West Yorkshire 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.
West Yorkshire Police has elements of strong leadership in the force although there are areas where it could improve. The force’s scheme to identify and support talented officers and staff is particularly strong. Senior leaders are visible to the workforce and demonstrate effective leadership. The chief officer team communicates and engages well with its officers and staff and through the work of the change programme which is ongoing within the force.
Leadership in West Yorkshire Police has resulted in a stronger focus on improving the legitimacy of the force, in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime.
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.
West Yorkshire Police has recently completed an assessment of leadership to understand more fully how leaders operate across the force. However, the force does not yet have a clear understanding of the capacity and capability of its leaders at all levels in the organisation. It is taking steps to develop this understanding and the force is investing in its leaders through its change programme called ‘People Ambition’. A new leadership programme was being piloted at the time of inspection. This training includes six modules on: leadership responsibilities, ethical problem solving and decision making, recognising and managing conflict, coaching and mentoring, and personal and professional development.
The force is continuing to improve its understanding of how the workforce views its senior leaders and leadership across the organisation in general. The views of senior leaders are captured through the strategic leaders’ forum where managers have the opportunity to review and provide feedback to the chief officer team. However, it was recognised that this was not enough to understand the views of the workforce, or to make expectations clear. As a result, a series of roadshows was held. Also, the force is working with Durham University to develop a comprehensive staff survey which looks at how officers and staff perceive leaders in their organisation.
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 that the force knows the kinds of skills it is looking to develop. We were also interested to find out how well leaders are making use of new approaches to enable forces to meet future financial challenges.
The force has articulated a clear and ambitious plan of its future direction to its workforce. This gives the workforce a clear understanding of what the force will look like and where the force intends to be by 2017. It has communicated this plan through the force intranet and via the temporary chief constable’s road shows, and this has been well received by the workforce. The workforce thinks that the chief officer team is open and honest and welcomes the fact that it is invited to challenge senior leaders on issues that are important to them.
While communication with the workforce is positive, HMIC identified that at the time of inspection there had been limited external engagement and communication with the public with regard to the future plans and direction of the force and the potential impact this may have on providing its services.
The force has carried out research to look at and use new approaches and working practices. It has carried out a benchmarking exercise to compare its working practices against a range of both private sector and public sector organisations. This work has led to a number of innovative schemes, including a ‘viral’ change programme. This involves using groups of frontline staff as focus groups to test new ideas and using practitioners to develop more efficient ways of working by streamlining processes. In doing so, HMIC has found that staff communicate encouraging messages of change with colleagues as a result of their positive involvement in bringing about change. This ensures that there is a positive culture of change for frontline staff.
How is the force developing leadership, motivating the workforce and encouraging staff engagement?
HMIC examined how well forces identify and develop leadership, as good quality of leadership is key to ensuring that 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 to provide a quality service to the public.
The force has put in place considered and effective ways to identify and develop talent. This includes a ‘talent support scheme’, launched in 2014. The scheme develops both staff and officers who can apply to join themselves, or be nominated by their supervisors or peers. Under the scheme, participants identify gaps in their own skills, knowledge or experience and can address these by attending events to develop their skills. This scheme aims to ensure that the workforce has a broad and diverse perspective. Candidates can therefore improve their working practices so they are best placed for further development opportunities, both lateral career moves and on promotion.
The ‘talent support scheme’ has a cohort of 58 candidates. HMIC received feedback from candidates about the positive impact the scheme is having within the organisation, providing individuals with new skills and broadening their experience.
The force has revised its performance framework and it is clear that the force has generally moved away from a culture that is just focused on meeting targets. Balanced scorecards are now used to assess performance through inputs, processes and outcomes. Supervisors and individual officers and staff view this as a more supportive mechanism way of working.
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.
Leadership in West Yorkshire Police has resulted in a stronger focus on improving the legitimacy of the force, in the way it keeps people safe and reducing crime by empowering and involving staff as part of the force change programme. Also, this is helped by a style of approachable and transparent leadership from the chief officer team which is open to challenge and to justifying its decisions at workforce events.
In 2013, the force commissioned an audit to look at and understand better the culture and values of the organisation. The audit identified a number of positive aspects such as strong pride from the workforce on the work they did. However, it also identified issues about unproductive standards of behaviour which was not aiding the legitimacy of the force. While not all of the findings in the audit were positive, the force used this research to improve its culture. For example, the chief officers provided clear leadership by communicating that people needed to be treated with fairness and respect, through the promotion of the Code of Ethics. Every member of the workforce has a copy of the code, and key aspects of the code have become a central part of the training programmes, rather than being taught as a standalone module.