Skip to content

Devon and Cornwall PEEL 2018


How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?

Last updated 20/01/2020

Devon and Cornwall Police is good in terms of its legitimacy, and how it treats the public and its workforce.

The force is good at treating the public fairly. The force has an ethical culture. And officers and staff make fair and ethical decisions.

Senior officers check all incidents in which force is used. And public consultation informs policy reviews.

Senior officers review when stop and search powers are used. And they seek external scrutiny as a way to build trust and confidence. The force now offers better training and guidance in this area. But more work is needed to make sure the workforce understands what reasonable grounds are.

The force’s approach to tackling corruption is mostly reactive. Its counter-corruption unit (CCU) has limited capacity to work proactively. Outdated
IT systems also hold it back.

Devon and Cornwall Police is good at treating its workforce fairly. Chief officers are approachable, receptive to feedback and involve the workforce in matters of organisational justice.

Questions for Legitimacy


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


Leaders in Devon and Cornwall Police create a positive working environment. And they reflect the professional standards expected of the workforce.

Officers and staff understand the importance of fair decision making. The Code of Ethics and NDM are part of the culture. This helps the force treat the public with fairness and respect.

Leaders value the importance of engaging with communities. A Connect to Protect framework focuses activity on protecting vulnerable people. Local teams use social media, attend events and visit places of worship, education and community groups. Diverse community teams work with many organisations to build trust and confidence in policing.

A citizens in policing scheme has recruited many volunteers, special constables and cadets. They work with the force to help keep communities safe.

The use of force is scrutinised, and the workforce receives training every year. Officers and staff understand unconscious bias and how this can affect decision making.

The force’s use of stop and search powers is scrutinised. And work with young people is providing feedback and challenge. The workforce receives training and guidance. But there is some confusion about what reasonable grounds are for a search. The force is addressing this.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that all relevant officers and supervisors understand what constitute reasonable grounds for stop and search and how to record them.

Detailed findings for question 1


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


There is an ethical culture in Devon and Cornwall Police. The force shares an ethics committee with Dorset Police. And dedicated staff support the workforce in making ethical decisions.

The chief constable works with a group of 50 officers and staff on matters of organisational and procedural justice. They make sure that everyone’s views are considered. Senior leaders are approachable, and open to ideas and challenge.

The workforce understands abuse of position for a sexual purpose. There is an appreciation of the harm caused by this type of behaviour. And supervisors know what warning signs to look for.

The force is working with organisations that support vulnerable people to make sure that officers and staff behave appropriately. But the CCU has limited capacity to look for this type of corruption. The force is addressing this.

Its approach to tackling corruption is mostly reactive. Once a concern has been raised, the force investigates it. But there is limited capacity in the CCU to be proactive, as outdated IT systems hold it back.

Areas for improvement

  • The force should ensure that its CCU:
    • has enough capability and capacity to counter corruption effectively and proactively; and
    • enhances its monitoring of all computer systems, including mobile data, to proactively identify data breaches, protect the force’s data and identify computer misuse.
  • The force should ensure that it refers all applicable cases of corruption to the Independent Office for Police Conduct and records these from the outset.

Detailed findings for question 2