Kent 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.
Kent Police is a well led force. Its chief officers have communicated a clear and compelling sense of the force’s future plans and priorities that the workforce understands. We found that Kent Police understands the current state of leadership at senior and middle levels, with work ongoing to better understand the current state of lower levels of leadership.
The force is developing leadership across all levels, motivating its workforce and encouraging engagement. The force’s performance systems are clear and it manages them effectively.
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.
Kent Police has a good understanding of current leadership capability at inspector level and above, and uses this knowledge to inform its identification and development of individuals to fill leadership roles and to identify skills gaps. Work is ongoing at sergeant level to assess the skills required for different leadership roles and responsibilities.
The force has very clearly defined its expectations of leadership. The chief constable holds seminars with those seeking promotion, and one-to-one meetings with successful candidates in which he sets out exactly what he expects from a leader at that level. The force intranet includes messages and guidance for staff and supervisors and a facility for the workforce to pose questions directly to the chief constable, which the workforce has welcomed.
Kent Police has a good understanding of how leadership is perceived across the force. It conducted a staff survey in 2014 and while this suggested that the workforce felt the quality of leadership in the force was inconsistent, it was clear to HMIC that officers and staff welcome the chief constable’s approach, his visibility, and the placing of the victim at the centre of everything the force does.
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 force has articulated a clear sense of direction and core purpose, and encourages its workforce to make decisions using the ‘do the right thing’ motto. The force communicates messages using the chief constable’s blog, a video blog, targeted emails, the force intranet, staff briefings, and roadshows. The force has clearly articulated its plans to prioritise expenditure in neighbourhood policing teams in order to increase their ability to focus on long-term resolution of crime and anti-social behaviour.
Another important message is the change from that of a target-based culture to one focused on quality of outcomes for the people the force serves, and is reinforced by the chief constable who has challenged those still using numbers to monitor performance.
The mission, vision and values of the force are understood by the workforce and are influencing the force’s future planning and its culture. The force is continuing to analyse and understand what leadership capabilities it will require of its workforce in the future.
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 force set outs performance expectations clearly, starting with performance appraisal reviews. The workforce reported having twice-yearly reviews with their line manager, which HMIC welcomes. Objectives are set around quality of service such as the standard of case file submissions and the extent to which victim updates have been provided in a timely fashion. Officers consistently explained that they are not expected to achieve at all costs, but rather that they are seeking to do the right thing and to provide quality victim-focused outcomes, which HMIC also welcomes.
The force provides several evaluated courses to develop leadership skills at all levels. The depth of evaluation is particularly noteworthy as it enables the force to measure the outcomes from training as well as to identify areas for further development from course attendees.
The force is taking proactive steps to improve future leadership, and has recognised the need to identify talented staff. It has appointed a talent manager to handle the overall process, which includes the provision of mentors and coaching to staff. Innovations include organising for talented staff to shadow senior officers and to engage in improvement projects. The force is considering allowing staff to self-nominate themselves for the talent scheme, which is encouraging.
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 Kent Police has resulted in a stronger focus on improving the effectiveness of the force. We found clear leadership from chief officers around implementation of the National Decision Model, and the force has taken effective steps to make the model part of everyday practices. Training in this area is comprehensive, and HMIC found that police staff and officers clearly understand the model and what it means for their role.
The force has also carried out extensive and effective steps to establish an ethical culture. Police officers feel empowered to challenge unethical decisions, though some work is required to ensure that police staff feel equally empowered to do so. The force deals effectively with complaints and misconduct allegations, and it is seeking to achieve a greater level of consistency in decisions relating to police staff.
The force uses a range of methods to support effective engagement with communities, and force leaders are ensuring there is a clearer understanding of local community priorities. The force has also shown leadership by ensuring that it has implemented effectively the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, and that there is effective independent oversight of stop and search encounters.