Cheshire PEEL 2016
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.
Police leadership is crucial in enabling a force to be effective, efficient and legitimate. This inspection focused on how a force understands, develops and displays leadership through its organisational development.
Cheshire Constabulary has a good understanding of the capacity and capability of its leadership at all levels. The chief officer team has a strong commitment to leadership development. Over the last 18 months, the constabulary began to establish commonly understood leadership expectations. This resulted in the Leading the Way document, which sets out the constabulary’s leadership expectations. The constabulary uses a number of tools to review the impact of its leadership work. It was an early adopter of a new Investors in People wellbeing and leadership award, for which it was awarded silver in early 2016.
The constabulary collects a variety of intelligence to help it to identify leadership concerns and uses a number of approaches to develop its leaders, including master classes and external coaching for senior leaders. The constabulary is using various recruitment opportunities to increase the diversity of its workforce and its leadership. It also invests heavily in mentoring for prospective senior leaders, which it sees as an effective method for developing people to achieve their full potential and is a beneficial technique at certain stages of a person’s career.
The constabulary is keen to include external contributions in its thinking. Its leadership conferences always include external participation with a focus on bringing in learning from an outside perspective. The constabulary is also thinking more broadly about diversity, covering the more familiar concept of protected characteristics such as race, gender and sexuality, but also background and skills, for example.
How well does the force understand leadership?
A good understanding of leadership capabilities and expectations is critical to the effective functioning of forces. How forces engage with their workforces when setting leadership expectations is vital in ensuring that police staff and officers feel enabled to lead in an ethical way and to challenge the expectations appropriately.
Forces’ understanding should also extend to their leadership strengths and weaknesses across every rank and grade. This includes an understanding of leadership styles and personality types of individuals, and how they affect wider team dynamics. Forces should be able to take this knowledge and use it to adapt quickly to identify any gaps or issues in leadership.
Cheshire Constabulary’s chief officer team has a strong commitment to leadership development. The constabulary has begun to establish commonly understood leadership expectations, which are set out in a document entitled Leading the Way. These expectations are aligned with the Code of Ethics, the constabulary’s strategic priorities and the priorities and objectives of its people strategy. As part of the process of developing its leadership expectations, the constabulary analysed data (including a leadership audit), and worked closely with officers and staff. To reinforce expectations of leadership, the constabulary has held two conferences, led by the chief constable and the deputy chief constable. One conference focused on engagement with staff and procedural justice, while the second focused on wellbeing and resilience in the workplace, with particular emphasis on their relevance to good leadership.
The constabulary has made some progress towards understanding the leadership skills of its workforce. For example, it recently developed a new performance development review system, which allows managers to link personal objectives to the leadership behavioural framework. In addition to the recent leadership audit, the constabulary uses a talent grid for officers of the rank of superintendent and above, and uses personality profiling to understand people’s skills and strengths better. The interview process for both new recruits and promotions includes a discussion on leadership behaviours.
How well does the force develop leadership?
The way in which a force identifies and develops leadership skills is crucial in making sure they perform well now and in the future. Forces should identify leadership development programmes, containing a broad range of approaches, beyond just formal training, to develop leadership.
Forces’ knowledge of their current leadership capability should also mean that they are aware of the leadership skills and experience they do not currently possess, and are seeking to recruit to address this.
Cheshire Constabulary recently began using talent grids for assessing individuals’ potential for progression. This is a new approach, and is not yet widely known among staff or used across all areas. The constabulary also uses the Fast Track scheme and the High Potential Development Scheme, both of which are part of the national approach to identifying officers with leadership potential and fast track them to the rank of inspector. The constabulary invests heavily in mentoring for prospective senior leaders and makes use of a range of other techniques, including 360-degree feedback, personal development planning and bespoke training and development.
The constabulary actively supports development opportunities such as secondments to other organisations, including non-police organisations. The constabulary is also recruiting to increase the diversity of its workforce and its leadership, taking advantage of Direct Entry for superintendents and inspectors, a Fast Track constable to inspector programme, transferees at various ranks and the Police Now selection process.
The constabulary identifies leadership problems using a variety of intelligence, including that generated by people, such as complaint data. When quick deployment of resource is needed to areas where there are leadership concerns, training records and other data help staff in the human resources (HR) team to understand the capabilities required within teams. The HR team is then able to identify the most appropriate team member with leadership potential to deploy to address these concerns.
How well does the force display leadership?
Good leadership encourages and develops a wide range of people, embraces change and actively supports the development of new ideas. While it is important for forces to ensure that they are representative of the communities they serve, truly diverse leadership teams are built around the wider experience, background and skills of individuals.
The constabulary is keen to include external input in its thinking. It works closely with the College of Policing, recruits externally to bring in new skills and supports peer reviews and secondments. The constabulary also encourages innovation among its workforce and considers new ideas as part of its priority-based budgeting process, although it does not have a formal suggestion scheme in place. The chief constable and senior officers are visible throughout the organisation, frequently joining different teams on the front line.
The constabulary is serious about diversity in the widest sense of the word and goes beyond more familiar protected characteristics such as race, gender and sexuality, also taking account of people’s differing skills and approaches. The constabulary’s people strategy sets out priorities and challenges in relation to the diversity of its workforce, with a recent focus on disabled staff or officers. The Insight programme is a pre-recruitment programme open to all potential future officers and staff, aged 18 and over with the protected characteristics described in the Equality Act. It provides an insight into working for Cheshire Constabulary and explains the recruitment process, aimed at encouraging and supporting applications from these potential candidates.