North Yorkshire 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.
North Yorkshire Police has made a clear commitment, in its people strategy, to valuing and developing its workforce, and has set clear expectations for its leaders at all ranks and grades. It uses a number of methods to promote the standards it expects from its leaders across the whole workforce. The force has introduced a series of leadership engagement events, which allow the chief officer team to communicate directly with managers at sergeant, inspector and police staff equivalent levels, resolving a shortcoming which was identified in HMIC’s PEEL leadership inspection in 2015. Police staff and officers have a clear understanding of what is expected from the force’s leaders and feel comfortable challenging the more senior staff.
Senior leaders in North Yorkshire Police have a very good understanding of the leadership capabilities throughout the organisation. The force uses a broad range of methods to develop leadership capability. The force recognises and develops the leadership skills of its own workforce, but it also seeks to attract new people. The force is one of only a few that have selected a candidate for Direct Entry at superintendent level.
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.
North Yorkshire Police has a people strategy with three principles: valuing, managing and developing its people. This has been reinforced by the chief officer team and senior leaders in several ways, including regular senior leadership events involving the force’s most senior officers and staff. These and other events are used to promote the standards expected of all staff and officers. The chief officer team regularly meets representatives from staff associations to discuss the force’s expectations of existing and aspiring leaders. Police officers and staff in North Yorkshire Police have a clear understanding of what is expected from its leaders and supervisors, and they feel comfortable challenging more senior officers.
It is apparent from the level and quality of engagement between members of the chief officer team and managers at all levels that senior leaders in North Yorkshire Police have a very good understanding of the leadership capabilities throughout the organisation. All line managers are trained to use the new performance appraisal process. This includes specific training on how to have difficult conversations, the importance of mental wellbeing and how to recognise the warning signs of stress and mental strain. Supervisors we spoke to said that, as well as helping them to carry out their supervisory roles, the training had increased their levels of awareness of leadership-related topics and had improved their leadership skills more generally.
When the chief officer team decides what will be the composition of leadership teams across the force, the team uses the combined personal knowledge of individual members, as well as an assessment of each officer’s leadership skills and strengths.
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.
North Yorkshire Police uses a broad range of methods to develop individual and organisational leadership capability, from informal but structured leadership forums and engagement events to more formal coaching and mentoring. The force also makes training available up to master’s degree level for police officers and staff. There is close and constructive engagement between senior leaders and middle managers. Members of the chief officer team hold regular one-to-one meetings with all police officers at chief inspector level and above, as well as with their police staff equivalents.
Through these meetings and the leadership forums, the force has a good knowledge of the skills and strengths of its senior leaders, and it uses this knowledge to identify the people who have the potential and desire to rise to the most senior levels. Individuals who have been identified as suitable candidates are invited to join chief officer meetings, in order to expose them to the requirements and demands associated with the highest levels of management of the force. Two officers identified in this way have recently completed the national strategic command course successfully, and both officers have been promoted to the rank of assistant chief constable, one permanently, the other temporarily, within North Yorkshire Police.
While North Yorkshire Police identifies and develops leadership skills and strengths of those within the organisation, it also seeks to attract new recruits by advertising externally for police officers and staff. For example, during the recent selection process for promoting officers to the rank of superintendent, the force identified a particular skill set which it lacked and, by advertising the job externally, it was able to recruit an officer from another force who was able to fill the gap.
The force operates a career progression and talent management scheme for members of the special constabulary. It has also participated in the national High Potential Development Scheme and Fast Track schemes for police officers and was one of only a few forces to select a candidate for direct entry at superintendent level. The force worked with the officer and the College of Policing to create a comprehensive, innovative and taxing programme of learning and development, with the result that the officer was confirmed in the rank of superintendent after 18 months. Police staff we spoke to also confirmed that the force provided personal and professional development opportunities.
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.
North Yorkshire Police seeks to learn from the experience of other forces and organisations, and from academic research. The force identifies good practice in other areas, which it adapts to suit local circumstances. Also, it disseminates successful ideas to other forces. The force has created effective links with a number of further and higher education institutions, which provide access to greater diversity of thought. North Yorkshire Police recognises the value of developing the knowledge and skills of leaders. Police officers are eligible to apply to study for a Master’s degree in criminology at Cambridge University, and police staff can apply to study for a Master’s degree in public administration at the University of York.
The chief officer team uses its individual and collective knowledge of the skills, experience, background and ability of officers and staff at chief inspector and staff equivalent level to create balanced and diverse leadership teams. The force considers diversity in broader terms than just protected characteristics. It has appointed a direct entry superintendent in order to have someone on the senior leadership team who has a different background, and who can introduce different ways of thinking, and different ways of looking at problems. Many of the senior leaders we spoke to confirmed that the force has a culture that welcomes challenges from its officers and staff.