North Wales PEEL 2018
How legitimately does the force treat the public and its workforce?
North Wales Police needs to improve some elements of how it works to ensure that the public is treated fairly. It is good at ensuring the ethical and lawful behaviour of its workforce, and at treating its workforce fairly.
Senior officers demonstrate a clear desire to lead a force that treats all communities fairly and with respect. This would be enhanced by more structured conversations with the public, listening and responding to their views and reporting back on the effect of changes made when concerns are raised. This happens in some parts of the force but needs to be more widespread and consistent.
North Wales Police needs to have a full picture of how its officers are using force in the course of their duties. Officers are given appropriate training, but there are problems with how the use of force is recorded and checked. Scrutiny processes for both the use of force and of stop and search powers need to be reviewed and improved.
Ethical behaviour is valued in the force. The workforce understands the standards expected of them as the leadership works to move away from past perceptions of a blame culture. The risk of corruption is managed effectively, but could be better still if more proactive work was undertaken in this area. The force has no backlog of vetting checks, but it should monitor the effect of vetting decisions across the full diversity of the workforce.
The force supports and engages well with its own workforce. Conversations between senior leaders and the workforce are regular and productive. The wellbeing of officers and staff is a priority and an area where the force continues to make good progress. There is more work to do before the diversity of the workforce reflects the community it serves, but the necessary commitment to make this happen is in place. The force needs to better understand any disproportionality in how members of the workforce are treated. It also needs to improve how it monitors the performance of individual officers and staff and has advanced plans in place to achieve this.
To what extent does the force treat all of the people it serves with fairness and respect?
North Wales Police needs to make changes in how it operates to improve its treatment of the public.
Officers and staff throughout the force speak to local people every day and public confidence levels are good. The workforce understands the importance of fair treatment. However, the effect of local engagement work is inconsistent with no clear framework for officers and staff to follow. The force should be applying consistent methods to its engagement work and creating a two-way conversation with the public, both directly and through social media. This would allow the public to see that the problems they raise are being addressed through local policing activity.
North Wales Police gives officers appropriate training in how to use force in the course of their duties and stop and search powers fairly. Officers we spoke to understood and applied the rules on the use of force. However, more needs to be done to check that all officers are keeping records correctly after they have used force. Supervisors should be checking that forms submitted by officers are accurate. Without reliable data, the force cannot have a clear picture of how often force is being used. There should also be a forum where questions on the use of force can be debated with the wider community.
Officers understand the procedures on the use of stop and search powers. However they need to be more confident as to how best to use these powers. The quality of the grounds recorded by officers to justify conducting a search needs to be better. The force needs to build a full set of data for the use of stop and search. It also needs to make sure that external scrutiny of this power is effective.
Areas for improvement
- The force should review its approach to community engagement, ensuring engagement influences local priorities and communities are informed about the action taken in response to the concerns raised.
- The force should ensure that, in relation to its use of force:
- all relevant officers and staff are recording when force is used and there is effective supervisory oversight;
- it monitors a comprehensive set of data so that effective internal scrutiny and learning can take place; and
- effective external scrutiny takes place.
- The force should ensure that, in relation to stop and search:
- it monitors a comprehensive set of data to enhance its understanding of fair and effective use of the power; and
- regular external scrutiny takes place.
How well does the force ensure that its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully?
North Wales Police has a clear focus on ethical and lawful behaviour in its workforce.
With strong leadership from senior officers, the force values high standards of ethical behaviour. New recruits are told what is expected in their roles. In-house training videos give the workforce practical advice that reflects on lessons learnt from real incidents. There is a clear drive to move away from past perceptions of a blame culture. Officers and staff are willing to challenge inappropriate behaviour. A new ethics committee offers a place to talk about issues affecting the force with people from the community.
Vetting checks on members of the workforce are handled well. There is a low overall backlog of checks to be carried out. More work is needed though to check whether diverse communities are being adversely affected by the vetting process.
The force understands the danger that corruption can pose to the work of policing. Officers and staff are told about the risks they can face carrying out their work. There are enough people to carry out routine anti-corruption work effectively, but there is limited capacity for proactive work in this field. The force is using the resources it has effectively to manage the risks of corruption that it faces.
Areas for improvement
- The force should monitor its vetting decisions to identify disparities and disproportionality for people with protected characteristics and act to reduce them where appropriate.
- The force should ensure it has enough capability and capacity to counter corruption effectively and proactively.
To what extent does the force treat its workforce with fairness and respect?
North Wales Police is good at giving fair treatment to its workforce.
Senior officers are making changes to promote an open and approachable culture where officers and staff can talk to their leaders about their work. Face-to-face and online communication from senior leaders is positive and is producing results. The force is making wellbeing for officers and staff a priority, but in some areas high workloads remain a problem.
When complaints arise, the workforce feels the grievance procedure treats them fairly. There is a welcome focus to resolve more concerns early in the process, although the force should improve its analysis of complaints data. It should also make sure that its procedures are working fairly when dealing with complaints involving officers and staff with protected characteristics.
North Wales Police has further work to do before its workforce fully reflects the community it serves. There are signs of increasing diversity, for example the appointment of a female assistant chief constable. But in some areas, for example black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) recruitment, more progress needs to be made. The force has positive schemes for spotting and developing future leaders among the workforce.
The existing system for professional development review is seen as too complex. It is positive that a new system in this area has been designed after consulting with the people who work for the force.
Areas for improvement
- The force should ensure that it has effective processes in place to identify and understand the causes of potential disproportionality and to take effective action to address these causes in the treatment of officers and staff with protected characteristics, who are subjected to complaint and misconduct investigations.