Sussex PEEL 2017
How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?
Sussex Police is 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 good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is also good at how well it ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force requires improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats its workforce with fairness and respect.
Sussex Police and its workforce are good at treating people with fairness and respect. The workforce understand the importance of using their coercive powers fairly and respectfully. However, they would benefit from more regular training on effective communication skills and as well as force-wide unconscious bias training. The force should continue to ensure all officers and supervisors understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for stop and search.
The force needs to enhance internal and external scrutiny of stop and search and use of force to improve how it treats people. The new joint legitimacy board with Surrey Police will provide more comprehensive scrutiny. Independent advisory groups with a diverse membership and a wide range of community groups provide external scrutiny.
Sussex Police is good at ensuring that its workforce behave ethically and lawfully and the Code of Ethics is understood throughout the force. Members of the public who want to make a complaint can find clear information on the force’s website. The force investigates most complaints well, including those that involve discrimination. However, it should improve its compliance with Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) statutory guidance on providing complainants with information and on referring allegations of discrimination to the IPCC, and ensure it provides timely updates to those who are the subject of a complaint.
The force has made significant progress in addressing disproportionality in recruiting and retaining officers and staff.
Sussex Police requires improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. Although the force has ways for the workforce to provide feedback and challenge, they are not working well. The workforce feel disconnected from senior leaders and are very concerned about managing increased demand for services with fewer resources. The force needs to be more effective at prioritising workforce wellbeing. It also needs to improve how it manages individual performance and development, as well as processes for talent management and temporary promotions.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
Sussex Police and its workforce understand the importance of treating people fairly and with respect. The force promotes an ethical culture based on the Code of Ethics and the National Decision Model. The workforce have a good understanding of unconscious bias and how to use their coercive powers fairly and respectfully. Most officers and staff we spoke with understood the importance of effective communication skills, although some had not received communications training for many years.
Sussex Police could do more to scrutinise data on its use of force and stop and search to identify trends and improve how it treats people. A new joint legitimacy board with Surrey Police has been established which will provide more comprehensive scrutiny. Officers have a reasonable understanding of stop and search powers, but in our review of records we found that some officers and supervisors still do not understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for stop and search.
The force has strong links with independent advisory groups that have a diverse membership and it also provides clear channels through which the public can give feedback. However, external scrutiny of stop and search could be improved.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure relevant officers understand how to use stop and search powers fairly and respectfully and what constitutes reasonable grounds for a stop and search and how to record them.
- The force should ensure appropriate external scrutiny of its use of stop and search powers.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
Sussex Police is good at ensuring that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. There is a good understanding of the Code of Ethics throughout the force and the force promotes an ethical culture. Regular briefings for managers set out the force’s leadership expectations. The force does not have an ethics committee to monitor ethical decision making. However, ethical dilemmas have been included recently as an agenda item for the new joint legitimacy board with Surrey Police. The professional standards department raises the workforce’s awareness of ethical issues it identifies in public complaints and cases of officer and staff misconduct. Members of the workforce we spoke with felt that force-wide training on ethical dilemmas would help them.
The force provides clear, useful and accessible information about how to make a complaint on its website. However, we found few posters and leaflets in police stations and other public places on how to make a complaint and they were not available in different languages. The force should ensure when it first records a complaint that it provides complainants with a copy of the complaint record. In general, it deals with complaints well and keeps complainants updated, although it could improve the service it provides to those involved in internal misconduct investigations. The force is good at identifying potential discrimination but needs to improve how it identifies those cases that should be referred to the IPCC.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it provides complainants with sufficient information about their complaint, in line with IPCC statutory guidance.
- The force should ensure that all allegations which meet the mandatory criteria for referral to the IPCC are so referred.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
Sussex Police requires improvement in treating its workforce with fairness and respect. Although the force has methods and processes for the workforce to provide feedback and challenge, some of the workforce are unaware of them or do not feel comfortable expressing their views openly. Other members of the workforce told us they rarely saw any feedback from the force in response to concerns raised. The force has an effective and widely understood grievance procedure. However, the workforce feel their wider concerns about working practices and demand are not so easy to resolve and they feel disconnected from the senior leadership team.
The force has made real progress in addressing disproportionality in recruitment and retention of officers and staff, which we commend.
However, we found the force is not giving the wellbeing of its workforce the same level of priority as we saw last year. We found limited evidence of new wellbeing initiatives or preventative and early action to improve workforce wellbeing such as training for members of the workforce to help them spot early warning signs of stress and anxiety. The workforce report that they are very concerned about managing increased demand for services with fewer resources and are feeling stretched. It is difficult for some to take annual leave and time off in lieu because of the reduction in workforce numbers. The force is aware of these risks and threats to workforce wellbeing, but at the time of our inspection had no specific plans in place to address them. This is a cause of concern.
Sussex Police still needs to improve how it assesses and develops the individual performance of its workforce. It is considering the recommendations of a report by the Institute of Employment Studies, which it commissioned jointly with Surrey Police to review performance management. Although it has made changes to the talent management programme, its approach is still inconsistent. It has no process to identify suitable candidates for temporary promotion or development, which the workforce sees as unfair.
Areas for improvement
- The force needs to prioritise wellbeing and train and support staff to identify early signs where members of the workforce may be struggling.