Norfolk 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.
Norfolk Constabulary has worked effectively with its workforce to create clearly defined leadership expectations, which have recently been adapted as a result of the force’s joint working with Suffolk Constabulary. The force has a good understanding of much its workforce’s leadership capabilities, and uses a range of techniques to develop these where gaps are identified.
In order to ensure the force has strong leadership, the force, together with Suffolk Constabulary, has revised and recently re-launched its leadership and development programme to ensure annual staff appraisals are consistent and fair and that it identifies talent and develops its employees to be the best they can be. It adopts a range of approaches to support staff development and to address under-performance. The force actively engages with specialists and staff associations to help resolve any issues where they arise.
Norfolk Constabulary has a strong culture of innovation and a good track record of adopting best practice from (and sharing its own experience with) other organisations, including other police forces.
The force intends to use the newly revised leadership and development programme to assess the current leadership capability across the organisation, and to use this information to assess the diversity of its current leadership teams. In order to increase the diversity of skills and background experience, the force is looking to bring in talent from outside its own organisation.
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.
A forces’ understanding of leadership should also extend to the leadership strengths and weaknesses across every rank and grade. This includes an understanding of leadership styles and personality types, and how these can 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.
Norfolk Constabulary’s chief officer team understands the importance of having strong leaders and works effectively with its workforce to create clearly defined leadership expectations. The force used a number of techniques to consult with the workforce about what makes a good leader. These include an exercise called ‘The Big Listen’ (a consultation on the views on leadership of approximately 120 police sergeants across Suffolk and Norfolk constabularies and designed to coincide with the College of Policing’s leadership review); focus groups chaired by a chief officer; and informal staff feedback. Officers and staff we spoke to felt able to challenge inappropriate behaviour and to question supervisors and leaders about their decisions.
In May 2016, the force (in collaboration with Suffolk Constabulary) revised its leadership programme, known as ‘The Best I Can Be’. The programme is intended to provide clear leadership expectations, identify talented members of staff and help all employees to reach their full potential. Given that the revision was so recent, it was perhaps not surprising that officers and staff we spoke to during our inspection had a limited and inconsistent understanding of it. The force recognises that it will take time for its workforce to become familiar with the new programme, and that it is continuing to publicise it. The force plans to conduct a staff survey in September 2016 to assess the impact of the new programme.
Chief officers have a good understanding of the relevant skills, experience and development needs of senior leaders, which they obtain through regular meetings and performance monitoring. We found examples of line managers setting clear leadership expectations for staff and supporting their development. However, the approach was inconsistent across the force and often depended on the quality of management or the motivation of individuals.
The force continues to learn about the relevant skills, experience and development needs of its leadership capability across the force, building on the information it obtained during the ‘Big Listen’ and focus groups conducted with the workforce. The force has made good progress since HMIC’s leadership inspection in 2015, and has revised and relaunched its system for conducting staff appraisals. When fully implemented, this should ensure the force has strong leadership, identifies talent and develops its employees to be the best they can be.
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 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 the leadership skills and experience they do not currently possess, and are seeking to recruit to address this.
Norfolk Constabulary currently uses a range of techniques to understand and develop leadership including personality profiling, 360-degree feedback, and coaching and mentoring for police staff and officers. However, use of these development techniques is not consistent across the force. In order to address this, the force, together with Suffolk Constabulary, has relaunched its leadership and development programme with a computer-based portal, which provides innovative, multi-media learning resources.
At present, the force does not routinely assess the impact of its existing leadership development programmes. Although at an early stage, the force’s plans for its new leadership development programme look impressive and the force needs to ensure that it can assess the impact of the programme.
The chief officer team is confident about the pool of potential leaders within the workforce. Consequently, the force does not subscribe to the national Direct Entry scheme for superintendents, although it has recruited one external candidate via the national Fast Track promotion scheme from constable to inspector. Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies are also seeking to recruit specialists from outside their organisations and develop them using workplace apprenticeships. For example, the force is looking to recruit two apprentices in 2016 to work in cyber investigation and to launch a more detailed programme in April 2017. Nonetheless, Norfolk Constabulary could do more to recruit people from outside the organisation, which may help it to measure and compare its current capability.
We saw evidence of a range of approaches being used to tackle identified leadership issues within the force, including moving staff to support their development and addressing underperformance of those at a senior level. The force actively engages with specialists and staff associations to help resolve problems and concerns where they arise.
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.
Norfolk Constabulary has a strong culture of working with other organisations, including other police forces, to seek new ideas and understand what works. The force uses its Evidence Based Policing programme (a multidisciplinary consortium led by the University of Nottingham; it includes the universities of Birmingham, Suffolk, Liverpool and Manchester, as well as Skills for Justice and Crest Analysis) to evaluate options for new ways of working. The programme uses a range of approaches, including academic evaluation of existing research. Subsequent learning is made available to the College of Policing to enable other forces to benefit from it. Examples of learning from other forces include a new method of monitoring social media during large public events, which was first used by the Metropolitan Police Service.
While the force does not have a formal staff suggestion scheme, the staff we spoke to felt that it was easy to suggest and try new ideas – and they were confident at being able to. They gave examples that had been adopted swiftly. Staff were confident that they knew how to promote new ideas and described a ‘Dragons Den’ style process that is led by the chief constable, through which staff present their ideas and, if accepted, receive funding to develop them.
Norfolk Constabulary’s chief officer team understands diversity well. The force seeks the support of a wide range of groups and staff networks to support leadership and improve diversity: such as the Black Police Association, the force’s Lesbian Gay Bi-Sexual and Transgender Association and the Christian Police Association. The force also supports positive action recruitment seminars to help understand why particular groups are under-represented, and so that recruitment processes can be tailored accordingly.
The force intends to use the newly revised leadership and development programme to assess the current leadership capability across the organisation, using this information to assess the diversity of its current leadership teams. In 2016, Norfolk Constabulary was ranked in 32nd place in the Workplace Equality Index of the Top 100 Employers. The index, developed by Stonewall, an equality charity, challenges Britain’s leading employers to create an inclusive working environment for lesbian, gay and bisexual employees. The force has improved its ranking by eight positions over the last year.