Merseyside 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.
Merseyside Police has established what it expects from its leaders and communicates this so that the whole workforce is aware of and understands the force’s expectations. The overwhelming consensus in the workforce is that the force is open to challenge and that everyone can speak freely. We found that the force has developed its understanding of overall leadership by looking at and analysing the results of the force’s people survey. However, it still has more work to do to understand leadership capability, particularly below middle management level.
The force supports its leaders through leadership development programmes but it could do more to develop a force-wide talent management scheme, which it can use to identify and develop the skills of the officers and staff who have the highest potential. The force has used recruitment successfully in order to acquire the leadership skills and experience which it needs in the immediate term, and is now concentrating on recruiting and selecting the number of operational officers it needs for its new operating model in 2017. The recruitment and selection is weighted towards an assessment of operational competence and experience, which might limit the scope that the force has to build balanced and effective teams.
Merseyside Police actively looks outside the force for new ideas, learning from ‘what works’, and from other forces. It has created an open and innovative culture that welcomes new ideas from police officers and staff at all levels. It has progressed well with disseminating learning both internally, and to other forces. The force is aware of the need to reflect diversity in its leadership teams and has made some progress towards this. Its development of diverse leadership teams is limited, because it is based primarily on the protected characteristics and on operational skills and experience. The force is potentially missing opportunities to develop truly diverse 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.
Merseyside Police is clear about what it expects from its leaders regardless of where they work in the force. Its leadership expectations are promoted through the ‘Just Trilogy’ (Just Talk, Just Think and Just Lead), which is how the force defines its main objectives. This is understood well throughout the force. The overwhelming consensus in the workforce is that the force is open to challenge. Some people said that their views are valued and that ‘my opinion is as important as anyone else’s, regardless of rank’. This is exemplified by a challenge panel, made up of senior leaders, and chaired by the deputy chief constable. Officers and staff can speak freely on matters which concern them. This approach works well and the force is extending it to each basic command unit (BCU) and department, and it will include all ranks and grades.
The workforce has an excellent understanding of the force’s leadership expectations. These have been communicated in a number of ways including the ‘Just Trilogy’ road shows, senior leadership forums, and staff newsletters. We found that the workforce demonstrated its understanding through the widespread perception that ‘everyone is a leader’ and ‘leadership at every rank is important here’.
We found that the force’s people survey had produced evidence of strong and ethical leadership throughout the force. However, it still has more work to do to understand leadership capability, particularly below middle management level. The force recognises that an effective way of doing this would be to make better use of its personal development review process.
The force has undergone considerable change in the composition of its leadership since our last inspection. The incoming chief constable has recruited officers to the chief officer team who have a different mix of skills and experience, and he will extend this approach to the whole force as it moves towards a new operating model in January 2017. The force is using a skills criteria model to assess and match the skills needed for each role in the new operating model. The leads for each area of change have identified the skills they need, and the force will match anonymised staff skills to roles, noting any gaps which exist across rank, grades, roles, teams, departments, and units. This process also gives the force an opportunity to think about things such as leadership styles within teams, as well as an opportunity to assess any imbalances, and correct any possible negative effects.
Areas for improvement
- Merseyside Police should assure itself that it understands the leadership capacity and capability at different ranks and grades across the force, in order that it can develop more effective leadership teams in the future.
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 does not currently have a force-wide talent management process, nor does it use the methods, such as personality profiling or talent grids, that would help to identify officers and staff who have the potential to lead at the highest levels. There are talent management schemes available in some BCUs, but these tend to be concentrated on getting officers through the promotion process, rather than on developing staff more broadly. That said, the force has more Fast Track students each year than any other force in England and Wales, and a large number of them are on the High Potential Development Scheme. The force supports the development of its workforce more generally through leadership development programmes. These would benefit from a clearer focus on development of core leadership skills such as understanding emotional intelligence, negotiating and influencing, and motivating and inspiring, rather than concentrating on more traditional operational management skills. The force does provide internal and external secondments, as well as formal qualifications and coaching, and has more recently re-launched its mentoring scheme.
Merseyside Police has recruited the officers for its chief officer team who have the leadership skills and experience which the force believes that it needs. It has also recruited skilled and experienced officers for other senior leadership teams across the force. The chief officer team is outward-looking, and works closely with fire and rescue service chief officers. The force has signed up to Police Now, and the deputy chief constable personally mentors candidates in this scheme. The force makes good use of volunteer schemes to bring in complementary leadership skills. For example, students working as volunteers in the high-tech crime unit and police volunteer cadets bring in greater diversity, while the ‘citizens in policing’ cadet scheme brings in younger leadership skills.
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.
Merseyside Police actively seeks out new ideas and learns what is working well in other forces, and it looked for new ideas when it was devising its new operating model. The force has also commissioned local universities to conduct evidence-based research to understand how well the new operating model is working. This is reinforced by an evidence-based policing steering group, which looks at research which the force could use in order to improve its service, and which also identifies the gaps which still exist. Also, the force has disseminated its own learning to other forces about the way it manages the demand for its services, about its performance model, and about its data quality.
The force promotes an open and innovative culture which welcomes new ideas from its workforce. It offers a number of opportunities to do this, such as in change workshops and at road shows. Last year it introduced webinars, which are seminars conducted over the internet. Staff responded well to these, and provided a large amount of feedback. The force disseminates learning internally through a ‘what works’ system, and officers and staff evaluate learning for each of the force’s strategic priorities. The force’s new ‘IPlan’ system will support learning by recording, disseminating and evaluating force activity.
Merseyside Police is conscious of the need to reflect the composition of local communities in its workforce. The force has a good understanding of diversity in the context of protected characteristics. It undertakes a variety of impressive activity to tackle under-representation, covering gender, disability, religion and ethnicity. The force is doing more to increase diversity through its citizens in policing, volunteers, and employer support schemes. It has been awarded the NAVAJO charter mark for the third year running for its commitment to, and knowledge of, the special requirements of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the force. It develops the leadership capabilities of its officers from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds through its PeDALS programme, which provides professional development through action learning sets for BAME staff seeking promotion. Its Merseyside Phoenix Leadership Programme is a positive action project for young people who are over 18, and who have one or more protected characteristic, to develop their life skills and leadership. (The protected characteristics which are under-represented within Merseyside Police include ethnic minorities, females, gay/lesbian / bisexual, transgender people and members of minority religions, for example Muslim, Jewish, or Sikh.) The force’s development of diverse teams is, however, limited to its understanding of protected characteristics, and of its leaders’ operational skills and experience. As part of its move towards its new operating model, it is identifying the skills and experience it will need and is matching the skills of individuals to posts. However, as it does not yet have a full understanding of the extent to which wider background and experience can benefit the force, it is missing opportunities to develop truly diverse leadership teams.