Gwent 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.
The chief officer team for Gwent Police has set out its expectations of leaders at all ranks and grades and these expectations are clear and well understood by the workforce. Gwent Police has some understanding of its leadership at different ranks, grades, roles and teams across the force. It can identify and respond to gaps in leadership capability, but this would be improved if it had better quality information about leadership capability. The force reacts quickly and effectively when it has identified leadership problems, with small local management teams taking responsibility for decision-making. While the force provides leadership training to newly promoted sergeants, inspectors and chief inspectors, the force does not formally assess its leadership training programmes for their value. The force does not have a talent management programme to which staff can apply, but potential senior leaders are identified through managerial recommendation and are then supported well to achieve their leadership potential.
Gwent Police recognises the value of new ideas from across the police service and beyond. It works well with other police forces in Wales and has looked at top performing forces nationally to understand better how it can improve its own performance. The force has a strong culture of innovation and works with commercial partners to obtain expertise when improving its own processes and improving its understanding of public demand for its services. The force also successfully encourages its workforce to contribute new ideas about how to improve services. However, it could do more to publicise good ideas, approaches and practices to its staff through the force intranet. The force works well to improve diversity in leadership teams in relation to protected characteristics, but it has yet to understand diversity in broader terms. This includes understanding that diversity of background and skills are an important part of producing leadership teams that are ready for the challenges of a changing policing environment.
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.
We found that Gwent Police has clear expectations of leaders at all ranks and grades. The expectations are set out by the chief officer team and are regularly publicised by the chief constable, who will personally answer queries from the workforce. The workforce has a good understanding of leadership expectations and can challenge decisions made by the force’s leaders.
The force looks for innovative ideas and opportunities to develop the leadership capability of its staff and holds regular conferences, seminars and training events. It has some understanding of leadership at different ranks, grades, roles and teams. Ranks of chief inspector and above have been profiled by personality-type, giving a greater understanding of how complementary personalities can work together effectively. Other ranks or grades have not been profiled, and other methods of assessing leadership capability have not been used throughout the whole force.
The force can identify and respond to gaps in leadership capability, although better quality information about leadership capability is needed. The force’s new performance development review process is designed to identify exceptional, satisfactory and poor performance and to comment on leadership capability. If successful, this process will help inform both leadership capacity and capability and allow for targeted training, mentoring and performance management.
Areas for improvement
- Gwent Police should conduct a full leadership audit of the workforce that will allow it to understand leadership capacity and capability at different ranks and grades across the force, in order that it can develop more effective leadership teams in the future.
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.
Since the reorganisation of Gwent Police in 2015, fewer senior leaders and supervisors are involved in managing departments and geographical areas. The force is able to respond quickly and effectively when it has identified leadership problems.
There is no force-wide approach to identifying talent; individuals with leadership potential are identified at a local level. However, the force is committed to developing its workforce and it has plans to improve the identification of talented individuals. Having identified prospective senior leaders, the force works well to ensure they achieve their potential. The force uses coaching and mentoring programmes, encourages staff to undertake academic qualifications and externally provided leadership training and conducts 360-degree appraisals as part of training for staff seeking promotion to the rank of inspector.
Gwent Police has a flexible approach to recruitment, which is tailored to improving the leadership capabilities in its workforce. For example, it advertised nationally for a chief superintendent position and ran the Direct Entry process to fill its inspector posts.
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.
Gwent Police seeks new ideas from across the police service and beyond. It works closely with other forces in Wales and actively encourages staff to apply for external secondments so that new ideas can be brought back to the force. Other forces have visited Gwent Police to examine areas of good practice. The force has created a culture of innovation at all levels, where new ideas are welcomed. A well-regarded and widely publicised staff suggestion scheme has been in place for over a year and staff receive help and mentoring to develop and implement ideas.
The force has made efforts to develop diverse leadership teams. However, as it does not have a comprehensive assessment of leadership capacity and capability, these efforts have been only partially successful and focus primarily on protected characteristics, such as age, disability or gender reassignment. The force does not give formal consideration in recruitment and promotion selection exercises to the skills and backgrounds of the people it will need to help it deal with future changes in policing. It has made concerted efforts to improve the diversity of its workforce in terms of gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity and has increased its engagement with hard to reach communities, offered mentoring and support to potential candidates in the application process and funding to complete the Certificate in Police Knowledge.