West Midlands 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.
West Midlands Police has a broad understanding of the current capacity and capability of its leadership at all levels in the organisation. It has shown there are clear links between skills audits and training. The force has set clear and consistent expectations for its leaders although not all officers and staff have adopted these values so the overall picture is variable.
A clear sense of its future direction has been communicated through its ‘WMP 2020’ programme which is well understood by the majority of the workforce although not by everyone. Currently, the force does not understand what leadership capabilities it will require in the future but it has clear and robust plans to develop this understanding.
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.
West Midlands Police has a broad understanding of the capacity and capability of its leadership at all levels in the organisation. This has been achieved in part by the force developing a skills matrix for each role within the organisation and this information feeds into the planning process and schedule for training officers and staff. The force has also set out to define what is required of its leaders as part of its management and leadership development strategy. However, this work remains unfinished and will be updated as the future operating model is defined as part of the force’s change programme and more information becomes available.
Senior leaders seek feedback from their officers and staff about how leadership is perceived across the force. This ranges from the more informal intranet-based forums, such as ‘Ask the boss’ and ‘Have your shout’ to a comprehensive audit to explore the organisation’s values and culture which received 3,500 responses.
West Midlands Police has clearly articulated the positive values that it wants to see across the organisation and aims to instil these values into expectations, actions and principles for its leaders. However, while chief officers give clear and consistent messages about leadership, these are not being applied consistently across the whole force.
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 communicated a clear sense of its future direction and this vision is evident throughout the organisation. There is widespread understanding of the ‘WMP 2020’ programme among the workforce, who generally understands that radical change is necessary to enable the force to meet the financial challenges and improve the way it provides services to the public. However, some of the workforce revealed anxieties about the change process and expressed frustration at the lack of specific detail being communicated.
The force does not yet fully understand its future leadership capabilities, and work to develop this as part of the management and leadership development strategy has been delayed intentionally while awaiting direction from the ‘WMP 2020’ programme. The force recognises that current senior leaders will need to adapt, as many of them will still be with the force in 2020. In preparation for this, the learning and development team is providing leadership masterclasses on topics which include being aware of unconscious bias and leading through complexity.
The force is good at following through new ideas, approaches and using new technology. It has identified business leads and implemented new methods of working, such as multi-agency mental health street triage teams, and innovative vulnerability training with a theatre company.
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 a clear vision of what good performance looks like which centres on providing a quality service and protecting the public rather than using crime performance data in the traditional way. The force uses an electronic performance management system called eDR, however it is not used consistently across the force and is not part of selection processes for promotion and so lacks credibility among the workforce.
The force’s learning and development team provides a range of training and development opportunities for its leaders, which HMIC commends. However, this training is geared towards officers; training for police staff is less structured. There has been some evaluation of the training, and the force is planning to carry out further evaluation to ensure that training is delivering a good return on investment in terms of improved service.
The process of identifying talented and high performing staff or talent management across the force lacks coherence. Each business area operates its own arrangements to identify and manage talented officers and staff, resulting in an inconsistent approach across the force. This lack of a cohesive process for selecting talented staff may result in a lack of fairness to individuals and the force may fail to identify the most talented people to help them meet its challenges.
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 West Midlands Police is resulting in a stronger focus on improving the legitimacy of the force, in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force values are successfully articulated, and HMIC found that police staff and officers were highly engaged in developing an ethical culture. The workforce is given regular opportunities to consider ethical dilemmas, most notably in the form of a monthly online scenario where police staff and officers are able to learn from each other. However, HMIC also found that some messages from chief officers are not applied consistently, and there is a perception from some of the workforce that decisions on misconduct procedures and flexible working requests are not made consistently.
Leadership within the force is also resulting in a stronger focus on improving efficiency. The chief officers are driving an impressive five-year change programme, ‘WMP 2020’, to transform how the force will provide policing. The most fundamental change will be a shift to a more preventative style of policing, combined with more focused neighbourhood policing supported by better technology. Senior leaders are committed to ongoing engagement with the workforce to support the change programme. To ensure the ‘WMP 2020’ contract with the force’s strategic partner organisation provides value for money, key performance criteria linked to either holding back payments or giving incentive payments are included in the contract.