City of London PEEL 2016
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.
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.
City of London Police works closely and effectively with its workforce to set out what it expects from its leaders at all levels in the organisation, and leadership expectations are well understood by the workforce and are promoted through the force’s leadership development programme. The force currently has very limited understanding of how its leadership skills at capabilities at different ranks and grades. This limits the force’s ability to identify and respond effectively to any gaps in staffing, although it is taking steps to address this and has taken on board feedback from HMIC’s 2015 inspection.
The force has a scheme to identify and develop talented individuals, and uses a range of tools to do so. However, it lacks a clear longer-term plan as to how these assessment tools should be used. Also, we found that not all of the workforce are aware of the scheme or have a clear understanding of what it aims to achieve. The force does not assess how effective training and development is at improving the skills of its staff. The force is, however, trying to widen its pool of talented staff through external recruitment.
The force culture welcomes challenges from officers and staff and ideas for innovative work. It looks for new ideas, approaches and working practices from across the police service and further afield, and asks staff who have suggested changes for help in implementing their ideas. The force has a good understanding of diversity that takes into account how diversity of background, experience and skills can strengthen its teams.
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.
City of London Police works effectively with its workforce to set clear expectations for its leaders at all levels. This involves staff taking on additional responsibility, developing people, and working in an innovative way. The force uses a variety of techniques to train and develop its workforce, such as staff focus groups to discuss different types of leadership behaviours. The force’s expectations of its leaders are well communicated, through channels that include an ongoing leadership development programme (which the whole workforce is due to have attended by March 2017), a series of road shows and ‘video blogs’ led by the commissioner, the force intranet and staff magazine, and a month-long leadership publicity campaign. We found that the force’s leadership expectations were well understood by the workforce, although less so at constable and equivalent ranks, as they have yet to attend the training.
HMIC found that the force does not have systematic oversight and understanding of workforce capabilities. It is currently working towards transferring locally-held information to a central database. While this is a welcome development, the information is limited to professional skills and qualifications and does not include details of leadership capability. As a result the force can only be considered to be developing its understanding of leadership at different ranks and grades.
The force has, in the past, used staff surveys to improve its knowledge about how the workforce perceives the way that the force is led, but the most recent of these was in 2014. More recently, the force has used what it calls ‘sensing surveys’ which are intended to develop the force’s understanding of the sense of the authority that its workforce feels able to employ in taking day-to-day decisions. The use of this technique is relatively new and the force was only able to provide limited evidence of how effective it had been in developing its understanding of how officers and staff felt about leaders in the organisation. This limited understanding has an impact on the force’s ability to identify and respond effectively to any skills gaps that it has among its leaders.
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.
Leaders in City of London Police were confident that, although not underpinned by any formal process, the force could respond promptly to any identified leadership problems. For example, the force has provided executive coaching for some people to make sure that they demonstrate the levels of leadership required by the force. The force also provided examples of external secondments it had organised for future leaders who were taking part in its fast-track promotion scheme.
City of London Police uses a variety of techniques to develop potential leaders including leadership coaching, 360-degree feedback and mentoring. However, the force does not have clear long-term plans as to how these assessment tools are used to address particular gaps in leadership, nor is there any meaningful analysis of how effective these approaches are. HMIC highlighted this lack of a formal process for identifying and developing talent in last year’s inspection. The force now has a longer-term strategy in place, but we found that much of the workforce was unaware of it, or knew what support was available to them.
The force was an early adopter of the Direct Entry programme and has identified two officers for their fast-track promotion scheme, which was open to all officers. The force has made good use of its proximity to major financial organisations within the City of London to recruit volunteers who can, for example, help combat complex fraud or cyber-enabled crime. While we note the positive work the force is carrying out in recruiting to fill posts where there are skills gaps, it could do more to ensure there is a clearer link between understanding which leadership capabilities need to be strengthened and how its recruitment addresses this.
Areas for improvement
- City of London Police should evaluate its leadership programme and talent management schemes to ensure a structured, comprehensive and transparent approach so it can identify and develop potential leaders.
- City of London Police should introduce a way of identifying and developing talented officers and staff in a consistent way across the workforce, making sure that the available schemes are communicated effectively.
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 challenges itself to seek out new ideas, approaches and working practices from across the police service and further afield. It has forged strong links with the business community and academic institutions and evaluates innovative practice from other organisations through its organisational learning forum. Through its national role in tackling fraud and economic crime, the force also works closely with communities beyond its geographical boundaries to develop and share learning. For example, the force has worked closely with the telecommunications industry to reduce the opportunity for criminals to commit crimes.
City of London Police has an open culture that encourages challenges from officers and staff. This includes their popular and easily accessible staff suggestion scheme called ‘innovate’ that not only encourages staff to submit ideas, but provides regular feedback to those who have made suggestions and to the workforce as a whole. The force has linked the innovation scheme to a way of developing its leaders by allowing those who have suggested changes to become part of the implementation team. Since it was launched, 30 innovative initiatives have been implemented, with a further 82 ideas in progress. This, in addition to ‘Ask the AC’ sessions, further reinforces our view that this force is fostering a culture that welcomes challenge from its workforce.
The force has a good understanding of diversity, that extends beyond protected characteristics and takes into account how diversity of background, experience and skills can strengthen its teams. The chief officer team has ensured that all promotion opportunities are advertised externally and that applicants are selected on the basis of wider expertise, experience, background and skills. This ensures that teams, specifically at a senior level, are balanced and that leaders have the professional skills that the force requires. In terms of protected characteristics, the force uses a number of measures to promote diversity. These include introducing moderation and unconscious bias training for recruitment and selection panels.