Metropolitan PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
The Metropolitan Police Service is judged to be good in 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 ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully, but judged to be requiring improvement in some elements of treating its workforce with fairness and respect.
The Metropolitan Police Service is good at treating all the people it serves with fairness and respect. Force leaders show the value and benefits of procedural justice and the force ensures the workforce understands its importance. The force provides unconscious bias training, but understanding of unconscious bias varies throughout the organisation. It also provides communications training to improve how its officers interact with the public. Internal and external scrutiny of use of force is good and the force is compliant with the national recording standard. All aspects of the force’s arrangements for the use and scrutiny of stop and search are impressive.
The force is good at ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It is co-founder of the London police challenge forum, which considers and advises on ethical dilemmas. Force leaders regularly clarify, and reinforce understanding of, what behaviour is considered acceptable and unacceptable, and are open to challenge about their decision making. The force has an achievable plan for carrying out re-vetting to ensure all vetting is up to date, and has made good progress against the other areas for improvement noted in our 2016 legitimacy report. The public can make complaints in different ways, although information about written complaints is not consistently made available to the public and is not targeted at communities who are reluctant to complain. We were not told of any formal process for additional assistance being offered to complainants, and records of keeping complainants updated are poor. The workforce understands discrimination. The force has reviewed its grievance procedure and is continuing its work to increase the workforce’s trust and confidence in this process.
The force needs to improve the way it treats its own workforce. It continues to offer its personnel many ways to provide feedback. It has carried out work to identify any unfairness in its recruitment, promotion and misconduct processes, and has taken action when needed. Some progress has been made in the areas that our 2016 legitimacy report noted as requiring improvement, including piloting a new performance appraisal process, and in general the changes made have been well received. However, the workforce has low levels of trust and confidence in its leaders and morale appears to be at a three-year low. The force continues to have good provision of workforce wellbeing.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
The Metropolitan Police Service is good at treating all the people it serves with fairness and respect. Force leaders can demonstrate the value and benefits of procedural justice, and arrangements exist to ensure the workforce has the knowledge it requires. The importance of treating people with fairness and respect is widely understood, although it does not always extend to less obvious situations, such as providing a poor level of service to the public. While the force provides training so that the workforce can recognise and overcome unconscious bias, the level of understanding of unconscious bias varies throughout the organisation. The force provides good communications training, which is reinforced within some teams by remote electronic learning or by email briefings. Both training in, and scrutiny of, use of force are good, and the force is compliant with the national recording standard. HMICFRS is impressed by all aspects of the force’s arrangements for training in, and understanding, the use and scrutiny of stop and search.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that all officers and staff have a good understanding of how to recognise and overcome unconscious bias when making decisions and during interactions with the public.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
The Metropolitan Police Service is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. It is co-founder of the tri-force London police challenge forum, which considers and advises on ethical dilemmas. Leaders regularly clarify and reinforce what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. The force has an achievable plan to ensure all re-vetting is up to date within the next two years. Members of the public can make complaints in different ways, although written complaints information is not consistently available in police and other public buildings, and is not targeted at those who are reluctant to complain. The complaints we reviewed were dealt with effectively and consistently, so it is disappointing that we were not told of any formal process for offering additional assistance to complainants who need help when going through the complaints process, and records relating to keeping complainants appropriately updated are poor. The workforce has a good understanding of what discrimination involves, but, although it is generally well identified, we encountered some evidence and some workforce perceptions that the force is not responding to discrimination appropriately in all cases. The force is taking concerted action to address these issues, including a recent review of its grievance procedure and work to increase the workforce’s trust and confidence in the process. We found a high standard of investigation into allegations of discrimination, while complainants generally received a high standard of service.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that the complaints process is fully accessible to the public, including those people who may require additional assistance, and those who may have less trust and confidence in the police.
- The force should ensure that it provides complainants with meaningful updates consistently, and records information about the updates in its complaints database.
- The force should ensure that cases of discrimination that do not meet the IPCC referral criteria are not referred to the IPCC and that all such cases are dealt with properly at a local level.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
The Metropolitan Police Service requires improvement in some elements of treating its workforce with fairness and respect. Since our 2016 legitimacy inspection, the force has made progress in many areas. It continues to offer many ways in which the workforce can provide feedback to leaders. It has reviewed its grievance process, and has carried out work to identify any disproportionality in recruitment, retention, progression and in allegations of wrongdoing; it is taking action to address this. There are many processes in place to identify and select officers with high potential. The force continues to make good wellbeing provision and is piloting a new appraisal process. In general, these changes have been received well. However, low trust and confidence in leaders is a recurring theme among the workforce, and morale appears to be the lowest it has been in three years of inspection. Most members of the workforce still use the unpopular performance development review process, and wellbeing is still not perceived as a priority. Technical issues mean that the new appraisal process is unlikely to be put into operation until late in 2018, so improvements will not be introduced quickly.
Areas for improvement
- The force should improve the way that it communicates with the workforce to increase trust and confidence in its leaders, and should provide feedback when it has listened and responded to staff concerns.
- The force should ensure that awareness of unconscious bias is reinforced among supervisors and that they have regular access to guidance to help them to make decisions with confidence about allegations involving BAME officers and staff.
- The force should ensure that it understands and monitors the impact of the build-up of the daily pressures of policing on the workforce and takes an effective, early-action approach towards reducing this pressure.
- The force should ensure that the workforce clearly understands its approach to the current and pilot appraisal processes. It should also consider how best to improve the current process until such time as the new one comes into effect.