Police officers in Cheshire have been highly praised for a core requirement of modern policing - understanding, engaging with and treating fairly the people they serve.
Successfully working with the local community is key to policing and at the heart of the force's 'We're here' commitments. Cheshire Constabulary has been highlighted as 'outstanding' for this particular area of work.
A report published today (Thursday 11th February) by Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) focuses on how 'legitimate' a police force is at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Cheshire was rated as 'good' overall with a particular emphasis on the work it does with local communities, which was rated 'outstanding' in the report.
Three key areas examined by HMIC
To reach a judgement on each force's legitimacy HMIC examined three key areas:
- To what extent does practice and behaviour reinforce the wellbeing of staff and an ethical culture?
- How well does the force understand, engage with and treat fairly the people it serves to maintain and improve its legitimacy?
- To what extent are decisions taken on the use of stop and search and Taser fair and appropriate?
Chief Constable Simon Byrne said:
"We are rightly proud of the service we deliver to the public here in Cheshire - and understanding and interacting with local communities is the bread and butter of everyday policing. This independent assessment has rated Cheshire as 'outstanding' in this particular area - this is great news for the force and reflects the hard work and achievements of every officer and member of staff.
"The report is very positive about our efforts to understand the local community, the comprehensive range of methods we use to interact with local people to discover their needs, and how we report back on what has been achieved in the local area.
"HMIC has also praised the force for being well directed through its 'We're here' commitments, which clearly set out the service the public can expect, and the new policing structure, which was introduced last year and is designed to meet these priorities. This once again reinforces the fact that we may be a relatively small force but we are big on delivering our commitments to the public."
Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire John Dwyer said:
"I welcome the report published by the HMIC today. Legitimacy is a key principle of policing and it is only right that this independent review scrutinises this. Cheshire has been rated as 'good' overall but in particular it has been rated 'outstanding' around its engagement with local communities to maintain and improve its legitimacy.
"Engagement is an area that I have championed as Commissioner, so I am very proud of the Constabulary's success in this area. Officers and staff need to ensure they understand the people that they serve, identify their needs, listen to their concerns and feedback on what they have achieved. Only by doing this can Cheshire be the safer, more prosperous county that is hostile to criminals."
The report states that the Code of Ethics is fully embedded within the force and that officers and staff are empowered and encouraged to raise concerns and challenge issues of perceived unfairness. The wellbeing of officers and staff is a top priority in Cheshire and the force is committed to investing in training to improve and extend their skills.
It also highlights that complaints and misconduct are dealt with fairly and appropriately, that the force's recruitment and promotion selection processes are fair, transparent and free from bias, and that Cheshire is committed to recruiting volunteers and ensuring they have meaningful opportunities to improve policing services.
HMIC found that the force has effective processes to select and train officers in the use of Taser and has robust procedures in place to ensure it is used fairly and appropriately.
The force was rated as 'good' overall - 'outstanding' for one area (engagement), 'good' for one area (wellbeing) and 'requires improvement' for one area (stop and search).
Mr Dwyer added:
"The review also highlights the fact that the wellbeing of officers and staff is a priority - Cheshire is a 'caring constabulary' and this is an important area of focus for the force.
"HMIC identified one area in its review for Cheshire that requires improvement regarding the use of stop and search and it is my job as Commissioner to hold the Chief Constable to account for this. The public can be reassured that the force has already improved its position since the inspection and I will continue to monitor progress."
The review is part of the annual PEEL inspections (into Police Efficiency, Effectiveness and Legitimacy) by the HMIC.
In October, Cheshire Constabulary was one of only a handful of police forces across the country to be rated 'outstanding' for efficiency. In December, Cheshire Constabulary was rated 'good' at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm and supporting victims.
Full details of the legitimacy inspection can be seen on the HMIC website.