Cheshire Constabulary has been praised for keeping people safe, reducing crime and caring about the local community.
The results were revealed today (Tuesday 12 December) as part of the latest report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
The report, which is the latest in the round of police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (or PEEL) inspections, focused on two crucial aspects of policing - legitimacy and leadership - with officers being praised for treating the people they serve with fairness and respect.
Inspectors were impressed with the measures that have been taken to address disproportionality within the workforce and the significant improvements made to the use of stop and search powers – an issue that was previously highlighted as an area of improvement for the Constabulary. This comes on the back of Cheshire Police being voted 12th last week in the TOP 50 Inclusive Employers award.
Acting Chief Constable Janette McCormick said: “Police legitimacy is a critical element of policing and it is vital that our officers treat people with respect in the course of their duties and use their powers fairly.
“It’s pleasing to see that this report recognises that our ‘We’re Here’ commitments and ‘Code of Ethics’ are now enshrined at the heart of the organisation. It emphasises our commitment to the people we serve and ensures that all our officers and staff have a clear understanding of the values of the force.”
David Keane, Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire said: “The legitimacy of any police force - making sure our local officers are treating people fairly and with respect and acting ethically and lawfully - is crucial in a democratic society. So, we’re particularly pleased that the HMICFRS has recognised the Cheshire force as good for our efforts to continue to build ever stronger legitimacy and leadership.
“On behalf of our communities, our team and as an organisation we should continue to aspire to be leaders of ethical standards so I’m delighted that we’ve been recognised for our efforts to continue to champion this.
“I was particularly pleased to see that the Constabulary has been recognised for its work to seek better feedback from the public as this is something I’m particularly passionate about in my role. Honest feedback from the communities we serve is important in order for us to build further trust with our local communities and to truly champion their priorities.”
One of the schemes highlighted by HMICFRS was the ‘Independent Youth Commission’, which was established by the Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner last year to help ensure the Constabulary has a better understanding of the views of young people in Cheshire.
During the inspection, HMICFRS found that the Constabulary had many established methods of seeking feedback from the public, including the Independent Advisory Group.
Inspectors also commended the ‘impressive’ work that the Constabulary has done to improve the use of stop and search powers.
Acting CC McCormick said: “Despite the changing demands on policing tackling crime and antisocial behaviour remains our priority and Stop and search is a vital power for the police service to protect people and reduce and deter crime. In the past the Constabulary has been criticised for its use of stop and search powers, with HMICFRS highlighting it as an area requiring improvement.
“A lot of work has been done behind the scenes to ensure that this was addressed and it’s extremely pleasing to see that we have now been commended for the work that we have carried out to ensure that all our officers fully understand this power and use it fairly and proportionately.”
HMICFRS said that senior officers within the Constabulary continue to demonstrate high ethical standards - with managers actively encouraging feedback on the decisions they make. Inspectors also found that the force makes it easy for the public to complaints, and that they are generally investigated to a good standard.
The report also highlighted that Cheshire Constabulary is good at treating its workforce with fairness and respect and praises the ‘excellent’ work that the force has done to address disproportionality within the organisation.
Acting CC McCormick added: “We must be an honest, open and transparent organisation if we are to maintain the trust and confidence of the people we serve. How we treat are own staff is the start of that to ensure we respond promptly and professionally to any issues or complaints about the conduct of our officers and staff or the manner in which we deliver policing services.
“We also actively encourage feedback from staff and officers internally, and it is pleasing to see that inspectors found that all those working in the force feel supported and have the confidence to speak out if they have any concerns .
“The Constabulary is here to serve the people of Cheshire; therefore, it is essential that as an organisation we truly represent the people we serve. Over the past 12 months we have done a lot of work to increase diversity within the force - including the ‘Insight programme’. This has been set up to attract and support a diverse range of people into Cheshire Constabulary and was recognised nationally earlier this year.”
While there are no specific recommendations for the Constabulary within the report, the Force has already identified learning in the report, such as use of the Independent Advisory Group, and work has already begun to involve this group better in oversight of the Constabulary.
David added: “Improvement is a continuous process, and I’ll be maintaining close oversight with force leadership on our progress on to ensure that these areas for improvements are addressed positively.”