Surrey 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.
Since the new chief constable of Surrey took command in December 2015, he has carried out consultation and held leadership seminars with all those in the rank of inspector and above and their police staff equivalents. The seminars have been well received, but unsurprisingly the messages have not yet reached more junior officers and staff, with the result that they have limited understanding of the force’s leadership expectations.
The force has a limited understanding of leadership at all levels. A review of leadership skills has not taken place, so capabilities and any gaps in skills are not fully understood. However, the force has a good record of using surveys to gauge the views of its workforce and acts on the results of the findings.
At the time of our inspection, most officers and staff had a personal development review with their line manager, but the quality of these is mixed. Some of the workforce only have limited or generic personal objectives. Officers and staff do not generally feel engaged with the reviews, or recognise their benefits. The reviews are not used in the promotion process, to develop talent, or to manage poor performance.
The force has taken steps to ensure that its workforce is fully representative of the diversity within the communities it polices, but still has more work to do. There are a number of initiatives, many of which are in their infancy, aimed at addressing this.
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.
Among officers and staff higher in higher ranks and grades, there is a good understanding of what the force expects from its leaders. However, we found that understanding among first line supervisors and below is more limited. A new ‘leaders code’ has been adopted recently, setting clear expectations which are linked to the force’s people plan and leadership training. The new code is included in the training for new officers and staff, but it is not clear how much consultation has taken place in either developing or implementing it.
Since the new chief constable took over in December 2015, he has carried out consultation and held leadership seminars with all those in the rank of inspector and above and their police staff equivalents. These seminars have been well received, but, not surprisingly, communication with officers and staff below this level has not been as effective. Similarly, middle managers we spoke to generally felt that they were able to challenge senior leaders, but we found that this was not the case below inspector level. In contrast, the force’s high-level objectives are widely understood. Its ‘plan on a page’ is well known and was regularly referred to by all officers and staff. The chief constable and his chief officer team are aware of this, and are taking action to address the communication gap.
The force has a limited understanding of its leadership at all levels and has not undertaken a review of its leadership capabilities. The force provides methods which officers can use in order to understand their own leadership style, including 360-degree feedback, and has qualified leadership learning programme practitioners who undertake one-to-one sessions with leaders to encourage self-awareness and to identify areas for development.
The force has a good record of using surveys to gauge the views of its workforce. The latest survey revealed that leadership was thought to be good, but fairness at work needed improving. Because of the feedback, the force has made changes to its constable to sergeant promotion process.
The force does not have a rigorous process for ensuring that its officers and staff are working towards agreed objectives, or for recognising performance, particularly in respect of those who are talented or under-performing. Individual performance is managed through a personal development review (PDR) process, which reviews annual performance, sets future objectives, and identifies areas for learning and development. We found that most of the workforce had undertaken a PDR with their line manager but the quality was mixed and some officers and staff had only limited or generic objectives. In general, people do not feel engaged with the process or recognise its benefits, and they told us that the IT system for recording the PDR is not user-friendly.
Areas for improvement
- Surrey Police should develop a comprehensive leadership skills analysis, clearly linked to the force’s training needs analysis and leadership development programme.
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.
Surrey Police does not have a robust system in place for identifying potential senior leaders among its workforce and there is no force-wide talent management programme. Initiatives are in place in some parts of the force that encourage talented individuals to develop and learn, but these are not widespread.
The force’s approach to leadership development has also been limited. Training programmes have previously been available only for officers at the rank of inspector and above, but a programme for sergeants and police staff equivalents is being developed. Although feedback is sought from officers who attend these training programmes, there is little effective evaluation of leadership development and the force cannot clearly demonstrate how effective its approaches are. The force does have a leadership development programme, and three levels of coaching are open to officers and staff who are nominated by their line manager. It is a matter for individuals to decide whether or not they wish to take part in the programme.
The force advertises all police officer vacancies nationally, with the aspiration that half of all officers who are appointed should be external candidates. Along with five other forces, Surrey Police has recruited 11 officers as a part of the national Police Now initiative, which is designed as an alternative route into policing for exceptional graduates. The majority of these recruits come from under-represented groups and will be based with the policing divisions for two years.
How well does the force display leadership?
The development of forces’ leadership capability is crucial for their effective performance. Forces should use leadership development programmes, containing a broad range of approaches beyond training, to develop leadership in support of force goals and objectives.
Forces’ knowledge of their current leadership capability should also mean that they are aware of the leadership capabilities they do not currently possess, and are seeking to recruit capabilities to address this.
The force recognises the importance of seeking new ideas, approaches and working practices from outside the organisation. The force has set up a small team of improvement consultants who suggest new ways of working to improve efficiency, service to the public, and operational effectiveness. Part of the team’s role is look at other forces, other public services, and the private sector to identify the best ways of working, and the ways in which the force can improve.
The force has developed a formal academic partnership with the University of Surrey with the aim of sharing opportunities for research and development. As well as quarterly meetings of the academic partnership group to identify these opportunities and initiate activity, the partnership has generated a number of continuous professional development opportunities for officers and staff. These include recent seminars on policing hate crime, volunteers in the police service and open learning cultures.
In contrast, new ideas, approaches and working practices are not actively encouraged from officers and staff. There is a facility on the force intranet for people to submit an idea or suggestion, but it is not widely known or widely used. At a time when the force’s new ‘Policing in Your Neighbourhood’ model is in the early stages, it is vitally important to discover the views of officers and staff about what is not working and to ask for their ideas about how it could be improved.
The force has achieved limited success in developing diverse leadership teams, but it recognises that there is much more to do. The force is working to improve in this area, and this includes the consideration of skills and background when recruiting. Nearly 10 percent of Surrey’s population is of a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background, whereas less than four percent of the force’s workforce is from a BAME background.