Essex 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.
Essex Police is working closely with its workforce in developing its leadership expectations, alongside effective communication across the workforce, through a variety of methods. The force is developing its approach to enable a more sophisticated appraisal of the individual and team skills and capacity throughout the force. The force has a good understanding of the gaps and areas for improvement in its leadership capability.
The force has demonstrated its ability to respond quickly and effectively when a leadership problem is identified. It has a well-considered and coherent approach to leadership development, which includes employing a ‘talent manager’ to develop talented officers and staff through a range of courses and development opportunities. The force has a very good development programme which is exclusively for members of police staff.
Essex Police is very proactive in seeking out and sharing new opportunities for improvement, both externally and internally. Officers meet regularly with the seven forces in the south east area to discuss new and innovative practices. The workforce is encouraged to put forward suggestions for innovation and improvement.
Although the senior team in Essex Police has a clear understanding of diversity in the context of protected characteristics, such as age, disability, or gender reassignment, there are not enough black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in the workforce, particularly in middle and senior management roles. The force has adopted a wider definition of diversity, to include background, skills, experience, and personality types, to create more effective leadership teams. Substantial work is taking place to increase the diversity of the force and its leadership, including Direct Entry at the superintendent level.
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 work closely with their workforces when setting its leadership expectations is vital in ensuring that police staff and officers feel enabled to lead in an ethical way and to challenge these 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.
Essex Police has a new leadership strategy that is currently in draft form, developed with input from its workforce. The new strategy will be an important part of the force being able to demonstrate that it has properly defined what it expects from its leaders, to show how this will be implemented, and what the final result will be. We will assess the effectiveness of the document as part of future inspections.
The force uses a number of methods to communicate its existing expectations of leadership to frontline staff, including visible commitment from chief officers, and monthly ‘culture and demand’ meetings which superintendents hold with their teams. This approach has been effective. Members of the workforce have a clear understanding of what the force expects from them in terms of leadership, and they recognise that a new strategy is being developed.
The force has an understanding of leadership across most ranks and grades, based in part on 360-degree feedback and personality profiling, and is developing its approaches to enable a more sophisticated appraisal of leadership skills and capacity. The force has an understanding of gaps in its leadership capability and acts to address these through resource management meetings, where decisions are taken about recruitment, movement of staff and training needs.
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 skills.
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 these gaps.
The force has a clear approach to identifying the best candidates from the widest possible pool of potential senior leaders, from all ranks and grades inside and outside the force. The force has a ‘talent manager’ whose role is to ensure that potential leaders are identified and directed towards appropriate schemes and development opportunities. The force also has a specific point of contact in each policing command for its ‘Develop You’ scheme, which is well regarded by the workforce and supports officers and staff in their personal development, including exposure to opportunities outside the force. The scheme also includes mentoring and coaching activity, training, secondments, 360-degree feedback, and personal development planning. The force also offers a very good leadership scheme specifically for police staff, which it runs jointly with Kent Police.
The force has a well-considered and coherent approach to leadership development and a range of opportunities is offered to officers and staff to recognise their potential and to help them develop and progress. The learning and development department evaluates the impact of training as a matter of course, including an assessment of changes in behaviour.
The force has also used external recruitment to support the development of its leadership capabilities. One superintendent has been recruited through the Direct Entry process and the force has used external recruitment for senior ranks. These new recruits have been given time to establish themselves within the force, and have been given specific areas of work to review, ensuring that their new ideas and ways of thinking are considered.
When a leadership problem is identified, several methods are in place which can be applied to improve the situation. We found examples of the force acting swiftly to move strong and able leaders into specific areas that had been identified as weak.
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.
Essex Police can demonstrate a proactive approach to seeking out new ideas, approaches and working practices from other police and non-police organisations. All local policing commanders were asked by the chief officer team to identify districts across the country that were similar to their own and were performing well, and to conduct fact-finding visits. Essex Police officers meet colleagues from the seven other forces in the south east regularly, to discuss new and innovative practices and the force has a representative on the development board of the College of Policing’s ‘What Works Centre’. Where specialist technical advice is required in areas such as IT and estates, the force has brought in external business partners.
Essex Police is open to new ideas, and staff at all levels are encouraged to put forward suggestions for innovation and improvement. The force has a relatively informal suggestion scheme that involves officers and staff emailing the leadership team. This scheme is working well: however, the force is in the process of buying software that will provide an enhanced, more formal scheme.
The force has achieved some success in developing diverse leadership teams and its understanding of diversity extends beyond protected characteristics, taking account of diversity of background, experience and skills. A diversity board is in place that responds to issues and new ideas. It has, for example, introduced a buddy scheme which assists black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates during the recruitment process by linking them with a suitable member of the existing workforce. Five female officers from the force are enrolled in the College of Policing’s Realising Potential programme, which consists of workshops, development planning, and external coaching, with the aim of improving diversity within the senior ranks of the police service.
Where gaps are identified in diversity, the force has worked closely with partner organisations, including academic establishments, to seek ways to bridge the gap, including the recruitment of officers and staff with digital technology skills.