Gwent 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.
Gwent Police is a well led force, though the force could make improvements in some areas. The force has communicated clearly its future plans and priorities, which are linked to its new operating model, though this model has been in place for a short time and has yet to be evaluated, recent inspections conducted by HMIC indicate that it is working effectively and places more officers on frontline duties.
The force has yet to develop a broad understanding of the capacity and capability of its leadership at all levels, and only has limited processes in place to develop talented individuals within the organisation or to develop those officers or staff who are already in leadership positions.
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.
Gwent Police has a limited understanding of the capacity and capability of its leadership at all levels. Gwent has not yet completed a force-wide assessment detailing the workforce’s capabilities, and it has no effective performance review system to aid its understanding of this.
The chief constable is clear in communicating his expectations to the workforce, including the message that leadership in the force is to be ethically based. He has regular meetings with senior staff at ‘Team Gwent’ events, where leadership and organisational development is discussed, and the standards of the organisation are reiterated and reinforced. The force’s values are concise and simple, and while officers on the frontline were not always quick to volunteer these values to us, the workforce in general clearly knows and understands them well.
Officers and staff complete an annual staff survey, with the most recent survey measuring attitudes towards senior leadership. The chief constable runs regular ‘Ask the Chief’ sessions on the force intranet, where the workforce can ask questions of him directly. Police staff and officers are fully aware that they can email the chief constable on any topic to receive a personal reply.
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.
Gwent Police has communicated a clear sense of its future plans and priorities through its new operating model, and this vision is evident throughout the organisation. We found widespread, though not complete, understanding of the change programme among the workforce, which understands that changes are necessary to achieve an ethical public-facing service within financial constraints. To improve understanding of the change programme, senior officers routinely spend time with their officers on the front line.
The force has not assessed capability requirements of its entire workforce, however it is actively assessing current workforce skills. The force’s new human resources system (called iTrent) should enable it to better understand future workforce capabilities, though the force has not yet fully implemented iTrent or used it to its full potential.
The force demonstrates a strong willingness to embrace new ideas, approaches and technology. For example, the Fusion project, being run jointly with South Wales Police, will introduce mobile data and information technology. This will provide mobile access to information and services which would have previously only been available in a police building or via the radio network, such as incident data or police national computer checks.
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.
Gwent Police has clear systems of governance and oversight of force performance, which generate weekly and monthly performance reports to assist with the force’s understanding of emerging trends and issues. However, at the operational level, performance management is less structured. The force does not routinely use annual performance reviews, and Gwent Police’s workforce does not perceive them to be useful to its development.
The force has recognised the need to invest in leadership training and has started an extensive programme of leadership and management training. Coaching and mentoring is available for staff, but the onus is on the individual to find a suitable mentor, and the force has no process in place to encourage potential leadership candidates to take up this opportunity.
The force has no formal structures in place to identify and develop talented individuals, and its progress in this area is therefore instigated at a local level. However, the force shows an encouraging awareness of the benefits of increasing the diversity of skills and experience in its leadership teams.
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 Gwent Police has resulted in a stronger focus on improving the legitimacy of the force, in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Chief officers have provided good leadership by clearly setting out ethical behaviours and expected standards. The chief constable is well-respected, and has set clear standards for the workforce to follow.
During our inspection, HMIC found that the workforce felt senior leaders to be approachable, visible and strong leaders who have made great efforts to engage with them through the chief constable’s blogs and face-to-face communications like ‘Time to listen’. Chief officers have acted on the issues raised in Gwent Police’s 2014 staff survey. For example, the force held a series of seminars to dispel negative perceptions around the professional standards department. Encouragingly, the force is due to conduct another staff survey to develop further its knowledge of the culture of the force.
Workforce wellbeing is another issue identified as important to the force, which has created new posts to address attendance management issues. The force has appointed an inspector as a lead officer for mental health issues, and the force is developing initiatives to support staff with mental health problems.
Encouragingly, the force has carried out a number of initiatives to introduce the Code of Ethics. The force has recently held seminars on the code for 300 managers. Leaders could do more to improve the workforce’s awareness of the code, as HMIC found that those not in supervisory positions had insufficient understanding of the code to be able to apply it properly in their role.