Sussex 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.
Sussex Police has a good understanding of leadership. The chief constable is involved and listens to officers and staff. Its work with staff to develop leadership skills appears to be good at a senior level. Although, despite the availability of management and leadership training opportunities for all levels of management, there is a perception among staff that opportunities for leadership development below chief inspector and police staff equivalent are limited. Officers expressed confidence in being able to challenge the chief officer team, but officers working from remote sites report that there is very little contact with senior officers. Where it lacks experience, the force is recruiting externally and it responds appropriately where it identifies gaps in leadership capability.
The force seeks new ideas internally and externally. It has created a knowledge exchange hub which looks ahead, works with academic partnerships, and enables the force to consider and adopt new and innovative ways of working. The force encourages staff to submit new ideas via an online system, but this is a new initiative and we were told that officers and staff were given little feedback about their suggestions. There is little collation, nor is there a central repository of learning and ‘what works’ to disseminate wider lessons.
The force displays strong leadership in terms of diversity. A ‘positive action delivery plan’ has been produced to address under-representation, following a review of the force’s annual equality data in 2014.
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 and identify quickly any gaps or issues in leadership
Sussex Police has introduced a leadership framework which describes the leadership behaviours and skills that all managers are expected to demonstrate. The framework is underpinned by the Code of Ethics and sets out what it means to be a leader in Sussex Police today, as well as what will be required to deal with any problems in the future. The force also has a joint people plan with Surrey Police which prioritises leadership.
The force’s expectations of leaders have been communicated effectively with the workforce and are understood across most ranks and grades. The chief officer team engages well with staff throughout the organisation, using a variety of communication channels including attendance at events, briefings and meetings. Officers we spoke to expressed confidence in being able to challenge the chief officer team without fear of negative consequences for themselves or their careers. However, officers working from remote sites reported that senior officers hardly ever visit or contact staff and there may be an over-reliance on the use of web pages for communication.
The force has some understanding of how it is led across most ranks and grades and has an understanding of gaps and areas for improvement in its leadership capability. It is developing its understanding of skills and capacity throughout the workforce using its leadership framework, people plan and personal profiling, which identifies differing styles within teams. Succession plans are in place and work is continuing to identify the number of detectives and their skills across the force.
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.
Sussex Police has a clear approach to ensuring it can draw the best candidates from the widest possible pool of potential senior leaders and it is taking some positive action to ensure equality of opportunity and access. Every department in the force has a ‘talent pool’ which is directly linked to the performance and development review process.
Where it lacks experience, the force is recruiting externally. The Fast Track programme has been used to enhance leadership capabilities and the force has one external candidate, plus two on the internal programme. The force is also open to officers transferring from other forces and recently agreed the transfer of a number of detectives from other forces to address gaps in capacity and capability. Senior officer recruitment is also open to external candidates, to enhance leadership capabilities and to bring different ways of thinking into the force.
The force generally performs well in its approach to leadership development. Engaging and developing staff in leadership appears good at a senior level. However, despite the availability of management and leadership training opportunities for all levels of management, there is a perception among staff that opportunities for leadership development below chief inspector and police staff equivalents are limited. The force uses a range of approaches to improve the effectiveness of leadership across different workforce roles, to identify and address gaps in leadership skills and teams. The force has a mentoring programme and a coaching programme which are highly regarded, and seen by the workforce as very successful. The force takes part in the higher potential development scheme and all sergeants and inspectors work towards achieving qualifications from the Chartered Management Institute. The force uses personality profiling, 360-degree feedback and a psychological profiling tool for officers and staff who are in leadership roles, or on development programmes or in some specific teams.
The force tries to move acting police sergeants around various roles regularly as part of their development. However, there is no central management of this system, which has led to inconsistency in deployments, with some officers remaining in roles for long periods. This led to a perception of unfairness among other staff who were already qualified in the rank, as they feel that if acting officers remain in posts for extended periods, this denies qualified officers the opportunity to take up a substantive post. We also heard concerns that some acting sergeants were being moved too frequently, leading to unsettled teams and an inconsistent performance and development review process because of a high turnover of supervisors.
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 good at seeking out new ideas, approaches and working practices from other organisations, including other police forces. The force entered a partnership with a private sector organisation in April 2015 to support the implementation of its local policing model and additional work covering a number of specific areas. The force has also created a knowledge exchange hub which looks ahead and investigates possible academic partnerships, knowledge exchange and innovative working. The Sussex Police Research, Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (SPRIKE) board has also been established to oversee this research, and identify opportunities for the force to develop new initiatives to meet its medium and long term challenges.
Staff are encouraged to submit ideas to the knowledge exchange hub, and if applications for research are unsuccessful, there is a system which provides feedback to the applicant. The force also encourages staff to submit suggestions for new initiatives via an online system known as ‘PROSPERO’, which is widely publicised and receptive to new ideas. This appears to be an innovation for the force as some staff were unaware of it and told us they were given little feedback about their suggestions. There is little collation, nor is there a central repository of learning and ‘what works’ to disseminate wider lessons. This means that the force may be missing opportunities to energise the workforce and foster a culture of continual improvement and creativity.
Currently, 2.18 percent of the Sussex Police workforce are from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, compared to 6 percent of the population in the county. The force has a positive action strategy, based on its annual equality analysis, to help address this. The strategy is co-ordinated by the force’s positive action working group which reviews opportunities to improve the workforce, and therefore leadership diversity. Recruitment processes have been adjusted to concentrate more on the importance and value of diversity.
The force is actively supporting the progression and specialisation of colleagues from under-represented groups. This involves strong relationships with diversity support groups during promotion processes to ensure colleagues are aware of the support which is available to them. The force has had success in terms of its gender balance and there are currently female superintendents in every division. A female superintendent is the head of firearms, and a female detective chief superintendent is the head of crime. The force considers gender balance as part of any posting decisions in command teams.