An annual PEEL report has found that Northumbria Police “ requires improvement” in legitimacy, but is rated “good” in two other areas.
The PEEL report, which stands for Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy, was conducted by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).
It is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, although it is the second time Northumbria Police has been examined for its effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy by the HMIC.
The HMIC website said: “At the time of our inspection, there were a number of concerns about the force’s efforts to instil a culture which promoted innovation and willingness to challenge. This is something the new chief constable is aware of and addressing.”
However, there were some positive points made about the force’s legitimacy.
“Decisions made by Taser-trained officers are generally fair and appropriate and oversight of the use of Taser is strong. The force has more to do in order to comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and ensure that reasonable grounds for the use of stop and search powers are recorded and supervised properly.”
Northumbria Police have responded to the legitimacy aspect of the report.
Chief Constable Steve Ashman said: “We accept most of the findings of this report and acknowledge that at the time the inspection took place there were areas for improvement in Northumbria Police.
“It is reassuring to note the positive comments of the HMIC regarding the way our officers engage so positively with our communities. However, we recognise the need to make further improvements in our compliance with the Best use of Stop and Search scheme.
“We have already taken active steps to ensure we become fully compliant with HMIC recommendations and are now seeking to make further improvements, such as the introduction of a Youth Scrutiny Panel.
“The report highlights the fact that the inspection took place in the spring of 2015, since when a significant amount of change has taken place.
“I am confident that we have made real progress in changing the culture of the organisation to one which welcomes challenge and encourages innovation. I look forward to this year’s inspection as an opportunity for us to show exactly where we are now.”
The force was also graded as “good” in terms of its efficiency and HMIC found that overall the force is “good”.
The statement reads: “The force is good at protecting from harm those who are vulnerable, and supporting victims.”
Temporary Chief Superintendent Sharon Stavers, Chair of the Superintendents Association, said: “We acknowledge and accept these findings, however, it’s important to note that this inspection was conducted in April 2015, and was prior to the appointment of our new Chief Constable, Steve Ashman.
“Since that time there has been a marked change in the culture at Northumbria Police.
“For the first time in a number of years a staff survey has been conducted and the views and opinions of all of the workforce are helping us to deliver noticeable improvements.
“We have already formed a good working relationship with Mr Ashman and share his determination to address any issues and ensure the next inspection will paint a very different picture.”
You can read the PEEL assessment here.