Durham 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.
The chief officer teamhas a clear understanding of leadership capability and capacity across Durham Constabulary and regularly communicate their expectations to ensure leaders at all levels know what is required of them. The chief officer team has a clear sense of direction for the future of the organisation. The workforce understands the constabulary’s plans for the short to medium term, although they are less clear about its long term plans.
The constabulary provides an extensive range of leadership and development opportunities to its workforce and the constabulary is good at using technology to improve its overall capability.
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.
Durham Constabulary’s chief officer team actively communicates its expectations of its leaders through regular engagement with the workforce, using a range of methods including webcasts, information on the constabulary intranet, training workshops and unannounced visits to shift briefings.
These methods are effective, as officers and staff describe the chief officer team and senior leaders as being very visible and accessible, providing regular and consistent messages to reinforce their standards and expectations.
The constabulary uses various methods to analyse and understand how its workforce views senior leadership. For example, since 2012 the constabulary has worked with Durham University Business School to run an annual staff perception survey. Durham Constabulary entered into this arrangement with an external organisation in an effort to increase transparency and give its workforce greater confidence in the survey process, as well as to encourage more staff to participate in the survey.
The constabulary ensures findings from the annual surveys translate into positive actions. For example, in response to the main concerns raised in an earlier survey in 2012, it commissioned research to identify how the constabulary could improve the physical, emotional and financial wellbeing of its workforce. The constabulary responded by putting in place a project and action plan to achieve the improvements the research recommended.
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 chief officer team has a clear and compelling sense of direction for the future of the organisation which is supported by comprehensive and realistic plans. The team uses various methods to keep its workforce updated about the plans such as webcasts, targeted emails and roadshows.
Police officers and staff at all levels felt supported and fully informed about the challenges both they and the constabulary face in the short and medium term. However, they were of the opinion that the constabulary needs to provide additional information about its longer-term plans.
The constabulary has created a detailed workforce plan for the next three years. The plan provides the constabulary with a good understanding of its leadership capability now, and what it will require in the future.
The constabulary has invested in a wide range of technology to improve its capacity and capability. When the constabulary adopts new technology, it identifies and tracks benefits. For example, the constabulary fitted some police vehicles with a system called Telematics which has enabled it to monitor and improve standards of driver behaviour and reduce response times and fuel usage.
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.
Durham Constabulary clearly sets out its performance expectations for staff and officers at all levels. We found a robust performance management framework in place to monitor and manage the constabulary’s ability to reduce crime. Scrutiny and accountability for performance is evident at various levels of the constabulary. For example, it uses a system called Durham Constabulary Organisational Performance, which provides data for managers and supervisors and is used to monitor activity at constabulary, locality, or individual levels.
During the inspection, officers and staff confirmed they have a clear understanding of what the constabulary expects of them in relation to their performance. The workforce also welcomed a change in emphasis over recent years with a move away from purely focusing on the quantity of crimes and detections when assessing individual performance. The constabulary’s priority is now on improving the quality of service that it provides, especially to victims of crime and anti-social behaviour.
While the constabulary has no formal process to identify and develop talented individuals for promotion, members of the chief officer team have individual responsibility for the development of officers at particular ranks. The constabulary provides an extensive range of leadership and development opportunities to its staff. This includes the Giant Leap programme for senior managers, the Neuro-Linguistic programme and Mindfulness courses.
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 Durham Constabulary has resulted in a stronger focus on improving their effectiveness, in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime. We found an emphasis on crime prevention and achieving long-term solutions through effective analysis of issues and problem-solving, which the chief officer team championss and which includes problem-solving masterclasses to officers and staff. This has helped ensure that police officers and staff understand and widely use this approach to addressing crime and anti-social behaviour issues.
The workforce is encouraged by the constabulary’s innovative approach to tackling community issues. HMIC found strong evidence of this during the inspection. One example was a scheme where disposable cardboard ‘hands’ were placed through insecure windows to alert the public to potential theft, and to encourage more effective home security. Another example involved working with Durham University to introduce volunteers to conduct patrols along a local river to prevent students from placing themselves in danger by entering the water while under the influence of alcohol.
The leadership of the constabulary has instilled a widespread culture of identifying where crime and anti-social behaviour may happen and then taking appropriate steps to reduce the likelihood of it occurring.