Metropolitan 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.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has set out clearly what it expects from its leaders at all ranks and grades. The MPS works with some of its workforce to develop its leadership principles and publicises these widely. However, the workforce still does not understand fully what these leadership expectations mean for them in practice. The MPS is working to address this by running a series of leadership events for its workforce, at which these leadership expectations are explored and clarified. The MPS has different ways to try and understand its leadership capability across the whole force; it closes any gaps in skills with training and recruitment.
The MPS offers an extensive range of development opportunities to officers, some of which are aimed at those with the most talent and potential. It also attracts candidates through Direct Entry and Fast Track schemes. But no similar schemes are in place for police staff – although they can apply for the police officer Direct Entry schemes, and all police staff roles are open to Direct Entry candidates. Police staff feel that there are limited opportunities for them to develop their skills and to progress through the organisation.
The MPS responds well when it has identified that is has problems with its leaders and we found several high-profile examples where this is addressed. Officers and staff feel, however, that the force should deal with these problems earlier so that they do not become more serious.
The MPS has forged strong links with local academic institutions and industry to develop new ways of working. It is straightforward for its workforce to submit ideas to improve working practices. We found some examples of where it has implemented these initiatives. The force’s management board is made up of officers and staff from a range of background and skills as well as two recently-appointed non-executive advisors from the private sector.
Elsewhere, the MPS is developing diverse leadership teams, although its focus here is principally on ethnicity and gender rather than broader diversity issues such as the other protected characteristics. The MPS has made considerable progress in recruiting more black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) officers than ever before, in part due to its residency criteria which increase the pool of diverse candidates for constable recruitment. These criteria mean that those who are applying come from a smaller area geographically but, as would be expected, are more reflective of London. The force remains focused on continuing to increase numbers even further.
How well does the force understand leadership?
A good understanding of leadership capabilities and what it expects from its leaders is critical to how forces should be run effectively. How forces work closely with their workforce when setting these leadership principles is vital in ensuring that police staff and officers feel they are able to lead in an ethical way and to challenge the force’s leadership expectations appropriately.
Forces need to understand 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 use this knowledge to identify any gaps in leadership skills or address any issues of poor leadership.
The MPS has a clear set of leadership expectations that it developed working closely with its workforce. These are publicised through supervisor and manager forums, in its quarterly force magazine ‘The Job’, through officer and staff briefings and online forums. However, frontline officers and staff felt they had not been consulted on these leadership expectations and did not see themselves as leaders at their rank or grade. Perceptions about leadership among the supervisors and managers we interviewed varied according to local circumstances. Frontline officers and staff have a better understanding about the MPS’s leadership expectations where managers have focused attention on these. The MPS recognises this and is working to address this. For example, following attendance at leadership events, leaders hold ‘Met Conversations’ with their teams to share the main messages and obtain their views on what the force expects from its leaders. Local leaders are responsible for making sure that these conversations take place and feed back their teams’ views to the force’s senior leaders.
The MPS uses a range of ways to understand the relative strengths of its leadership capability. For example, it uses its annual staff survey and exit interviews to understand workforce perceptions about factors such as leadership and change. Officers of chief inspector rank and above fill in a nine-box performance and potential matrix to help the MPS to understand more fully the capability of its future potential leaders. Senior leaders receive formal comment (called 360-degree feedback) on their performance by their managers and their own teams. As part of their individual performance development review, supervisors can also complete a leadership framework 360-degree feedback process.
The MPS identified a deficit in the leadership capability of newly-promoted officers when it was identifying and responding to gaps in leadership skills. As a consequence, the force has overhauled the courses for all officers promoted from sergeant through to chief superintendent, using feedback from participants. The courses now cover areas such as performance management, human resources, dealing with complaints and misconduct and staff wellbeing.
Areas for improvement
- The Metropolitan Police Service needs to ensure that its officers and staff clearly understand what the force wants to see from its leaders and that they are fully aware of its leadership principles or expectations.
How well does the force develop leadership?
The way in which a force identifies and develops leadership skills is crucial in making sure it performs 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 skills gaps.
The MPS responds well when it has identified leadership problems; there are a number of high profile examples where it has addressed these problems. However, we were told by some staff that the force should intervene earlier so that leadership difficulties do not become more serious. One of the requirements of the new performance development review process is that honest conversations about performance are held regularly with officers and staff at all ranks and grades. This should help the force to spot leadership problems at an earlier stage, and to take corrective action.
The MPS takes part in the College of Policing’s High Potential Development Scheme, and its leadership programme for the Special Constabulary. Force-specific initiatives include the leadership development programme and the Met fast track programmes for police constable to inspector, and inspector to superintendent. The force’s pilot programme called ‘Leading for London’ provides training, support and coaching requirements for leaders from sergeant to chief superintendent rank and police staff equivalents across the organisation, to improve team performance. The original pilot scheme included a leadership element for constables, which, when evaluated, did not have the intended impact, so the future rollout will be focused just on those already in leadership roles. The MPS recognises that it will take time for the organisation to make the cultural changes that are required so that all officers and staff see themselves as leaders. The force sponsors officers to study and work with other organisations, and its academic bursary scheme is open to all.
The MPS acknowledges that it has skilled staff working throughout the force. The development of bespoke programmes for police staff is, of course, desirable; however, training and personal development costs have to be prioritised within the financial challenges facing police forces and inevitably will focus on officers. The ‘Leading for London’ programme will be available to police staff equivalents (from sergeant to chief superintendent), alongside the investment that is already made in external training for police staff.
The MPS is a particularly keen advocate of direct entry schemes to bring in the skilled leaders that it needs. Examples include the College of Policing’s Direct Entry scheme for superintendents, where it has committed itself to taking on five Direct Entry superintendents each year until 2020, and to implementing a Direct Entry inspector programme. The force created the Police Now initiative and played a principal role in its development into a national scheme. But no similar schemes are in place for police staff – although they can apply for the police officer Direct Entry schemes, and all police staff roles are open to Direct Entry candidates. Police staff feel that there are limited opportunities for them to develop their skills and to progress through the organisation.
Areas for improvement
- The Metropolitan Police Service needs to introduce a way of identifying talented police staff across the whole force that is consistent and is effective at developing the future leaders that the force needs.
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.
The MPS looks both internally in the force and externally for good ideas. It draws on academic research and from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, HMIC and the MOPAC’s directorate of audit, risk and analysis to develop and improve its practices. Academics have been invited to evaluate MPS initiatives once it has implemented them. The force also engaged Warwick University to help design the ‘Leading for London’ pilot programme. There are a range of ways in which officers and staff can submit ideas for consideration and the force encourages its workforce to do this. These include the force’s integrated programme of leadership events – the monthly senior leadership group; extended leadership events, three or four times a year, followed by ‘Met Conversations’; and events for all 8,000 supervisors.
The MPS runs what it calls an ‘ideas factory’ which enables supervisors and managers to submit ideas during their team leader events with a view to implementing them. The commissioner’s 100 forum is an open group which meets every six weeks to discuss new ideas. The commissioner also communicates ‘you said, we did’ messages in his regular conference calls, briefings and roadshows. A fortnightly intranet forum enables the workforce to put questions to the wider management board for their responses. ‘Met Conversations’ give the workforce another opportunity to pass ideas on to local leaders for sharing at leadership events. Overall, the officers and staff that we spoke with are aware of these methods for suggesting new ideas and said that they can submit ideas for new working practices in a straightforward way.
The MPS recognises that it is important for its workforce to reflect the communities it serves at all ranks and grades. This includes people with skills and experience, not from policing or public sectors, who bring a different perspective to discussions and improve collective decision-making.
Two non-executive advisors, both of whom have FTSE 100 business experience, have recently joined the management board. The force has embraced the opportunity the Direct Entry superintendent scheme provides to broaden the diversity of its leadership team. The Direct Entry superintendent scheme aims to attract applicants with diverse ways of thinking and approaches. Although the force did not set any numerical targets in relation to recruitment, it had hoped to recruit four BAME candidates out of a total of ten in the 2014 and 2015 cohorts. Three of the successful applicants were BAME. In 2015 an encouraging number of expressions of interest led to 50 BAME applicants, but only one of these made it to the assessment centre stage. The College of Policing is considering why, nationally, BAME candidates are not getting past the initial selection stage.