Cheshire 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 2015 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.
Cheshire Constabulary is a well led force and has a good understanding of the capacity and capability of its leadership at all levels. This understanding was developed by undertaking a comprehensive survey of leaders, and was used to create a varied and comprehensive package of training and developmental opportunities.
The majority of police officers and staff HMIC spoke with during our inspection articulated a clear sense of the future plans and priorities of the constabulary and reported that the visibility of senior leaders has improved over the last 12 months.
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.
Cheshire Constabulary has a good understanding of the capacity and capability of its leadership at all levels, which has been gained by taking actions such as commissioning a survey of all leaders at police sergeant and equivalent police staff levels and above. The survey findings include identifying the constabulary’s key strengths as professionalism and integrity. The survey also directly informed the constabulary’s analysis of its training needs for its future leadership programmes.
Since 2014, the constabulary has completely changed its chief officer team, which appears to have given new impetus to the constabulary’s leadership. Throughout our inspection, HMIC found evidence from the workforce of leaders’ renewed clarity of direction and increased visibility.
The chief officer team has provided a clear vision for the organisation, and clear expectations for individuals which have been communicated through the ‘We’re here’ campaign. The campaign sets out the constabulary’s key commitments to the communities of Cheshire as being ‘We’re here: where you need us, when you need us; for victims; for justice; and for communities’. HMIC found that the majority of officers and staff understand the importance and significance of the commitment and the expectation that they will adhere to it.
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 both that the workforce are motivated to build for the future and that the force knows the kinds of skills it is looking to develop. We were also interested in how well leaders are making use of new approaches to enable forces to meet future financial challenges.
The chief officer team has set future plans and priorities that are ambitious and realistic. This was informed by its comprehensive review into the constabulary’s structure and resource allocation. The review involved the application of a priority-based budgeting process, in which every area of the constabulary’s business was reviewed and assessed against the priorities of the police and crime commissioner and the chief constable. The chief officer team then decided what level of service they wanted to provide within the resource constraints. Throughout the review process, the overriding purpose was to identify choices and priorities, rather than focus on budget cuts.
The outcome of the review is a substantially-revised constabulary structure, which replaces three policing areas with eight, each led by a chief inspector. In addition to achieving the required financial savings for 2015/16 and recruiting more than 50 new officers, the constabulary identified an additional 130 posts which it is moving from support functions to frontline policing.
Encouragingly, HMIC found that the workforce was not only aware of the review process, but understood the rationale behind the decisions, and had a good understanding of the future plans and priorities of the organisation and what it meant for them.
How is the force developing leadership, motivating the workforce and encouraging staff engagement?
HMIC examined how well forces identify and develop leadership, as good quality of leadership is key to ensuring that 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 to provide a quality service to the public.
The constabulary has developed a detailed analysis of the training needs of its leaders, which it is now using to deliver a varied and comprehensive package of training and developmental opportunities. These range from a series of short ‘bite-sized’ training inputs on key subjects such as attendance management and the personal development review process, to bespoke training for sergeants and inspectors.
The constabulary also provided a series of intensive training sessions for the new area chief inspectors to ensure they were prepared for the challenges of their new role. This was backed up by individual mentoring and coaching support over the transition period.
While the constabulary has effective programmes in place to develop leadership skills, its approach to talent management is inconsistent. The constabulary operates a talent grid, which allows individuals with leadership potential to be identified, assessed and scored. HMIC found evidence across the constabulary that people were being identified through this process, but it was less clear to many managers what they should do once they had identified talented individuals. The constabulary would benefit from reviewing and clarifying communication and guidance on the use of the system.
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 Cheshire Constabulary has resulted in a stronger focus on improving their effectiveness. Senior leaders have made prevention of crime and anti-social behaviour the constabulary’s main priority and this is clearly articulated to the workforce through a variety of means.
Leadership has also resulted in a stronger focus on improving the legitimacy of the constabulary in terms of how it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The chief officer team has actively promoted the Code of Ethics, which was described by many spoken to during the inspection as a natural extension of the constabulary’s existing values, known as the ‘SPICE’ standards of service, professionalism, integrity, compassion, and equality and fairness. During our inspection, those we spoke to confirmed that they understood both SPICE and the code.
Another area where the constabulary displays good leadership relates to police officer promotion. Senior leaders identified a perceived lack of transparency in the process and took action to address the concerns, which the workforce viewed favourably.
Finally, leadership has also resulted in a stronger focus on improving the efficiency of the constabulary. Due to the approach taken by senior leaders around the priority-based budgeting review, the constabulary has a clear understanding of how it allocates its resources and makes informed decisions in relation to how best to allocate resources to keep the public safe.