Norfolk PEEL 2015
How well has the force performed in our other inspections?
In addition to the three core PEEL pillars, HMICFRS 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.
As part of HMIC’s annual all-force inspections into police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) in 2015, HMIC assessed how well led forces are at every rank and grade of the organisation and across all areas inspected in PEEL. We reviewed how well a force understands and is developing its leaders; whether it has set a clear and compelling future direction; and how well it motivates and engages the workforce.
Norfolk Constabulary is well led and benefits from stability at chief officer level. The constabulary has communicated a clear sense of its future direction which is well-understood and supported by the workforce. The chief officer team is visible and engages regularly with frontline officers and staff.
The constabulary does not have a consistent talent management process but relies on individual managers’ interpretation. The consequent inconsistency in the completion of annual performance review appraisals does not help the constabulary to identify talented members of its workforce.
How well does the force have a clear understanding of the current state of its leadership at every level?
HMIC examined how well forces understand the strengths and weaknesses of leadership across the force and how well the workforce understands its leadership role. Strong, clear leadership across every rank and grade is vital to the effectiveness and efficiency of a modern and capable police force.
Norfolk Constabulary understands broadly the current state of its leadership across the organisation. It has recently sought to analyse the capacity and capability at sergeant rank via a consultation programme called the Big Listen, which was designed to coincide with the College of Policing’s leadership review. The Big Listen gave 120 staff an opportunity to give their views on what they considered important in terms of effective leadership. The constabulary has passed the results to the College of Policing for analysis and interpretation, and intends to use the information to define its learning and development leadership programmes.
A range of engagement activity such as the chief constable’s online blog, the ‘ask the chief’ forum and the monthly e-magazine provides the senior leadership team with an effective means of communicating its expectations to all levels in the organisation, although HMIC found evidence to suggest that that the volume of emailed corporate communication can be overwhelming and could benefit from being more targeted. We also found that some of the workforce does not have the confidence to raise issues that directly concern them via face to face or open meetings. This finding, combined with the absence of an organisation-wide staff survey means that the ability of senior leaders to understand workforce views is diminished.
How well has the force provided a clear and compelling sense of the future direction of the organisation?
HMIC examined the extent to which forces have set out a clear, compelling and realistic sense of future direction because it is important to ensure that the workforce is motivated to build for the future and the force knows the kind of skills it must develop. We were also interested in how well leaders are making use of new approaches to enable forces to meet future financial challenges.
Norfolk Constabulary has communicated a clear sense of its future direction to the workforce, partnership organisations and the media. Throughout the organisation there is a good understanding of the change programme, with many in the workforce recognising that radical change is necessary to enable the constabulary to meet the financial challenges it faces and improve the way it provides services to the public.
HMIC found there was a good workforce knowledge of the constabulary’s focus on protecting vulnerable people. To strengthen the message around future direction, the chief officer team maintains contact with the workforce through the chief constable’s blog, articles within the constabulary’s online magazine, regular rank-specific open meetings, ‘ask the chief’ roadshows, and ‘starburst’ events where senior managers take time to work with frontline staff and officers across the organisation.
The constabulary is strongly committed to innovation and identifying new ways of working. It actively encourages workforce members to come up with new ideas and is developing the way it polices by working with Suffolk Constabulary and academic partners, who will collectively undertake detailed evaluation of the effectiveness of Norfolk’s working practices.
How is the force developing leadership, motivating the workforce and encouraging staff engagement?
HMIC examined how well forces identify and develop leadership, as quality of leadership is key to ensuring forces overcome their challenges of reducing crime and meeting the needs of victims. We were not looking for one particular style of leadership but focused on how well leaders motivate their workforce and improve performance in order to provide a quality service to the public.
Norfolk Constabulary could do more to effectively manage the contribution of its workforce by improving its personal development and talent identification programmes. Although the constabulary has an annual performance review system, it is not used consistently to set expectations of officers and staff and to monitor performance. While we saw instances of the system being used well, many police staff and officers reported not having had an annual performance review for some years. The present system is paper-based and is not scrutinised centrally, which means it is not used for career development. Without a more formal process to capture development needs and identify talent, the constabulary risks missing opportunities to promote the most capable police staff and officers, or to sustain the professional competence of their workforce. The constabulary recognises this issue and together with Suffolk Constabulary, is looking at how best to ensure that information relating to staff performance and development is held electronically.
We found a strong local background to many of the senior leaders in the constabulary which helps them feel confident about what kind of service the local community wants; this is viewed positively by the workforce. There are a greater proportion of female officers at or above superintendent rank compared to the national average, although staff and officers from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) remain significantly under-represented. The constabulary has undertaken a number of activities to recruit BAME candidates and has made significant improvements in recent years.
To what extent is leadership improving the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy of the force?
As good quality leadership is an important factor of policing performance, HMIC examined how leaders are improving the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy of forces through clear, reasoned and swift actions. This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible for this pillar.
Strong leadership is improving the effectiveness of Norfolk Constabulary. For example, the constabulary has a mature collaboration with Suffolk Constabulary in jointly delivering a number of operational and support functions to reduce costs and provide greater resilience.
Senior leaders in the constabulary work constructively with other organisations to develop joint plans to tackle crime, anti-social behaviour and other issues of community concern. Constabulary leaders have provided a very clear focus on protecting vulnerable people, and joint work with other organisations has resulted in effective preventative work.
Leadership in Norfolk Constabulary is improving the legitimacy of the constabulary in how it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The chief officer team has shown strong leadership by prioritising and developing an ethical culture and promoting the wellbeing of its staff through a variety of means.
The constabulary has set up an ethics and integrity committee which is chaired by a senior leader, who has ensured the committee has broad representation. The constabulary has also prioritised the Code of Ethics by ensuring it is well-known by the workforce. During HMIC’s inspection, we found that the majority of those we spoke to knew the code and recognised its importance. However, some of those we spoke to during our inspection felt uncomfortable challenging managers. The constabulary could do more to support the workforce in feeling able to challenge where appropriate.