Cleveland 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.
Cleveland Police is at an early stage in understanding and developing leadership in the force. It is currently reviewing its leadership model, after which it intends to implement a leadership programme, including training and continuous professional development. Cleveland Police is also introducing a new performance appraisal system which should help it to understand the leadership skills and gaps across its workforce. This is all welcome, as our inspection found little awareness among officers and staff of the force’s leadership expectations. We also consider that the force needs to do more to identify and develop the leadership strengths of individual officers and members of staff.
The force does not currently have a systematic or formal mechanism by which it can recognise and develop talent. It has used recruitment to build capacity and capability, including leadership and other specific skills. However, it continues to retain a number of officers on temporary promotion, who were not successful in their promotion applications.
The force has demonstrated that it seeks out new ideas, approaches and working practices to improve performance including working with other forces and academic institutions. It also encourages innovation from its workforce as well as engaging with the workforce in designing and implementing change. The force is taking steps to increase the diversity of its workforce through recruitment, but has not as yet achieved its aims. It is therefore trying to improve the way those processes are conducted and to provide better information and support to candidates. This reflects the aims of the force’s ‘Everyone Matters’ project, which works to improve the organisation’s leadership and culture. This includes the expectation that all leaders will promote a culture that is inclusive and supportive for officers, staff and the communities they serve and recognises, respects and values people’s differences.
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.
Cleveland Police is at an early stage of understanding leadership. The force’s current expectations of leadership are included in the force’s ‘Plan on a page’ document, but we found that while most officers and staff were aware of the plan, they were unclear about the leadership expectations within it and most stated that the expectations had not been communicated to them. The force, under a new chief constable, is reviewing its leadership model and has commissioned some work with officers and staff to understand the current style of leadership at all levels within the force, what it should be in the future, and the gaps between the two.
Although Cleveland Police uses information obtained from its staff surveys to understand the relative strengths of its leadership, it does not currently understand the leadership skills within its workforce. The force has recently changed its performance and development review process, but at the time of the inspection was not systematically recording evidence of individual performance. The frequency and quality of performance and development reviews are variable and the force is unable to assure itself that the process is fair and effective or that it identifies the leadership strengths of its workforce and the effect of their actions. There is wide variation in the amount of support and guidance that police staff receive, which is largely a product of variation between individual supervisors.
To identify and address gaps in leadership, the force recently started to use a 360-degree feedback process for the leadership team and to offer personality assessments for officers and staff. It has also developed its promotion selection processes with a greater emphasis on leadership than on tactical skills.
Areas for improvement
- Cleveland Police should ensure that expectations for leadership are clearly understood across the force.
- Cleveland Police should review its processes to make sure that it can systematically identify those with the potential to become senior leaders, and then support them to gain the necessary skills and self-development for future leadership roles within the organisation.
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.
Cleveland Police is not sufficiently quick at taking early action in relation to leadership and management problems, which have resulted in the force having to use internal and external mediators. The force has now implemented training covering a number of areas, such as equality and diversity, unconscious bias and ‘words that hurt’. The fact that this training is now taking place is promising, but the force would have benefited from having it in place much sooner.
The force does not yet have a systematic talent management process to identify and develop potential leaders within its own workforce and currently relies on informal arrangements. This means that the force is likely to be missing opportunities to identify talented individuals and help them to reach their full potential. The force recognises the need to develop potential senior leaders and has produced a business case for funding its leadership development programme over the next five years. The aim is that this will follow on from and complement the review of the leadership model mentioned earlier. Again, this is promising but overdue.
The force does, however, participate in the national Direct Entry scheme at police inspector level and has an internal ‘fast track to inspector’ programme. The force also links in with courses already provided by the College of Policing. Aside from this, it runs a number of training programmes. These are however, focused on traditional management skills and are somewhat limited in relation to leadership skills. The force does not have a formal coaching or mentoring programme, although there is some informal mentoring offered for officers and staff who have stated that they are actively pursuing promotion and development.
The force has a recruitment plan which has resulted in some progress in enhancing the skills and leadership capability of its workforce through external recruitment, including advertising outside the force for police officers. As well as its participation in the Direct Entry scheme at inspector level, the force has also recruited staff from other sectors with relevant skills and experience. This is positive. However, the force has a high number of officers and staff on temporary promotions, some of whom have been in those roles for a significant length of time, despite having failed assessments of their suitability for promotion. The force has tried to make the best of this by using these temporary roles as development opportunities. This is a pragmatic solution to a pressing operational problem, but the priority for the force should be to fill the vacancies on a permanent basis and not rely on temporary promotions.
Areas for improvement
- Cleveland Police should put in place a process to avoid relying on temporary promotions for extended periods.
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.
Cleveland Police is proactive in seeking out new ideas, approaches and working practices. The force has benchmarked itself against other forces and has worked in collaboration with others, including with academic experts from local universities. The force has improved its demand management through working with other forces and has carried out a review of its services drawing on work by recognised experts such as the Jill Dando Institute and the Operational Research Society. To develop the ‘Everyone Matters’ programme the force sought advice from organisations with specialist skills in negotiation and mediation such as Equality North East and ACAS.
The force also encourages innovation from within the workforce. We heard examples of the force approving and implementing suggestions made by officers and staff to solve operational problems. The force also harnesses the energy and ideas from the workforce in carrying out change. For example, during the design of a new shift system, the force’s business transformation unit took the bold step of asking officers to suggest shift patterns, which were then mapped against the force’s demand management model. One of the shift patterns suggested by the workforce was assessed as 80 percent efficient, which was more efficient than the shift patterns developed by the business transformation unit, and was adopted by the force. This is an excellent example of encouraging innovation within the workforce and has done much to address underlying dissatisfaction with the previous shift system.
Cleveland Police has largely sought to develop the diversity of its leadership through recruitment. The force has recruited police officers and police staff from outside the organisation, has advertised externally and has recruited around 40 transferees from other forces over the last two years. In addition to the Direct Entry scheme at inspector level, the force has decided to run an external recruitment campaign for superintendents. The force has recruited police staff from other criminal justice organisations and other sectors who have the necessary skills and experience for roles in the force. However, the force recognises that it has not been successful in recruiting black and minority ethnic police officers, largely due to candidates not being successful during the recruitment phase and assessment centres. The force has started positive action to support those candidates and prepare them for the selection process. This is consistent with the force’s ‘Everyone Matters’ project, which aims to improve the organisation’s leadership and culture. This includes the expectation that all leaders will promote a culture that is inclusive and supportive for officers, staff and the communities they serve, as well as recognising, respecting and valuing people’s differences. Examples of action taken as part of this project include work to improve recruitment and retention, flexible working and reasonable adjustments for staff, as well as engagement with under-represented groups.