Kent 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.
Kent Police is a well-led force. It has invested heavily in improving leadership at all levels. The chief officer team has worked extensively with its workforce in developing its leadership expectations. Consequently, these expectations are well understood at all ranks and grades across the force. The workforce is encouraged to challenge its leaders appropriately and is confident to do so via established formal routes, including cultural and ethics boards.
Gaps and areas for improvement in leadership are identified proactively; this includes considering future requirements of the force. There is a vibrant culture of proposing new ideas and the whole workforce is encouraged to put forward suggestions for innovation and improvement. A well-considered and coherent approach to leadership development is in place, with a range of development opportunities for officers and staff to help them realise their full potential.
Kent Police is highly proactive in seeking out, both externally and internally, new opportunities for improving services. The workforce is encouraged to put forward suggestions for innovation and improvement. The senior team has a clear understanding of diversity in the context of protected characteristics set out on the Equality Act 2010, and it is committed to doing more to ensure that the workforce better represents the diversity of the communities it serves. The force has adopted 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 police forces. How forces work closely 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’ should understand their leadership strengths and weaknesses across every rank and grade. This includes an understanding of the leadership styles and personality types of individuals, and how these affect wider team dynamics. Forces should be able to take this knowledge and use it, in order to adapt and quickly identify any gaps or issues with its leaders.
Kent Police has worked extensively with its workforce to develop an understanding of what it expects from its leaders. The force’s cultural and ethics boards are very well supported and remain the formal and appropriate means for staff to challenge its leaders. Regular staff surveys include leadership questions, and they are followed up by a ‘you said, we did’ action plan. The force intranet includes a facility to pose questions directly to the chief constable which the workforce has welcomed. Police staff and officers are encouraged to challenge appropriately and are confident to do so. The chief officer team has been exceptionally strong at setting out what it expects from its leaders which it communicates through seminars and directly with those individuals seeking promotion. As a result, the force’s leadership expectations are well understood at all ranks and grades across the force.
The force proactively identifies gaps and areas for improvement in its leadership capability. To check that people are in roles best suited for them, and to identify gaps and development requirements, the chief officer team and the head of human resources discuss every officer from chief inspector upwards, using feedback from attended courses, 360-degree feedback and the annual appraisal system. These meetings also allow for succession planning. In this way, the force is able to be proactive and to set up training schemes for individuals in order to fill anticipated gaps in their skills.
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. To develop their leadership, forces should identify leadership development programmes that contain a broad range of approaches beyond just formal training.
Forces’ knowledge of their current leadership capability should also mean that they are aware of their leaders’ skills and experiences they do not have currently, and are seeking to recruit to address these gaps.
Kent Police has a well-considered and coherent approach to leadership development. The force provides a range of development opportunities for officers and staff to realise their full potential, including mentoring and coaching, training, secondments, 360-degree feedback and short-term attachments to develop staff primarily as part of the ‘develop you’ programme. The force evaluates courses; the depth of evaluation is particularly noteworthy as it enables the force to measure the outcomes of the training as well as identifying areas for development.
Kent Police has a clear approach to identifying candidates for its internal pool of potential senior leaders. Performance and development reviews are used to identify people with leadership potential, as part of internal recruitment and external transfer processes. The force uses ‘talent panels’ to ensure fair access to its development schemes. It has a talent manager, performance frameworks, and systems in place so that potential leaders are identified and directed appropriately. Frontline staff we spoke to were aware of many of the development schemes on offer, but were less clear about how to gain access other than by self-referral; not all saw their own performance development review as a logical process to flag their leadership aspirations.
The force does not recruit leaders below chief officer level externally as it takes the view that it has sufficient quality among its existing workforce. However, the last two assistant chief constable appointments have been external appointments, recruited to enhance existing senior leadership skills and improve gender balance. The force will need to continue to assure itself that its internal pool has the requisite skills for its future requirements.
The force acts quickly to address problems, which it seeks to identify from a range of sources including its cultural boards, the performance framework, and the personal development scheme, which can include 360-degree feedback.
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.
Kent Police is highly proactive in seeking out new opportunities for improvement from within and outside the force, including working with academic establishments. The force works with the College of Policing to identify good practice, and officers from Kent meet regularly with their counterparts from other forces in the south east to discuss new and innovative practices.
The force is open to new ideas and the whole workforce are encouraged to put forward suggestions for innovation and improvement. It has purchased a web-based interactive system to share and assess ideas across the entire workforce. This is recognised by the workforce as an excellent product, and ideas are regularly placed onto the system. The chief constable recently asked all police staff and officers to come up with ideas to aid the recruitment of 400 new constables, which has been well received by the workforce.
The force’s understanding of diversity extends beyond that of protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010, and takes into account the way that diversity of background, experience and skills can strengthen teams. The chief constable personally has led sessions to encourage diversity in leadership, and the recruitment team uses innovative methods to target particular communities and groups. A digital diversity application has been introduced which uses internet search terms to place recruitment advertising that is geo-specific and targeted at black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups. The force says it receives good attendance at BAME recruitment events, and the independent advisory group has been used to encourage recruitment from these communities. Nonetheless, despite the efforts being made, the force remains less diverse than the community it serves.