Hertfordshire 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.
Hertfordshire Constabulary has a good understanding of leadership and communicates the expectations of its leaders clearly throughout the organisation. It involved the whole workforce in developing ‘The Herts Way’ (its statement of how it will police the county), which contains a specific focus on leadership. The force provides officers and staff at all levels with extensive opportunities to develop their leadership skills and looks for new ideas by exchanging information with other forces and by commissioning research.
Although the senior team in Hertfordshire Constabulary has a clear understanding of diversity in the context of protected characteristics, such as age, disability, or gender reassignment, there are not enough black and minority ethnic (BME) people in the workforce, particularly in middle and senior management roles. In contrast, the gender balance at these levels is good. The force would benefit from adopting a wider definition of diversity, to include background, skills, experience, and personality types, to support the creation of more effective leadership teams.
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.
Hertfordshire Constabulary has clear expectations of leaders at all levels and we found that the workforce has a good understanding of the role of leaders. The staff we spoke to described senior leaders as being approachable, and happy to work closely with staff. Chief officers conduct road shows, the current round of which is being used to emphasise the role of leaders in supporting Operation Downfield, the force-wide response to nine unrelated misconduct cases. Interaction at the road shows is encouraged, including the use of software that collates questions anonymously from people who attend, so that the questions can be analysed to identify trends.
The force has a limited understanding of leadership covering all levels. There is a clear development process for officers moving from constable and sergeant, to ensure their leadership style is compatible with the force’s values. Outside this process, the force relies on its performance and development review system. Although the force does monitor the process to ensure compliance, the review process does not report on workforce skills or development needs. The deputy chief constable chairs the establishment board, which reviews capacity and capability up to three years ahead. Although this process provides assurance to the force about the general skills and capacity available within the workforce, it is not sophisticated enough to provide a detailed analysis of leadership skills at all levels.
A more sophisticated appraisal of workforce skills, capability and capacity is also being developed for departments which collaborate with Bedfordshire Police and Cambridgeshire Constabulary, although this is currently more focussed on skills and training gaps.
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.
The force provides a broad range of development opportunities across the workforce. It requires all leaders to attend supervisor development days and encourages them to take leadership development courses run by the College of Policing. All leaders can ask for a 360-degree feedback assessment and for a qualified mentor or coach. The force encourages newly-promoted staff to undergo personality type testing and emotional intelligence assessments to get a better understanding of their own leadership style. This approach provides strong support for the development of individuals, but the force has not carried out any evaluation of the impact on its own performance as an organisation.
The force has run annual promotion rounds for several years and has tried to include new techniques to identify the leadership potential of applicants, although officers we spoke to had mixed views about the changes. Successful candidates can access development opportunities, but some unsuccessful applicants said that there was a lack of development opportunities and have become disillusioned. The force has acknowledged that it needs a more formal approach to talent management and has created a new post in the learning and development team for that purpose and for improving succession planning across leadership and specialist posts. The recent merger of training and HR functions also provides an opportunity to identify what this process should look like across the force and in its strategic alliance with Bedfordshire Police and Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
Where leadership problems arise, the force has several options for tackling them. Its establishment board manages vacancies and shortages of leaders, but it also has a development pool of staff and officers who are thought to be ready for promotion. The extra capacity from that pool allows for periods acting in the next rank or grade up, supported by a development plan and a suitably experienced colleague. The force has qualified mentors and coaches available for leaders who need support, as well as mediators to help resolve problems of team dynamics. We came across examples of managers who drew on officers from the development pool to resolve problems of team culture or professional development.
Areas for improvement
- Hertfordshire Constabulary should introduce a system for consistent talent management across the workforce, and ensure that it is communicated effectively.
- Hertfordshire Constabulary, as part of the strategic alliance, needs to develop a clear understanding of its leadership capabilities across the workforce at all levels. This will provide the force and the alliance with a clear understanding of which areas need to be prioritised.
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.
Hertfordshire Constabulary looks for and encourages new ideas. It has well-established working relationships with three universities and is exploring research opportunities with the Open University. The force encourages formal secondments for staff and officers at most ranks and organises frequent visits to other forces to identify best practice. Suggestions are encouraged from across the workforce through the ‘Herts and Minds’ suggestion scheme, although this has been superseded by its online social network facility as the main way of sharing good practice, recommending changes and seeking advice.
Innovation is at the heart of the force’s long-term change programme of collaboration with Bedfordshire Police and Cambridgeshire Constabulary. A guiding philosophy for this programme is to identify “what works” in each force or elsewhere, and to adopt these methods in the joint functions. The force is also an active participant in national and regional practitioner groups, as well as in POLKA.
The force records information about diversity in the ways that it relates to protected characteristic groups, but has limited understanding of the workforce composition beyond this. Gender diversity exists across the force’s leadership, but BME officers and staff are under-represented in middle and senior management roles. There are no BME officers above the rank of chief inspector.
The force needs to develop an effective plan to encourage and support applications for promotion from BME officers and staff, and to invite recruitment directly to senior posts from BME candidates. The force has commissioned an officer to improve BME representation, drawing on best practice from other forces and working with local community groups. This work is a positive step, although it is focused on recruitment and not specifically linked to leadership.