broader range of the community, including young people. The constabulary has work in progress to address this.
Durham Constabulary’s senior leaders act as ethical role models and promote a culture in which the ethical implications of policies and day-to-day decisions are considered in an open and non-punitive way. The constabulary has a clear and accessible complaints process that is easy for the public to use, although it needs to do more to raise awareness of the complaints process for those groups who have less trust and confidence in the police. Complainants receive a consistently good service; the constabulary identifies and responds to discrimination appropriately, and investigations into allegations of discrimination are carried out to a high standard.
Durham Constabulary is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect. Senior leaders actively encourage feedback and challenge from the workforce, and take action to identify and respond to workforce members’ concerns. The constabulary prioritises the wellbeing of its workforce and has excellent wellbeing provision that is valued by members of the workforce. Although supervisors have regular conversations with their officers and staff, individual performance is not always managed consistently across the organisation, and the constabulary needs to do more to ensure its processes for identifying and selecting talent are fair and are perceived to be fair.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Durham Constabulary is good at treating all the people it serves with fairness and respect. Fairness and respect are fundamental to the constabulary’s values, which are well established within all its training and communications work. Senior leaders articulate the importance of procedural justice; officers and staff understand this, and are aware of their responsibilities. Unconscious bias training has been given to all frontline officers and staff, and members of the workforce with whom we spoke understand the concept and how to apply it when carrying out their duties. We found extremely positive evidence of training and understanding of effective communication skills across the workforce.
The constabulary has clear internal processes in place to monitor the legal and proportionate use of stop and search and use of force. However, the constabulary could monitor a more comprehensive set of data to ensure stop and search is being carried out fairly and effectively, particularly as our review of stop and search forms found that some officers and staff still do not understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for a stop and search.
The constabulary has a range of good arrangements for external scrutiny of its policing activities. However, there is still scope for improvement in its scrutiny of stop and search and use of force, particularly in terms of ensuring it is representative of local communities affected by the use of these powers – especially young people. Additionally, there is scope for improvement in the provision of training and guidance to ensure the external scrutiny group can provide effective challenge.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary needs to improve its process for external scrutiny of the use of stop and search and the use of force to make it more representative of local communities and better able to provide effective challenge.
- The constabulary should ensure that it monitors a comprehensive set of data in respect of stop and search to enhance its understanding of fair and effective use of the power.
- The constabulary should ensure that relevant officers and supervisors understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for a stop and search and that such grounds are recorded accurately.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Durham Constabulary is good at ensuring its workforce behaves fairly and ethically. Leaders role model ethical behaviours and create an environment in which consideration of the ethical implications of decisions is encouraged. The constabulary has well-established ethics boards to promote and support ethical decision making in a non-punitive way. Overall, the workforce understands and values the constabulary’s commitment to ethical leadership.
The constabulary makes it easy for most members of the public to make a complaint, although it could do more to raise awareness of, and accessibility to, the process for those who may have less trust and confidence in the police. The constabulary supports members of the public who require additional assistance with making a complaint, and consistently provides informative updates to complainants in line with IPCC guidance. Members of the workforce have an excellent understanding of discrimination, and there are good systems in place for them to report such incidents. Complaints and allegations of discriminatory behaviour are quickly identified, properly recorded and thoroughly investigated by well-trained investigative staff.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary should raise awareness of the complaints process and make it easier for communities with less confidence in the police to access, including those for whom English is not a first language.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Durham Constabulary is good at ensuring it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. The constabulary goes to great lengths to encourage challenge and feedback from its workforce through a range of methods. Officers and staff at all levels feel engaged with the chief officer team and comfortable about providing direct feedback and challenge. The constabulary is good at identifying and resolving workforce concerns, and is taking some action to improve the diversity of the workforce.
Workforce wellbeing is a clear priority for the constabulary; the services it provides to officers and staff are extensive and sometimes innovative, particularly regarding its provision for mental health. Officers and staff have effective training on how to identify wellbeing concerns in colleagues, as well as the skills to intervene at an early stage.
The constabulary’s PDR process is not used consistently for managing and developing individual performance, although regular conversations do take place between officers and staff and their supervisors. The constabulary provides development opportunities for its workforce, but it needs to do more to improve the openness of processes for promotion and identifying and selecting talent, to ensure they are fair and perceived to be so.
Areas for improvement
- The constabulary needs to use the performance development review process more effectively for the development of individuals, including special constables, and to improve the management of unsatisfactory performance.
- The constabulary needs to ensure it has clear and fair processes for identifying, selecting and developing potential senior leaders.