South Wales 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.
South Wales Police has worked with its officers and staff to develop its leadership expectations, and these are understood at all levels throughout the organisation. The force is able to act constructively to deal with any leadership problems. A structured leadership training programme with a range of development opportunities is available for police officers and staff of all ranks and grades, and the force has a wide pool of potential senior leaders. The force could do more to understand its skills and capacity throughout the organisation, although its plans for a new performance development review process is a positive step.
The force is proactive in seeking new ideas and working practices from other forces and non-police organisations, while its continuous improvement programme encourages staff to submit suggestions and ideas. The force would benefit from bringing all its good practice together centrally into one place for staff. The force has increased successfully the number of female police officer recruits and those from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, but more work is needed to develop leadership teams that are diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity as well as background and skills. There are too few female officers in the force’s middle and senior ranks.
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.
The chief officer team has a clear vision for leadership. It has worked with the workforce to set its values and develop its leadership charter, and both of these are well understood across the organisation. The chief constable has conducted leadership roadshows and meets with newly promoted officers. There is a culture of openness where challenge and new ideas are welcomed. The force uses a wide range of methods to tell staff what it expects from its leaders. HMIC found that staff at every rank and grade understood the expectations of leaders. Staff members whom we interviewed felt they had some form of leadership responsibility. Staff are committed to fulfilling the chief constable’s expectations, with frontline officers in particular expressing the view that leadership is about empowering staff to provide quality services to their community.
The force’s performance development review system does not provide useful information on leadership potential. However, the force is now revising the process to address these problems, with a focus on continued professional development and providing clearer information on staff performance. The force does use information from promotion processes and supervisor feedback to assess individual leadership capability. It also provides formal development programmes for promoted staff to help them meet the force’s leadership standards.
South Wales Police’s recruitment model reflects its future needs. This includes seeking to recruit graduates with computer science qualifications to address the growing threat of cyber-crime, while also identifying potential future leaders from this group. The force understands the retirement profile of its leaders and uses promotions to address gaps arising from staff retirement.
Areas for improvement
- South Wales Police should develop a comprehensive leadership skills analysis and evaluate the effectiveness of its leadership programme and ensure it is clearly linked to the force’s training plan.
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.
The force reacts quickly to leadership problems, but it does not make full use of its leadership capability. For example, the problem of supervisors being promoted into communities where they lived was resolved by posting these staff to other areas. An unintended consequence of this approach was that fewer female officers put themselves forward for promotion because of disruption to childcare arrangements. The force recognises that it needs to do more to improve the gender balance in senior ranks. In partnership with the police and crime commissioner, it has undertaken a ‘gender thematic review’ to gain an understanding of how it could recruit, retain and progress women in force. This review has resulted in the force successfully recruiting more female officers and promoting more women to senior positions within the organisation.
Opportunities for career progression do exist, but they are inconsistent and rely on the individual putting themselves forward, with support from supervisors. Continuous professional development is available to every rank, and staff are encouraged to take internal and external training and qualifications. However, it is not clear how well the force evaluates the effectiveness of its leadership development programmes. The force works with local academic institutions to make development opportunities available to the entire workforce, together with mentoring, coaching, leadership masterclasses and 360-degree appraisals. The force could do more to understand its skills and capacity throughout the organisation. The force would understand better the effectiveness of training if it carried out formal skills and capability assessments of all its staff. The force does not take leadership skills and capabilities into consideration in its recruitment processes. It does not accept candidates for Direct Entry to superintendent and it has just started planning to recruit graduates with skills that meet emerging demand. The force has successfully increased recruitment from BAME groups, which should help the force achieve a leadership profile more representative of the community it serves.
The force uses a talent development programme, ‘Policing Futures’ to identify potential leaders within its workforce. The programme currently has 44 members, 23 of whom are police staff. The force should do more to nurture talented employees, and the chief constable is considering an internal development programme to identify and develop potential future leaders. Leadership training programmes exist at every level and leadership courses are provided for all newly promoted officers, as is mentoring. Police staff are encouraged to attain qualifications that will help them become senior leaders. These opportunities are well publicised and staff feel supported when they apply for them.
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.
South Wales Police has strong and well-developed links with academic institutions and is working collaboratively to improve police leadership within the force using evidence-based responses to policing issues and public surveys. The force also visits other police forces to learn from their experiences of implementing new ways of working. For example, staff visited Dorset Police to see how it introduced the use of body-worn video cameras. The force has also looked at customer service practices in commercial companies, using the results, together with other information from victim and community surveys and lessons learned, to develop its policy on ‘Making Every Contact Count’. The force is also part of the ‘Leadership in Collaboration’ programme, working with the Welsh Government.
There is a strong culture of innovation at all levels. The force’s continuous improvement scheme, which is clearly understood by most staff, has replaced the staff suggestion scheme. Another example of innovation is the force’s involvement in the ‘Leadership in Collaboration’ programme, where staff from the Welsh Government, the Welsh Ambulance Service and others look for innovation opportunities. The force has also visited private sector companies to look at different working practices and ideas. However, the force has no central repository for accessing information on best practice.
The senior leaders understand that a diverse workforce requires more than increasing the numbers of staff with protected characteristics such as age, disability, or gender reassignment. The force has concentrated on bringing more BAME officers in, with some success in the past year. South Wales Police is fully aware that it needs to develop diverse leadership teams in terms of experience, background and skills and is taking steps to achieve this. There are still too few female officers in the force’s middle and senior ranks, despite recent successful recruitment and promotion efforts. HMIC is encouraged that the force, in partnership with the female police association, is continuing to use the findings from the gender thematic review, but more work is needed to address this problem.
Areas for improvement
- South Wales Police should take action to address the fact that female officers are under-represented in middle and senior management positions.