Sussex 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.
Sussex Police is a well led organisation and has a clear sense of its future direction. The force has a good understanding of the capacity and capability of its leadership at senior levels, though more work is required to better understand this throughout the force.
The force has improved the way it monitors and improves performance. It now holds monthly structured appraisals for many police staff and officers.
The force values workforce wellbeing, and its chief officer team is proactive in tackling the negative impact of police staff and officers working long hours.
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.
Sussex Police has a good understanding of the capacity and capability of its leadership at senior levels, but as it has not conducted an assessment across all levels of leadership, this understanding is less developed for more junior levels. The force has begun a full analysis of training needs, which should help the force develop this understanding.
The force has a leadership strategy that outlines expectations of leaders, including how the Code of Ethics relates to everyday actions. The force also has a leadership framework that makes clear what it expects from its workforce. However, the force acknowledges that it could communicate the leadership framework more effectively, and has plans to do so.
Sussex Police has taken steps to understand how senior leadership, and leadership in general, is perceived across the force, although it could improve this understanding. The force has conducted a staff survey, with a high rate of participation from the workforce, and used the results to develop corporate and divisional action plans. The deputy chief constable oversees each plan, with updates communicated to the workforce through notice boards and the intranet.
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 provided a clear and compelling sense of its future plans and priorities through Sussex Police in 2020: Working for a safer Sussex, the force’s strategy which includes its future workforce model. The force has presented this at leadership days, and disseminated it through an open forum on the force intranet which attracted over 50,000 hits. Despite this, while frontline officers and staff understand the scale of the force’s saving requirements and reductions in the size of its overall workforce, they were less clear on the details of how the force would actually implement this.
The force has taken some effective steps in understanding and using new ideas, approaches and technological opportunities. We found an ambitious approach to the improved use of technology, and the chief officer team recognises that information and communication technology is essential to the success of its future policing model. The force has an existing digital services programme, and has started to roll-out smartphone mobile data terminals, which will allow the force to become more efficient through officers accessing useful information while on patrol, rather than having to return to the police station.
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 put in place some mechanisms to effectively identify and develop talent, though there is some room for improvement. It has a talent management strategy, although its formal talent management programmes are currently limited to coaching and mentoring. More positively, performance reviews are now linked to identification of talent. Employees whom the force grades as outstanding or exceeding expectations are being considered for inclusion in a talent pool and if selected, are then actively aided with their development.
The force is improving how it manages workforce performance and is open to new ways of doing this. For example, it is testing the Defining and Assessing Competence process for workforce performance with the College of Policing. The force is moving away from a one-off annual performance review system to more routine and structured appraisals that are to be held every month. HMIC found that while officers and staff have regular performance reviews, many do not actively complete them or see any worth in them. Those we spoke to cited the lack of promotion or lateral development opportunities as the reasons for this inertia. The force has not run a promotion assessment for sergeants for five years, and officers’ exam qualifications are expiring as a consequence.
The force also runs joint leadership events for senior leaders in conjunction with Surrey Police at which both leadership and organisational issues are considered.
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 Sussex Police has resulted in a stronger focus on improving the legitimacy of the force in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force recognises the importance of its leaders and values their wellbeing. Wellbeing clinics and the force’s physiotherapy scheme contribute positively to police staff and officers’ health, and senior officers show leadership to promote the wellbeing of the workforce. During our inspection, HMIC was encouraged to see that the chief officer team is proactive in taking steps to tackle the negative impact of police staff and officers working long hours. However, the force could show stronger leadership in some areas such as the employee assistance programme which offers occupational health support. The workforce has a number of concerns about the quality of the service, and simple improvements could make a noticeable difference.
Encouragingly, the force allows police officers and staff to lead by making ethical decisions, and HMIC found that the force supports officers to make decisions using the principles behind the Code of Ethics. During our inspection, HMIC found that the workforce has a good knowledge of the code, and those we spoke to generally knew what the code means for them on an everyday basis.