Gloucestershire 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.
Gloucestershire Constabulary has elements of strong leadership, though it could make improvements in some areas. Through leaders’ events, the constabulary expends considerable time ensuring that its leaders understand what is expected of them. Members of the workforce we spoke to during our inspection confirmed that the constabulary’s messages about its future priorities are clear and easily understood.
The recent staff survey suggested high levels of workforce satisfaction, though some we spoke to during our inspection expressed concern about the effectiveness of the constabulary’s performance and development processes. HMIC found evidence that the workforce’s knowledge of the mentoring scheme is inconsistent, and we found no evidence that the constabulary identifies talented individuals in a structured way.
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.
Gloucestershire Constabulary is committed to developing a clear understanding of the capacity and capability of its leadership at every level, but has not yet achieved this.. The constabulary has undertaken a leadership review. As a result it has developed a number of activities as well as defining positive leadership behaviours. The constabulary now aims to assess how widespread those behaviours are.
The constabulary is good at ensuring that its leaders have a clear sense of what it expects of them. It holds twice-yearly leaders’ days for sergeants, inspectors and police staff equivalent at which key themes such as standards, ethics and expectations are discussed. The chief constable also hosts senior leader fora for ranks of chief inspector and police staff equivalent and above, to ensure the force’s expectations are clear for all ranks.
The constabulary is increasing its understanding of how its senior leadership is perceived and understood across the workforce. Each of the chief officer team undertakes a minimum of four annual visibility visits where they attend a police station, office, or team briefing to share experiences and concerns with the workforce. The constabulary has also analysed its recent staff surveys to understand how its workforce perceives leaders and managers across the organisation.
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.
Gloucestershire Constabulary is committed to providing a clear and compelling message to the workforce about its future plans and priorities, and has been largely successful in doing so. It has undertaken an intensive programme of communication to explain its new operating model and has emphasised the importance of working to expected values and standards.
The constabulary has used the move towards its new operating model as an opportunity to improve its understanding of current workforce skills, and the skills that the workforce will require in the future. To this end, the constabulary undertook an exercise to update the information it has on the workforce’s current capacity and capability.
The constabulary is good at understanding and making use of technological opportunities, particularly around its ability to make use of digital technology. An assistant chief constable is the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s national policing lead for communications data which has helped the constabulary build a working relationship with GCHQ and the private sector. This has strengthened the constabulary’s ethos of being open to using new technologies to improve its policing.
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 does not have a formal process for identifying talented individuals outside the national high potential development scheme. The constabulary recognises this, and its head of human resources is developing a new programme to consolidate past initiatives into a structure to develop leadership skills. The constabulary intends that this will enable it to develop a process for identifying and developing talented individuals for promotion within the constabulary.
Leaders we spoke to during our inspection expressed concern regarding the level of training given upon promotion or appointment to an acting or temporary rank. For example, newly-appointed sergeants receive no formal training related to action at critical incidents or how to deal properly with complaints.
The constabulary relies on its performance appraisal system to manage workforce development and to maintain expected standards of performance.
Although the constabulary has a mentoring scheme, HMIC found an inconsistent understanding of this scheme across the workforce. Newly-promoted managers are sometimes allocated a mentor, though this is typically arranged without central oversight. This risks employees not being enabled to reach their full potential. The inconsistent approach in appointing mentors also means it is difficult for the constabulary to assess how effective they are in their mentoring role.
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 Gloucestershire Constabulary has resulted in a stronger focus on improving their legitimacy, in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The chief officer team has invested a significant amount of effort into ensuring that there is an ethical culture across the organisation. Senior leaders use a variety of communication methods to communicate their message to the workforce, including creating an ‘ask the experts’ forum to deal with ethical dilemmas, at which senior leaders respond actively to any issues or questions that arise.
The constabulary has taken steps to implement effectively the Code of Ethics, including ensuring that every workforce member has an objective in their performance development review relating to the code. HMIC found that staff and officers are aware of the code and understand what it means for them in their role. In order to strengthen this understanding, the constabulary has also established a Code of Ethics board. We also found that police staff and officers feel empowered to challenge and report inappropriate and unethical behaviour.