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North Wales PEEL 2016

Other inspections

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.

Leadership

Last updated 08/12/2016

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.

North Wales Police communicates well with both its workforce and other organisations. Its leadership expectations are fairly well understood across the force and leaders encourage challenge. There is less understanding of the force’s revised ‘leadership principles’, and although the force is planning to communicate with officers and staff about these, there has been limited discussion with employees about the development of these principles.

The force understands its leadership capabilities across ranks, grades, roles and teams and uses this knowledge to resolve concerns about team development and team dynamics. It has recently introduced a formal annual appraisal system and talent management approach. However, at the time of our inspection, not all officers and staff benefited from this new system. In the past, in the absence of any formal or systematic approach, the force relied on line managers to identify individual and team development problems. The quality and regularity of one-to-one line manager meetings are inconsistent.

The force uses a range of methods to develop talent, but these are neither communicated effectively nor well understood by the workforce. In the absence of a formal talent management scheme, the force has to rely on immediate line managers to select staff for promotion and development opportunities. The force has worked hard to develop leadership skills, and its teams are diverse in terms of experience, background and skills. North Wales Police encourages innovation. Both officers and staff felt that the force welcomed new ideas and challenge.

Questions for Leadership

1

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.

North Wales Police communicates well with its workforce and other public service organisations, and welcomes challenge. At the time of our inspection, the force’s leadership principles were being revised. Regular senior officer web chats, chief officer group road shows, ‘Bend the boss’s ear’ sessions and an annual cultural survey enable officers and staff to share their experiences and suggest improvements. Most officers and staff we spoke to felt that they could challenge their leaders. The force also encourages questions and scrutiny from people and organisations outside the force, through independent advisory groups, scrutiny panels and the independent custody visiting schemes.

HMIC found that leadership expectations were fairly well understood, but the force could do more to communicate these by including more staff on its leadership expectations courses. There is less understanding of the force’s new leadership principles, which have been developed by senior managers. The rest of the workforce has limited awareness of these principles, and there has been as yet little employee engagement in their development. However, management and supervisor workshops are planned for later in 2016 to communicate and discuss the new principles.

The force seeks to understand its leadership capacity at different ranks, grades, and roles and also within teams, using talent assessment methods and psychometric testing to monitor leadership capabilities. A new continuous professional development appraisal system for all staff is to be introduced by late 2017, and the force has developed a learning and development plan for 2016/17, in conjunction with external consultants and Bangor University, to identify any leadership gaps. For example, it recognised a gap in its ability to investigate complex crime and as a result developed a ‘detective career pathway’. This means that there are now more, better qualified detectives working in specialist areas of crime such as child sexual exploitation. This has been important in terms of supporting long-term complex investigations into historic sexual abuse, such as Operation Lantern and Operation Pallial, which are creating significant resourcing problems for the force.

2

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 understands its leadership capabilities across ranks, grades, roles and teams and uses this knowledge to resolve concerns about team development and team dynamics. It has recently introduced a formal annual appraisal system and talent management approach. However, at the time of our inspection, not all officers and staff benefited from this new system. In the past, in the absence of any formal or systematic approach, the force relied on line managers to identify individual and team development problems. The quality and regularity of one-to-one line manager meetings are inconsistent.

The force does not have a formal talent management system through which it can identify and develop potential future leaders. Again, the force relies on line managers to select officers and staff for training and promotion opportunities. As a result, some employees believe that leadership roles and development opportunities are awarded unfairly and feel they have fewer opportunities for career progression than other colleagues. The force operates a grievance procedure but, despite a higher than average number of reported grievances last year, some officers and staff we spoke to thought that if they reported a grievance, this could affect the progress of their career in the future.

The force’s new leadership and development board (LDB), includes officer and staff representatives. It oversees training programmes such as mandatory training for newly promoted sergeants, inspectors, and staff equivalent grades. This course includes leadership expectations, and the force is planning to extend this training to all staff over the next twelve months. Leadership skills are promoted through coaching and mentoring schemes and secondments, and the force is committed to providing opportunities for self-development and also to internal fast track schemes.

The force has implemented a progressive ‘citizens in policing’ initiative in North Wales, which has increased the number of special constables by 48 percent, recruited 105 volunteers, extended the force’s cadet scheme and helped to develop specialist policing areas such as mountain rescue. The force also plans to launch a recruitment and training programme for specialist skills during 2016. Support and volunteer staff have filled leadership skills gaps in several areas including the ‘high-tech’ crime unit and CID. North Wales Police has also taken part in the Direct Entry scheme for inspectors, although there have so far been no successful candidates. It has also introduced a fast-track trial for students who have completed a foundation degree in policing. The force has worked hard to understand the barriers to career progression for female employees and employees with disabilities, which has resulted in more female leaders and greater support for officers and staff with dyslexia. However, the force does not tell its officers and staff about many of the opportunities which it provides. For example, the leadership and development board was mistaken for a ‘talent pool’ by several officers and staff, which meant that they believed that a small number of people received preferential treatment.

Areas for improvement

  • North Wales Police should conduct an evaluation of its ability to recognise leadership talent, in order to ensure a structured, comprehensive and transparent approach which will help to identify and develop potential leaders.
  • North Wales Police should ensure that the role and purpose of the leadership development board is communicated effectively across the force.
3

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 force is working closely with Bangor University to improve its leadership programmes and it uses talent assessment methods and psychometric testing to understand its leadership capability. It operates a staff suggestion scheme, and it has adopted several ideas which have been submitted to the scheme. Officers and staff reported that the force welcomes new ideas and the force runs an annual innovation award. Since 2013, North Wales Police has participated in ‘Ideas.gov’ a public sector ideas sharing group, and the force encourages staff to register with POLKA (Police Online Knowledge Area), a secure, online police collaboration system, where ‘lessons learned’ and ‘top tips’ from the professional standards department and anti-corruption units are disseminated.

The force is committed to diversity and creating a workforce that reflects the population of North Wales beyond protected characteristics such as age, disability, or gender reassignment. The ‘citizens in policing’ initiative’ and Direct Entry scheme provide opportunities to encourage diverse recruitment, and 32 percent of the workforce speaks Welsh. All jobs are advertised externally. A finance director and head of human resources have recently been employed from outside the service. The force is involved in a College of Policing ‘early adopter’ secondment pilot and has increased its volunteer workforce to bring more diversity to the force.