Suffolk 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.
The leadership of Suffolk Constabulary’s chief officer team has made a positive difference despite undergoing significant change over the past 12 months. The team has provided a clear and developing sense of the constabulary’s future plans and priorities and promotes a culture of cohesion, honesty and openness.
The constabulary has set out clear expectations of its staff which are understood across the organisation and has taken some positive steps to develop talent. The constabulary needs to do more to gain a clearer understanding of the current status of leadership at every level to ensure it is prepared for the future.
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.
Suffolk Constabulary can only demonstrate a limited understanding of its current capability and capacity of leadership across all levels of the organisation. The constabulary is undertaking much change and is assessing current workforce skills, and the skills that its workforce will require for the future, though the constabulary is yet to complete this work. As a result, the constabulary cannot be sure that it understands the leadership skills required to achieve its future policing model, or whether it has the capacity and capability to do this.
Leaders across Suffolk Constabulary have a good understanding of what the constabulary expects of them which has been achieved by consistent messages from the chief officer team. The workforce knows and understands particularly well the constabulary’s “vision, mission and philosophy” programme concerning attitudes and behaviours.
The constabulary uses a range of methods to communicate with its workforce. The chief officer team is highly visible and the workforce feels that the team is approachable, with a range of ways to contact them. The majority of the workforce were aware of these communication channels and felt confident in using them, though some were less confident in doing so. The absence of a recent organisation-wide staff survey reduces the ability of the constabulary’s senior leaders to understand workforce views.
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 constabulary’s chief officer team has undergone significant changes over the past 12 months. It has provided strong leadership in developing and communicating a future direction for the constabulary that is ambitious and realistic. Officers and staff recognise that substantial changes are necessary to enable the constabulary to meet its financial challenge and improve the way it provides services to the public. The constabulary has recently moved to a policing model which focuses its resources on threat, harm, risk and vulnerability of the victim and communities. This will take time to fully implement, however Suffolk has communicated the change well and the workforce understands and supports the change.
While the majority of the workforce understand the direction and need for overall change, some feel that the information on change is not relevant to them. This is particularly the case when it comes to constabulary announcements made through emails, which tend not to be tailored to individuals’ roles, and are sent too frequently to be fully read and understood.
The constabulary has a strong commitment to innovation and identifying new ways of working. It is developing the way it polices by working with Norfolk Constabulary and academic partners, who collectively will evaluate in detail the effectiveness of the constabulary’s working practices.
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.
Suffolk Constabulary manages workforce performance inconsistently. The constabulary assesses an individual’s performance through an annual performance review, however the completion of an effective and meaningful review appears dependent on the individual’s line manager. As a result, the constabulary can only partially demonstrate that it consistently links individual performance to the constabulary’s objectives and it does not fully understand trends in workforce performance.
The constabulary is investing in the development of its workforce and is developing an effective leadership skills programme. An example of this is its ’Be the best you can be’ portal, which will provide a range of development opportunities for staff. However, the constabulary recognises that it needs to ensure consistency of access across its workforce.
Suffolk Constabulary is identifying and developing talent internally as well as recruiting externally new talent. Recently, the constabulary has started a fast-track promotion programme for constables, sergeants and inspectors, while the constabulary makes good use of the direct entry scheme for superintendents as a way of attracting new talent into the force.
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.
Leadership in Suffolk Constabulary has resulted in a stronger focus on improving their efficiency. For example, the constabulary has a mature collaboration with Norfolk Constabulary in jointly providing a number of operational and support functions, which reduces costs and increases constabulary resilience.
The chief officer team is improving the constabulary’s understanding of the current demand for policing services across the county, but needs to do more to gain a sufficiently comprehensive picture of likely future demand, so that it can plan effectively.
Senior leaders work constructively with other organisations to develop joint plans to tackle crime, anti-social behaviour and other issues of community concern. Leaders have instilled a very clear focus on protecting vulnerable people, and the constabulary’s joint work with other organisations leads to effective preventive work in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe.
Leadership has also resulted in a stronger focus on improving the constabulary’s legitimacy in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The chief officer team has shown strong leadership in developing an ethical culture across the organisation. Workforce wellbeing is important to the constabulary and during our inspection, HMIC found that those we spoke to felt confident that they could challenge unethical behaviour. However, the constabulary should ensure that it handles allegations of misconduct consistently and fairly.