South Yorkshire 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.
South Yorkshire Police has provided clear expectations of its workforce and has decided on clear and ambitious future plans and priorities. Chief officers have needed to demonstrate that the force has learnt from and is improving, given the focus on issues such as the Hillsborough enquiry and child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
Senior officers engage with the workforce in a number of formal and informal ways. However, many staff still feel that they do not see enough of senior leaders and would welcome more regular updates from chief officers on the longer-term vision for the force.
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.
South Yorkshire Police has an understanding of the current state of leadership at most levels of the organisation, although not all levels. Senior officers have taken some effective steps to determine how the workforce perceives leadership. For example, the force conducted a staff survey in 2014 to understand the issues that are important to the workforce. This identified three areas for improvement: leadership, communication, and staff support and development.
Senior officers have made concerted efforts to communicate with employees by visiting staff where they are working. There have also been a series of road show visits, which have been used by the workforce to challenge decisions that have been made, as well as to understand the rationale for decisions. Frontline staff appreciated the opportunity to challenge and question chief officers at these events, which also allowed leaders to directly address areas of concern raised by staff.
We found in South Yorkshire Police a range of ongoing activity to discuss current issues and recognise good performance, such as ‘Ask the Chief’ ?, emails, video messages and the personal acknowledgment of good work by the chief officer team. However, many staff feel that they do not see senior leaders often enough and while respecting the competing demands upon senior leaders’ time, believe they could be more visible during this period of change.
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.
South Yorkshire Police has set the future plans and priorities of the force, which is based around the current force restructure, the strategic partnership with Humberside Police and the police and crime commissioner’s priorities. The force has communicated these to the workforce in person, through the force’s intranet and by regular email updates from chief officers. The force has also shared these with a range of its strategic partners through local policing commanders and to the public through media and community meetings.
Many officers and staff HMIC spoke to felt that chief officers and senior leaders could clarify to a greater degree their understanding of the medium and longer-term vision for the force. Senior officers assert they often respond to major events such as the Hillsborough enquiry and child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, which has an adverse impact on their ability to articulate fully the future direction for the force.
To support the strategic direction being set by the senior officers, the force plans to develop its use of technology. Frontline officers already use mobile technology to access force computer systems remotely, which has made the force more efficient.
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 has taken some positive steps to improve the way it manages its workforce performance, however could still make improvements. The force has introduced a model in which supervisors formally discuss performance five times a year with those they manage, as well as on a continuous informal basis. The change to this process was spoken about positively by the workforce during the inspection, though HMIC found that the force has not yet implemented fully the new process across all areas, as some officers have not had an annual review for a number of years.
HMIC found that there are limited opportunities for identifying and developing talent in the force. The main route for talent identification is through the performance review, and as the reviews are not always completed, the force risks not identifying talented individuals.
More positively, good mentoring and coaching schemes exist in South Yorkshire, and the force’s career services department is a central point for those seeking access to mentors for coaching assistance. The force has also arranged with Humberside Police and Her Majesty’s Prison Service to make mentors available, which brings the valuable experience of those working in other services to support the development of those being mentored.
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 has resulted in a stronger focus on improving the effectiveness of the force. Through strong leadership, the force is well-prepared to respond to child sexual exploitation at a local level, and is leading the national policing response to child sexual exploitation. However, the force could exhibit stronger leadership to improve its response to domestic abuse victims. More consistent and thorough processes would help lessen the risk to some of the most vulnerable people in society.
We found clear leadership in how the force tackles organised criminality. The force has ensured that capable and experienced staff work in its intelligence and organised crime investigation units, who receive good support from officers at a district level to dismantle organised crime groups.
Leadership has also resulted in a stronger focus on improving the legitimacy of the force, in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force’s long-standing FIRST principles (Fairness, Integrity, Respect, Standards, and Trust) ensure that staff and leaders across the force are aware of the expected standards of behaviour and promote an ethical culture. The force has recently updated its FIRST principles in light of the introduction of the Code of Ethics from the College of Policing. In combining the values promoted, the force believes that all staff will adhere to both sets of values and present a positive image of the force as they tackle the very real challenges ahead.