Cheshire Constabulary has been rated good in respect of the legitimacy with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime, according to the latest Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) efficiency report.
The inspection looked at two aspects of policing legitimacy and leadership. In particular, the Constabulary has been highly praised for its ‘We’re here…’ commitments to the public of Cheshire.
Deputy Chief Constable Janette McCormick said: “Our ‘We’re here’ commitments are about setting a simple framework of promises we make to the public of Cheshire. They remind officers and staff that we police by consent, must reflect local policing needs and are accountable to local people.
“Police legitimacy is a crucial element of policing. It is vital that officers use their powers fairly and they treat people with respect in the course of their duties. The public need to believe that our officers will treat them with respect and make fair decisions, as well as remaining professional, friendly and approachable.
“The ‘We’re here…’ commitments establish behavioural standards and are seen by the Constabulary as an important mechanism to ensure that the public are treated fairly and with respect.
“We continue to promote and embed our ‘We’re here…’ commitments throughout the organisation; they feature in all our decision making, in-house training and are being incorporated into all policies and procedure as they are subject to scheduled review. We have made considerable progress since last year on staff awareness and understanding of these commitments, ensuring our approach has a solid basis.”
The HMIC legitimacy report also highlighted that Cheshire Constabulary has a good approach to treating its workforce with respect and fairness and concluded that the Constabulary has developed a good understanding of staff wellbeing.
DCC McCormick added: “It is important for us that we are an ‘employer of choice’, recognised for investing and supporting our workforce. We have shown our commitment to staff wellbeing through a number of ways and I am delighted that this has been recognised within the HMIC legitimacy report.
“At the beginning of the year, the Constabulary was assessed by Investors in People. We were accredited with a silver status with the report highlighting ‘it is clear that the approaches that are being taken are starting to have an impact within the force’.
“Cheshire was also the first force to have been successfully accredited in the Health and Wellbeing element of the IiP assessment, reflecting our commitment to staff and officer wellbeing.
“I hope this instils confidence in the public of Cheshire and to all our employees that we are committed to developing and investing in our workforce.”
HMIC judged Cheshire Constabulary as good in its approach to ensuring its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully and confirms that Cheshire Constabulary has a good approach to communicating the outcomes of misconduct and corruption cases to the public. All details of misconduct cases can be found on the Constabulary’s website.
DCC McCormick said: “The Constabulary takes reports of officer and staff sexual misconduct extremely seriously.
“Behavioural vulnerability, which includes the exploitation of a vulnerable victim, is one of the three priorities set out in the Constabulary counter-corruption control strategy.
“The Constabulary has recently delivered an internal communications campaign which used a Cheshire case of sexual misconduct as a case study to remind officers and staff of their duty to protect vulnerable members of our communities and also encourage officers and staff to report any suspicions they may have of their colleagues.
“The campaign had a very positive reaction throughout the organisation and has helped increase officers and staff knowledge of the Counter-Corruption Unit, and also reminds them of their duty to abide by the national Code of Ethics.”
An area that was highlighted as one requiring improvement in last year’s HMIC Legitimacy Review was the use of stop and search. Cheshire Constabulary was consequently suspended from the Best Use of Stop and Search (BUSS) Scheme. Earlier this year, HMIC revisited the force to assess its compliance with the scheme and found that it complied with all features of the scheme.
Stop and Search is a vital power for the police service to protect people and reduce and deter criminality in the local community. It is imperative that officers apply their powers to individuals in a fair and legitimate way and that actions are monitored to give the public confidence in how police use stop and search in Cheshire.
A key area of focus for the Constabulary has been to raise awareness and improve training for officers to ensure they fully understand the grounds required for stop and search, and that they record sufficient information to justify the use of this power.
DCC Janette McCormick concluded: “Overall this has been a very positive report for the Constabulary and recognises the hard work and achievements of all our officers and staff. I hope that the public are reassured that our officers are providing a legitimate service to our communities.”