Avon and Somerset PEEL 2015
How well has the force performed in our other inspections?
In addition to the three core PEEL pillars, HMIC carries out inspections of a wide range of policing activity throughout the year. Some of these are conducted alongside the PEEL inspections (for instance, our 2016 leadership assessment); others are joint inspections.
Findings from these inspections are published separately to the main PEEL reports, but are taken into account when producing the rounded assessment of each force's performance.
As part of HMIC’s annual all-force inspections into police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) in 2015, HMIC assessed how well led forces are at every rank and grade of the organisation and across all areas inspected in PEEL. We reviewed how well a force understands and is developing its leaders; whether it has set a clear and compelling future direction; and how well it motivates and engages the workforce.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has clearly shared its mission, vision and values with its workforce, which understands what is expected of it. The force has articulated clearly its future plans through its new operating model, although some of the workforce has expressed concern about its effectiveness.
While the constabulary has recently changed some of its chief officers, it has managed largely to mitigate any negative effects on the workforce. This includes the development of a strategic approach to talent management, which will help the constabulary develop its leaders of the future.
How well does the force have a clear understanding of the current state of its leadership at every level?
HMIC examined how well forces understand the strengths and weaknesses of leadership across the force and how well the workforce understands its leadership role. Strong, clear leadership across every rank and grade is vital to the effectiveness and efficiency of a modern and capable police force.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has a clear set of leadership values, which include developing an evidence-based policing style, acting compassionately and being open to learning. Chief officers and senior management have translated these values into expectations and communicated them effectively through a variety of fora such as the operating model workshops, the Shine programme and Be Proud initiative, where feedback is actively sought, although some of the workforce felt this was not acted on.
HMIC found that Avon and Somerset Constabulary has a good understanding of how its workforce perceives and understands constabulary leadership at all levels. The constabulary has developed its understanding through a staff survey and ethics and leadership programmes. However, the constabulary could do more to communicate its findings with police staff and officers. For example, the constabulary did not publish promptly the results of its last staff survey.
During our inspection, HMIC found that the changes at chief officer level have created a degree of instability in relation to the constabulary’s strategic direction; however the workforce felt that the interim chief officers have taken steps to mitigate any negative effects on the workforce.
How well has the force provided a clear and compelling sense of the future direction of the organisation?
HMIC examined the extent to which forces have set out a clear, compelling and realistic sense of future direction, because it is important to ensure that the workforce is motivated to build for the future and that the force knows the kinds of skills it is looking to develop. We were also interested to find out how well leaders are making use of new approaches to enable forces to meet future financial challenges.
The constabulary publicises well its mission, vision and values, and its new operating model, and shares them effectively with the workforce. The inspection took place during the first month of implementing the new operating model, which the constabulary created to reflect the its vision and values, to optimise the use of its resources by aligning them with demand, and to improve its services to the victims and communities it serves. The constabulary recognises that there are concerns among some of the workforce about the effectiveness of the new operating model, as it is in its early stages.
The constabulary has taken some steps to understand new ideas, approaches and technological opportunities, though there is room for improvement. The constabulary plans to use mobile data to allow officers to spend more time on patrol than at a police station.
The constabulary has also improved the software used in its control room so it fits around a threat, risk and harm matrix. This allows the constabulary’s staff to more effectively prioritise grading of incidents and to make best use of their resources.
How is the force developing leadership, motivating the workforce and encouraging staff engagement?
HMIC examined how well forces identify and develop leadership, as quality of leadership is key to ensuring forces overcome their challenges of reducing crime and meeting the needs of victims. We were not looking for one particular style of leadership but focused on how well leaders motivate their workforce and improve performance in order to deliver a quality service to the public.
The constabulary has taken some steps towards creating effective mechanisms to identify and develop talent at all levels. We found a strategic approach to identify and develop talented individuals which draws on external expertise and identifies individuals for fast-track promotion and direct entry for middle and senior managers. However, during the inspection HMIC found less evidence of routine practices to develop the careers and realise the potential of more junior members of the workforce.
The constabulary aspires to develop workforce leadership skills through effective development programmes and uses the National Police Performance Framework to identify skills required by individual officers and staff. However, there is no longer mandatory leadership training, and the programmes are only for those who volunteer. The programmes incorporate 360-degree feedback techniques, coaching in the workplace and online learning. However, the constabulary could do more to ensure that more of its staff and officers benefit from this learning.
During our inspection, HMIC found some evidence to suggest the constabulary could do more to encourage the development of those from diverse backgrounds. However, the constabulary recognises this and has put in place a number of initiatives to address this area, such as commissioning an independent review of its recruitment process that is now tailored so as not to disadvantage applicants whose first language is not English.
To what extent is leadership improving the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy of the force?
As good quality leadership is an important factor of policing performance, HMIC examined how leaders are improving the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy of forces through clear, reasoned and swift actions. This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible for this pillar.
Leadership in Avon and Somerset Constabulary has resulted in a stronger focus on improving the legitimacy of the constabulary, in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
The chief officer team has provided strong leadership on ethical behaviour and expected standards by introducing a Be Proud programme, which is focused on the constabulary’s values and the Code of Ethics. During our inspection, HMIC found that while the force has tried to ensure there was crossover between this programme and the code, not all police officers and staff relate Be Proud to the code. However, the workforce understands the importance of ethical and professional working.
It was evident during our inspection that workforce wellbeing is important to senior leaders and while the constabulary has no policies relating to wellbeing, it has introduced recently a range of support services which includes counselling. This is a positive step, however leaders could improve the identification of police staff and officers who require this service, as it currently relies on self-referral. Another area of development relates to awareness of wellbeing services, as over half of those who responded to a recent staff survey thought that the constabulary was not committed to their wellbeing.