Dorset 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.
Dorset Police’s overarching leadership strategy builds upon a structured leadership programme for officers and staff, and ensures its leaders clearly understand what is expected of them. The chief officer team has provided leadership regarding ethical behaviour and standards, and has set a clear and concise vision for the organisation, which the workforce supports.
Dorset Police understands how leadership is perceived across the workforce. We found a focus on values and ethics, leadership, and expectations, with teams where analysis provides a picture of both strengths and weaknesses in leaders.
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.
During our inspection, HMIC found that Dorset Police ensures its leaders understand clearly what is expected of them by the consistent use of the force strapline, ‘know yourself, know your business, know your staff’. The force communicates this through leadership seminars, the force intranet, and roadshows. This was reinforced by the chief constable who held a series of workshops with staff and officers to relay her expectations that everyone should comply with the Code of Ethics and meet the objectives of the police and crime commissioner’s police and crime plan.
However, the force has not carried out an organisation-wide assessment of its current capacity and capability, and has no formal structures in place to assist in developing a clear understanding of the current state of leadership across the organisation. The force recognises this as a gap and is developing a programme with Devon and Cornwall Police to address it.
Dorset Police understands how leadership is perceived across the workforce. There is a focus on values and ethics, leadership, and expectations, with teams where analysis provides a picture of both strengths and weaknesses in leaders.
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.
HMIC found that Dorset Police has identified a realistic set of future plans and priorities, however has had difficulties in communicating this effectively to its workforce. The force has entered a strategic alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police and we found evidence of strong commitment and sustained improvements to achieve the objectives set in the strategic vision.
HMIC found that while Dorset Police has undertaken some communications initiatives regarding the strategic alliance, it had not been a priority in recent months. The force acknowledges that the detail of the programme and elements of the long-term plan may not be clear to the whole workforce. During our inspection, some officers and staff we spoke to were unclear on the implications for their individual area of business, even though the intranet provides some information about the alliance, and is easily accessible.
The force’s overall plan for developing the organisation and its future direction contains details about how its leadership should operate. However, the force has not recently assessed the skills and capabilities of its leaders across the organisation, or what capabilities will be required of the workforce in the future. The force acknowledges this gap and is addressing it within its strategic alliance programme.
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.
Dorset Police has developed a force-wide leadership strategy which it has clearly communicated and its workforce understands. The force also has a well-established mentoring scheme which is widely used by officers and staff. Partnership work is ongoing with Devon and Cornwall Police so more mentors are available, and to develop a joint process for identifying and developing talented individuals for promotion.
The force does not have a formal talent management programme and views development opportunities and promotion as the individual’s responsibility. Participation relies on support from line managers due to the lack of a consistent process.
The force has a central system in place to manage workforce performance. Line managers manage their staff’s performance reviews electronically, overseen by the human resources (HR) department. The HR department analyses feedback from the 360-degree process, though only provides feedback to individuals in a small number of cases in order to recommend suitable training. However, individuals are advised by the force to consider development plans with their line manager to include coaching and course attendance.
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 Dorset Police has resulted in a stronger focus on improving the legitimacy of the force, in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The chief officer team provides good leadership about what is ethical behaviour and what standards are expected of leaders, and has set clear and concise vision and values for the organisation, which the workforce supports.
However, some police staff and officers expressed concern that senior leaders have maintained the force’s identified values instead of the nine policing principles set out in the code. However, the force has surveyed all staff and can evidence a high level of understanding and commitment to the Code of Ethics and the nine policing principles.
Encouragingly, the force has recognised and acted on the importance of wellbeing to the workforce, having identified this in a staff survey. A force welfare and counselling unit now manages the force’s psychological health monitoring programme, and also advises managers on wellbeing issues, so that good practice is disseminated across Dorset Police. The force has created an online wellbeing tool which enables its workforce to understand its health and wellbeing responsibilities, and also gives them information on leading a healthier lifestyle through improved diet and exercise.